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House Republican Caucus Members on Twitter Fall 2012

Press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus; November 9, 2012: 

Active Members

Harwell — @SpeakerHarwell
McCormick — @GeraldMcCormick
Rich — @RepBarrettRich
Powers — @DennisHPowers
Butt – @RepSheilaButt
Evans — @RepEvans
Marsh — @Marsh4TN
Brooks — @RepKBrooks
Weaver — @TerriLynnWeaver
Holt — @andyholtTN
Marsh — @RepPatMarsh
Sexton — @CSexton25
Pody — @MarkPody
Hall — @VoteSteveHall
Sargent — @CSargentTN
McManus — @VoteMcManus
Dean — @VoteVinceDean
Faison — @JerFaison
Womick — @RickWomick
H. Brooks — @RepHarryBrooks
Carr — @JoeCarr48
Swann — @RepArtSwann
M. White — @RepMarkWhite
M. Hill — @HillRep

 

New Members of the 108th General Assembly 

Lamberth — @WilliamLamberth
T. Hill — @TimothyHill_TN
Goins — @TilmanGoins
Lynn — @SusanMLynn
Calfee — @KentCalfee
D. White — @VoteDawn
Rogers — @LtColRogers
Farmer — @RepAndrewFarmer
Carr — @VoteDaleCarr
Durham — @JeremyRDurham

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Firearms Association Lists Weekly Priorities

Statement from the Tennessee Firearms Association Legislative Action Committee; April 15, 2011:

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 8:30am – LP 12

Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee

9 Bills (1 Tracked)

The Committee will hear Budget Presentations from the Arts Commission and the Historical Commission. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. McNally (R), Vice Chair Sen. Henry Jr. (D), Secretary Sen. Watson (R), Sen. Finney (D), Sen. Haynes (D), Sen. Kelsey (R), Sen. Ketron (R), Sen. Kyle Jr. (D), Sen. Norris (R), Sen. Overbey (R), Sen. Woodson (R)

4. SB775 Sen. Ketron (R) Criminal Law: Firearm licensure for retired law enforcement officers. Requires a retired officer to be eligible to carry a firearm under federal law in order to be issued certification to carry a firearm of the same type as an active officer and provides guidelines for the Tennessee POST commission to determine eligibility under federal law. Requires submission of an application with two sets of fingerprints to be forwarded to the Tennessee bureau of investigations and the federal bureau of investigations to conduct criminal history checks. Requires the POST commission to notify an applicant within 10 days of a denial in writing stating a factual basis for the denial. Revokes such certification automatically if a retired officer becomes ineligible to carry a firearm under federal law.

HB888 – Rep. Todd (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 38, Chapter 8, Part 1, relative to retired law enforcement officers.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 10:30am – LP 30

House General Subcommittee of Conservation & Environment

4 Bills (1 Tracked)

Final Calendar. MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Lollar (R), Vice Chair Rep. Floyd (R), Rep. Curtiss (D), Rep. Gilmore (D), Rep. Hawk (R), Rep. Kernell (D), Rep. Marsh (R), Rep. Niceley (R), Rep. Swann (R), Rep. Tidwell (D)

4. HB1112 Rep. Niceley (R) Environment & Nature: White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act. Allows persons to breed and farm white-tailed deer. Sets up the farmed white-tail deer advisory committee, composed of five members, to advise the commissioner of agriculture on issues related to deer farming. Establishes procedure to acquire licenses, update changes in applicant’s information, inspections of deer farms, disposal of deceased deer, removal of farmed deer. Requires every deer farmer, whether commercial or noncommercial, to first receive a license from the department of agriculture. Requires the deer farmer to update any changes to the farmer’s facility and criminal convictions. Requires the farm to have an eight foot tall fence to prevent such deer from escaping. Allows only the owner or farm operator to slaughter such deer. Creates a Class D felony for any person, other than the owner, operator, or treating veterinarian, to knowingly injure any farmed white-tailed deer upon the farm’s premises. Creates a Class A misdemeanor for a person to refuse an inspection, intentionally commingle farmed deer with a native deer, fail to maintain certain records, fail to pay certain fees, or fail to comply with a department order. (16 pp.)

SB1568 – Sen. Ketron (R)

Amendment: House General Subcommittee of Conservation and Environment amendment 1 as amended adds provisions to the bill clarifying that it is unlawful for a resident or non-resident to hunt farmed white-tailed deer on private wildlife preserves in Tennessee without a resident or non-resident hunting license and game permit and requires the licenses and permits be equal in cost for residents and non-residents. Allows individuals to hunt pen-reared animals, other than farmed white-tailed deer, without possessing a hunting license.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 03/01/2011 – Referred to Senate Environment, Conservation & Tourism.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Conservation & Environment 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 44; Section 70-4-403 and Section 70-4-413, to enact the “White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act”.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 10:30am – LP 16

House Judiciary Committee

40 Bills (6 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Watson (R), Vice Chair Rep. Coley (R), Secretary Rep. Dennis (R), Rep. Bass (D), Rep. Camper (D), Rep. Elam (R), Rep. Faison (R), Rep. Gotto (R), Rep. Lundberg (R), Rep. Maggart (R), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. Moore Sr. (D), Rep. Rich (R), Rep. Sontany (D), Rep. Stewart (D), Rep. Womick (R)

10. HB2016 Rep. Holt (R) Education: College faculty and staff permitted to carry handgun. Authorizes full-time faculty and members of the staff at any public post-secondary institution to carry a firearm on campus if such faculty or staff member has a valid handgun carry permit.

