Tag Archives: confidential

Bill Closing Gun Permit Records Goes to Governor

From Richard Locker:
The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday closing public and media access to Tennessee’s handgun-carry permit records in most cases, making confidential the identities of nearly 400,000 Tennesseans licensed to go armed in public.
The House approved it 84-10 last month and the Senate followed suit on a 27-2 vote. Senators added an amendment providing limited circumstances when the public may ask if a specific individual who has some brush with the law has a permit, which sends the bill back to the House for concurrence with the amendment only. Approval there is expected, possibly Thursday. It then goes to the governor, who is expected to allow it to become law.
“This is a bill that protects the handgun permit carriers. It also protects the non-handgun permit carriers,” the sponsor, Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, told his colleagues. “What we’re doing here is prevent the publication of carry permit holders in a news media or on the Internet where that their name and address is put on a map, and that allows those that would come in and steal guns to know where those guns are.
“Also in addition to that, those that are not permit carriers are also identified through this in that the thieves would know perhaps that home has no protection. So this is for the public welfare,” Haile said.
The Senate amendment allows access by law enforcement as needed and to child-support agencies for child-support enforcement.
It allows “any person or entity” to ask the state Department of Safety to search the permit database to determine if a specific named person has a permit, but only if the requester presents a court judgment of a conviction, a criminal history report, order of protection or other official government document or record that indicates the named person is not eligible to possess a gun-carry permit.
In earlier committee discussions of the bill, legislative lawyers said that could include an arrest warrant charging a person with a felony but a misdemeanor.
The Commercial Appeal maintains on its website a searchable database of names and hometowns of Tennesseeans holding handgun-carry permits, but not street addresses. No Tennessee media outlet has published or posted maps displaying addresses of permit holders.
And referencing Haile’s argument that the bill protects identification of people without carry permits, no permit is required in Tennessee to keep guns at home.

Note: This updates and replaces earlier post, part of the CA’s ‘State Capitol Wednesday’ HERE.

Bill Would Seal Handgun Permit Records — Except for Political Purposes and Lobbying

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An effort to seal Tennessee’s handgun carry permit records from public scrutiny would create an exception for political operatives and lobbying groups to still obtain the entire set of names and addresses.
Republican Sen. Ferrell Haile of Gallatin told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that his bill is an effort to block the publication of handgun carry permit records on newspaper websites.
“We’re not trying to keep it where it’s not usable, but we want to keep it from being published,” he said.
Political operatives and advocacy groups want to be able to obtain the names and addresses of all 398,000 handgun carry permit holders so they can target them for fundraising and campaign mailings.
Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said he ran into similar issues when he tried to pass similar legislation years ago.
“My biggest resistance came from members of my own party for this provision, who wanted to continue using it for political purposes,” he said.

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House Votes to Seal Handgun Carry Records

The state House overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday night that makes secret virtually all information about Tennessee handgun-carry permit holders except non-identifying statical reports, reports Richard Locker.
If the Senate also approves the bill, individuals and media organizations would be unable to identify any of the 370,000 Tennessee residents with the state-issued licenses to carry guns in public. In the previous four years, lawmakers have been expanding the number of public places where permit holders may legally carry guns, including public parks and bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
A bill that passed last month allows permit holders to keep their guns in their cars on virtually any public and private parking lot — including at schools and college campuses — despite the property owner’s objections. One of the arguments advanced by the legislators who sponsored the guns-in-parking lots bill was that employers and others could still determine if their employees have permits to go armed because the permit database is public record. That would no longer be the case with the bill approved by the House Monday.
The bill, House Bill 9, declares that all information and records relating to handgun-carry permits “are confidential, not open or available for public inspection and shall not be released in any manner” except to law enforcement agencies specifically investigating an individual with a permit. It also makes confidential any information regarding the suspension or revocation of a permit.
Before approving the bill 84-10, the House added an amendment recommended by a committee that would allow any person or entity to ask the state Department of Safety to search its permit-holder database to determine if a specific person has a permit as of that date, but only if the requester presents an official government document indicating the named person is not eligible to possess a permit. That would include a court judgment of the individual’s conviction of a crime that makes the person ineligible, a criminal history report, or an order of protection.
Such limitations would prohibit the state from publicly confirming an individual charged with a violent crime, including murder, is licensed to go armed. In fact, the push by gun advocates for closing public access to permit holders’ identities began in early 2009 when real estate investor Harry Ray Coleman was publicly identified as a permit holder when he shot Robert Schwerin Jr. to death during an argument outside a Cordova restaurant.

