Anti-U.N. Bill sent back to House subcommittee

Hank Hayes • Mar 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

State Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss’ legislation to prohibit the United Nations from observing Tennessee elections was cruising toward a House floor vote.

But after being passed on a voice vote by the House Local Government Committee, the bill has been re-referred to the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, did not immediately respond to a request for information about the bill moving backward.

Under his legislation, U.N. representatives would face a misdemeanor offense if caught observing Tennessee elections.

But after an evaluation of the bill, the state’s Fiscal Review Office determined it would not generate “a sufficient number of prosecutions.” The office also found the bill would have no impact on the state Division of Elections.

Van Huss, while moving his bill through the House Local Government Committee, explained he drafted the legislation because the U.N. came to Tennessee last November to monitor the state’s election process for human rights violations.

“The United Nations continues to take actions that I believe infringes on our national sovereignty and that’s why I wrote this legislation to begin to stop that,” Van Huss, a military veteran, told the committee.

State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, then asked Van Huss: “What did they do to us? Did they do anything after they watched?”

Van Huss said nothing happened.

“Then I don’t quite understand what you’re doing this for,” Jones told Van Huss.

“I swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States,” Van Huss told Jones. “I did not swear an oath to protect the United Nations. I believe Tennessee is the greatest state in the greatest nation the world has ever known. If we can’t handle our election problems on our own, then why are we here?”

State Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, sided with Van Huss.

“The United Nations has no business in our polling places telling us anything,” Floyd said. “If they want to look for human rights violations, they’ve got hundreds of countries they can go to, not America.”

But state Rep. Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson, D-Memphis, pointed out Tennessee has experienced voting irregularities.

“It shouldn’t matter who should be watching us,” Parkinson said.

Van Huss responded: “You are correct in that we have nothing to hide when it comes to our election process.”

Van Huss’ bill had moved on to the House Calendar and Rules Committee, which channels legislation to the House floor.

No action has been taken on the state Senate version of the bill carried by state Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains.

Other bills on the move:

•State Rep. Matthew Hill’s legislation requiring at least one school resource officer in every public school will be heard by a House Education Subcommittee Tuesday.

•State Rep. Timothy Hill’s bill prohibiting Johnson City from raising water rates on Sullivan County customers outside the city limits by 50 percent higher than the city rate will be heard by a House Local Government Committee on Tuesday.

•A House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday will consider state Rep. Tony Shipley’s bill requiring any person with a restricted license to drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. The bill is opposed by the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association.

For more, go to www.capitol.tn.gov.

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