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Alexander Cosponsors Bill to Reimburse States for Cost of Reopening Nat’l Parks During 2013 Federal Shutdown

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; January 12, 2015:

Says Legislation Would Reimburse $60,000 To Tennessee For Blount And Sevier Counties

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today cosponsored legislation with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to reimburse states that provided their own funds to keep the national parks within their state open during the federal government shutdown in October 2013, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures, which was forced to be shut down during its prime tourist season, a time when the park welcomes the most visitors and the surrounding businesses make most of their money,” Alexander said. “This legislation would help relieve the pain caused in these areas and their surrounding communities and ensure Tennessee taxpayers won’t have to pay the price for keeping them open.”

The National Park Access Act would reimburse the six states (Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) that paid the National Park Service approximately $2 million of state and local money to keep the national parks in their states open during the federal government shutdown. Blount and Sevier Counties in Tennessee spent nearly $60,000 to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

During the government shutdown, Alexander introduced similar legislation, The Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act,to reimburse states within 90 days for all state funds used to reopen national parks while the federal government was shut down. He also worked with the National Park Service, Gov. Haslam, Blount and Sevier counties, and other members of the Tennessee delegation to reopen the national parks and ensure Tennessee and other states would be reimbursed for opening their national parks during the shutdown. The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which ended the shutdown, included $2 million in retroactive funding for the National Park Service to cover the payments made by the states. Today’s legislation gives the National Park Service the congressional authority it needs to refund this money back to the states, including the $60,000 for the state of Tennessee and Blount and Sevier Counties.

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TWRA Announces Closure of Federal Public Lands in TN

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; October 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is informing sportsmen that due to the federal governmental shutdown on Oct. 1, several federal public lands have been impacted.

All Tennessee national wildlife refuges, including Tennessee and Cross Creeks, are now closed. The permitted hunts will be canceled and the refuges will be closed to all public use. All refuge boat ramps are closed and refuges are closed to all fishing.

All refuge roads, observation decks, and hiking trails are closed to all access. All refuge offices and visitor centers are closed.

Land Between the Lakes remains open to hunting, back country camping, and hiking. However, all facilities that are normally staffed are closed. The process of evacuating all paid campgrounds is underway. The visitor centers are closed. Persons in need of a hunting permit will need to purchase those online or at a license agent other than the LBL visitor centers.

In regard to other areas, Fort Campbell hunting and fishing remains open at this time. Big South Fork is closed to the public. On both the North and South units of the Cherokee National Forest, all gates that are open will remain open although some campgrounds and restroom facilities may not be available.

The closures have come due to the lapse in appropriated funds, affecting all public lands managed by the Department of the Interior (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.). For more information, FAQs, and updates, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Persons interested in visiting federal lands and facilities are advised to monitor media outlets for further and updated information.

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Press Releases

TFA: Haslam Wrong that Federal Shut Down Affects Gun Permit Issuance

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 1, 2013:

The Federal Government’s Partial Shutdown and its Impact on Tennessee Handgun Permits

The federal government is now under a partial and likely temporary shutdown of “non-essential” services. Governor Haslam’s administration is reportedly stating that “the issuance of handgun permits . . . would be affected due to required background checks, according to the administration.”

TFA’s review of the handgun permit statute suggests that as a matter of state law there can and should be no delays whatsoever to that process unless its an intentional decision by state government to delay on the excuse of the partial federal shutdown.

It is important for those concerned about this issue to pay attention to the language of the statute which establishes the procedure for issuing (and renewing) handgun permits and not necessarily to rely on statements from Governor Haslam.

The statute in question is Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351. Although the statutory language is set forth below, it is important to note that the state of Tennessee is required to issue the permit within 90 days of the date of application even if the FBI never responds (subsection (i)). Actually, there is not a single provision in the Tennessee statute which even requires the state to delay the issuance of the permit while waiting on any federal agency to respond. Any representation by the administration that the issuance or renewals of permits might be delayed by the federal partial government shutdown is not supported – even remotely – by state law.

What Governor Haslam’s statement does evidence is an unacceptable belief that Tennessee government and other state governments are somehow subordinate to the federal government and totally reliant on its existence not just for funds but apparently for matters such as the issuance of handgun permits to citizens. It is this type of philosophy and perception of the proper role between and among the citizens, the states and the federal government that is a cancer to our Republic, to state sovereignty and to the rights of citizens. It is critical that citizens understand this and that they be ever watchful for this diseased mental process to surface so that it can be corrected by citizen pressure and if not corrected swiftly that those so infected can be removed from the stewardship of government service as swiftly as possible.

TCA 39-17-1351

(g) (1) Upon receipt of a permit application, the department shall: (A) Forward two (2) full sets of fingerprints of the applicant to the Tennessee bureau of investigation; and (B) Send a copy of the application to the sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides.

(2) Within thirty (30) days of receiving an application, the sheriff shall provide the department with any information concerning the truthfulness of the applicant’s answers to the eligibility requirements of subsection (c) that is within the knowledge of the sheriff.

(h) Upon receipt of the fingerprints from the department, the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall:

(1) Within thirty (30) days from receipt of the fingerprints, conduct computer searches to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a permit under subsection (c) as are available to the bureau based solely upon the applicant’s name, date of birth and social security number and send the results of the searches to the department;

(2) Conduct a criminal history record check based upon one (1) set of the fingerprints received and send the results to the department; and

(3) Send one (1) set of the fingerprints received from the department to the federal bureau of investigation, request a federal criminal history record check based upon the fingerprints, as long as the service is available, and send the results of the check to the department.

(i) The department shall deny a permit application if it determines from information contained in the criminal history record checks conducted by the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation pursuant to subsection (h), from information received from the clerks of court regarding individuals adjudicated as a mental defective or judicially committed to a mental institution pursuant to title 33, or from other information that comes to the attention of the department, that the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of this section. The department shall not be required to confirm the applicant’s eligibility for a permit beyond the information received from the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation, the clerks of court and the sheriffs, if any.

(j) The department shall not deny a permit application if: (1) The existence of any arrest or other records concerning the applicant for any indictment, charge or warrant have been judicially or administratively expunged; or (2) An applicant’s conviction has been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction; or (3) The applicant, who was rendered infamous or deprived of the rights of citizenship by judgment of any state or federal court, has had the applicant’s full rights of citizenship duly restored pursuant to procedures set forth within title 40, chapter 29, or other federal or state law; provided, however, that this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply to any person who has been convicted of burglary, any felony offense involving violence or use of a firearm or any felony drug offense involving a Schedule I, II, III, IV or V controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue. If the applicant has been convicted of a felony drug offense involving a Schedule VI controlled substance, this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply if the offense occurred within ten (10) years of the date of application or renewal.

(k) If the department denies an application, the department shall notify the applicant in writing within ten (10) days of the denial. The written notice shall state the specific factual basis for the denial. It shall include a copy of any reports, records or inquiries reviewed or relied upon by the department.

(l) The department shall issue a permit to an applicant not prohibited from obtaining a permit under this section no later than ninety (90) days after the date the department receives the application. A permit issued prior to the department’s receipt of the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation’s criminal history record checks based upon the applicant’s fingerprints shall be subject to immediate revocation if either record check reveals that the applicant is not eligible for a permit pursuant to the provisions of this section.