Miscellaneous TN News Notes, 12/30/12

New Legislature Faces Familiar Topics
Chas Sisk has first here-comes-the-legislature roundup story for 2013 (appearing before 2012 has ended). The summary sentences:
Pass a budget. Resolve debates on guns, charter schools and wine. Get out of Nashville quickly.
Tennessee lawmakers do not reconvene until Jan. 8, but already their list of resolutions for the 108th General Assembly is becoming clea
r.
There’s also a sidebar with brief discussion on the following topics: Guns, health care reform, vouchers, charter schools, wine in grocery stores, workers compensation, solar industry tax breaks, pre-kindergarten, campaign finance.
Legislator Surprised to be in Office
Chris Carroll reports that some legislators don’t realize they officially take office on election day in Tennessee. Opening line:
Not even Todd Gardenhire knew when he became Sen. Todd Gardenhire.
There’s a list of some other Southeastern state rules on when legislators assume office. It appears Tennessee is the earliest listed, though Alabama lawmakers are close – the day after election. Florida legislators take office “upon election,” but that may mean when the votes are certified?
Knoxville Had a ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Rally
Nearly two dozen people rallied outside the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse in downtown Knoxville Saturday to urge Tennessee’s congressmen to pass a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle class and head off the looming “fiscal cliff,” reports the News Sentinel.
Local residents gathered about 10:30 a.m. and stood outside for about an hour, said organizer June Jones.
“They’re just playing politics, and we’re just putting a light on the subject,” Jones said. “They’re just playing with people’s lives and making a lot of people very nervous.”

No Free Ride for Putnam’s New Year’s Eve Celebrants
In Putnam County, a New Year’s Eve tradition of providing free rides home for drunken celebrators won’t be functioning this year, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, because the Upper Cumberland Human Resource won’t furnish vehicles and drivers.
“We provided the vans and our staff volunteered in coordinating the services, drove the vehicles and a separate staff volunteer went as an escort in each van,” Randall Killman, field operations specialist with UCHRA, explained. “In recent years, the agency has experienced some issues with intoxicated passengers that put our volunteer staff at risk.”


Red Bank Traffic Cameras Going Away
RED BANK, Tenn. (AP) — Starting next year, traffic light cameras in the suburban Hamilton County city of Red Bank will be turned off after the city decided to remove them due to complaints from residents and businesses.
At midnight on Jan. 19, the traffic cameras at all three intersections where they are located will turn off. The city was among the first locally to install traffic cameras in 2006 and they have resulted in about 72,000 tickets for speeding and red-light violations.
City commissioners in September voted break their contract with American Traffic Solutions, which operates the cameras.
Floy Pierce, vice mayor, told The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/UDQG3f ) that business owners and residents complained the cameras hurt local businesses and impeded economic growth in the city.

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