SB399 – Sen. Campfield (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 02/21/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to the authorization to carry weapons.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

11. HB2039 Rep. Faison (R) Criminal Law: Judge permitted to carry firearm into courtroom. Allows a judge with a valid handgun carry permit who completes the firearms component of the of the Basic Law Enforcement Course that is included within the minimum curricula requirements for police officer certification to carry a weapon in the courtroom.

SB1775 – Sen. Campfield (R)

Amendment: House General Subcommittee of Judiciary amendment 1 requires judges to successfully complete the same annual in-service training required of law enforcement officers by June 1 of each subsequent year in order to carry a firearm. Deletes language providing the completion of minimum training be at the judge’s own expense.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/05/2011 – Senate Judiciary deferred to 04/12/2011.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, relative to judges.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

13. HB1769 Rep. Swann (R) Criminal Law: Judge with handgun carry permit may carry gun into court. Allows a judge who has a valid handgun carry permit and is in the actual discharge of official duties as a judge to carry a handgun while in the courtroom.

SB2078 – Sen. Faulk (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 03/01/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to the possession of firearms under certain circumstances.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

19. HB1072 Rep. Rich (R) Criminal Law: Carrying of firearm on school property by law enforcement. Allows law enforcement officer not engaged in duties to carry a firearm on school property during school hours if the officer shows proof of being officer upon request by school staff, instead of the officer notifying the school principal that such officer will be present and carrying a firearm.

SB839 – Sen. Bell (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 02/24/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1350, relative to the carrying of firearms by law enforcement officers.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

21. HB888 Rep. Todd (R) Criminal Law: Firearm licensure for retired law enforcement officers. Requires a retired officer to be eligible to carry a firearm under federal law in order to be issued certification to carry a firearm of the same type as an active officer and provides guidelines for the Tennessee POST commission to determine eligibility under federal law. Requires submission of an application with two sets of fingerprints to be forwarded to the Tennessee bureau of investigations and the federal bureau of investigations to conduct criminal history checks. Requires the POST commission to notify an applicant within 10 days of a denial in writing stating a factual basis for the denial. Revokes such certification automatically if a retired officer becomes ineligible to carry a firearm under federal law.

SB775 – Sen. Ketron (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 38, Chapter 8, Part 1, relative to retired law enforcement officers.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

29. HB2045 Rep. Windle (D) Environment & Nature: Environmental degradation of property by feral hogs. Establishes a person is justified in threatening or using any lawful force, when and to the degree it is reasonably believed that the force is immediately necessary, to protect real property from severe environmental degradation caused by a feral hog. Requires immunity from liability, civil or criminal. Establishes that lawful force includes the use of dogs to protect such property.

SB1782 – Sen. Burks (D)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/05/2011 – Senate Judiciary deferred to 04/12/2011.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 11, Part 6 and Title 70, Chapter 4, Part 1, relative to protection of property.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 10:30am – LP 16

House Judiciary Committee – Addendum

10 Bills (1 Tracked)

The listed bills were added to the calendar by suspension of the rules on the House floor 04/14/2011. MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Watson (R), Vice Chair Rep. Coley (R), Secretary Rep. Dennis (R), Rep. Bass (D), Rep. Camper (D), Rep. Elam (R), Rep. Faison (R), Rep. Gotto (R), Rep. Lundberg (R), Rep. Maggart (R), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. Moore Sr. (D), Rep. Rich (R), Rep. Sontany (D), Rep. Stewart (D), Rep. Womick (R)

8. HB1222 Rep. Bass (D) Criminal Law: Sale of weapons confiscated by drug task force. Requires proceeds from a sale of weapons confiscated by a judicial drug task force to go toward such task force’s law enforcement purposes, instead of general law enforcement purposes.

SB1946 – Sen. Ketron (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 03/02/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Judiciary Committee – Addendum 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, relative to weapons.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 10:30am – LP 12

Senate State & Local Government Committee

41 Bills (1 Tracked)

The committee will hear a budget presentation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Yager (R), Vice Chair Sen. Tracy (R), Secretary Sen. Finney (D), Sen. Campfield (R), Sen. Faulk (R), Sen. Harper (D), Sen. Haynes (D), Sen. Ketron (R), Sen. Norris (R)

17. SB954 Sen. Yager (R) Criminal Law: Additional crimes that prohibit restoration of voting right. Adds certain criminal convictions, containing the same elements and designated as a felony in any other state or federal court, to the current list of crimes that prohibit persons from being eligible to vote.

HB1117 – Rep. Todd (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/07/2011 – House passed.

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 40-29-204, relative to restoration of citizenship.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 10:30am – LP 12

Senate State & Local Government Committee Consent Calendar

3 Bills (1 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Yager (R), Vice Chair Sen. Tracy (R), Secretary Sen. Finney (D), Sen. Campfield (R), Sen. Faulk (R), Sen. Harper (D), Sen. Haynes (D), Sen. Ketron (R), Sen. Norris (R)

1. SB954 Sen. Yager (R) Criminal Law: Additional crimes that prohibit restoration of voting right. Adds certain criminal convictions, containing the same elements and designated as a felony in any other state or federal court, to the current list of crimes that prohibit persons from being eligible to vote.

HB1117 – Rep. Todd (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/07/2011 – House passed.

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 40-29-204, relative to restoration of citizenship.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 12:00pm – LP 29

House General Subcommittee of Transportation

8 Bills (1 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Dean (R), Vice Chair Rep. Weaver (R), Rep. Cooper (D), Rep. Ford (R), Rep. Harmon (D), Rep. Hill (R), Rep. Johnson (R), Rep. McDonald (D), Rep. Shipley (R), Rep. Stewart (D)

7. HB1621 Rep. Shipley (R) Transportation Vehicles: Registration for all-terrain vehicles. Authorizes vehicle registration for certain all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Also authorizes the department of revenue to design and issue the plates for such registration. Establishes fee of $11.25 for ATV registration. Specifies roads, streets and highways where ATVs are permitted. Allows local governments to regulate or prohibit ATVs on certain public highways by ordinance.