Ramsey Doesn’t Like Sealing Gun Permits; NRA Does

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A National Rifle Association-backed effort to block public access to handgun carry permits goes too far for Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, one of the top gun rights advocates in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Ramsey told The Associated Press that the ability to scrutinize the identities of people with handgun carry permits strengthens arguments that gun enthusiasts are worthy of carrying loaded firearms in public.
“Having the handgun carry records open actually helps the cause of the Second Amendment,” he said in an interview Thursday. “Because people can go look at those and realize that they truly are law-abiding citizens.”
Ramsey added, “I encourage people like the press to look through these to figure out whether there’s something we’re missing. When you don’t shine light on something, that’s when problems are caused.”
Ramsey’s position conflicts with NRA, which has long called for sealing the records so the public and news media cannot see who has the state-issued permits.
“Members of the media have no business possessing personal information of Tennesseans with handgun carry permits,” NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford said in an email.

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Burchett’s ‘Personal’ Email in Government Account Kept Confidential

The Knox County Law Department has blocked the release of six emails written earlier this year that appear to involve Mayor Tim Burchett’s problematic campaign account, according to the News Sentinel.
The county’s Information Technology Department produced records of the emails, written in January, March and April, in response to a request by the News Sentinel. But the Law Department determined the emails themselves should not be released because they are “personal” and not subject to the state’s Public Records Act.
If the emails do, in fact, deal with Burchett’s election account, they could be relevant to a meeting of the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance next week during which the mayor has been told to explain false entries in his campaign finance disclosure statement and undisclosed contributions to and withdrawals from the Elect Burchett campaign account.
The mayor has blamed his former wife, Allison, who wrote several checks from the campaign account to herself during their marriage and deposited those amounts in the couple’s household checking account.
She has said she acted at his direction. He has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the discrepancies until they were brought to his attention by the News Sentinel in June.
Before a July 22 news story, for instance, he issued a written statement saying, in part: “As a result of these matters having been brought to my attention for the first time, I have initiated a complete review ….”
County computer records show, however, that Allison Burchett sent three emails the morning of Jan. 30 to the mayor, his chief of staff, Dean Rice, and Communications Manager Michael Grider. The subject of the first, sent at 9:30 a.m. was “Financial disclosures.” The subject of the second, sent 35 minutes later, was “FW: elect.” It had an untitled pdf file attached to it. The subject of the third, sent a few minutes after that, was “RE: Financial disclosures.”

In Open Government Balancing, Haslam Tilts Toward Secrecy

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Gov. Bill Haslam says it’s “not easy” to strike a balance between efficiency and transparency in state government. In several cases this year, the Republican governor has sided in favor of making information confidential.
Haslam has signed measures to make confidential the names of all but the three finalists for leadership positions in state colleges and universities, and to prevent parents from finding out the evaluation scores of teachers.
Haslam in an interview with The Associated Press last week also continued to defend his failed effort to close off information about companies — including the identities of their owners — that receive cash grants from the state.
“Ultimately, it’s a balancing act between what’s doing best for the state and protecting the public’s right to know,” Haslam said. “And that’s not easy.”

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Applicants for Top University Jobs to Become Confidential

The names of those applying for the top jobs in Tennessee’s colleges and universities could be kept confidential unless they become a finalist under legislation poised for final passage today.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, who is sponsoring the bill (SB3751) at the behest of officials with the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems, said that confidentiality could lead more highly-qualified people to seek jobs as university presidents and college campus chancellors.
But House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said the present laws making the names of applicants public has worked well, as evidenced by the administrators now in place at state campuses.

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Higher Ed Wants More Secrecy in Search for Leaders

From a Richard Locker notebook:
The state Senate approved a bill Monday night that allows Tennessee’s higher education governing boards to keep confidential the names of and information on all applicants for presidents and chancellors of state colleges and universities except for the three finalists.
The bill was set for a House floor vote as well but was postponed to Wednesday. Its Senate sponsor, Sen. Jim Tracy, D-Shelbyville, said the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents requested the bill to “encourage more qualified applicants. Many of the best candidates will not apply for fear of losing support where they are if they are not chosen” for the new position, Tracy said.

House Panel OK on Sealing Teacher Evaluation Records

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to close public access to teacher evaluation data is advancing in the House.
The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville was approved on a voice vote in the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday. The companion bill is headed for a floor vote in the Senate.
Sponsors say access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
Under recent changes to state law, half of teachers’ assessments must derive from testing data, while the rest comes from classroom observations.
Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters told reporters earlier this week that he favors the proposal because of the lack of confidence many educators have in the new evaluation system.

TEA Wants Teacher Evaluations Kept Confidential, Too

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters said Monday that he favors a proposal to close public access to teacher evaluation data because of the lack of confidence many educators have in the new evaluation system.
The measure is headed for a full Senate vote, and the companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
Sponsors say access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
Winters spoke to reporters on Monday after hearing a presentation from a Tennessee Department of Education official on the implementation of the evaluation system.

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