We are in the process of electing our next batch of legislators to preside over the next meeting of the General Assembly. Media organizations and special-interest groups are quizzing the candidates on where they stand on their issues, producing elaborate voter guides.
I think there are a lot of important issues out there without a special-interest group to lobby for them. I'm sure you can think of a few.
So I'm giving you my list. Quiz any legislative candidate you run into, they generally hang around early voting sites. Ask them their positions on these issues:
—It should be illegal to microwave a biscuit. What you do in your own home is your business and if you microwave a biscuit that's between you and the memory of your grandmaw. If you think she would be okay with it, go ahead. But there is no excuse for a restaurant to serve a microwaved biscuit. They should be fresh. They should be crispy on the top and bottom and light on the inside. A soggy biscuit is a betrayal of Southern culture and we have to stop it. The bill should allow for a citizen's arrest should you observe this activity.
—No place that sells cigarettes should have the right to ban smoking. If a restaurant or a convenience store sells cigarettes, then you should be able to light up. They can't enable people to annoy others with cigarette smoke and not be annoyed themselves. If you sell chewing tobacco or snuff (excuse me, smokeless tobacco) then provide spittoons. Any place that sells tobacco products should be required to carry nicotine gum. You don't have to go to the drug store to get cigarettes.
—It should be illegal to have sex with a pistol. This is not an infringement of the Second Amendment. You would still be able to sleep with your Nine Mil, it would just be illegal to have sex with it, regardless of your particular fetish. It's disgusting.
You might wonder how someone has sex with the barrel of a pistol, but psychiatrists tell us that the men with a pistol fetish probably have a penis that will fit.
(Full disclosure: I own nine guns, three of them are pistols. But I don't sleep with any of them.)
—State history courses in public schools have almost gone the way of cursive writing. But Tennessee history is the history of America. Opening the frontier, the battle of Kings Mountain, the Age of Jackson, Davey Crockett and the Alamo, Civil War battles, the Scopes trial—the state's contribution to the history of our country is rich indeed. Not to mention three presidents. I understand why Alabama might not spend a year on its history. But not Tennessee. Get Jack Neely to devise the curriculum.
—Require that the state Legislature reapportion congressional districts every four years. Any member of the congressional delegation that voted to impose a financial mandate on our state or failed to vote for a balanced budget should be gerrymandered out of their district. This would focus the mind of members of Congress and it might catch on in other states.
—The Legislature has decreed that welfare recipients who "get a handout from the state" can be drug tested. This needs to be extended to everyone who gets a handout from the state. Let's start with executives from Electrolux, Volkswagen, Nissan, and Amazon.
—Agents who pay college athletes and ruin their eligibility are damaging to football, and basketball programs and can cost schools like the University of Tennessee millions in lost revenue. Anyone caught tampering with a college player needs to be arrested and charged with perpetrating a fraud on the state's sports fans with a stiff prison sentence to follow.
I'm sure you have your own array of pet peeves, so make a list and let's put these candidates on the spot. I know you think some of my ideas might be trivial—but we are talking about the Tennessee Legislature after all.
Trivial pursuits are not unheard of around Nashville.