SB1257 – Sen. Yager (R)

Amendment: House General Subcommittee of Transportation amendment 1 changes the definition of all terrain vehicles to motorized non-highway tire vehicles instead of motorized flotation-tire vehicles and also replaces the term low-pressure tires with non-highway tires where used in the definition.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Transportation Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Transportation 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, relative to all-terrain vehicles.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 3:00pm – LP 16

House Finance, Ways & Means Committee

11 Bills (1 Tracked)

By suspension of the rules on the House floor 04/14/2011, HB 738 was set to be heard in a meeting of House Finance Subcommittee on Monday, 4/18/2011. If HB 738 receives favorable consideration in that meeting, it will be added to this calendar. MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Sargent (R), Vice Chair Rep. Harrison (R), Secretary Rep. Johnson (R), Rep. Alexander (R), Rep. Armstrong (D), Rep. Brooks (R), Rep. Brooks (R), Rep. Brown (D), Rep. Campbell (R), Rep. Carr (R), Rep. Coley (R), Rep. DeBerry (D), Rep. Eldridge (R), Rep. Fitzhugh (D), Rep. Hall (R), Rep. Hawk (R), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. McCormick (R), Rep. McDaniel (R), Rep. Miller (D), Rep. Naifeh (D), Rep. Odom (D), Rep. Roach (R), Rep. Shaw (D), Rep. Tindell (D)

4. HB1305 Rep. Dean (R) Criminal Law: Bounty hunters required to have criminal background check. Requires bounty hunters to undergo a criminal background check.

SB837 – Sen. Bell (R)

Amendment: House Judiciary amendment 1 deletes the requirement that bounty hunters requesting a required background check provide photo identification, a full legal name and any aliases, addresses for the last five years, date of birth, social security number, and physical description. Clarifies that the $200 maximum fee is in addition to fees payable to the Tennessee or Federal Bureau of investigations. Deletes a section permitting bounty hunter criminal background checks to be open to public inspection. Allows out-of-state bounty hunters to provide proof of an equivalent background check conducted within the last year in lieu of the state required background check to the appropriate agency.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Finance, Ways & Means Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 40-11-318, relative to bounty hunters.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 – 3:30pm – LP 12

Senate Judiciary Committee

25 Bills (2 Tracked)

The committee will hear the following budget presentations: District Public Defenders Conference, Attorney General and Reporter, Administrative Office of the Courts, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Beavers (R), Vice Chair Sen. Overbey (R), Secretary Sen. Bell (R), Sen. Barnes (D), Sen. Campfield (R), Sen. Ford (D), Sen. Kelsey (R), Sen. Marrero (D), Sen. Yager (R)

6. SB1198 Sen. Yager (R) Criminal Law: Permits UT and TBR farm employees to carry weapons on farms. Permits University of TN system or TN Board of Regents system farm employees to carry weapons on farms owned, used or operated by public higher education institutions.

HB185 – Rep. Windle (D)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/12/2011 – House Judiciary recommended. Sent to Calendar & Rules.

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1309, relative to carrying weapons on farms owned, used or operated by public institutions of higher education.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

21. SB837 Sen. Bell (R) Criminal Law: Bounty hunters required to have criminal background check. Requires bounty hunters to undergo a criminal background check.

HB1305 – Rep. Dean (R)

Amendment: House Judiciary amendment 1 deletes the requirement that bounty hunters requesting a required background check provide photo identification, a full legal name and any aliases, addresses for the last five years, date of birth, social security number, and physical description. Clarifies that the $200 maximum fee is in addition to fees payable to the Tennessee or Federal Bureau of investigations. Deletes a section permitting bounty hunter criminal background checks to be open to public inspection. Allows out-of-state bounty hunters to provide proof of an equivalent background check conducted within the last year in lieu of the state required background check to the appropriate agency.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/19/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Finance, Ways & Means Committee 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 40-11-318, relative to bounty hunters.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 8:30am – LP 12

Senate Environment, Conservation & Tourism Committee

6 Bills (1 Tracked)

Final Calendar. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Southerland (R), Vice Chair Sen. Johnson (R), Secretary Sen. Summerville (R), Sen. Bell (R), Sen. Faulk (R), Sen. Herron (D), Sen. Marrero (D), Sen. Roberts (R), Sen. Stewart (D)

3. SB1205 Sen. Yager (R) Economic Development: TN Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011. Enacts the “Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011.” Directs the department of tourist development, the department of environment and conservation and the department of economic and community development to study and develop a plan for the promotion and development of adventure tourism and other recreational and economic development activities in rural areas of the state. Authorizes, after the department of tourist development has identified suitable areas of state for the promotion of adventure tourism, the local government, by a two-thirds vote of the governing body as a tourism district. Grants special permissions to such tourist districts. Broadly captioned.

