NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Niceley Proposes Sales-Tax Holiday for Guns, Ammo

In light of rising hunting-license fees and soaring ammunition costs, a rural East Tennessee state senator wants to give hunters a break on their supplies similar to what families get each year on back-to-school goods.

“I just thought maybe the sportsmen need a break, let’s see what it’s going to cost,” state Sen. Frank Niceley, a Strawberry Plains Republican and farmer, told TNReport last week.

Niceley pointed to the sales tax holiday the state currently grants to families of students on the first weekend in August each year, and said his proposal is “just a little something to jump-start the sports world.”

He added similar proposals in Louisiana and Mississippi have worked well and are “very popular.”

Niceley said he wanted to give Volunteer State sportsmen a break due to rising ammunition costs and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s recently proposed increase in what he thinks are already expensive hunting licenses.

In mid-January the state Fish & Wildlife Commission approved a 22 percent increase in licensing fees, raising the Type 1 resident hunting and fishing license from $27 to $33, and the annual sportsman license from $135 to $165. The new fees will go into effect on July 1.

Under the legislation, SB0206, purchases of firearms, ammunition and “hunting supplies” — defined as “archery equipment, firearm and archery cases, firearm and archery accessories, hearing protection, holsters, belts and slings” — would be exempt from having sales tax levied on it. “The Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday” would take place the first weekend of September.

The proposal also requires the state to reimburse local governments for any losses incurred as a result of the exemptions.

Niceley framed his legislation as another in a line of tax cuts since the GOP took control of the General Assembly several years back, such as the reducing the grocery tax and Hall Income Tax, as well as abolishing the state’s inheritance and gift taxes. “That’s what Republicans do. Republicans cut taxes,” he said.

However, Niceley also admitted if the bill has “too big a fiscal note” then he “obviously won’t be able to get it passed.”

The bill currently has no House sponsor.

Press Releases

Alexander: Guns Could ‘Actually’ Be Confiscated Under Obama Administration Ivory Regulations

Press release from U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; July 24, 2014:

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“For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that. If this regulation is approved, when you decide to sell a gun, a guitar or anything else across state lines that contains [legal] African elephant ivory, the government would actually take them away.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) yesterday spoke on the Senate floor on legislation he has introduced that prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from prohibiting the interstate commerce of legal ivory, and products that contain legal ivory, such as firearms, musical instruments, antiques, and family heirlooms.

“For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that,” Alexander said. “If this regulation is approved, when you decide to sell a gun, a guitar or anything else across state lines that contains [legal] African elephant ivory, the government would actually take them away – even if you inherited them or bought them at a time when the sale of ivory was not illegal.”

Alexander continued, “I support stopping poachers, and I support stopping the trade of illegal ivory. What I don’t support is treating Tennessee musicians, antique shops, and firearms sellers like illegal ivory smugglers… This legislation will stop the administration from taking away our legal guns, guitars, and other items that contain legal ivory if we try to sell them across state lines.”

Alexander introduced S. 2587, the Lawful Ivory Protection Act of 2014, in response to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s announced plan to prohibit interstate commerce of African elephant ivory as part of President Obama’s National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trade. Restricting interstate commerce of ivory would affect whether an item containing ivory can be sold across state lines within the United States, as well as whether it can legally re-enter the United States if carried abroad during travel.

Alexander’s bill would “stop this misguided policy from going forward” and prohibit the Fish and Wildlife Service from implementing any new rule, order, or standard that wasn’t in place prior to Feb. 25, 2014. Alexander also introduced this month the same proposal as an amendment to the Sportsmen’s Act (which the Senate failed to vote on).


Some Teachers Could Carry Guns Under Bill Passed by Legislature

Legislation drafted by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration that would give local boards of education the authority to allow certain teachers to carry firearms into the classroom heads to his desk for his signature.

House Bill 6 passed the Senate 27-6 on Thursday, with Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey joining Democrats in voting no.

Kelsey is chairman of the Senate Judicial Committee, where the “comprehensive” amendment that rewrote the bill was drafted. The House signed off on the new version later in the day.

The legislation would allows teachers or staff members who meet four criteria to carry a firearm of any kind onto a school campus – provided the person receives written authorization from the director of schools and the school’s principal. (See criteria list below.)


Once the person has met all of the requirements and receives permission, the director of schools has 10 days to notify the head of the appropriate local law enforcement agency information about this individual. These are the only individuals who will know which teachers or staff members are carrying, an issue with critics of the bill.

“I truly believe your constituents who have children in school would like to know if the teacher has a gun in the classroom,” said Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis.

Republican Sen. Mark Green, who came up with the amendment in committee, disagreed.

