Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and Tennesseans from every walk of life don't agree on much. But almost every resident of the Volunteer State can find common ground on the ideas that there is too much waste in state government and far too many unnecessary, obsolete laws and regulations are on the books.
Two Williamson County state lawmakers have developed a plan to address both problems in one fell swoop.
In what may be the best idea to come out of Nashville since the Goo Goo Cluster, state Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, unveiled a proposal on Tuesday to streamline state government, save taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and make the legislative process more transparent.
The legislation calls for creating the Office of the Repealer -- a one-time, four-year position with "the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the legislature in areas of government waste, duplication and out-of-date regulations that should be removed from the law books," according to a statement by the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus.
In an effort to ensure that no stone goes unturned, the public would be asked to offer recommendations for ways to slash fat from the budget and reduce regulations.
The idea is not new. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, widely considered among the most innovative and fiscally responsible state executives in the nation, established the Office of the Repealer in the Sunflower State two years ago.
The Kansas Office of the Repealer already has identified scores of regulations, laws and executive orders that the governor and state lawmakers are working to repeal including a state fee on pest control operators and the appointment process for (now-nonexistent) jail matrons.
State lawmakers in Illinois and Rhode Island are so impressed with the success of the Office of the Repealer in Kansas that they are also considering adding similar positions.
Here in Tennessee, state Rep. Casada already has uncovered one law that could be a target if a Tennessee Office of the Repealer is instituted -- releasing more than 25 balloons at a time is illegal and punishable by a fine of $250 per balloon. "What we're going to do with that law -- and others like it -- is to get rid of it," Casada said at press conference at the State Capitol announcing the idea.
The Office of the Repealer will be funded by dollars previously assigned to a now-obsolete staff position. As a result, the position would save taxpayers millions a year without costing Tennesseans any additional money.
The legislation to create the Office of the Repealer already has tremendous support. Forty-two of the 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, including a number of high-profile Democrats. Such bi-partisan support for creating a temporary office to streamline government is an indication of just how good the idea is.
If a talented watchdog is named to lead the Office of the Repealer, and state lawmakers implement the office's recommendations, the plan will ultimately save taxpayers billions of dollars, while removing absurd laws and frustrating regulatory burdens that impact individuals and businesses across the state -- and that's something that all Tennesseans can get behind.