State Senator Frank Niceley (R-TN-08) wants to keep the effective date the same for his legislation establishing residency requirements for candidates in U.S. House and U.S. Senate primaries. In its current form, SB2616 would impact the 2022 election cycle.
The Tennessee Star previously reported that Tennessee State Representative David Wright (R-19) said he intends to amend the House version of SB2616 so that the effective date of the bill’s three-year residency requirement to qualify as a candidate for a congressional primary in the state from 2022 to 2024 because it would be “too confusing” to make it effective this year.
Representative Wright’s House version, HB2764, is on the Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee calendar for consideration on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.
The Star reached out to Senator Niceley for comment about Wright’s stated intended change to the effective date of the House version because it would be “too confusing” for the legislation to take effect for this year’s elections.
Senator Niceley disagreed with the notion that enacting the legislation for this year’s elections would be “too confusing.”
“Most people I’ve heard from are not in favor of changing the effective date. It is less confusing if you pass it this year,” Niceley said.
SB2616 was recommended for passage by the Senate State and Local Government Committee and referred to the Senate Calendar Committee, whose responsibility it is to schedule legislation for floor action.
Senator Niceley believes that a floor vote will happen in the near future. “I think the bill will probably be scheduled for a vote this week. My gut feeling is we probably have the votes in the Senate to pass as is.”
If Niceley’s legislation passes in the Senate, then there will be pressure on the House to pass it with the same effective date, but there are a number of possible ways this legislation could play out.
If the Senate were to pass Senator Niceley’s version with an effective date for this year’s elections and the House passed a version with a different effective date, there would be a conference committee formed to negotiate out the differences between the legislation. Senators and state representatives would be appointed to that committee. If the committee could not come to an agreement, then the legislation would be effectively dead.
If Senator Niceley’s current version is enacted and becomes law, then former State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus and music video director Robby Starbuck would become ineligible for the Tennessee 5th Congressional district Republican primary that occurs on August 4th.
If Wright’s stated preference for a different effective date prevails, and that version of the legislation is passed into law, then a nightmare scenario for Republicans in TN-5 could occur in 2024, where an incumbent Republican U.S. representative could be theoretically ineligible to run in a 2024 Republican re-election primary.
Representative Wright could also theoretically decide not to follow through with his intended change, withdraw his version of the legislation, or stand aside for another representative to carry the House version.
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office told The Star that the current latest date to finalize the ballots is April 21, 2022. It is currently unclear whether that date could be changed if pending legislation like SB2616 were to affect the August 4, 2022 ballot.
The legislative week of February 21 looks to be a pivotal week for this legislation.
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