HOT BLAST: How do you get to the Senate?
Apr 02, 2013 | 1931 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The setting sun is reflected in the windows of the U.S. Capitol last month in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The setting sun is reflected in the windows of the U.S. Capitol last month in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Tennessee's Legislature is doing its best to make its neighbors look like models of legislative level-headedness. We could start with the recent story where some Volunteer State lawmakers needed to be assured a mop sink wasn't a Muslim foot-washer. No kidding.

Now, via Charlie Cook writing in the National Journal, we learn:

Tennessee state Sen. Frank Nicely, a Republican from Strawberry Plains, has introduced S.B. 471, which would, beginning in 2016, eliminate party primaries for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Members of the state Legislature would instead select the nominees. Republican House and Senate caucuses would pick the GOP nominee, and  their Democratic counterparts would select their candidate. State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, has also introduced the bill in the Tennessee General Assembly.

My first reaction was to be dismissive. In Washington, as in state legislatures around the country, we often see goofy bills and resolutions introduced, but most thankfully die without any action being taken. But what really got my attention was the news that the Tennessee Senate’s State and Local Government Committee voted 7-1 last week to advance the bill. And, no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

And Tennessee isn't alone. Georgia's statehouse is considering a bill that would undo the 17th Amendment, the 1913 provision that allowed direct election of members of the U.S. Senate. (A search of the Alabama Legislature's website showed no such proposal to alter the direct election of U.S. senators from Alabama.)

What about the political motivations of this? Writing in Slate, Dave Weigel concludes: "If state legislatures were re-empowered to pick senators, there'd be no nettlesome Democrats from North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, or Michigan. The only states with Republican senators who wouldn't be there under the legislative-election system are New Hampshire and Maine. So, yes, this would make it easier to undo a few things."

So, what do you think? Would you rather vote for Alabama's U.S. senators or leave it up to the Legislature? (Feel free to offer your comments below.)

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