HB1278 – Rep. Matheny (R)

Amendment: House Conservation and Environment amendment 1 rewrites the bill. Directs the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and the Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to study and develop, within existing resources, a plan to promote and develop adventure tourism and other activities in rural areas. Authorizes local governments, upon a two-thirds vote of the legislative body, to create an adventure tourism district by developing an adventure tourism plan. Requires local adventure tourism plans, upon adoption, to be submitted to ECD and the Department of Revenue (DOR) for joint approval as an adventure tourism district upon the determination by each respective Commissioner that the allocation of franchise and excise tax credits are in the best interest of the state. Authorizes local governments to submit an adventure tourism district plan, following approval as an adventure tourism district by DOR and ECD, for gross premiums and job tax credits. Requires the Department of Tourist Development to promote adventure tourism districts within the existing resources of the department. Authorizes any entity engaged in business within an adventure tourism district to display signage warning that adventure tourism professionals are not liable for injury or death of a participant in adventure tourism activities. Authorizes off-highway vehicles to be driven on any street or highway designated for such purpose and within the boundaries of an adventure tourism district. Authorizes a local government to regulate the operation of any all terrain vehicle crossing of a street, road, or highway solely under its jurisdiction. Requires operators and passengers of all-terrain vehicles to wear a helmet while on a street, road or highway with violators punished by fine only. Authorizes qualified business enterprises located in designated adventure tourism development districts to receive annual tax credits of 4,500 dollars for each qualified job for a period of three years beginning with the first tax year after the initial job tax credit is created. Authorizes the annual credit to be used to offset up to 100 percent of the taxpayer’s franchise and excise tax liability for such year. Prohibits unused credits from being carried forward beyond the year in which the credit originated.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Environment, Conservation & Tourism Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Finance 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4; Title 5; Title 6; Title 11; Title 54; Title 55; Title 67; Title 68 and Title 70, relative to the development of adventure tourism in Tennessee.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 11:00am – LP 29

House General Subcommittee of Finance

32 Bills (2 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Harrison (R), Vice Chair Rep. Johnson (R), Rep. Brooks (R), Rep. DeBerry (D), Rep. Fitzhugh (D), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. McCormick (R), Rep. McDaniel (R), Rep. Naifeh (D), Rep. Odom (D), Rep. Roach (R), Rep. Sargent (R), Rep. Shaw (D), Rep. Tindell (D)

7. HB1068 Rep. Rich (R) Criminal Law: Penalty for discharging a firearm into a habitation. Increases the penalties for reckless endangerment regarding discharging a firearm into a habitation.

SB690 – Sen. Norris (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/05/2011 – Senate Judiciary recommended. Sent to Senate Finance, Ways & Means.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Finance 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, relative to gun offenses.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

27. HB1278 Rep. Matheny (R) Economic Development: TN Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011. Enacts the “Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011.” Directs the department of tourist development, the department of environment and conservation and the department of economic and community development to study and develop a plan for the promotion and development of adventure tourism and other recreational and economic development activities in rural areas of the state. Authorizes, after the department of tourist development has identified suitable areas of state for the promotion of adventure tourism, the local government, by a two-thirds vote of the governing body as a tourism district. Grants special permissions to such tourist districts. Broadly captioned.

SB1205 – Sen. Yager (R)

Amendment: House Conservation and Environment amendment 1 rewrites the bill. Directs the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and the Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to study and develop, within existing resources, a plan to promote and develop adventure tourism and other activities in rural areas. Authorizes local governments, upon a two-thirds vote of the legislative body, to create an adventure tourism district by developing an adventure tourism plan. Requires local adventure tourism plans, upon adoption, to be submitted to ECD and the Department of Revenue (DOR) for joint approval as an adventure tourism district upon the determination by each respective Commissioner that the allocation of franchise and excise tax credits are in the best interest of the state. Authorizes local governments to submit an adventure tourism district plan, following approval as an adventure tourism district by DOR and ECD, for gross premiums and job tax credits. Requires the Department of Tourist Development to promote adventure tourism districts within the existing resources of the department. Authorizes any entity engaged in business within an adventure tourism district to display signage warning that adventure tourism professionals are not liable for injury or death of a participant in adventure tourism activities. Authorizes off-highway vehicles to be driven on any street or highway designated for such purpose and within the boundaries of an adventure tourism district. Authorizes a local government to regulate the operation of any all terrain vehicle crossing of a street, road, or highway solely under its jurisdiction. Requires operators and passengers of all-terrain vehicles to wear a helmet while on a street, road or highway with violators punished by fine only. Authorizes qualified business enterprises located in designated adventure tourism development districts to receive annual tax credits of 4,500 dollars for each qualified job for a period of three years beginning with the first tax year after the initial job tax credit is created. Authorizes the annual credit to be used to offset up to 100 percent of the taxpayer’s franchise and excise tax liability for such year. Prohibits unused credits from being carried forward beyond the year in which the credit originated.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Environment, Conservation & Tourism Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Finance 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4; Title 5; Title 6; Title 11; Title 54; Title 55; Title 67; Title 68 and Title 70, relative to the development of adventure tourism in Tennessee.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 11:30am – LP 12

Senate Transportation Committee

18 Bills (1 Tracked)

Final Calendar. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Tracy (R), Vice Chair Sen. Southerland (R), Secretary Sen. Yager (R), Sen. Barnes (D), Sen. Beavers (R), Sen. Berke (D), Sen. Gresham (R), Sen. Henry Jr. (D), Sen. Ketron (R)

17. SB1257 Sen. Yager (R) Transportation Vehicles: Registration for all-terrain vehicles. Authorizes vehicle registration for certain all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Also authorizes the department of revenue to design and issue the plates for such registration. Establishes fee of $11.25 for ATV registration. Specifies roads, streets and highways where ATVs are permitted. Allows local governments to regulate or prohibit ATVs on certain public highways by ordinance.

