State Senator Frank Niceley Expects Senate-Passed Legislation Establishing Residency Requirements for Federal Candidates in Primaries to Pass in the House

State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) expects his version of the bill establishing residency requirements for candidates in Tennessee primaries, which the Senate 31-1 approved, to pass in the state House.

Niceley told The Tennessee Star, “I expect when the House legislation reaches the floor, they’ll vote to substitute and conform to the Senate bill. That way it’ll be quick and painless. If its a good bill, its a good bill now.”

Niceley explained his reasoning for sponsoring the legislation, saying that he doesn’t want last-minute candidates from other states to enter Tennessee primary elections without spending enough time in the state to get to know a district they’d be running in.

“We don’t want to go down this road where a candidate from New England or some other place could just jump in and run in Tennessee elections at the last minute.” said Niceley.

Niceley also told The Star about a scenario he had in mind that would displease the people of Tennessee.

“Imagine this. Do you think Tennesseans would appreciate the idea that somebody like a retired football player, Tom Brady or somebody else, could come down here, not know anything about the district, jump in the race last minute, then spend $5 to $6 million, and go to Congress?”

The Tennessee State House of Representatives received Niceley’s Senate-approved SB2616 on Thursday. The status on the General Assembly website says that has been held on the House desk.

The Star asked Niceley to explain what the term “held on House desk” means.

“What that means is that when the House version gets to the floor, they can vote to conform the House bill to the Senate bill – or they can pass their own and send it back to the Senate,” he said. “If that happens then I’ll reject the House version and it’ll go to conference committee.”

A conference committee would be composed of an equal amount of members of the state Senate and state House. If one is appointed, committee members would then negotiate to attempt to resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions. If the conference committee cannot come to an agreement, the legislation would be effectively dead for this year.

The Star previously reported that State Representative Dave Wright’s (R-Knoxville) version of the legislation, which was approved by the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee and is on the regular calendar for the House Local Government Committee for Tuesday is currently markedly different than the Senate-passed version sponsored by Niceley.

Niceley’s Senate-passed version establishes residency requirements for Tennessee candidates in federal primaries that would match the current requirements for state House and state Senate candidates, which is a three-year residency requirement.

“In order to qualify as a candidate in a primary election for United States senate or for member of the United States house of representatives, a person shall meet the residency requirements for state senators and representatives contained in the Tennessee constitution. ”

Wright’s pending House version applies to all federal candidates in primaries and general elections, sets an effective date to one day after this year’s elections, and exempts candidates elected this year from that standard for future elections.

If Niceley’s Senate-passed version is enacted into law, Tennessee newcomer and former State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus would be off the Fifth District GOP primary ballot. California native Robby Starbuck would also likely be ineligible as well.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTR.




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2 Thoughts to “State Senator Frank Niceley Expects Senate-Passed Legislation Establishing Residency Requirements for Federal Candidates in Primaries to Pass in the House”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I certainly hope that Niceley is right.