Monday, March 6, 2017

Senator Douglas Henry, RIP

Senator Douglas Henry may have been the last of the good Democrats.  He had a profound love for this country and state, he revered the constitution, he was pro-life, and fiscally responsible. Senator Henry was a true southern gentlemen, always civil and polite and responsive.

I did not know Senator Henry well, but interacted with him from time to time and was at many of the same functions with him over the years. I respected, admired and liked Senator Henry.  He will be missed. Below are news stories and tributes.

4 WSMV: Lawmakers release statements on passing of former Tennessee senator.

Right to Life Mourns Passing of Senator Douglas Henry

After the 1973 Roe v Wade decision struck down abortion laws across the nation, Tennessee's first pro-life protections were sponsored by Senator Douglas Henry, a conservative Nashville Democrat. Just weeks after the decision, Henry led legislative efforts to ensure that abortion would be regulated as strongly as possible under the court's wrong ruling.

"Because of the Supreme Court's decision which in my opinion is horrendous, until a national amendment can be achieved, we must put a law on the books of our state," state Senator Curtis Person declared on May 2, 1973. "The bill I voted for, today, in my opinion and as explained by the Sponsor, Senator Douglas Henry, is the most stringent law to control abortions we can pass under the Supreme Court ruling." 

Henry's bill, Tennessee's first post-Roe abortion law, established conscience rights for healthcare providers, reporting requirements for abortionists, hospitalization for later abortions, and criminal penalties for abortion providers found guilty of violating the laws. The early pro-life bill also criminalized coerced abortion and stipulated that only licensed physicians could perform abortions.  

"In the weeks and months following the Roe decision, it was not clear what limits, if any, the Supreme Court would allow states to place on the newly claimed fundamental right to abortion," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life.  "Senator Henry understood that without any abortion regulations at all, the lives of women, girls and unborn children would remain at grave risk and Senator Henry took the lead in guiding a nascent pro-life movement that would benefit from his leadership for the next forty years."  
In 1980, Tennessee became the 16th state to approve language calling for a constitutional convention to draft a Human Life Amendment, a resolution sponsored by Senator Henry. Throughout the years, Senator Henry also sponsored pro-life bills to require parental notification and consent, to limit tax-payer funding of abortions, and to place Amendment 1 (SJR 127) on the ballot for a public vote.  In 2014, Senator Henry served as an honorary co-chair for the Yes on 1 campaign. 
"Today pro-life Tennesseans are filled with respect and gratitude for a public servant who devoted his public life to defending the right to life of every Tennessean," said Harris.  "Senator Henry was a pioneer in the struggle to restore protections for human life and we will do our utmost to carry on his work and legacy." 

The Tennessean - Douglas Selph Henry Jr., a giant of the Tennessee legislature for six decades and a force in Nashville politics who was regarded as the epitome of a Southern statesman and gentleman, died late Sunday. He was 90.  ....

Gov. Bill Haslam Statement on Passing of Douglas Henry:
One of the most fun calls I have been able to make as governor was a call in 2015 to Sen. Henry when we knew we would be able to put funding for the new state museum in the budget. Sen. Henry was a tireless champion of the museum, its mission and the importance of preserving Tennessee history for future generations. His dedication to the museum may only be surpassed by his commitment to the state’s financial strength. I was fortunate to be able to visit with Sen. Henry Friday, and I can attest that the state’s finances were still top of mind to him. He served the state for nearly 50 years, and it is not an exaggeration to say that he is one of the primary reasons the state is on such solid financial footing today. He was a powerhouse intellect, courteous, kind, genuine and a statesman, and I will miss knowing that his wisdom and perspective are only a phone call away.

Former State Sen. Douglas Henry, A Giant In Tennessee Politics, Dies At 90

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the passing of Douglas Henry, the longest-serving member of the Tennessee legislature:
“There was no one in the Tennessee General Assembly who demonstrated integrity, courtesy and financial stability more than Douglas Henry. To him, party politics were of no importance. The citizens he served were what mattered. His example will be important for years to come.” 

Bob Corker Statement on the Passing of Douglas Henry:
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the passing of Doug Henry, the longest-serving member of the Tennessee legislature. Henry retired in 2014.
“I first had the opportunity to work with Doug Henry in the mid-1990s during my time as commissioner of finance, and I last spoke with him on Friday to tell him how much I thought of him,” said Corker. “He was a true gentleman and a true Tennessee statesman. No one focused more over a longer period on the fiscal issues facing our state than Senator Henry, and with a steady hand and wise guidance, he set a tremendous example of bipartisanship and integrity in public service. I will truly miss Doug’s friendship and will keep the entire Henry family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
As commissioner of finance in the mid-1990s, Corker worked closely with Henry in his role as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee to address challenging budgetary issues.

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