HB1621 – Rep. Shipley (R)

Amendment: House General Subcommittee of Transportation amendment 1 changes the definition of all terrain vehicles to motorized non-highway tire vehicles instead of motorized flotation-tire vehicles and also replaces the term low-pressure tires with non-highway tires where used in the definition.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Transportation Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Transportation 04/19/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, relative to all-terrain vehicles.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 12:30pm – LP 29

House Conservation & Environment Committee

8 Bills (2 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Hawk (R), Vice Chair Rep. Lollar (R), Secretary Rep. Floyd (R), Rep. Butt (R), Rep. Curtiss (D), Rep. Gilmore (D), Rep. Holt (R), Rep. Kernell (D), Rep. Marsh (R), Rep. McDonald (D), Rep. Niceley (R), Rep. Swann (R), Rep. Tidwell (D)

1. HB947 Rep. Lollar (R) Environment & Nature: No permit to hunt wild boars and wild hogs. Removes wild hog from definition of “big game.” Removes permit requirements for hunting wild boars and wild hogs.

SB307 – Sen. Southerland (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/11/2011 – Senate passed.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Conservation & Environment Committee 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 70, relative to big game.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

2. HB113 Rep. Windle (D) Environment & Nature: Overton County: authorizes hunting wild boar at all times. Authorizes hunting wild boar at all times in Overton County.

SB104 – Sen. Burks (D)

Amendment: Senate Environment amendment 1 specifies that it is lawful to capture wild boar for the purpose of immediate dispatch. Specifies that it is lawful to possess, transport, or store a wild boar that has been legally harvested in Overton County.

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/13/2011 – Senate Environment, Conservation & Tourism recommended with amendment 1, which specifies that it is lawful to capture wild boar for the purpose of immediate dispatch. Specifies that it is lawful to possess, transport, or store a wild boar that has been legally harvested in Overton County.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House Conservation & Environment Committee 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 70-4-116, relative to the hunting of wild boar in Overton County.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 3:00pm – LP 12

Senate Education Committee

67 Bills (1 Tracked)

Final Calendar. The committee will hear a presentation for the Vanderbilt University Study on Pre-K. Items #57-67 have been added to this calendar by suspension of the rules on the Senate Floor 4/14/2011. MEMBERS: Chair Sen. Gresham (R), Vice Chair Sen. Tate (D), Secretary Sen. Kelsey (R), Sen. Berke (D), Sen. Burks (D), Sen. Crowe (R), Sen. Summerville (R), Sen. Tracy (R), Sen. Woodson (R)

60. SB2039 Sen. Ford (D) Education: Grounds for criminal charges being filed against student. Specifies that no arrest warrant may be issued or criminal charges pressed against a student for actions taken on school grounds or within any school building or structure, except for the following: (1) Unauthorized possession on school property of a firearm; (2) Battery upon a teacher, principal, administrator, any other employee of an LEA, or school resource officer; (3) Unlawful possession of any drug, including any controlled substance or legend drug (prescription drug); (4) Making a bomb threat against school property; or (5) Vandalism or assault and battery endangering life, health, or safety. Clarifies that nothing in this bill should prevent any disciplinary action being taken by a school or LEA for actions taken by a student.

HB1720 – Rep. Cooper (D)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Education Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Education 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, relative to conduct of students.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 3:30pm – LP 29

House General Subcommittee of Education

62 Bills (1 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Hensley (R), Vice Chair Rep. Carr (R), Rep. Brooks (R), Rep. Brooks (R), Rep. DeBerry (D), Rep. DeBerry Jr. (D), Rep. Dunn (R), Rep. Fitzhugh (D), Rep. Lollar (R), Rep. Maggart (R), Rep. Montgomery (R), Rep. Naifeh (D), Rep. Pitts (D)

15. HB1720 Rep. Cooper (D) Education: Grounds for criminal charges being filed against student. Specifies that no arrest warrant may be issued or criminal charges pressed against a student for actions taken on school grounds or within any school building or structure, except for the following: (1) Unauthorized possession on school property of a firearm; (2) Battery upon a teacher, principal, administrator, any other employee of an LEA, or school resource officer; (3) Unlawful possession of any drug, including any controlled substance or legend drug (prescription drug); (4) Making a bomb threat against school property; or (5) Vandalism or assault and battery endangering life, health, or safety. Clarifies that nothing in this bill should prevent any disciplinary action being taken by a school or LEA for actions taken by a student.

SB2039 – Sen. Ford (D)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for Senate Education Committee 04/20/11

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Education 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, relative to conduct of students.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 3:30pm – LP 31

House General Subcommittee of Judiciary

20 Bills (2 Tracked)

MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Coley (R), Vice Chair Rep. Dennis (R), Rep. Bass (D), Rep. Camper (D), Rep. Lundberg (R), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. Rich (R), Rep. Sontany (D), Rep. Watson (R)

1. HB687 Rep. Maggart (R) Criminal Law: Juvenile sexual offender registry. Creates a sexual offender registry for juveniles who are 14-18 years of age, commit a specified violent sexual offense, and are found by a court to be at high risk for reoffending or have a prior adjudication for a violent sexual offense.

SB869 – Sen. Kelsey (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 02/25/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Judiciary 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 37; Title 40; Title 49 and Title 55, to add certain juvenile sexual offenders to the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification and Tracking Act of 2004.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

13. HB2015 Rep. Holt (R) Criminal Law: Law enforcement personnel, weapons at public colleges. Authorizes active and retired law enforcement officers as well as active and honorably discharged military personnel to carry weapons on public colleges and universities.

SB398 – Sen. Campfield (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 02/11/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Judiciary 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to the authorization to carry weapons.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 – 3:30pm – LP 31

House General Subcommittee of Judiciary – Addendum

23 Bills (1 Tracked)

The listed bills were added to the calendar by suspension of the rules on the House floor 04/14/2011. MEMBERS: Chair Rep. Coley (R), Vice Chair Rep. Dennis (R), Rep. Bass (D), Rep. Camper (D), Rep. Lundberg (R), Rep. Matheny (R), Rep. Rich (R), Rep. Sontany (D), Rep. Watson (R)

11. HB285 Rep. Dennis (R) Judiciary: Creates office of solicitor general. Creates the office of solicitor general and outlines various rules concerning qualifications and appointment. Transfers to the solicitor general various duties currently belonging to the attorney general, including: to defend the constitutionality of public, private and administrative legislation enacted by the general assembly, and to notify the fiscal review committee and speakers of suits which raise the issue of insufficient funding of the law. Grants the solicitor general powers currently given to the attorney general concerning compelling witness testimonies and designating an attorney general investigator.

