NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A major bottleneck at the entrances to Tennessee’s legislative office complex is being eliminated this week.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters on Thursday that state troopers have been instructed to stop scanning IDs and printing out temporary nametags for visitors.
Visitors will still have to pass through a metal detector, but Ramsey said ID scanning was taking too long and not serving much purpose because the names aren’t run through criminal databases.
Lines can often stretch around the block when advocacy groups hold their days on the hill or when contentious legislation is being heard in committee.
Ramsey said he’s also asked his staff to look into purchasing more metal detectors so visitors can be screened more quickly.
Further from Richard Locker, who notes that House Speaker Beth Harwell joined Ramsey in making the change.
The two speakers have written a joint letter to the state Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons ordering an end to the photo identification checks and scans at the entrance to the Legislative Plaza. Only standard government-issue metal detectors, staffed by state troopers, will remain.
..”I know people who stood in line for an hour and a half to get in here. That is ridiculous. This place is supposed to be open. And to beat it all, this was kind of a pilot project to begin with. I’m not sure we ever really gave them permission to do this,” Ramsey said.
“I’m very fired up about this. Beth and I have sent a letter to Commissioner Gibbons that we want this to stop by the end of the week. And I’m in favor of buying another metal detector. We could set another one over there so that trooper who used to give out the silly name tags can now move over to line No. 2 when we buy another.”
…The two speakers’ joint letter to Gibbons says the photo ID system was installed at the request of his agency but the two have concluded “that traffic flow at the entrance is being negatively impacted in a way that is not sustainable.”
…Ramsey said visitors to congressional office buildings in Washington don’t have to present ID cards.
“If you go to the Cannon Building in Washington, D.C. to visit your congressman, you put your stuff in a little bowl, walk through the metal and put it back in your pocket. Almost every place is like that.”