Categories
Press Releases

Beavers Announces Bill to Restrict Electronic Surveillance by Police

Press release from the Senate Republican Caucus; December 16, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) announced today she will introduce legislation to prohibit state and local police agencies from accessing or retrieving the location data of residents by surveillance of an electronic device without a court warrant. Beavers said the bill will help ensure government does not take advantage of technological advances in cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices to spy without appropriate judicial oversight.

“Government and law enforcement agencies should not be able to tap into your cell phone location or gain access to electronically stored data without a warrant approved by a judge,” said Senator Beavers. “We cannot let technological advances sidestep the Fourth Amendment. This protection is a very important part of the checks and balances put into place by our forefathers to keep government from overstepping its boundaries.”

Law enforcement made 1.1 million requests to wireless carriers for cellphone data information in 2012 according to a report delivered to Congress earlier this month. The three largest wireless companies, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon reported they have received 56,400 “emergency” requests from police departments which did not have a warrant or court order. One company reported their requests from police have doubled in the past five years.

In addition, public records obtained by USA Today and Gannett reveal that about one in four law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have used “tower dumps.” This is a surveillance tactic which covers multiple towers and wireless providers to give police a multitude of electronic data about a targeted cell phone user. The digital dragnets also capture information on other persons using wireless devices in the area who are not suspected of wrongdoing.

Beavers said her electronic privacy bill will be modeled after one passed in Montana which allows exceptions only in order to respond to a possible life-threatening situation, an emergency call by the user or when a device is reported as stolen, unless there is informed consent by the owner.

“Citizens must be protected from unreasonable government surveillance,” added Beavers. “This legislation is a big step forward in securing our Constitutional freedoms.”

Senator Beavers represents Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson Counties in District 17 in the Tennessee Senate.

Categories
Press Releases

Beavers Praises TN AG Opinion on Local Pseudoephedrine Purchase Restrictions

Statement from State Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet; December 10, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, released the following statement today in response to the opinion issued by Attorney General Robert Cooper on municipal-wide prescription requirements for cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine. The attorney general determined that local efforts to restrict access to popular cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine violate existing state law.

“Attorney General Cooper’s opinion is an important development in the battle against methamphetamine production in Tennessee,” said Senator Beavers. “As the author of legislation that implemented Tennessee’s real-time pseudoephedrine-tracking technology, I have long maintained that local prescription-only measures run counter to the spirit of that law. Attorney General Cooper’s opinion demonstrates that these local ordinances do indeed run afoul of the law. Going forward, there is no question that there remains much work to be done to address the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. I look forward to working with state legislators from both parties to implement balanced solutions that target criminals, not law-abiding Tennesseans.”

Categories
Press Releases

Anti-Smurfing Campaign Launched in Tennessee to Combat Meth

Press release from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association; October 22, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–State Senator Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, joined representatives from the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), and other state leaders to announce the launch of Tennessee’s statewide Anti-Smurfing Campaign in Nashville. The voluntary educational campaign aims to increase public awareness about the criminal enterprise known as “smurfing” — the practice of purchasing cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) to sell to methamphetamine cooks.

The Anti-Smurfing Campaign informs consumers through signage displayed at the point of sale that smurfing is a serious criminal offense and an integral part of the methamphetamine- production process. As a result, the simple act of buying certain cold or allergy products for a stranger can fuel Tennessee’s methamphetamine problem.

“Anyone in Tennessee’s law enforcement community will tell you that smurfing remains one of the biggest challenges in the battle against methamphetamine production and abuse,” said state Senator Mae Beavers. “The launch of Tennessee’s Anti-Smurfing Campaign proves that state leaders are willing to join forces with the manufacturers of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines to remind all Tennesseans that purchasing these items for a meth cook is a felony and will lead to jail time.”

“One crucial step toward eliminating Tennessee’s meth cooks and dealers is public education,” Beavers said. “The Anti-Smurfing Campaign is intended to do just that. I am confident it will make criminals think twice before making any unlawful pseudoephedrine purchases.”

The public-private partnership was developed by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a national association representing the makers of over-the-counter medicines, and is carried out by Tennessee retailers on a voluntary basis. CHPA tested anti-smurfing posters to ensure that they communicate impactful messaging without deterring legitimate consumers.

The Tennessee Pharmacists Association has already begun distributing Anti-Smurfing signage to retailers across the state. For more information on the campaign, please visit Meth-KnowTheConsequences.Org.