SB114 – Sen. Campfield (R)

Tracking Lists: Tennessee Firearms Association

Senate Status: 04/05/2011 – Senate Judiciary deferred to 04/12/2011.

House Status: 04/14/2011 – Set for House General Subcommittee of Judiciary – Addendum 04/20/11

Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 8, relative to the office of solicitor general.

Last Action Date: 04/14/2011

BILL STATUS REPORT

HB81 Transportation Vehicles: Off-highway motor vehicles: minors must wear helmets.

Sponsors Rep. G.A. Hardaway

Description Creates a Class C misdemeanor offense for a parent or guardian of a minor who allows the minor to ride off-highway motor vehicles without a helmet, including on private property or for the purpose of hunting.

Senate Status None

House Status 02/09/2011 – Referred to House General Subcommittee of Transportation.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-52-201, relative to child safety in operation of off-highway motor vehicles.

Last Action Date 02/09/2011

HB224 Criminal Law: Unlawful possession of handgun on housing project property.

Sponsors Rep. Brenda Gilmore

Description Specifies that unlawful possession of a handgun on the property of a public housing project is a Class A misdemeanor.

Senate Status None

House Status 02/07/2011 – Withdrawn in House.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, relative to crime reduction in housing projects.

Last Action Date 02/07/2011

HB447 Criminal Law: Possession of weapons on property of a housing project.

Sponsors Rep. Brenda Gilmore

Description Criminalizes possession of a firearm, knife with a blade length exceeding four inches, or a club on the property of a housing project.

Senate Status None

House Status 02/22/2011 – Referred to House General Subcommittee of Judiciary.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 32 and Title 39, Chapter 17, relative to crime reduction in housing projects.

Last Action Date 02/22/2011

HB608 Criminal Law: Non-licensed dealers cannot sell guns at gun shows.

Sponsors Rep. Richard Floyd

Description Establishes that it is an offense for any person to organize or operate a gun show unless that person notifies the TBI and the chief law enforcement officer in the county in which the gun show is to be held. Prohibits any person who is not a licensed dealer from selling a firearm at a gun show or within 1,000 feet of a gun show.

Senate Status None

House Status 03/24/2011 – Withdrawn in House.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, relative to sale of firearms.

Last Action Date 03/24/2011

HB611 Criminal Law: Increases penalties for possession of firearms by minors.

Sponsors Rep. Richard Floyd

Description Increases the penalty for intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly selling, loaning, or making a gift of a firearm or switchblade knife to a minor from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. Increases the penalty of inaction by an adult when knowing that a minor or student illegally possesses a firearm from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony.

Senate Status None

House Status 03/24/2011 – Withdrawn in House.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, relative to possession of firearms by minors.

Last Action Date 03/24/2011

SB51 / HB2014 Criminal Law: College faculty allowed to carry weapons on campus.

Sponsors Sen. Stacey Campfield / Rep. Andy Holt

Description Authorizes full-time faculty and staff at public post-secondary institutions to carry handguns on the premises of such institutions upon receipt of a directive from the head of the institution and upon completing an annual firearms training program.

Senate Status 02/07/2011 – Referred to Senate Judiciary.

House Status 04/07/2011 – Withdrawn in House.

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to the authorization to carry weapons.

Last Action Date 04/07/2011

SB53 Criminal Law: Handgun carry permits.

Sponsors Sen. Stacey Campfield

Description Allows any person who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent lawful resident and who owns real property in Tennessee, rather than TN residents who are citizens or permanent lawful residents, to apply to obtain a handgun carry permit from the department of safety. Retains current law exceptions.

Senate Status 02/22/2011 – Taken off notice in Senate Judiciary.

House Status None

Caption AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1351, relative to handgun carry permits.

Last Action Date 02/23/2011

SB104 / HB113 Environment & Nature: Overton County: authorizes hunting wild boar at all times.

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Business and Economy News Tax and Budget

Budget to Challenge Lawmakers’ Political Resolve

An estimated 100 million people across the country will vow this New Year to lose weight, quit smoking, start saving more money or stop some potentially destructive bad habit and begin a life-affirming new one, according to a recent study by Health Net, Inc.

But while some Tennessee lawmakers say they’re just trying to get through 2010 without making the burdens on Tennesseans any heavier than they already are, others have big spending plans even as the state’s bottom line is shrinking.

Sen. Douglas Henry, a Nashville Democrat, says his New Year’s resolution is to frame state laws that help Tennesseans live a “more complete life,” which includes more government aid for the poor and funding for children’s programs.

Rep. Mark Maddox, D-Dresden, says his resolution is the same as it was last year: get more money into the public school system.

But Hendersonville Rep. Debra Maggart, a Republican, says some of the projects and programs lawmakers want for their districts may not be wise or possible given the state’s cash-strapped fiscal environment.

Maggart says she plans to reserve her energy for pushing, in her view, only the most necessary pieces of legislation. “I’m not going to file a lot of bills next year because we don’t have the money, and maybe we have enough laws,” she said.

One goal that every legislator will agree to pursue this session — even if they differ on the best way to achieve it — is creating jobs for Tennesseans.

The focus for 2010 is “jobs and more jobs,” said Maddox, whose district includes Carroll County, which is struggling with a 17.2 percent unemployment rate.

