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TN Chamber’s Statement of Opposition to ‘Guns in Workplace’ Bill

Letter to Tennessee General Assembly Lawmakers, 1 March 2012; Distributed by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

Members of the 107th General Assembly Tennessee State Capitol

Dear Senator/ Representative:

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms have long recognized the value of firearms to protect life, liberty and property. But in Tennessee, proposals before the Legislature use the 2nd Amendment to produce the opposite effect: The cause of gun rights is being used to attack property rights.

Tennessee has enacted legislation that wisely affirms personal freedom by letting law-abiding citizens obtain permits to carry handguns. But this year, that privilege is being used to attack the rights of private property owners. SB2992/HB 3559 and SB3002/HB 3560 are both aimed at curtailing the rights of private property owners by forcing them to allow firearms to be carried onto their premises — even if the property owner objects. The bills even go farther, allowing a person to have a weapon on private property even when the person does not have the right to be on the premises.

The proposed “guns in the parking lot” bills actually have a much broader reach – pulling in any business entity, owner/manager/possessor of real property or public or private employer. It makes it illegal for them to have or enforce a policy restricting firearms in vehicles parked on their private property.

Under current law, private property owners and employers have the authority to make the rules on their own premises. But when it comes to guns, this legislation would take away that freedom. If an employer or property owner – from a retail store to a factory to a daycare center to a hospital to an educational institution – wishes to prohibit individuals or employees from bringing firearms on their property, they should have the right to do so.

This proposed law is a major infringement on private property rights. There is no right in the state or federal Constitution to have a gun on someone else’s property. This is not a place where the government should substitute its judgment for that of the property owners. Decisions about their own safety, as well as that of their customers and employees, should be the property owner’s to make.

This is a year in which both lawmakers and citizens are calling for government to stop the excessive regulation of our lives and our businesses. Supporters of this legislation argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another. And you cannot use more government regulation to create less regulation.

We urge you to oppose SB 2992/HB 3559 and SB 3002/HB 3560.

Sincerely,

Associated Builders and Contractors,
Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Knoxville Chamber of Commerce,
Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports,
Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police,
Tennessee Bankers Association,
Tennessee Business Roundtable,
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation,
Tennessee Hospital Association,
Tennessee Hospitality Association,
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities,
Association Tennessee Paper Council,
Tennessee Petroleum Council,
Tennessee Public and Teaching Hospital,
Association Tennessee Railroads Inc.,
Tennessee Retail Association,

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Education Health Care NewsTracker

Haslam Seeks Cost Controls As Colleges Consider Double-Digit Tuition Hikes

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s trying to be lean, not mean, in trimming state government, and he’s ready to ask the same of the state’s colleges and universities this week.

With tuition votes coming up in both the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents systems, Haslam said Tuesday when he goes to those meetings he will be asking schools to make some tough choices in holding down costs. He knows that can be hard to do.

“In government, we’re basically bureaucratic organizations, so it’s easier to gain people and programs along the way,” Haslam said. “And I’m going to ask them (in higher education) to do the same things we’re doing in state government, to ask the hard questions: ‘Are we doing this the best and most inexpensive way as we can?'”

Haslam has made several public references in the last two weeks about how higher education is suffering because of the rising costs of health care. He made the same point again Tuesday in Nashville at a summit on aging

While the state remains committed to fully funding K-12 schools under the funding formula called BEP, other departments are having to hold the line and make cuts. Haslam is prepared to take that message to the state’s colleges and universities, as those schools are primed to hit students with another tuition hike

The University of Tennessee system is reportedly prepared to ask for up to a 12 percent increase in tuition while the Board of Regents is reportedly looking at an 8.8 percent to 11 percent hike, which Haslam has said is affecting middle-income families most, since lower-income families stand to make up the most, comparatively, through grants and scholarships.

Haslam says the state must not lose sight of its goal of graduating more students. He believes pricing students out of college would be exactly the wrong way to go.

“I won’t just totally point the finger at them,” Haslam said of the higher ed schools. “Part of the problem is ours in state government. We fund a lot smaller portion of their budgets as we did 30 years ago as more and more of our money has gone to those health care issues. So we have to figure out together how we’re going to address that situation.”

The governor said he would like to boost funding for higher ed, not cut it, although he trimmed 2 percent out of higher education in his budget this year.

“I think we have to figure that out, not just so tuition doesn’t keep going up, but we need to send more Tennessee students to college,” Haslam said. “That’s going to cost us money. We’re going to have to appropriate more money to higher education.”

Tuition votes are expected for the University of Tennessee schools on Thursday in Knoxville and for Board of Regents schools on Friday in Nashville. Haslam has hammered home the point about college and workforce development going in opposite directions. The state is making a concerted effort to produce more college graduates who can fill the kind of high-quality jobs the state wants to attract.

Lagging behind in college graduates does not attract jobs. Yet the price tag on college is working against the state in its pursuit of those jobs.

And it’s not as though the state schools don’t have competition inside Tennessee’s borders.

The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities announced this month that its average tuition and fees for the coming school year will increase only about 3.8 percent, which the organization says is the lowest increase in more than a decade. The organization includes schools such as Belmont University, Cumberland University and Lincoln Memorial University.