By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says the exclusion of college campuses is key to an agreement on a bill to allow employees to store their firearms in vehicles parked at work.
The governor told reporters after a speech to a Nashville Republican group on Tuesday that he expects lawmakers to craft a compromise on the measure that was the subject of much discord earlier this year.
The business lobby opposed the measure backed by the National Rifle Association on the basis that it intrudes on their property rights. Gun advocates argue that banning guns in company lots effectively prevents workers from being armed during their commute.
Haslam said his administration won’t take a lead on the issue but said it will fight to keep educational institutions out of the final version.
“We will definitely not offer a bill on this,” Haslam said. “It’s not one of the issues of primary importance to us in this session.”
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, has announced he will push for an early compromise on the measure in hopes of pushing the contentious issue out of the limelight. Unlike the early drafts of last session’s bill, the new version would apply only to people with state-issued handgun carry permit.
A report from Hank Hayes:
BLOUNTVILLE — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told higher education officials Monday that contrary to their wishes, he will introduce legislation to allow handgun carry permit holders to keep their weapons locked up in their personal vehicles.
“I’ve already got it drafted …The (newspaper) headline will be ‘Guns On Campus,’ but that’s not what we’re talking about,” Ramsey, R-Blountville, said of the bill at an annual luncheon held at Northeast State Community College between area lawmakers and higher education officials affiliated with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).
College campus police chiefs, in addition to business interests, opposed a bill in the last legislative session to prevent employers and landowners from prohibiting gun permit holders from storing guns in locked personal vehicles. The bill didn’t make it to floor votes in the House or Senate.
Dean Blevins, director of the Tennessee Technology Center at Elizabethton, reminded lawmakers early in the meeting that TBR opposes “any attempt to expand the presence of guns on college campuses” and asked them to exempt the higher education system out of any gun legislation.
After Blevins spoke, higher education operational and capital needs dominated the luncheon discussion until Ramsey took his gun permit card out of his wallet and held it up.
“It amazes me that when you put g-u-n in a sentence, people seem to lose common sense,” Ramsey, R-Blountville, said. “Something is going to pass this year. I want to put this behind us and forget about it. …About four percent of the people in the state of Tennessee have a gun carry permit card. …You have to take a half-day class, take a test on a (shooting) range, and go through a TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) background check.
News release from United Campus Workers:
Days after the University of Tennessee system’s Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents raised tuition and fees for their respective campuses, and following Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement of a conference on the future of higher education to be held this Tuesday, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America local 3865 has issued a call to Haslam to include staff, faculty, and students from the campuses in the dialogue.
While invitees include politicians and even representatives of the Tennessee Chamber
of Commerce, the Governor’s office left out invitations to those people who are at the heart of the state’s higher education system: its faculty, staff, and students.
“We’re confused and disheartened by the Governor’s choice to privilege business interests over the interests of the people who are most directly involved in the higher education system,” said Tom Anderson, President of UCW-CWA and staff at the university of Tennessee-Knoxville. “We want to be at the table because we think we’re in the best position to see what’s working–and maybe more importantly what isn’t working. Any solution is going to involve all of us, so why aren’t all of us being asked to participate in this conversation?”
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released the “Crime on Campus 2011” report which shows a slight increase of crime statewide on Tennessee’s campuses after a decrease in reported offenses for 2010. Prior to 2010, the state saw a decrease of crime on campus every year between 2004 and 2008 with a slight increase in 2009.
There were 7,493 offenses reported in 2011 compared with 7,190 in 2010, a 4.2% increase overall. Violent crime was also up nearly 20% for a second year in a row. Overview of Reported Offenses
§ Drug/Narcotics and drug equipment violations have increased yearly since 2008 for a total increase of approximately 47% with 2010 to 2011 having the largest increase of nearly 26%. There were 772 of these type of offenses reported in 2011.
§ There was a 47% increase in forcible sex offenses reported from the previous year and an increase in the number of reported rapes with 20 reported overall.
§ 37% of all 2011 offenses reported were categorized as larceny/theft which is an increase from 2010. However, there was an overall decrease of 3% since 2009.
§ Overall, assault offenses increased by 6.5% with aggravated assaults being down and simple assaults increasing.
§ Theft of motor vehicle offenses have declined nearly 25% since 2009.
§ DUI violations have decreased 25% since 2008.
The TBI publishes the annual Crime on Campus report pursuant to the 1989 College and University Security Information Act enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly. All colleges and universities are mandated to report crime statistics to TBI in an effort to assist law enforcement, institution administrations and government officials in planning their efforts to fight crime and applying crime prevention strategies.
