Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
On Friday, we alerted Tennessee Conservative readers that Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin-District 65) and Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville-District 7) had filed companion bills HB0183 and SB0160 that have the potential to censor news outlets and advocacy groups throughout the state.
Briggs sent an email reply in response to several concerned Tennessean’s emails, saying that he intends to withdraw the bill from the agenda.
The pair of bills, as written, seek to redefine a Political Action Committee (PAC) as:
A) A club, corporation, association, or other group of persons that receives contributions or makes expenditures to support or oppose a measure; or
B) A club, corporation, association, or other group of persons that receives contributions or makes expenditures to support or oppose two or more candidates for public office during a calendar year, and the contributions or expenditures in the aggregate exceed two thousand dollars
A PAC as defined by current law provides an exclusion for the advocacy work and education that many groups primarily focus on. The proposed legislation does away with that exclusion and in effect, seeks to eliminate all 501(c)(4) organizations in Tennessee.
Our readers expressed strong opposition to these bills headed to committee and subcommittee, seeing these bills as likely to increase the censorship of grassroots organizations and an attempt to drown out the free speech of Tennesseans through regulation and fear of financial punishment.
“As Chairman of the Committee that hears them, I carry all the administration bills,” Briggs wrote. “Many are works in progress and some are just bad bills.”
Briggs then went on to say, “I think the bill is entirely too confusing and I’m pulling it from the agenda next week.”
In his email, Briggs said that the bill was brought to the legislature by the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Finance over concerns of the “dark out-of-state money” of undisclosed financing for candidates campaigns and policy issues.
In a phone interview earlier this month, Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains-District 8) said that current Tennessee law permits state and federal-level candidates to receive an unlimited amount of funding from individuals, corporations, and PACs from outside of the Volunteer State.
Briggs explained in his email that his approach to bills is to follow the “Barbershop Rule” – meaning if the bill can’t be explained so anyone can understand it in the time it takes to get a haircut, then it needs to be reworked or killed.
The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Sen. Briggs to ask if the bill will be permanently withdrawn for this legislative session or reworked.
Briggs replied to our inquiry saying, “I am meeting with the House sponsor and the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance on Monday. The bill has been withdrawn from the Tuesday calendar. The decision is not final but I don’t think we will run the bill this year.”
As Chairman of the Senate State & Local Government Committee, Briggs said the bill could be redone next year “to accomplish what I would really like to see: where is the money coming from and who is paying for the “woke” propaganda contaminating our children and susceptible adults.”
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at email@example.com.