Subject: Chairman Van Huss warns other legislators about dangers of "deep state" administration operatives

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January 31, 2019

Chairman Micah Van Huss alerts other legislators to "deep state" administrative operatives offering assistance to derail legislation.

Over the years, the Tennessee Firearms Association has repeatedly investigated situations where administration officials (mainly from the Department of Safety) have issued information regarding the budget impact of legislation that appeared clearly designed to kill the legislation rather than to candidly assess the true fiscal impact of the legislation. 

An example of this is a bill that Chairman Micah Van Huss filed in 2014 concerning authorizing "open carry" without the need for a permit in Tennessee.  The Tennessee Department of Safety - which has a long standing history of opposing 2nd Amendment legislation - put a "fiscal note" on the bill claiming that it would be required to reprint the handgun permits to add the word "concealed" to the permit even though nothing in the law required that change.  This use of inflated or outright false fiscal notes has been a common tactic by the administration under Haslam and apparently prior governors to derail legislation.  It may be that the Lee administration is going to continue the shenanigans and obstruction of justice.

On January 30, 2019, Chairman Van Huss sent a letter to out House members in which he reported on this abusive manipulation of the legislative process by administration operatives.  He wrote:

It should not come as much of a surprise to you that the legislative process is, at times, undermined by bureacrats. I am writing to make you aware of its reality here in Tennessee.

On Tuesday, a department director met with me to discuss how the could be of service to me and our Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee this year. One of the very first things this person said to me was that if there was a bad bill they would be able to put a big fiscal note on it. A similar statement was made a second time during the course of the meeting.

It is concerning to me that this is how our committee chairmen have been talked to for who knows how long. It is not a bureaucrat's job to try to kill legislation that someone deems bad. It is the responsibility of the people's representatives to legislate for our constituents.

If you experience something similar, please let our leadership team or me know so that the appropriate steps can be taken to fix this process. Let me know how I can be of assistance we we move forward through this year.

Tennessee Firearms Association and its Legislative sponsors have fought with these false and fraudulent fiscal estimates from the administration for years.  It is one of the reasons why in 2014 and 2016 the TFA's PAC focuses significant resources on efforts to defeat Charles Sargent who was the former chair of the House Finance Committee which was the committee where the "fiscal notes" were designed to send the legislation for stoppage.

TFA applauds Chairman Van Huss for making this issue a topic of public awareness and discussion. 

However, it also raises the question of why those who have been in leadership positions for years have not spoken out.  It raises the question of why those in leadership - like former Speaker Harwell - who certainly must have known of these shenanigans may have kept quite or even benefited from the conspiracy rather than stopped it.  It raises the question of how many who have been leaders and chairmen in the past have used this process and now perhaps should have ethics charges brought and evaluated.

The sad fact is that severe corruption exists in the state in both the Legislature and the Administration.   This year brings a new governor and in some instances changes in Legislative leadership, including new chairman who are just know being exposed to these abuses or, in the minds of some, "tools".   Citizens must demand that this cancer be disclosed and purged if there is ever to be any credible trust left in state government which, at this point, seems a remote dream at best.

John Harris
Executive Director

Joining and supporting TFA is an investment in the fight to restore our constitutional rights and to fight against politicians who are willing to sell their votes and your rights to whichever business interest gives them the most money!

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