Categories
Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Bills Easing Helmet Requirement, Increasing Seatbelt Fines Advance in Senate

Bikers over 25 who have met safety requirements would be able to ride sans helmet, under a bill that advanced Thursday at the Capitol.

The Senate Transportation Committee also voted to bump up the fine for not wearing a seatbelt, from $10 to $50.

The helmet bill, SB548, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, would allow older bikers to ride helmet-free if they meet minimum insurance requirements and complete a qualified safety course, as well as pay a $50 fee to the state.

The committee approved the measure to ease helmet restrictions by a vote of 6-3.

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, questioned whether the insurance requirements were high enough considering the cost of “traumatic brain injuries,” and speculated that the state may have to cover long-term health costs of those injured in an accident while not wearing a helmet.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, disagreed that any fiscal issues applied to the legislation.

“It’s obvious that if you’re not wearing a helmet, you’re in the morgue,” Niceley said. “That’s bad, that’s terrible, but that’s not something where we need to worry about dollars here. We can’t worry about that side of it.”

“It makes the undertakers money, but it saves the state money,” he added.

Sen. Bill Ketron said his seatbelt bill, SB 847, is needed to promote safety.

With the second lowest fine in the country for not wearing a seatbelt, Tennessee saw a decline of 4 percent in seatbelt use over the year 2011, the Murfreesboro Republican said.

Conversely, Ketron said, Washington state has the highest fine in the nation and the highest percentage of seatbelt usage.

“I know some people don’t like wearing them, but it is our law,” Ketron said.

Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, said she thinks that people should be able to take care of themselves in situations like this without a law to guide them. Beavers said an increase in seatbelt enforcement would distract law enforcement from more important issues.

The committee approved the bill, 5-4.

Both bills have their next hearings in the Senate Finance committee.

The House bill to reduce the helmet restrictions for motorcyclists has already passed the House Transportation committee. The House version of the seatbelt bill is still awaiting a hearing.

Categories
Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Sanderson Seeks to Curb Self-Service Beer Sales

Troubled by the age-old problem of underage drinking, Rep. Bill Sanderson is pushing a bill to clamp down on grocery stores that use self-service lanes.

The Kenton Republican has put forward a proposal to limit self-checkout lanes – “Welcome, valued customer. Please scan your first item.” – to six per attendant. Sanderson says House Bill 304 will deter youths who scan a six-pack of Coca-Cola, then sneak a six-pack of Bud into their grocery bags.

Bill Sanderson

“The notion that one person can oversee an infinite amount of self-checkouts is not even practical,” Sanderson said Tuesday before the House Local Government Committee gave the nod to his bill. “So, this legislation says that if you’re monitoring self-checkouts it should be limited to four self-checkout lanes if you are selling alcohol in that store.”

The Senate version, sponsored by Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, is pending a hearing in a Local Government subcommittee.

But retailers already limit the number of self-checkout lanes they have in operation per employee, a lobbyist for the grocers told lawmakers, and a majority of stores in the state have no more than six per attendant.

“I would say that stores are watching those, and monitoring those in a way that they don’t want an infinite number of checkout stands for one person,” Jarron Springer, with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, said. “But I think each individual store probably has a different determination on their number.”

Sanderson’s bill comes as the nation sees a drop in drunk-driving fatalities.

Thirty-two states including Tennessee recorded a decrease in drunk-driving fatalities from 2009 to 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nationally, deaths were down 4.9 percent.

The trend holds true among minors, with alcohol-impaired driving fatalities among youths down 60.7 percent since 2000, according to federal numbers tracked by the Century Council, a distilleries group.

Committee chairman Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, questioned the practicality of the legislation. After all, store workers are already required to check the ID of anyone buying alcohol before the checkout process can be completed.

Hill said that he was concerned that the state was “using the government to mandate the number of employees” stores employ.

During committee discussion, several legislators seemed supportive of the bill on the grounds that it would address the issue of alcohol accessibility to minors.

Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, likened the decision of grocery retailers to abide by their own guidelines in this situation to allowing them to determine their own rules in other areas.

“So, if we just say that we should just allow industry to just conduct their own measurable accountability in all these situations, maybe we should do away with several other programs as well, because businesses can just institute that for themselves in home,” Holt said. “Food safety, inventory controls, responsible vending, all of these things.”

Reps. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin; Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville; and Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, requested to be recorded as voting no on the measure. 

