Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tennessee Bills



Recently, I was perusing a sampling of the bills passed during the latest session of the Tennessee State Legislature and I came across these highlights. Enjoy.

SB2482 / HB2406 – “Serving Wine at Art Galleries”

If you are seeking unnervingly-specific legislation, look no further than this gem. It was created to allow the distribution of complimentary wine, by an art gallery, only if said gallery does not sell food or beverages and can demonstrate that at least 90% of its revenue is derived from the sale of artwork. The proprietors of the gallery must also ensure that the recipients of said gratis libations are not already intoxicated (presumably from the copious amounts of free wine they consumed at the previous gallery they were at). I wonder what the litmus test would be for “too drunk for an art gallery?” Does someone step in once you start botching impressionism references or are people so polite that you have to be caught licking the canvas before the owner intervenes?

I suspect plying prospective customers with free alcohol is not a bad marketing strategy. I can only imagine if this ability was extended to other local businesses. Some poor sap would be walking around a used car dealership with a glass of whiskey while the salesman kept whispering, “If anyone in this town deserves a new Porsche, it is a man who has emerged from his second bankruptcy with his head held high.” 

SB1771/HB1883 – “Allows the sale, loan, or gift of switchblade knives to minors”

I know what you are thinking: What took them so long? I think we can all agree that we are all better off without big brother looking over our shoulder every time Chuck-E-Cheese hands out a click-sticker. I would love to hear the story behind this bill. What crusading citizen stood up and said, “It is high time that we decriminalized switchblade raffles at local preschools!” I also enjoyed the specification of “switchblade loaning” as acceptable. In my experience, there are only a handful of reasons someone would ask to borrow your switchblade and all of them end with you pleading to an accessory charge.

In defense of our legislative body, the same bill did increase the fine for “employing a switchblade knife during the commission of a dangerous felony” from $3,000 to $6,000. So while more underage children may be totting switchblades, let it be known that they will be responsible for paying a hefty fine for their misuse. (Or at least they would have to if they were legally allowed to hold jobs.)

SB1777 / HB1952 – “Prohibits the use of drones to interfere with citizens hunting and fishing”

Nothing ruins a day on the lake like being constantly strafed by an MQ-1 Predator Drone. If I had a dollar for every time a government-operated sky-snooper ruined my haul of Pike, I wouldn’t have to keep robbing people with my recently-decriminalized switchblade. Tellingly, the legislation only prohibits “surveillance” by a drone but does nothing to discourage the launch of lethal projectiles from unmanned aircraft. Perhaps there is a truncated “hellfire missile” season that bookends bow season.  

SB2242 / HB1704 – “Third Offense of Observation without Consent”

You can rest easy Tennesseans, because that dirty old-pervert in the duplex next door is only allowed to window shop for so long before he earns the dubious title of “sex-offender”. While I completely understand the need to prevent and discourage “peeping tom” behavior in a civilized society, I imagine it would be pretty difficult to score the conviction trifecta on this charge. I can see a clever defense attorney arguing that his client was simply an overzealous participant in the local neighborhood watch program and feared that his victim was in danger of being attacked by the roving gang of switchblade-wielding toddlers that had recently taken over the area.  Although it was unclear whether the “three peeks” statute included drone-based observation without consent, I wouldn’t tempt fate and film your neighbor’s nude bass-fishing tournament with an RC Helicopter just to be on the safe side.

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