To view a full copy of the “Crime on Campus 2011” report, including statistics from each individual institution, go to www.tbi.tn.gov and click on “Statistical Analysis Center” from the “Tennessee Crime Statistics” button on TBI’s homepage.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Workers from across the state are speaking out against legislation that would prevent Tennessee cities and counties from establishing a living wage.
About 100 workers gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to protest the measure that would ban higher wage requirements set by local governments and repeal any standard that has already been set, which in this case would be in Memphis.
Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin, the bill’s sponsor, said it’s necessary to have “uniform … business practices” between cities and counties.
Tom Anderson is president of the United Campus Workers. He says the proposal is a bad idea because the “living wage is the bare minimum that a person needs to pay their bills.”
A Senate committee joined its House counterpart Wednesday in scuttling for this year a bill to allow staff and faculty of Tennessee colleges and universities to carry guns on campus.
After losing on the “guns on campus” bill, sponsor Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, then tried in a separate measure to authorize all current and former state legislators to carry weapons. That proposal, too, was shot down by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(Note: Expands, replaces and updates earlier post)
A bill to allow faculty and staff of Tennessee colleges and universities to carry guns on campus was scuttled for the year Tuesday in a surprise maneuver in the House Judiciary Committee, but could still face action in the Senate.
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, made a motion to put off any consideration of the bill until next year pending “summer study” in the House Judiciary Committee while the sponsor, Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, was out of the room.
“In light of the way this bill got to this committee, I’m going to move that this bill be moved to summer study,” said Coley.
With no further discussion, Judiciary Committee Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, then announce, “Without objection, summer study.”
Watson then slammed down his gavel, effectively ending for the year a long-running controversy that had pitted the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents officials against second amendment activists.
“We didn’t even have a chance to discuss it,” said Holt afterwards. “I find that offensive.”
The move leaves the bill, HB2016, dead for the year in the House. Under House rules, Holt could appeal the action to House Speaker Beth Harwell. Holt said he was undecided about doing so.
The House voted 86-7 Monday to allow judges to carry guns into courtrooms if they had a handgun carry permit and attend specified training sessions.
The measure, HB2039, sparked very little floor debate. As amended in committee, it requires judges to go through a 16-hour training session on courtroom security as well as attend a firearms safety class in order to take guns to court.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, in the House and Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville in the Senate. It is scheduled for a Senate Committee hearing Tuesday.
A bill to allow full-time factulty and staff of colleges and universities to go armed on campus is scheduled for hearings Tuesday before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
University of Tennessee officials say a contingent of administrators, students and faculty will be on hand to voice opposition to the proposal, HB2016, sponsored by Campfield and Rep. Andy Holt, D-Milan.
Anthony Haynes, UT’s legislative liaison, said last week that defeat of the bill is the university’s “No. 1 priority this year in the Legislature, even more than the budget” because campus safety is fundamental to all other academic functions.
By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey are working against a bill to allow faculty and staff to carry guns on the campuses of Tennessee’s public universities.
But the two Republicans have arrived at their positions for different reasons.
Haslam says that he wants to leave it up to administrators at each school (or to the University of Tennessee trustees and the Board of Regents) to decide whether to allow guns to be carried, while Ramsey claimed the proposal would unfairly dominate media attention while several other important initiatives are pending before lawmakers.
Supporters of the measure (HB2016) say they would leave it up to administrators to ban guns on campus as long as they are willing to guarantee the safety of students and staff. (There’s a proposed amendment to that effect.) Haslam called that standard unrealistic.
“It’s very hard on a campus — or in a lot of other situations — to guarantee anybody’s safety,” he said. “So that language is worrisome.”
In a spirited by civil confrontation, the sponsor of a “guns on campus” bill informally debated the University of Tennessee’s police chief, along with students and faculty members Tuesday.
Officially, a vote on HB2016 by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, by the House Judiciary Committee was postponed for two weeks and an array of higher education officials and students did not get to testify as planned.
Unofficially, Holt and several of those with opposing views aired their differences face-to-face in a hallway and wound up thanking each other for the opportunity of a face-to-face exchange.
Toby Boulet, a UT engineering professor, for example, told Holt that there is no evidence of increased safety at campuses where handgun carry permit holders are allowed to take their weapons than at campuses where they are banned. The bill was “gambling” that guns would make a campus safer than a ban on guns, he said.
“You want to conduct an experiment and you want to conduct it in my workplace,” said Boulet. “Why not conduct it here instead?”