Categories
Press Releases

Senate Resolution Supports Boater Access to Water Above, Below TN Dams

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; March 8, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Legislation sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) expressing the Tennessee General Assembly’s desire to allow boater access to waters above and below 10 Tennessee dams is headed to the Senate floor on Monday night. Senate Joint Resolution 132 , which was approved by the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Environment Committee on Wednesday, urges the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to work with local communities and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regarding alternative safety methods rather than banning the use of the waters to the public. The Dams include Barkley, Center Hill, Cheatham, Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow, J. Percy Priest, Laurel River, Martins Fork, Old Hickory, and Wolf Creek.

Beavers said the resolution compliments measures being taken by Governor Lamar Alexander and other state leaders to stop the Corps’ restrictions.

The Corp announced plans in December to restrict boat, swimming and wading access at various distances at the dams for reasons of public safety and to adhere to a policy adopted nationally in 1996. The project is expected to cost approximately $2 million.

Beavers’ resolution calls on the Corp of Engineers “to hold the current plan in abeyance until alternative plans are investigated that promote both boater safety and recognition of the outstanding fishing and tourism opportunity in these areas.”

“Fishermen have used these waters since these dams have been in existence,” said Senator Beavers. “This resolution just lets the Corps and our congressional delegation know that it is that the State of Tennessee, through their elected representatives, is asking them to reconsider these restrictions. The action to close the waters, which have some of the highest fish catch rates, would negatively impact fishing, recreation and tourism in my Senatorial district. It will have an economic impact on many citizens in the Middle Tennessee region.”

The resolution also claims the waters, “and the fish therein are publicly-owned resources held in trust by the State of Tennessee for the citizens.” It says the 1996 restrictions being implemented by the Corp are based on bank full conditions with major spillway gates open. This is done “without recognition for either the current economic conditions or more normal water flow levels,” the resolution continues. In addition, the resolution claims that historic safety data does not support the current proposal being implemented by the Nashville District for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restrict boat access.

“We have not seen data showing that the accident rate is higher in these waters than other waters,” added Beavers. “There has got to be a better way for the Corps to address safety concerns, whether it is targeting measures to the time during which the spillway gate is open or tougher enforcement of current boater safety laws.”

If passed, the resolution will be delivered to members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation and Corps of Engineers.

Categories
Press Releases

Kelsey Files Resolution Promising Legal Action Against Feds for Violating 2nd Amendment

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; February 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and the Senate Judiciary Committee took action today that will simultaneously work to uphold the United States Constitution and promote the safety of law enforcement officers working to enforce our laws. SB 250, deemed unconstitutional by the Attorney General and opposed by the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Governor Bill Haslam, failed to pass in the Judiciary Committee on a 4-4 vote.

Kelsey, an ardent 2nd Amendment supporter, today filed a resolution aimed at upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of Tennessee gun owners. The resolution recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and promises immediate legal action by the State of Tennessee should that right be infringed upon by the Federal government. “Senate Resolution 17 is the constitutional way to address executive orders and acts of Congress that attempt to violate the 2nd Amendment.” Based on the rule of law, this action takes our disputes to the courts.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Kelsey following today’s meeting. “The Constitution doesn’t let you force sheriff’s deputies, against their will, to shoot and kill federal authorities who are enforcing U.S. Supreme Court decisions.”

Senator Kelsey felt that supporting SB 250 would violate his oath to uphold the United States Constitution. Kelsey concluded by stating, “I will not violate my oath. I will stand by my oath, and I will stand by the United States Constitution.”

Categories
Press Releases

Beavers Congratulates Kelsey on Judiciary Committee Chair Appointment

Press release from State Senator Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet; January 16, 2013:

(NASHVILLE TN), Wednesday, January 16, 2012 – Last week, State Sen. Mae Beavers (R – Mt. Juliet) congratulated her friend and colleague, Sen. Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown), on his recent appointment to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Beavers also expressed gratitude for the honor of serving as chair of the distinguished committee for the past six years.

“I am very proud of the hard work that was exhibited by the committee members and the committee staff over the past six years,” said Sen. Beavers. “I took great pride in efficiently completing our committee work in a timely fashion, and was excited to lead the committee towards becoming the most technologically advanced committee in the legislature. Also, Im appreciative of my colleagues who consistently praised the great work that the committee produced, and I’m proud to have been one of the few women in leadership in the state legislature.”

Sen. Beavers was elected to the state house in 1994, and to the state senate in 2002. She was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2007 until last year, being one of the only females and non-attorneys in recent times to do so. Sen. Beavers was consistently recognized by Republicans and Democrats alike for effectively and fairly running the Senate Judiciary Committee – one of the largest committees in the legislature in terms of legislation volume, and one that covers all legislation dealing with civil and criminal laws. Under her leadership, the committee became the only committee in the legislature to operate in a completely “paperless” fashion. Sen. Beavers is particularly grateful for the hard work of her three past research analysts and her executive assistant, some who have served the committee for over six years.

