The agate was chosen to represent the State of Tennessee twice; first as the state "stone" and forty years later as the state "mineral."
On March 25, 1969, the agate was adopted as the official state "stone" of Tennessee by House Joint Resolution No. 42.
Forty years later, after adoption of an official state gem and an official state rock, the General Assembly thought that some clarification was in order. Specifically, they thought that "stone" was too broad a term. House Bill No. 278 (HB0278) and Senate Bill No. 919 (SB0919) were introduced, in February of 2009, to name the agate the official state mineral.
HB0278 passed in the House unanimously (March 23, 2009) and replaced SB0919 (March 26, 2009).
HB0278 went on to pass in the Senate unanimously (March 26, 2009) and was forwarded to Governor Phil Bredesen for his signature on March 31.
The agate became the official state "mineral" when the Governor signed HB0278 into law on April 2, 2009.
As stated in HB0278, the purpose of this legislation was to correct a "discrepancy involving official state symbols." The discrepancy is clearly explained in the text of HB0278 below.
HOUSE BILL 278
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3, to designate agate as the official state mineral.
WHEREAS, House Joint Resolution No. 42 of the 86th General Assembly, adopted March 25, 1969, designated agate as the official stone of Tennessee; and
WHEREAS, the words stone, rock, and gem are used interchangeably in such resolution; and
WHEREAS, a stone may be a mineral, a rock, or even a fossil, by definition; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 42 of the Public Acts of 1979 subsequently designated calcium carbonate, commonly known as limestone, as the official state rock; and
WHEREAS, in reality and by definition, agate is a waxy, cryptocrystalline variety of the mineral quartz in which the colors are present in bands, clouds, or distinct groups; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly wishes to correct this discrepancy involving official state symbols; now, therefore,
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3, is amended by adding the following language as a new Section 4-1-330:
Agate is designated as the official state mineral.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
The agate was declared "official" by action of the Tennessee General Assembly twice but by two different processes. Does the agate serve as both the official state stone and the official state mineral?
Initially, the agate was declared official by House Joint Resolution No. 42. According to the glossary offered online by the Tennessee General Assembly a joint resolution is:
Legislation requesting a study or expressing the views or sentiments of both houses but originating in one house. After passage, the joint resolution (e.g. House Joint Resolution 55 or Senate Joint Resolution 34) is signed by both speakers and the governor.
In 2009, the agate was declared official by House Bill No. 278. According to the glossary:
A bill is proposed legislation introduced to enact a new law or change or repeal an existing law.
We think that the weight of law holds precedent over a resolution that expresses the "views or sentiments" of the legislature and feel that the 2009 law supersedes the 1969 resolution. The agate should now properly be referred to as the state mineral, rather than the state stone. What do you think?
The following information was excerpted from the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3, Section 4-1-330.
Title 4 State Government
Chapter 1 General Provisions
Part 3 State Symbols
Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-1-330 (2011)
4-1-330. State mineral.
Agate is designated as the official state mineral.
HISTORY: Acts 2009, ch. 30, § 1.
The State of Tennessee. Tennessee Code Annotated. Nashville: The State of Tennessee, 2011. Web. 18 Aug 2011. .
Tennessee General Assembly. House Bill No. 278. Nashville:The State of Tennessee, 2011. Web. 23 Aug 2011. .
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.
Definition of AGATE: Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Agate: The International Colored Gemstone Association.
Agate Facts, Information and Description: Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry, Cincinnati, Ohio.
State minerals: Complete list of official state minerals from NETSTATE.COM.
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Tennessee state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.
Jewlry: Agates: Agate jewelry from Amazon.com; Gold; Silver; Platinum; Stainless Steel.
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