By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal to strip employers of the right to ban firearms on company property is advancing again in the House, even though Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t think it will pass.
The amended measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect passed out of the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee on a voice vote on Tuesday.
The original bill would have allowed people to store legally-owned firearms in vehicles parked at work — regardless of their employers’ wishes.
The new version would limit the bill to people who have a state-issued handgun carry permit. It is similar to the companion bill that was withdrawn from consideration in the Senate.
However, Bass said he’s talked to the Senate sponsor and he’s agreed to revive the legislation, which has a provision that would allow individuals with state hunting licenses to store their firearms on company property.
PULASKI, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Eddie Bass, a Democrat who had considered running for re-election as a Republican, is retiring from the General Assembly.
Bass, a former Giles County sheriff, told WKSR-AM on Monday that he is leaving the Legislature to attend to his growing private businesses. He is the eighth Democratic lawmaker to announce his retirement this year.
Bass’ flirtation with a party switch may have been thwarted when he angered Republican leaders by sponsoring a gun rights bill that they wanted to push off until next year.
The bill supported by the National Rifle Association would force businesses to allow employees to be allowed to store firearms in vehicles parked on company lots.
Bass is serving his third term in the state House after first being elected in 2006.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democratic state Rep. Eddie Bass may be considering a party switch before the candidate filing deadline in April, but Republicans don’t appear overly eager to have him
Bass told The Associated Press on Monday evening that he hasn’t made up his mind about which party to affiliate with in seeking a fourth term.
“We just have to wait and see how things go on qualifying day, I guess,” he said,
Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga said he’s heard that Bass has been mulling a party switch for the last two or three years, but said he is satisfied with potential GOP candidates considering a bid in House District 65.
“I’d rather he’d stay where he is, to tell the truth,” McCormick said. “He’s not doing himself any favors running that gun bill.”
From the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action:
The Tennessee General Assembly is now in session and multiple bills that are crucial to law-abiding gun owners have been introduced. On January 25, Senate Bill 2992 and Senate Bill 3002 were introduced in the Tennessee Senate. The House companion bills, House Bill 3559 and House Bill 3560, were filed on the following day.
These NRA-drafted bills would prevent employers from discriminating and enforcing policies against the storage of lawfully-owned firearms in employees’ locked private motor vehicles while parked at work.
Introduced by state Senator Mike Faulk (R-4), SB 3002 would recognize that hard-working Tennesseans’ right to self-defense does not end when they drive onto their employer’s property or into publicly accessible parking lots. It would allow firearms to be stored out of sight in a locked vehicle. Senate Bill 3002 has been assigned to the state Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. State Representative Eddie Bass (D-65) introduced HB 3560, the House companion of SB 3002.
SB 2992, also introduced by state Senator Mike Faulk (R-4), is a Firearm Discrimination Prevention bill that would protect law-abiding gun owners from anti-gun policies by employers across the state, including forced firearm registration, random vehicle firearm searches, and “gun zone” parking lots for gun owning employees. The state Senate Commerce, Labor & Agriculture will first consider SB 2992. HB 3560, the House companion of SB 2992, was also introduced by state Representative Bass.
Link to full news release HERE.
Democratic Rep. Bill Harmon says he might run for the state Senate rather than for reelection to a state House seat that has been redistricted to pair him with Republican Rep. Jim Cobb.
The Senate seat in question is District 16, currently held by Democratic Sen. Eric Stewart, who has announced plans to run for the 4th District Congressional seat. Before and after redistricting, district 16 includes Sequatchie County, Harmon’s home. Most rate it as leaning Democratic, though not dramatically so.
In the House, redistricting pairs Harmon and Cobb in new District 31. The House district stretches from Sequatchie and Bledsoe through Rhea County, Cobb’s home, and into southwestern Roane County. Most rate it as leaning Republican, though not dramatically so.
“Probably,” replied Harmon when asked whether he could win against Cobb. “I’m first going to look at (running for) the Senate.”
“Can I win in that district? Yes,” said Cobb.
The Cobb-Harmon Harmon contest is the only remaining matchup between an incumbent Republican and an incumbent Democrat from the new House redistricting plan. The version originally unveiled had another – pairing Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Giles County with Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Hardin County. That match was eliminated in the final and revised version, which leaves Bass in District 70, comprised of all of Giles and most of Lawrence County.
Republican Rep. Joey Hensley of Lewis County, who represents the House District adjoining the Bass District that was also impacted by the revisions, was apparently a key in Republican assent to the revision. House Speaker Beth Harwell and House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner say Hensley is considering a run for the Senate in the new, no-incumbent Senate seat created in Southern Middle Tennessee by the new Senate redistricting plan.
The Memphis City Council has approved a $215 million financing package to turn The Pyramid into a Bass Pro Shops destination store and to invest in full ownership of the neighboring Memphis Cook Convention Center, reports the Commercial Appeal. The council voted 12-0 Tuesday in favor of the measure with little discussion. The Center City Revenue Finance Corp., the finance arm of the Downtown Memphis Commission, will issue bonds to fund the project, which are to be paid back through increased sales tax revenue collected Downtown.
Beyond transforming the now-vacant Pyramid, both Bass Pro Shops and the city say they hope to create an active convention center district, focusing on the connections among The Pyramid, the Mississippi River, Memphis Cook Convention Center and the historic Pinch District.
“This is bold action that will completely transform the face of the city,” said Mayor AC Wharton. “Although there have been rough obstacles to overcome and high doubt, we’re going to get this done.”
The city plans to buy Shelby County’s 50percent share of the convention center for $65 million to $75 million so it can gain full control of the Downtown Tourist Development Zone, which takes advantage of retail sales for most of Downtown, including Beale Street and the medical district immediately east of Downtown.
Tourist Development Zones divert new state tax revenue from businesses within the designated areas to specific public-use facilities, such as The Pyramid or the convention center, instead of sending that revenue to the state.
“That money would be going to Nashville if we didn’t use it,” Wharton said. “So, we can use the increased tax revenue from the project to pay for the project.”