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

TNGOP: Ball Making Excuses ‘Reminiscent of a 6th Grader’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; September 23, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While personal injury lawyer and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Gordon Ball claims he never received a National Rifle Association survey, the NRA points out that’s just not true. The Second Amendment rights organization explained to the Memphis Commercial Appeal the NRA sent the survey to Ball as they do for all candidates.

From the CA report:

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization mailed its survey to Ball at the Knoxville address listed on his candidate registration form. ‘He never returned the questionnaire. We changed his grade from a question mark to an ‘F’ based on an interview he did. Bottom line is he’s anti-gun, and we’ll make sure every gun owner in Tennessee knows it.’

In response to Gordon Ball’s lame attempt at crafting an excuse reminiscent of a 6th grader, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “Gordon Ball blaming the NRA for his own dismal record and F-rating on Second Amendment rights may be the most transparent evidence yet of how far this slick personal injury lawyer will go to distract Tennesseans from the fact that he’d be one more vote for Barack Obama’s anti-gun agenda. The NRA says it sent Ball its questionnaire. Ball should be forthright with Tennesseans about how he earned his F, instead of claiming that the dog ate his homework.”


Press Releases

Alexander Cosponsors Amendment to Extend Gun Rights on Federal Recreational Land

Press release from the Office of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander; July 10, 2014:

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today cosponsored an amendment by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that would allow a law-abiding citizen to carry a firearm on recreational lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in compliance with the firearms laws of the state.

“I see no good reason why the Corps should be allowed to discourage the use of nearly 12 million acres of land across the United States and deny the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans who have enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping on these lands for generations,” Alexander said.

Wicker’s amendment to the Sportsmen’s Act would ensure the Army Corps’ policy towards firearms is consistent with the policy already in effect at National Park and National Wildlife Refuges. Currently, a person may possess firearms in a National Park or National Wildlife Refuge as long as they comply with the firearms laws of the park or refuge’s home state. However, these same rights are not extended to lands owned or managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Press Releases

TFA: Legislature’s GOP Leaders ‘Ignoring Constitutional Right and Life Safety of Citizens’

Letter from the Tennessee Firearms Association; December 20, 2013:

Dear Tennessee Firearms Owner,

In case you missed it this week, Tennessee’s Republican leadership have indicated that Tennessee’s firearms owners are not a priority for them in 2014. In fact Beth Harwell, the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, apparently wants to keep you and your constitutional rights out in the cold again next year.

At a press conference this week she discussed her priorities for the 2014 legislative session and the right to keep and bear arms was not a priority for her or her fellow establishment henchmen. She doesn’t care about you or me, or our constitutionally protected right of self defense. This of course comes as no surprise as she has actively blocked firearms legislation in the past, and is no friend to the firearms owners in Tennessee.

How can it be in Tennessee that the ability to defend your life and your family is not a priority for Republican leadership?

Sadly, it is not hard to envision that Speaker Harwell may be taking many of her marching orders from Governor Haslam who was a member of the Mayors Against Guns coalition run by infamous gun-grabber Mayor Bloomberg of New York. One could easily conclude from the last three years that Governor Haslam has sent instructions down to Speaker Harwell and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey that they are not allowed to send any significant firearms legislation to his desk. This is the same Haslam who several years ago promissed the Tennessee Firearms Association that he would sign a law adopting Constitutional Carry in Tennessee but who, once governor, has never asked for that law to be put on his desk! We must ask whether Tennessee’s current Republican leadership is representing Tennesseans and their constitutional rights or are they more interested in Bloomberg’s mission and the interests of Federal Express and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce?

But we have all heard this before.

In the summer a few years ago, then Representative Debra Maggart, the number three leader in the Republican controlled Tennessee House of Representatives, stated to me that Republican leaders did not want to offer, publicly debate or even pass pro-gun legislation in election years because they think protecting the Second Amendment interests of the citizens would hurt their chances as Republicans to gain more power in the elections. Fortunately for us the voters in her district decided overwhelmingly to give her the pink slip when she asked to be re-elected in 2012. Of course much of that was due to your help in defending your rights and working with TFA’s Political Action Committee.

It is shameful that the Republican establishment leadership seems to be planning to continue ignoring the constitutional rights and life safety of citizens even after the grassroots spoke so loudly to throw Debra Maggart out of office.

The cold shoulder given by Establishment leadership like Bloomburg, Haslam, Ramsey and Harwell to ‘We The People’ is unacceptable. We expect it from Obama, Pelosi and Reid but not from “true” Republicans.

The fact of the matter is that the Tennessee Firearms Association and its members have different ideas about the 2014 legislative session. We will be fighting hard next year to expand the right to keep and bear arms in Tennessee. We are looking to grow our organization and we want you to grow with us. But in order to be successful we need your help.

As we prepare to hold our politicians accountable, as we prepare to stop bad legislation, as we prepare to go against the weak-knee Establishment leaders, and as we work to protect those legislators and candidates who do prioritize the Constitution ahead of mere partisanship, we need your help. We will be in the trenches, will you be there with us? We are committing substantial resources to mobilizing this battle like never before, will you be there with us?

