By OTIS L. SANFORD Memphis Commercial Appeal
Usually at this time of year, I view the start of the Tennessee legislative session the same way I view incoming Christmas bills — with plenty of angst.
This gathering of the General Assembly, however, is shaping up to be refreshingly different. Of course, there will be a smattering of outlandish bills and self-serving resolutions from overzealous lawmakers. But overall, this will likely be a session marked by restraint, with an eye toward the 2018 state and federal elections.
Republicans will continue to flex their supermajority muscle. But some are clearly looking over their shoulder for signs of a resurgence by Democrats. That possibility emerged last month during a special election to fill the state senate seat held by Republican Mae Beavers, who resigned to concentrate on her run for governor.
Beavers’ district covers six counties in Middle Tennessee that are as conservative as any in the state. Donald Trump won the district over Hillary Clinton the 2016 presidential election by more than 40 points. But Republican Mark Pody, a state representative, defeated