While the national jobless rate begins to hint that the economy might be turning around, Tennessee’s 10.3 percent unemployment rate lands the Volunteer State among the highest third in the country.

Western Tennessee has been hit the hardest, with areas like Lauderdale County tapping out at 18.6 percent unemployment, and nearby Haywood County with an 18 percent jobless rate.

With the 2010 general election clearly in view, many lawmakers are likely hoping to wrap up statehouse business as quickly as possible.

“A lot of people are going to want to be going in to pass a budget and go home because it’s campaign season. There are lot of issues that need more attention than they’re going to get,” said state Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said his New Year’s resolution involves cutting roughly $1.5 billion in spending to keep the state’s fiscal boat afloat.

If the Legislature adjourns “without breaking the bank, and without breaking the backs of the Tennessee taxpayers,” then he’ll consider himself to have been successful, said Norris.

Categories
Featured Liberty and Justice News Tax and Budget

State Sovereignty Supporter Pushes Federal Mandate in TN Legislature

Earlier this year, Republican state Rep. Debra Young Maggart co-sponsored a resolution demanding that the federal government refrain from further burdening Tennessee with unwarranted and potentially unconstitutional policy mandates.

But earlier this month, Rep. Maggart and Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, expressed their interest in legislatively obligating the State of Tennessee to embrace an as-yet unfulfilled federal mandate, signed by George W. Bush, that critics say violates just the sort of constitutional principles lawmakers like Maggart saw fit to reiterate in their state sovereignty resolution last session.

The federal mandate at issue here is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act of 2006 (pdf). Among other things, it demands harsher treatment of juveniles found guilty of committing sex crimes — in particular, by posting youthful offenders’ pictures, names, birthdays and addresses online.

“The adoption of this legislation would put Tennessee into compliance with the requirements for juveniles to be placed on state’s Sex Offender Registries under the Adam Walsh Act which was scheduled to go into effect in 2009,” according to a press release issued Dec. 7 by Maggart and Black. “Tennessee was awarded over $50 million in Byrne Grant funding last year, 10 percent of which could be in jeopardy unless the state adheres to these requirements.”

Failing to abide by the Act could result in a loss of state law enforcement subsidies of $750,000 to $940,000 next year, the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs reports.

“Is it a mandate? Yes,” said Maggart.

But she sees little in her past advocacy for the sovereignty resolution — combined with her support now for the Bush-era federal mandate — to indicate she’s guilty of a political double standard.

“I know we need this money,” Maggart told TNReport.com. “It is a mandate, but again, it is what we’re operating under, and I think that we should have uniform laws on sex offenders across the country because sex offenders are really clever.”

The Tennessee sovereignty resolution, House Joint Resolution 108 (pdf), was really meant to ward off unfunded mandates such as government-run health care or expansions of education programs, Maggart said. It wasn’t necessarily intended to label all the federal government’s directives to the states as bad.

“I just think they’re two different animals,” she said. Of the federal health legislation under consideration in Congress right now, Maggart said, “The costs are going to be out of this world.”

“But keeping sex offenders out of our community where they can prey on our children,” she added, “is a completely different thing.”

Michael Hough, a public safety specialist for the Washington D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council, said that elements of the Walsh Act, particularly the juvenile offender provisions, were upsetting to state lawmakers, many of them conservatives, from around the country who gathered in Atlanta last summer to discuss the law.

“Everyone basically agreed that parts of the law were very good, but — as happens a lot when the federal government passes things — they don’t really understand what’s going to happen when it is put out in the states.” said Hough, whose organization tends to promote state-level, small-government, market-oriented policy solutions.

Hough said many lawmakers complained of the costs associated with implementing much of the Walsh Act — that they’re in fact even higher than the potential Byrne grant cuts that would result from noncompliance.

Likewise, the National Conference of State Legislatures has stated that the Walsh Act works to “preempt many state laws and create an unfunded mandate for states.”

The Act was also found unconstitutional in April 2008 by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida, who declared that under the general reasoning inherent in the Walsh Act, “virtually all criminal activity would be subject to the power of the federal government.”

“Surely our founding fathers did not contemplate such a broad view of federalism,” wrote the judge.

His opinion was later overturned on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the provisions of the United States Constitution allowing for regulation of interstate commerce permitted Congress to pass laws that “track those offenders who move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.”

To date, only Ohio has adopted the Walsh Act, and currently it is under review in the state supreme court.

“This is not about kids playing doctor when they’re 10 years old,” said Maggart. “The needs of the community to be protected by a 16-year-old that’s a rapist, it outweighs everything.”

But Nashville defense attorney Brent Horst, himself a former sex-crimes prosecutor in Florida, said situations where children “playing doctor” crosses a line could result in an individual being publicly labeled as a heinous sort of criminal for decades.

“No one wants to be soft on sex offenders,” said Horst, but requiring that juvenile offenders be added to the adult registry is an “incredibly stupid, unfair and unjust” idea. It could end up subjecting a “a poor kid who’s just a normal teenager experimenting with his sexuality” to years of societal contempt, he said.

“It’s all about the (federal) money,” Horst added.

If approved by both chambers and OK’d by the governor, the new law would require juvenile offenders to register if they have been found guilty of crimes such as rape, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or an attempt to commit of those crimes.

Juveniles convicted as adults under Tennessee law must already register with the sex offender website.

Maggart, who, like Sen. Black, is from Sumner County, was the No. 2 co-sponsor of the HJR108 sovereignty resolution. A very popular measure, it passed 85-2 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate. Black didn’t appear to vote on the legilsation.