You see, this is a war we can win but to win it we must have enough tools and resources. And the tools we need are not just your friendship, well wishes and hopes. With the Establishment relying on Bloomburg and Big Business money, the enemy has defined the battlefield to include massive financial resources. So I am forced by our opposition to ask for your most generous contribution of $25, $35, $75, or $100 today.

If you are willing to invest in our shared cause, please visit this page right now to contribute:

In liberty,

John Harris
Executive Director
Tennessee Firearms Association

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.”

Press Releases

TFA’s Tips for Getting Politically Active

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 23, 2012: 

“What Can I do?”

We frequently receive the question from people who want to get involved in protecting their rights “What can I do?”

There is much everyone can do – even if you have limits or are even restricted to home. For example, TFA has a group on Facebook. It has over 1000 people in that group and that group has an active discussion almost constantly discussing issues and news reports. This group was extremely active during the primary races and we expect it to be very active as well as the November elections. Even if you are not “on Facebook” consider setting up an account to participate on this resource.

TFA also has an online forum that is open to the public. It is It has a number of sections to discuss and explore issues related to a wide variety of topics. Common topics there include legislative and legal issues. It is also the primary source to keep up with announcements regarding the TFA chapter meetings across the state.

Please consider joining both. We use them to push and distribute information. More importantly these online venues are an area for you to get involved and to introduce yourself and others to grow this network and information ring. Its a place to share and congregate information. For example, one thing that is always helpful is to have people in all parts of the state watching constantly for news articles, TV stories and other reports that can be linked to the Facebook page and the TFA online forum to share with others and as a point of discussion.

Another thing that can be done is to make sure you have the personal and/or office numbers of all candidates for office and also those who are selected as your personal House and Senate members. Keep those telephone numbers and email addresses handy. Stay in touch with them – at least once or twice a month. Let them know you are interested in issues such as the Safe Commute Act, open parks and even the selection of legislative leadership. Often, you do not have to even tell them what you want – often it is enough to ask them questions about where they are on these issues. If you watch the TFA FB group and forum, the issues that you can ask them about will come up there as a matter of course.

As noted above, one big issue for all constitutionalists and conservatives in Tennessee is the issue of government leadership. While Republicans “candidates” and state party leaders have claimed for years while the Republicans were the minority party that they were the true conservatives, what we have seen over the last 4 years bears out little of that. Look specifically at leadership. Consider specifically Haslam, Ramsey and Harwell and the “fruits” of their dispositions over the last 2 years.

For example, many anticipate – or fear – that Haslam, with his vast personal and family fortune, will re-purchase his office in 2014. Can we afford another four years of a Governor that places a higher value on pleasing corporations than standing up for the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens of this state? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has promoted Sharia, while demonizing those of us who are concerned about the danger posed by that socio-political system? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has either left liberals in charge at all levels of our state government or has actively appointed them? Can we afford another four years of his corrosive influence on the legislature and the promotion of left of center values?

Ron Ramsey campaigned with his famous cowboy boots to cleanup state government. Well, he may not be the governor but he is the highest ranking senator. As we saw with the Safe Commute Act he knows how to block legislation from coming to the floor for consideration and a vote by all elected senators. He knows how to deprive all citizens of having their voices heard through their own senators. So, what evidence is there that he has done anything to stop or resist Haslam? Is the evidence more likely to establish the inference that his campaign against Haslam for governor turned to one of “whatever Haslam wants is fine.” Has Ramsey traded those cowboy boots for flip flops is a question we have heard more than once.

Then we have Beth Harwell. Look at her miserable voting record where she often puts other issues – any other issues – as a higher priority than her sworn oath to uphold the Constitution. Look at who she selected as her 2nd lieutenants – Debra Maggart and Gerald McCormick. Enough said.

There is much to be done. At a minimum, every conservative who believes that the priorities of state government come from mandates of God, from the principles underlying the Constitution and then from the people must be ever engaged with their voices and presence to impress on those who seek and hold office that they are stewards vested with temporary authority not rulers serving by divine right. We must know which of those seeking public office have the right priorities and which, like too many in leadership now, have inverted their priorities so that the most important thing to them is the perpetuation of their own positional power to rule over us. Knowing who has the right mind and spirit of a steward, we must work to prune the tree of liberty of those who do not work first to restore and protect the liberties on which this state and country were founded.

Debra Maggart was not the goal – she was merely the long hanging fruit in this specific election.

Recall the words of Samuel Adams —

“It does not take a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority
keen on setting brush fires of freedom
in the minds of men.”

Press Releases

TFA: Maggart ‘Like King George’ — Denies TN Citizens Representative Gov’t

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 23, 2012: 

In her newest (delusional) video, incumbent Debra Maggart claims that her vote to kill the Safe Commute act (HB3560 and HB3559) was note a vote against a 2nd Amendment issue. She takes a shot or two at the NRA as well.

