Harwell: DUI mistake not my fault

Responding to criticism from Democratic legislators, House Speaker Beth Harwell is defending her efforts to speed up lawmaking at the state Capitol, reports WPLN. She says spending more time on a new drunken driving measure — virtually certain now to be repealed — would not have made any difference.

Harwell says next week’s special session was not caused by Republicans rushing through the law at the end of the regular session in April. She says the new DUI law actually didn’t move all that fast, noting that 14 months lapsed from the time it was introduced to when it was passed.

“So there was sufficient time to look at this,” she says. “Attorneys reviewed it. Research analysts reviewed it. The commissioner of Transportation reviewed it, and none of them thought this was going to be in violation of federal law.”

Harwell blames federal authorities for the special session, saying they’re being inflexible.

Democratic lawmakers have frequently complained about the brisk pace of the legislative session since Harwell became speaker in 2011. And the special session has seemed like the perfect example of haste leading to a waste of tax dollars.