Crowe bill calling for Constitutional Convention moves to Senate floor

From Staff Reports

   A bill co-sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), which would allow citizens to vote in August on calling a limited Constitutional Convention, was passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for debate.
   Sen. Crowe co-sponsored Bill 3156 with Republican Senators Curtis Person and Mark Norris. If the "Crowe-Person-Norris Plan" is approved, and the people of the state vote to have a Constitutional Convention, then one delegate from each Senate district representing each community would be elected in November. The convention would then meet to discuss what tax approach Tennessee would take for the 21st century. Once the convention decided on an approach, then their decision would go back to the polls for a vote by the people.
   "On behalf of all Tennesseans whose voices have not been heard, I am very pleased that this legislation has moved to the Senate where debate can begin," Crowe said. Senate Bill 3156 could install a management performance based on an accountability system similar to Total Quality Management (TQM) or Management by Objectives (MBO). It would ask each department of the state to examine each law and determine whether those laws are defunct, overlapping, or increasing spending.
   Sen. Crowe believes that the state's constitution must be examined to determine what it allows concerning taxation. He says that Article II in the state constitution prohibits a tax on income except for investment income from stocks and bonds. He says the governor and lawmakers cannot change the constitutional law that prevents a general tax on earned income.
   Delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention would meet all year to determine if and how the state needs to reform its tax structure. Changes could include repealing the tax on stocks and bonds, adopting limits on taxation, altering the sales tax, or implementing an income tax. The convention's decisions would be presented for approval at the polls no later than the next general election in 2003.
   The Tennessee Supreme Court has made four rulings between 1928 and 1960 that a tax on general income is unconstitutional. Each ruling was decided with a 5-0 vote.