“A person who is intent on assaulting a school, one of the best pieces of information that person could have is where guns are in the school and where they’re located,” said the senator from Clarksville. “Keeping that information private protects the students in that school.”

However, each year the director of schools will be required to submit a report to the two chambers’ chief clerks a report containing just the number of schools and persons participating.

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, questioned whether or not the amendment placed any restrictions on the type of guns a school employee may legally carry.

“No, it did not. It simply mentions firearms,” Kelsey said.

“So a teacher could carry an AK-47 or an Uzi fully automatic if they so chose?” Campfield asked.

“Yes, the language drafted by the administration would allow a teacher to carry an AK-47 in the school,” the Germantown senator replied.

“Far be it from me to stand in the way of the governor,” Campfield said.

Campfield, who ended up voting for the bill, also noted that currently there are currently only about 100 teachers throughout the state who might meet the qualifications to carry a gun to school.

“I support the concept of this, but I really think it’s so watered down and weak, it really doesn’t do any of the goals that we all have,” he said. “And actually by shutting off all information to find out if its successful or not, we’ve neutered it about as much as it can be neutered.”

In his closing remarks, Kelsey said, “You’re not really providing true safety to anybody with this type of approach that’s half-hearted at best. If we’re truly are concerned about safety in our schools, then we’re going to have to suck it up and pay for it.”

Just before the vote, Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, who sponsored the legislation in the upper chamber, noted that the amended bill “represents the consensus language from the governor, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Sheriff’s Association, the school boards and the Chiefs of Police. Now if that many people can agree on this, it can’t be all bad.”

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at, on Twitter @DwnHomePolitics or at 615-442-8667.

Press Releases

Senate Passes Bill to Prevent Mentally Ill from Acquiring Guns

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; March 21, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today praised the passage of a bill designed to prevent those with mental illness from obtaining firearms. The bill’s chief Senate sponsor is Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin).

“Mass violence of any sort is a tragic occurrence. But the worst tragedy results when the state overreacts to a mass shooting by restricting the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “This bill focuses not on inanimate objects but on the very real issue of mental health.”

“I have always believed that a well-armed society is polite society,” Ramsey continued. “By focusing on the mentally ill, we will focus on those who should not have weapons while leaving the law-abiding gun owner free to exercise his God-given constitutional right.”

Senate Bill 789 requires increased frequency of reporting by mental health professionals to authorities when a person has been involuntarily committed, ruled mentally defective or threatened serious bodily harm to others. Information reported is kept confidential and used only for the purpose of processing a background check for the purchase of firearms.

Press Releases

MTSU Poll: Most Tennesseans for ‘Guns in Parking Lots’

Press release from the MTSU Survey Group; February 28, 2013:

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A majority of Tennesseans support a key provision of the “guns in trunks” measure set for consideration today in the state House of Representatives, but opinions about other types of firearm restrictions remain mixed, the latest MTSU Poll indicates.

“Of the gun control measures the poll asked about, allowing handgun permit holders to store guns in cars parked at work stood out as the only one that attracted majority support among Tennesseans,” said Dr. Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.

“The poll found an even divide between those who want to toughen gun laws or keep them as they are and between those who favor and oppose banning high-capacity ammunition magazines,” Blake said. “Meanwhile, more Tennesseans favor than oppose banning so-called ‘assault-style weapons,’ and more oppose than favor increasing the number of teachers and school officials carrying guns in schools. Finally, a large majority support requiring background checks for people who buy guns in private sales or at gun shows.”

According to the poll, a 58 percent majority of Tennesseans favor a law allowing “handgun concealed-carry permit holders in the state of Tennessee to keep handguns in cars parked in their employers’ parking lots while at work.” Only 33 percent say they oppose such a law, and the rest don’t know or refuse to answer. It should be noted that the question asked about concealed-carry permit holders, while handgun permits in Tennessee allow guns to be carried openly or concealed.

Press Releases

PET: ‘One Size Fits All’ Legislation Not an Answer to Protecting Schools

Op-Ed from the Professional Educators of Tennessee; January 8, 2012:

By Bill Gemmill

Professional Educators of Tennessee will neither endorse nor reject legislative proposals concerning the arming of teachers in schools. We argue that we do not want the state to mandate educators having to carry arms or for that matter to prohibit them from carrying. It is a decision that should be made at the local level. We believe that large urban districts are likely to oppose, while rural areas will likely support. One size fits all will not work. The subject is very emotional, with good arguments coming from all sides.

We anticipate that the legislature will pass a law that empowers individual school districts to determine for themselves what direction they want to take, including qualified, certified and licensed volunteer school personnel going armed in their building. We plan to offer resources and support to districts as they make their decisions, so that whatever that decision might be it will be implemented properly and safely.