Debra is either intentionally misrepresenting the EFFECT of sending a bill to “summer study” at the end of a 2 year legislative cycle or she is simply lying in hopes that the voters are too stupid to know the truth. Those with experience around the legislature know that “summer study” is a misleading way of killing many bills that the leadership does not want to see debated on the floor. It is a means of defeating a bill without a paper trail that clearly says so. Its not a “no” vote – it is a vote that simply tells the sponsor – “When pigs fly ….” or “When Hell freezes over….” or perhaps in this case “When Debra tells the truth ….” because all three are about the same effect.

If it was in fact set to be heard in “summer study”in 2012 – when was that meeting held or when is it scheduled to be held? At this time, there is no evidence to indicate that the “summer study” vote resulted in any actual summer study or findings. It was not supposed to because legislators and lobbyists know that such things seldom occur.

The fact is that Debra Maggart is lying. She told TFA in 2011 that these bills would not be heard for a floor vote because of her concerns that passing 2nd Amendment legislation would be bad for Republicans in an election year. That means, she places partisan power above the constitution and the lives of hard working Tennesseans.

The fact is that Debra Maggart is lying because she was also concerned that allowing a floor vote would mean that the bill would have passed on the floor and that would have caused her problems with the Big Business interests, like Federal Express, who have donated huge sums of money to the Republican leaders to “purchase” their influence.

The fact is that if Debra Maggart thought there was any 2nd Amendment context – much less self-defense rights – to this legislation, she could have brought it to the floor for a vote. She could have offered amendments. It could have been debated on the floor. The fact is that none of this was done and the effect of that was that most Tennesseans were denied the right to have their voices heard on this legislation by denying their elected representatives and senators the opportunity to vote on this legislation (which had 30 House sponsors) on the floor. The fact is that Debra Maggart – like King George – has denied many citizens in Tennessee the constitutional right to a representative form of government and she has done so for partisan power and campaign money.

Pay close attention when around the 30 second spot, Debra Maggart claims she support the intent of the bill but then at approximately the 50 second spot she claims that the bill is bad because it is a mandate on property owners. What Debra Maggart simplistic mind misses is that this bill is not an either/or on rights of citizens but a balancing of self-defense rights (which have a priority) and property rights (of the car’s owner and the land owner).

The fact is that Debra Maggart has trouble not only with the truth but trouble apparently even with reading comprehension. In a news report in May, Maggart made the following blatantly false statement concerning the effect of the Safe Commute law. This is the link to the news report from May 31, 2012.

“Property rights and gun rights are very important to the Republican party,” she said. “What happened is that some of the gun advocacy groups felt very strongly that we needed to pass a bill that was a very broad bill. The way that gun reads, you could carry a gun right now to the nursery of this hospital and there’s nothing (officials) can do about it to stop you…The last line of the bill says every citizen can carry a gun wherever they want in this state. I don’t know if you want felons to do that, probably not.

Maggart’s claims then that the Safe Commute law would allow carrying guns “to the nursery of [a] hospital” or that it would allow citizens to carry guns “wherever they want in this state” or that it would allow felons to carry guns are all false. The bill was short and simply written. If Maggart was lying about what the bill meant, then she is a bold liar. If Maggart really thought that this is what the bill meant then Tennessean’s cannot afford to have someone so functionally illiterate writing or voting on legislation.

If Debra Maggart cannot be honest with citizens about what the effect of a “summer study” vote means or what the effect of a bill is, she cannot be trusted with being returned to the legislature. We have enough liars in government, we need to be removing them – not rewarding them.

Press Releases

Maggart: 2nd Amendment, Property Rights Equally Important

Statement from State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville; July 23, 2012: 

See WWW.DEFENDMAGGART.COM for an important message from Debra.


Over the past few months, a national second amendment rights group, an organization of which I am a lifetime member, has begun a negative campaign against me in the name of the Second Amendment and my opponent.

This attack against me is based on false information in an effort to bully your elected officials and trample your other Constitutional rights.

During this past General Assembly, a bill came before us related to individuals being able to store their gun in their car. I have a 100% voting record on the Second Amendment and support this idea. There were several problems with this bill and we reached out to this group to try to work the kinks out.

My main concern was that this bill as introduced would have mandated what individuals, not just businesses, must do or allow with their property. I hear complaints every day about Federal Government mandates, yet one was almost forced on you by the state if this group would have gotten their way.

Since this group was not willing to work with us, we suggested that we study the legislation over the summer to see how we could make this a better bill for all Tennesseans. Most Members of the General Assembly would like a bill that respects property rights as well as second amendment rights, as both of these are equally important. Let me be clear. I did not vote against this bill, contrary to what you have been told. You can see for yourself by going to and looking at the vote for this piece of legislation.

As a member of House Leadership, blame has been placed at my feet for an attempt at thoughtful governing. We are sent to Nashville to represent you. It is my aim to protect all of your rights, not just the one that this second amendment rights group is promoting.

I hope you will contact me if you have specific questions about this matter that I can resolve. Now that you know the truth, I would appreciate your vote.


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.”