In 2022, there will be two initiatives put before Tennessee voters to enshrine new amendments to the Tennessee Constitution. Both ballot initiatives have passed the Tennessee General Assembly with a two thirds majority vote in each chamber and must now receive a majority of the vote in the gubernatorial election in order to be added to the Constitution.
Right to Work Constitutional Amendment – The first proposed amendment is to enshrine Tennessee’s Right to Work law in the State’s Constitution. The resolution was given final approval during the 2021 legislative session. The proposed amendment says, “It is unlawful for any person, corporation, association, or this state or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person by reason of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.”
This amendment will guarantee future generations of Tennessee workers their right to work regardless of whether they choose to join a union. The passage of this amendment would also send a strong message that Tennessee will continue to foster a business-friendly climate for the future.
Our Right to Work laws have been critical to producing the economic growth our state has experienced over the last decade.
Twenty-seven other states have Right to Work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional
amendments, including neighboring states Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Alabama amendment passed most recently in 2016. Another neighbor, Virginia, has considered repealing its Right to Work statute. A constitutional amendment in Tennessee would offer greater protection for workers against such repeal efforts.
Temporary incapacitation of the governor – Another constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in 2022 provides the framework for a stable transition in case the governor is unable to perform his or her duties due to a planned or unplanned absence.
The resolution provides that when a temporary incapacitation is planned, such as major surgery, a written declaration from the governor would be submitted that the powers and duties will be temporarily discharged by the speaker of the Senate. If the incapacitation is the result of a sudden incident where the governor is unable to submit a declaration, then the majority of administrative commissioners of the governor’s cabinet would submit a written declaration to temporarily name the speaker of the Senate as acting governor, with duties falling to the speaker of the House of Representatives if the Senate speaker’s office is vacant. The acting governor would be authorized to continue to perform the duties of the office until the governor transmits that he or she is able to resume their responsibilities.
Tennessee is the only state that does not have a provision in the state’s constitution that addresses this issue.