We also believe that if a district decides to allow armed teachers and administrators into the schools, the decision will not be made lightly. Volunteers who go armed in the schools will be well trained and highly qualified. We have heard from teachers around the state who are expressing their willingness to defend children. Several are ex-military and former law enforcement officers who are now classroom teachers.

Professional Educators of Tennessee strongly supports the retention and expansion of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. This is a highly effective program that serves many purposes during the school year and is invaluable where it now exists. Within the walls of schools in Nashville, for instance, SRO’s build relationships with both students and adults, building a sense of trust and security. The Metro Nashville Police Department provides these wonderful officers, and their presence is reminiscent of the popular “beat cops” of yesteryear. As a former principal, I would recommend this program to any administrator.

As Tennessee progresses into the future with improved school security, we also support posting additional guidance counselors to schools and advanced training for all teachers that will help identify problem students before a tragedy like Sandy Hook, Columbine or the Aurora theaters once again rears its ugly head. Any viable option that can lead to a safer environment in our schools and communities needs to be considered.

All schools need upgraded security, whether it is as simple and reasonable as inside locks on classroom doors, or teachers going armed. The legislature’s actions and the decisions that the districts make will impact the lives of all the inhabitants of school buildings across the state. Professional Educators of Tennessee stands ready to help them do it right.


Bill Gemmill is Professional Educators of Tennessee’s Director of Membership & Media. He retired from Metro Nashville Public Schools as a principal in 2010.

Press Releases

Gun Season for Deer Opens Nov 17, Continues Through Jan 6

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; November 8, 2012:  

NASHVILLE — One of Tennessee’s traditions is the annual opening of gun season for deer which falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The 2012 season opens Nov. 17.

For the second year, sportsmen will find one continuous season that will continue through Jan. 6, 2013 The continuous season replaced the previously two segmented hunting seasons that were in place prior to last year.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency divides the state into three deer hunting units, A, B and & L. Hunters may harvest one antlered buck per day until the statewide bag limit of three is reached, including those deer harvested during archery and muzzleloader seasons. An antlered buck is a buck with an antler at least three inches long.

For antlerless deer hunting in Units A and B during this season, refer to the list of hunts on page 26 of TWRA’s 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. All hunts listed are now non-quota. Each county listed on page 26 has its own bag limit. A hunter may harvest the bag limit of antlerless deer in any open Unit A or B county and then go to any other counties listed and take the antlerless bag limit there, also. The bag limit for antlerless deer in Unit L is three per day.

A Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during this season on all non-quota hunts in Units A, B, & L, except for holders of an Annual Sportsman, Lifetime Sportsman, or Senior Citizen License Type 167 Permit.

TWRA personnel will be collecting data at selected check-in stations across the state on Saturday. Antlered bucks will be measured and aged for management purposes.

The second Young Sportsman Hunt will be held the weekend of Jan. 12-13, 2013.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee.

For more information about Tennessee’s 2012-13 deer hunting seasons, refer to the 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available at all license agents, TWRA regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown or on the TWRA website at

Press Releases

TFA: Kingsport Officials Flirting with Flouting Constitution

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 3, 2012: 

Local Government Officials still working to infringe 2nd Amendment Rights of Tennesseans and the capacity of citizens to provide their own self defense.

The news report starts:

“KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen was expected to consider a change to city code tonight that would have prohibited residents with handgun carry permits from carrying their firearms in city parks, including Bays Mountain and along the Greenbelt.”

A few years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law which removed all restrictions on citizens carrying in state and federal parks (to the extent state law prohibited federal park carry). However, bowing to pressure from local government officials (who were probably lobbying on your tax dollars to defeat your rights) the legislature agreed to an “opt out” provision which allows local city and county governments to vote to close local parks to permit holders. It appears from this story that elected officials in Kingsport are seriously contemplating ignoring the constitution and the rights of citizens – sort of like Obama does.

They appear to believe it is their duty and option to close publicly owned land to all citizens of the state and visitors to this state who choose to provide for their own self-defense. It appears that they are believers in the “lies of the left” that banning citizens from carrying firearms will make the parks safe by discouraging criminals, robbers and rapists from going armed into those seldom patrolled areas. They have set upon a path and now shown that they, like Rep. Debra Maggart, perhaps do not abide by their oaths to uphold the constitution and therefore do not deserve to hold public trust or office.

While some might think that this is a local issue, it is not. This type of decision impacts anyone who might vacation or travel in the area. It sets a pattern which if not opposed might encourage other city and county officials in other areas to stomp on your rights.

The full story is here.