In addition, Sen. Beavers served as the contact person for hundreds of Tennesseans who expressed their frustration with the lack of accountability and transparency amongst Tennessee’s judiciary. She conducted numerous hearings on judicial oversight, and was considered by many to be one of the driving forces behind increased transparency and accountability to the board that oversees complaints against judges, the formation of more stringent judicial recusal rules, as well as the online publication of trial judgment statistics brought about after her ‘Report Card for Judges’ legislation.

“In addition to laws regarding greater judicial accountability, I am proud of all the legislation that we shepherded through the committee, including tort reform, tougher DUI and meth laws, laws increasing our 2nd Amendment rights, important constitutional amendments protecting the rights of the unborn and prohibiting a state income tax, and numerous other laws to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our civil and criminal justice system,” said Sen. Beavers. “I am also thankful for all of the senators – Democrats and Republicans – who served on the committee (often late into the evening) and all that they have contributed to the state of Tennessee.”

Finally, Sen. Beavers is appreciative of the opportunity to serve as 1st Vice Chair for both the Senate Transportation & Safety Committee and the Energy, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, and welcomes the possibility of bringing better roads and bridges to District 17. In addition, she looks forward to the additional time she will get to spend interacting with the citizens of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson counties, serving as their senator for the remainder of her term and for what she hopes will be additional terms after that.

“I was honored to have served on the Judiciary Committee and am proud of all that we accomplished,” said Sen. Beavers. “However, I know that it is time for me to move on and provide my expertise in other areas of the legislature, and I look forward to spending more time in my district serving the citizens of the six great counties that I represent for what I hope will be many more years.”

Categories
Press Releases

Beavers Touts Cold Medicine Purchasing Database Following Comptroller’s Meth Report

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 10, 2013:

(NASHVILLE, TN), January 10, 2013 — Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) today responded to a report issued by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury on methamphetamine production in Tennessee. The study, which was carried out by the Offices of Research and Education Accountability, analyzed the effectiveness of Tennessee’s real-time, stop-sale technology—known as the National Precursor Log Exchange—at addressing domestic methamphetamine production in Tennessee and other states where the system is operational.

Senator Beavers was the original Senate sponsor of anti-meth legislation that implemented NPLEx in Tennessee in addition to a drug-offender registry and strict penalties for meth-related crime. The system, which allows retailers to block unlawful attempted purchases of certain cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), has been fully operational in Tennessee since January 2012. In a little over one year since implementation, the technology has led to tens of thousands of blocked sales and numerous convictions and arrests.

“I’m pleased with the progress made in NPLEx’s first year implemented in Tennessee. This system provides law enforcement with an invaluable intelligence-gathering tool, helping officers make more meth busts and arrests,” said Senator Beavers. “Reports that more meth labs are being found in our state provides proof that NPLEx is doing exactly what it is designed to do.”

As the comptroller’s report accurately notes, NPLEx is leading law enforcement officials to uncover a greater number of meth labs. Before the system was in place, police officers were blind to suspicious PSE purchasing activity. If they wanted to track purchases, officers would literally have to sift through handwritten logbooks and drive from store to store. Now, the purchasing database is completely electronic and updates in real time. Officers can receive alerts on their mobile phones and put suspects on a watch list that sends out alerts when a suspect attempts to make a purchase.

“As my colleagues in the Tennessee House and Senate debate anti-meth legislation during the 2013 session, I urge them to continue to let this new law work. I have no doubt that we will continue making progress against the scourge of meth production and abuse utilizing the NPLEx system,” Beavers concluded.

Categories
NewsTracker

Ramsey Indicates Possible Committee-Assignment Shakeups

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters last week that he expects Senate leadership to stay the same, but indicated there might be some committee-level shakeups.

In his role as Senate speaker, Ramsey has final say on which senators get placed on which committees.

“I’m not starting afresh, but just because you’re on a committee right now doesn’t mean you’re going to stay on that committee,” the Blountville Republican said.

When it comes to committee chairs he said: “Possibly there may be some changes there, too. I just have to figure out how it works out and make sure, again, that we have the most qualified people in the right spots.”

For example, when asked by reporters if he would retain Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, he declined to answer.

“I’ve not gotten that far down the road on who’s where,” Ramsey said. “There may be some changes different places.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at trent@tnreport.com, on Twitter at @trentseibert or at 615-669-9501.