Tennesseans To Vote On Four Amendments That Would Change State Constitution In November

Image Credit: sos.tn.gov

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

Tennesseans will have the opportunity to vote on four state constitutional amendments in November. Presented as “yes” or “no” questions, the proposed amendments will appear on the ballot below the candidates running for the governor’s race.

Amendment 1: Constitutional Right to Work

The state’s right-to-work law has been in place since 1947 and allows Tennesseans to elect whether they would like to join a union. Without this law in place, unions could require membership as a condition of employment.

Adding it to the state’s constitution would make the policy significantly harder to overturn in the future should Republicans lose the supermajority they currently enjoy in the legislature.

Amendment 1 is opposed by the Tennessee AFL-CIO and Tennessee Democratic Party. There has also been a federal effort to repeal state right-to-work laws by way of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act which was passed by Congress with the support of President Joe Biden.

Governor Bill Lee and former Governor Bill Haslam have given partial credit to the state’s right-to-work law for Tennessee’s strong economy and job growth. Their “Yes on 1” effort to campaign for the amendment has been supported by more than 50 members of the general assembly. Republican Senator Todd Gardenhire from Chattanooga was the lone member of the GOP to oppose the proposed amendment.

Amendment 2: Providing for an acting governor when the elected governor is unable to fulfill the duties of the office

Tennessee is the only state in the union that doesn’t provide for a temporary acting governor in their state constitution.

This amendment would allow the governor to provide a written, signed declaration to the Speaker of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and Secretary of State saying that they are unable to perform the powers and duties of the office.

The Speaker of the Senate – who also serves as the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee – would then serve as acting governor until the governor provides written, signed documentation that they can again perform the office’s powers and duties.

A majority of the commissioners of the administrative departments of the Executive Department would also be able to submit a written, signed declaration stating that the governor is unable to perform his official duties.

The Speaker of either the House or Senate will be allowed to continue serving in their respective positions while also serving as acting governor, but they would be prohibited from receiving the governor’s salary, presiding as the speaker or voting in the Tennessee General Assembly while fulfilling the governor’s duties.

Amendment 3: Eliminating involuntary servitude exemption while allowing inmate labor

This amendment will change the current language of the Tennessee Constitution, which says that “slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a person who has been duly convicted of crime, are forever prohibited in this State.” The amendment deletes this current language and replaces it with the following language: “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”

Amendment 4: Allows Christian leaders to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly

This amendment deletes article IX, section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution, which prohibits ministers of the gospel and priests of any denomination from holding a seat in either House of the legislature.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tennessee’s ban as unconstitutional in 1978 and it has not been enforced.

In order for your vote on the proposed constitutional amendments to count, you must vote in the governor’s race – even a write-in vote will do – as each amendment must gain 50% plus one of the votes of people casting a ballot for governor in order to be adopted.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at paula@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

9 thoughts on “Tennesseans To Vote On Four Amendments That Would Change State Constitution In November

  • September 28, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    I’ll be voting yes on all four.

  • September 28, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    I cannot see the need for amendment 2 nor have heard any clear explaination for it. It is wordy, unjustified and murky which spells mischief to me. Until more comment on it, I’m a hard no. I would like to hear pros and cons for the others as you did for amendment 1.

    • September 29, 2022 at 2:15 am

      I think the need for this amendment might come to play under unusual and unexpected conditions. If the situation is dire, we need someone to step up, not a conference and negotiation among competing politicians. Make the succession decision automatic so the substantive issue can immediately begin being addressed. Action over campaigning.

      As a bonus, we get to know one of the ramifications of removing a governor. For example, if Biden were to be determined to be unable to continue, we’d get Harris as his replacement. That knowledge might quell any call to declare Biden unfit.

  • September 28, 2022 at 5:38 pm

    The right to work act was passed to keep Unions from coming to TN and forcing people to pay dues and work under a union. What this amendment does not discuss is that the same law also gives the employer the right to fire an employee for any reason whatsoever, or for no reason whatsoever, and the employee has no recourse. The State of Tennessee even does this to the state employees because of this law. I don’t think any Tennessee citizen employee should be forced to join a union but what about the firing without cause part of this law?

    • September 29, 2022 at 1:57 am

      I worked under the same system for my entire career. Several times, we would hear about layoffs and sure enough, managers would call people into their office just before lunch on Friday and hand them final checks. The employees were paid all that was due, including the rest of that day, but had to leave right away so as not to cause problems. It even happened to me twice. No time to go find friends and say goodby or do any trash talk or sabotage either. Harsh? Maybe. But most people know where they stand within an organization and frankly, the majority of peer workers would have chosen the same people to be let go. Rarely was there a surprise. I never took it as an insult, it was clear that I was the least experienced or versatile member of the crew. I asked if I could use the boss as a reference and left with grace. I was still comfortable maintaining contact with former coworkers. The experience just made me try harder to overcome those deficiencies at my next job.

      If you were remodeling your house, should there be a law that prohibits you from firing a laborer whose work is substandard, you don’t trust him or just plain don’t like him? Why let him come back after you’ve come to that conclusion? Would you want to confront him and then start a termination process with a third party? Wouldn’t you wonder if his work would get worse? That he might spread discontentment? Worry that things might get stolen or sabotaged? Neither should a company.

  • September 29, 2022 at 11:57 pm

    I’m voting no on all.

  • October 1, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    My experience with Unions in Pennsylvania. —The purpose is to do as little work as possible in as long a time as possible with as many people as possible. —Vote early, vote often. —Union dues go to democrats,— vote for democrats. —- Local TAXES go up because of deals made with democrat politicians —union dues go UP.
    There was a vote taken in our to join a Philadelphia union it passed because of the union people inn city hall; the working people in parks, streets, garage, building maintenance WWTP, water…voted against joining Philadelphia which was eventually bought by a New York Union. We had even less say and paid more money, they own you.
    I like the right to work state. Not being told what you can and can’t do. Not having to do more work because of seniority and union protection of gold brickers. Fewer layers of payoffs TAXES ARE LOWER here and we are better off. That’s how I see it!

  • October 24, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Here are my humble thoughts on the Amendments to our state constitution which is a sacred document, changing it should be done only in the most necessary manner.

    Yes on 1 naturally!!! Tennessee has been blessed to have been lead by elected officials and judges who understand “we the people”…when we are allowed to make economic decisions that best fit our situations, all is good and more productive. Tennessee is a prime example. YES on 1.

    Amendment two is vague on too many important details….like “WHO” is responsible to determine that our governor can’t do his job…this amendment does not say. So, can an un-elected bureaucrat stand up and say so? I’d rather the legislature take an accountable vote on this matter – I’m VOTING NO ON 2!

    Amendment 3 – IF this was just about removing the dirty word, I’m yes, but it is NOT. Can’t you just see a judge saying that a certain prisoner that does not want to work at anything, does not have to. I’m all for ALL prisoners learning to work…isn’t not knowing how to earn an honest living the likely reason they are there? This just allows them to sue the state and they’d likely win! I’m voting NO on 3!

    Amendment 4 – it is already SETTLED constitutional law…members of the clergy and priest are NOT prohibited from running for office. SCOTUS ruled on behalf of a Chattanooga minister years ago, saying there is no proof that when/if elected a member of the clergy/priest would violate his oath to office and promote their religion solely or successfully. Why the push to change our constitution when it is TOTALLY unnecessary? I’m voting NO on Amendment 4.


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