NASHVILLE, February 26, 2015– Newly elected Senator Lee Harris (D-Memphis) and I would seem like total polar opposites politically. He’s from the big city of Memphis; I’m from a small town in rural Tennessee; He’s a Democrat, I’m a Republican; He’s black, I’m white; He’s in the Senate, I’m in the House. Unfortunately, many would draw a seemingly logical conclusion that we don’t like each other– that we would seek to oppose and discredit one another. Given the national political environment, it is an easy assumption to make.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, in the few short weeks I have spent with Senator Harris, I have grown to love and respect him. He is brave, bold, responsible, and exactly what the people of Memphis need in a Democratic State Senator.
While Senator Harris and I may not find common ground on many policy issues, we are linking arms on a huge issue for many Tennesseans; outlawing traffic cameras in the Volunteer State.
The presence of traffic cameras in the Great State of Tennessee is a festering wound to the free and sovereign people of this state. We’ve heard the fallacious arguments in favor of traffic cameras time and time again.
They generate revenue for the city: Since when did your constitutional rights have a price-tag? Did I mention that the vast majority of revenue is sent to out-of-state companies running the cameras, which has resulted in millions of dollars leaving Tennessee’s economy?
They reduce accidents: The only studies and data that show this outcome are funded by the cities and companies making millions of dollars off of the cameras, making such studies and data inherently biased. In fact, non-bias, independent studies show that traffic cameras actually increase accidents.
The list goes on, and each argument is just as easy to defeat.
The truth is simple. The vast majority of Tennesseans oppose having the right to face their accuser usurped by out-of-state companies. Also, many law enforcement agents I have spoken with have privately told me they oppose cameras because it creates anger, distrust and angst among the citizens they serve, which they feel puts them at greater risk. It is unfortunate that these law enforcement agents must remain silent due to fear of losing their job should they rock the boat.
As a Memphis city councilman, Sen. Harris voted against traffic cameras multiple times. Now, as a newly elected member of the Tennessee General Assembly, Sen. Harris was the first Senate co-sponsor of the “Tennessee Freedom From Traffic Cameras Act”. Sen. Harris will undoubtedly be attacked by his city officials, but his resolve to stand for Tennesseans will never be forgotten by me.
Democrats and Republicans can work together for the greater good of Tennessee, and I pray we see more of this.
To the people of Rocky Top, please join the fight by calling Sen. Harris to thank him for his stand. Also, please be sure to call members of both the Senate and House Transportation committees and tell them this simple message: “Please pass the Tennessee Freedom From Traffic Cameras Act. My rights are not for sale.”
Representative Andy Holt (Weakley, Carroll and Obion Counties)