HJR108 reaffirmed Tennessee’s claim as a self-governing jurisdictional entity in keeping with the Tenth Amendment, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

HJR108 also lamented that while “the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states…today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government.”

Similar measures were enacted in several other states, but on June 23 Phil Bredesen put pen to paper and made Tennessee’s the first such resolution in the country signed by a governor.

The resolution’s chief sponsor last spring, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, says she tends to agree with Maggart — that the Hendersonville Republican’s effort to list juveniles on public sex offender electronic bulletin boards is more an effort to improve public safety in Tennessee than an attempt to suck up to Washington, D.C.

“This would be a Tennessee law to put juveniles on a sex offender registry,” said Lynn, who supports the bill. “It would happen to be coincidence, as far as I’m concerned, that the federal government is mandating this.”

Categories
Liberty and Justice News

Seeking Consensus on Traffic Cameras

Instead of slamming the brakes on red-light traffic cameras, House Transportation Committee members have tentatively agreed to try and hash out a three-part proposal to guide and regulate their use instead.

The rough plan, which includes a series of studies and a possible moratorium on new red light cameras, would give lawmakers more tools – and time – to decide the ultimate role the new technology will play in Tennessee communities.

Still, a number of lawmakers haven’t backed off their basic objections with the red-light cameras, saying both that the photos they take subvert civil liberties and that the private camera-vendors collect too much profit off the issuance of violations.

But the hope is to approve one comprehensive plan and move it through the Legislature, according to Rep. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, who chairs the committee.

The panel batted around ideas Wednesday, including a plan by Maryville Republican Rep. Joe McCord to shuffle profits from citations to drivers education or trauma services statewide.

McCord, a vocal opponent of red light cameras, introduced legislation last year banning the technology. He has since dropped the ban, saying he now sees a safety value of the system, but he’s still uncomfortable with how the ticket-generated revenues are divvied up.

Many on the 12-member House Transportation Committee agree that the private traffic-camera service-providers currently have too much unchecked, profit-driven power over motorists.

The vendors capture alleged violations on camera, examine the pictures, cross reference the information with the Department of Motor Vehicles, then mail out the citations. In return, they receive the lion’s share of fines collected.

Harmon wants the state comptroller to take a hard look at the traffic cameras and report back to lawmakers on issues like what impact the systems have on vehicle crashes, the make-up of traffic-camera service contracts, and detail as to how citation revenues are spent.

Harmon also wishes to see the state Department of Transportation conduct an engineering study on each intersection proposed to use a traffic camera, and added he hopes to ban all unmanned speed cameras on state highways.

While many lawmakers on the panel generally seemed supportive of Harmon’s ideas, some still argue the cameras are unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy. “If it intrudes a little, it’s too much,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, a Kingsport Republican.

A study (pdf) by the free-market Tennessee Center for Policy Research released earlier this year argued that traffic-enforcement cameras are unwise, unnecessary and unsafe.

The City of Gallatin collected nearly $1 million in traffic citations linked to the traffic cameras in 2007, according to TCPR’s study. At least 16 Tennessee cities use some sort of traffic camera: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cleveland, Gallatin, Germantown, Jackson, Jonesborough, Kingsport, Knoxville, Memphis, Morristown, Mount Carmel, Murfreesboro, Oak Ridge, Red Bank and Selmer.

“There’s a lot of money being made here,” said TCPR policy director Justin Owen, an attorney who co-authored the report.

Instead of installing cameras, he says lawmakers should require municipalities to extend the length of the yellow light, giving drivers more time to travel through the intersection instead of stopping short for fear of a traffic ticket.

“The mere presence of the watchful cameras encourages drivers to attempt to stop at yellow lights even if passing through the light would be safer. Coupled with a decrease in yellow light timing, this can readily explain the increase in the number of rear-end collisions that occur at intersections with red light cameras,” stated the TCPR report.

Rep. John Tidwell, an engineer from New Johnsonville, says he’ll push lengthening the yellow light next year.

The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police maintains that the cameras help enforce the rules of the road, reduce crashes and generally improve safety, said Maggi Duncan, executive director. The association plans to push for the red light and speed cameras this legislative session.

The committee hopes to formulate an initial legislative proposal at their next meeting on Jan. 11.

Categories
News

Kelsey Wins Senate Seat

Republicans notched another fall 2009 special-election victory last night as former Rep. Brian Kelsey became a senator-elect with a victory over Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon.

Shelby County Election Commission results show Kelsey won decisively over Pakis-Gillon in the low-turnout contest, capturing nearly 75 percent of the vote.

Kelsey, a 31-year-old suburban Memphis attorney, campaigned on creating jobs and opposing  “wasteful government spending” and “government-run health care.”

During the 2009 legislative session Kelsey introduced a constitutional amendment to prohibit the creation of an income tax in Tennessee. The bill did not pass.

In an effort to “take a stand against government-run health care,” Kelsey has also advocated loosening state health-care insurance regulations, which he says will make private medical coverage more affordable.

The results of the election are scheduled to be certified later this month, after which Kelsey will be officially sworn into office.

Kelsey’s lopsided win did nothing to change the partisan make-up of the Senate, however: Republicans still hold control of the chamber, 19-14.

The District 31 seat Kelsey will now occupy was previously held by Republican Paul Stanley, who resigned amidst revelations that he was the target of a blackmail attempt resulting from an adulterous affair he was having with a 22-year-old legislative intern.

Republicans also control the Tennessee House of Representatives, 49-48. Pat Marsh, a Republican from Shelbyville, beat Democrat Ty Cobb in a House special election back in October.

A special election to fill Kelsey’s vacated District 83 House seat is scheduled for Jan. 12 between Democrat Guthrie Castle , Republican Mark White and independent John D. Andreuccetti.