Gardenhire, Holt had a final day feud over traffic cameras and ‘tuition equality’

From an Andy Sher story:
For most of this year’s legislative session, Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, have worked together on a bill aimed at local governments’ use of automatic traffic cameras.

Consider the partnership severed, thanks to Holt’s work to sabotage Gardenhire’s bill granting in-state tuition rates to some undocumented Tennessee students to attend public colleges.

The tuition equality bill passed the Senate last week but failed by one vote in the House on Wednesday, with Holt voting no. Inside the chamber watching the debate — and Holt — was Gardenhire.

Upset over Holt’s vote, Gardenhire returned to the Senate where he began an effort to recall the traffic camera bill, which had already passed the Senate and was awaiting House action. That drew Holt over to the upper chamber.

“He asked me what was going on and who was trying to kill his bill,” Gardenhire said, adding that he made clear to Holt that the reason was “the vote tally on the in-state tuition.”

Gardenhire said Holt scrambled back to the House and pushed for a vote on the camera bill. In the Senate version, provisions barring all city use of the cameras were scrapped. Instead, it applied only to speed cameras, but exempted Chattanooga’s cameras along the deadly “S” curve section of Hixson Pike and in school zones across Tennessee.

House members had similar amendments, but Gardenhire said Holt was hoping to force the bill to a conference committee, where the original ban on all cameras could be restored.

Instead, Holt accepted the Senate version, which passed.

“Either way, I won,” Gardenhire said.

Note: Action Andy had an earlier story reporting that Holt “falsely claimed in the House Finance Subcommittee Tuesday night that Chattanooga’s speed cameras on Hixson Pike’s infamous “S” curves no longer function and no citations are being issued.” The remark came in debate over the traffic camera bill.

The claim later prompted an email of protest from Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher in which he said he knows for a fact the cameras are operational.

That’s because Fletcher said he himself got a citation for driving too fast through the deadly stretch of roadway not long ago.

When the bill came up later in full committee, Holt wasn’t there and it had a new sponsor, Rep. John Ragen, R-Oak Ridge.

“He says he did make an error,” Ragen told the panel of Holt.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, told the panel that Holt had “apologized” to him. “He said it was an honest mistake and I believe him.”