You can contact Kingsport officials at these addresses

Mayor Dennis
Vice Mayor Tom
Alderman Valerie
Alderman Jantry
Alderman Mike
Alderman Tom
Alderman John

You can also contact City Manager John G. Campbell at 423 229-9400 or at this Contacts page

Environment and Natural Resources Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Lawmakers Jockeying on Guns-in-Lots Legislation

Seeking to pit Republicans against one another and to force them to choose between key conservative-leaning constituencies, Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle attempted Monday to suspend the chamber’s regular rules and place the controversial guns-in-parking-lots bill directly on the floor.

“I’m in somewhat of a quandary on this bill — I can’t vote against it if it is not brought to the floor,” quipped the Memphis lawmaker, garnering a few chuckles from both Republicans and Democrats. “And therefore it seems to me that the Senate and the folks of Tennessee need to be able to see where each and every one of us are on this piece of legislation.”

Kyle worried he won’t be able to “officially” demonstrate his opposition if it never gets a vote.

Currently, the guns-in-lots bills are parked in the floor-debate scheduling committees of both the House and Senate. Even though the bills have passed through committee-hearing process, Republican leaders have thus far indicated little interest in seeing the measures come to the floors for votes.

Also referred to as “Safe Commute” legislation by gun-rights supporters, one measure would thwart business owners from banning firearm-carry permit-holding employees from storing firearms in their automobiles on company property. Another would bar a company owner from requiring a prospective employee to disclose if he or she owns or carries a gun.

Both Republican speakers in the Tennessee Legislature, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Rep. Beth Harwell, have indicated they’re uncomfortable with the legislation, worrying the bills infringe upon the rights of employers to control what happens on their own property.

The 17-8-5 Senate vote breakdown on Kyle’s motion was as follows:

  • Yes: Barnes, Beavers, Bell, Berke, Campfield, Finney, Ford, Harper, Herron, Haynes, Henry, Kyle, Marrero, Norris, Overbey, Stewart, Tate
  • No: Burks, Gresham, Johnson, Ketron, Roberts, Summerville, Watson, Ramsey.
  • PNV: Kelsey, Massey, McNally, Tracey, Yager.
  • Sens. Crowe, Southerland and Faulk, the measure’s sponsor, did not vote

A press release from Kyle’s office noted, “Of the 13 members who voted no or registered as ‘present not voting,’ 12 were Republicans. Another three Republicans were in the Senate chamber, but did not press a button at all.”

Kyle promised to try it again at the next available opportunity, which will likely be Tuesday. A motion to suspend the rules of the Senate requires a two-thirds majority of those voting, so pressing the blue button signaling abstention is essentially the same as voting “no.”

Gerald McCormick, the majority leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives, said most Republicans favor letting the guns-in-parking-lots bill die for the session. McCormick says the “sense of our caucus” is they do not want to vote on the measures.

“We’ve been working on jobs all year — that’s what our constituents have been telling us they want us to work on,” said the Chattanooga Republican. “We need to give the Second Amendment issues fair consideration, but we certainly don’t like doing it without taking our time and doing it right.”

McCormick, who has often said he opposes efforts to circumvent the committee processes in the Legislature in order to get bills to the floor, suggested that if gun-rights proponents feel more comfortable putting their political fortunes in the hands of a Democrat like Kyle, they should do so.

House sponsor Eddie Bass, a Democrat, said he plans to ask for a vote on the bills in Tuesday afternoon’s calendar committee.

Press Releases

Kyle Presses for Senate Floor Vote on Guns-in-Parking-Lots

Press Release from Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle, April 23, 2012:

GOP members vote down move to hear bill on House, Senate floors

NASHVILLE — Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle called on House and Senate Republicans to support floor votes on a bill allowing Tennesseans to store guns in vehicles on businesses’ parking lots, regardless of the business owners’ personal preferences.

“I would respectfully ask that the minority yield to the majority of members on this bill, so that we might have a fair and open vote,” Kyle said. “I can’t vote against this bill if the members won’t allow it to be heard on the floor.”

Kyle’s motion to suspend the rules and place Senate Bill 3002 on Tuesday’s Senate floor calendar failed with 17 yes votes. The motion requires two-thirds of members pressing a button – either yes, no or “present not voting” – to support the motion.

Of the 13 members who voted no or registered as “present not voting,” 12 were Republicans. Another three Republicans were in the Senate chamber, but did not press a button at all.

An Associated Press report Monday night quoted an anonymous House Republican who said that House Republicans had decided against a floor vote on the bill. Guns rights advocates, including members of the National Rifle Association, support the legislation.

Kyle told his Senate colleagues Monday night that he plans to make the same motion when the Senate reconvenes Tuesday.

“We have another chance to ensure this bill has a fair hearing later this week,” Kyle said. “I would hope that some Republicans might reconsider their stance against a bill that affects many of their constituents.”