If the state of Tennessee were a constitutional monarchy, plans would be well under way to have King Phil dissolve parliament and call for new elections. It would be a welcome move right now.
The legislative process is so bogged down that our state songs "Rocky Top" and the "Tennessee Waltz" should be replaced by the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K."
This morning, the Tennessee House of Representatives spent considerable time debating House Bill 1603, a resolution to allow dogs in restaurants. We aren't talking about guide dogs, seeing eye dogs or service dogs – they are already allowed. We are talking about pets, and a substantial portion of today's debate focused on dog "doo."
The House passed the bill, so it looks like soon you will be able to take your dog and your gun to a restaurant. Does that mean if your dog gets shot, that's what the doggie bag is for? I digress.
In other events this morning, several Democratic lawmakers said that Gov. Phil Bredesen called the budget submitted by the GOP "stupid" at a morning meeting. More than one source has told NashvillePost.com that Bredesen approached Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey at that same meeting and in no uncertain terms expressed pointedly his opinion with a few more choice words.
The GOP budget cuts out Bredesen's proposed Solar Institute, a central part of his European economic development tour, according to Democrats. Also not in the budget are funds for a West Tennessee megasite similar to the ones that landed Volkswagen in Chattanooga and Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville.
How angry are Democrats over the proposed GOP budget cuts? They are passing out the Republican budget without attachments, meaning they think its so bad it speaks for itself.
Republicans on the other hand are saying that Bredesen's budget projections are way off and have to be slashed. Some Republicans are saying the Bredesen budget is "rosy" while more than a few have called it "dishonest."
The reason we are where we are right now is that no one is in control of the legislature and 100-plus elected officials are trying to steer the ship toward every point on the compass. House Republicans are rudderless and looking to the Senate Republicans for direction. Some Democrats want to follow Bredesen's lead, while others want to take the various debates in whole new directions.
It is anyone's guess what the final state budget will look like. Republicans say their budget is a "starting point" while Democrats are ripping their hair out.
For the foreseeable future, it looks like the Tennessee General Assembly parliamentary form will be bogged down until someone gets a hold of the reins.
To quote Browning: "Oh, to be in England."