NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee election officials plan to review a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says states can’t demand proof of citizenship from people registering to vote in federal elections unless they get federal or court approval to do so.
The justices’ 7-2 ruling on Monday complicates efforts in Arizona and other states to bar voting by people who are in the country illegally.
Tennessee passed a law about two years ago that allows state election officials to purge noncitizen residents from election rolls.
Anyone listed as a noncitizen and registered to vote has 30 days to present proof of citizenship or be purged from the rolls.
Secretary of State spokesman Blake Fontenay told The Associated Press on Monday that election officials hadn’t seen the high court ruling, but planned to review it to see if it affects Tennessee.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that he expects to know by the end of the summer whether a deal can be reached with federal officials over TennCare expansion. The Tennessean says this is the first time he has suggested a timetable for a final decision on the issue. “It’s not a question of lack of dialogue,” Haslam told reporters after a Memorial Day commemoration on War Memorial Plaza. “I think if we haven’t made real progress by this summer, it’ll show that we’re not going to.”
… Haslam said state officials continue to negotiate toward a compromise. He named Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as one of the officials they have met.
“Marilyn actually lived in Nashville for awhile, understands Tennessee very well,” he said “We’ve had very frank conversations with her that have given me a lot of encouragement.” Note: More details in the Commercial Appeal, HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled against a Brentwood man who claimed state law regulating the carrying of firearms was unconstitutional.
Leonard Embody filed a lawsuit in 2010 after state officials took away his carry permit, finding a “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public.”
The revocation came after Embody was detained by Belle Meade police in 2010 while walking with a .44-caliber black powder revolver in his hand. He was detained in 2009 while walking in Radnor Lake State Park with an AK-47-style pistol. He also has been stopped in at least three similar incidents, although he was never charged with a crime.
Embody, who represented himself, claimed in court that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives him a right to carry firearms.
According to the court, “The crux of Embody’s argument is that, as a law-abiding citizen, the legislature may not constitutionally bar him from carrying loaded firearms in public.”
Gov. Bill Haslam says he’ll decide by Monday whether or not to veto the so-called “ag-gag” bill, reports WPLN. Thousands of people have called and emailed Haslam’s office, and some celebrities are urging him to stop it from becoming law. The proposal would require people who document animal abuse to hand their recordings over to police within 48 hours. Opponents say it would actually make it harder to prove patterns of animal cruelty. The argument has put a spotlight on Haslam’s next move.
“While we’re always interested in peoples’ opinions – I’ve had a whole lot of entertainers and movie stars weigh in – at the end of the day it should be about, ‘Is the bill constitutional? Does it encourage the healthy treatment of animals? And is it good public policy that’s well-written for the state?'”
Haslam says he’s expecting to hear either today or tomorrow whether Tennessee’s Attorney General thinks the bill is constitutional. After that he’ll decide no later than the beginning of next week if he’ll veto the bill, sign it into law, or let it become law without his signature.
One of the latest groups pressing for a veto is the American Civil Liberties Union, with a petition it says more than 33 thousands people have signed, including 350 Tennesseans. The ACLU argues such a law would unconstitutionally hurt the right to free speech for people trying to expose animal cruelty.
Here’s some comments emailed to media on Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to reject a state-operated Health Care Exchange. News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Haslam announced today that Tennessee would not be setting up a state-based health exchange as called for under the Affordable Care Act. His decision will result in the federal government taking over responsibility for creating a health insurance marketplace for Tennessee consumers and small businesses.
“I’m disappointed to see the Governor pandering to the far right of his party rather than doing what is best for the people of Tennessee,” said Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “I would hate to know that I had a 70 percent approval rating statewide, and couldn’t get my own party to support my initiatives.”
State-based exchanges have enjoyed bi-partisan support historically. Former Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) wrote in an op-ed recently that it would be “best for Tennessee to develop its own exchange because exchanges are an innovative, market-driven strategy, which foster competition, choice, cost-savings and quality among insurers.”
“It is disappointing that our Governor found it too difficult to do what 23 other states have begun to do – implement their own health insurance exchange,” said Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “In the end, if Governor Haslam was unable to convince his party to reject partisan politics and do the right thing, perhaps it was best for him to allow the federal government to begin setting up an exchange for him.”
While Governor Haslam’s decision to leave health care exchanges to the federal government takes this issue off the table, Democrats will continue to push for Tennessee to participate in the federally funded Medicaid expansion that would cover an additional 330,000 souls.
“While the Governor is able to fall back on the federal government to handle these health care exchanges, he won’t be able to shirk the responsibility for participating in the Medicaid expansion,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “If we don’t participate in the new Medicaid program, we’ll be leaving $10.5 billion in federal dollars on the table. Punting on this issue would hurt Tennessee businesses, working families, and rural hospitals.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s taking advantage of an extended deadline the federal government has given states regarding health insurance exchanges.
States had until Friday to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if they plan to set up their own health insurance markets. But the deadline has been extended to Dec. 14.
Haslam has yet to reach a decision, but the Republican governor says he’s hopeful that in the coming weeks he will receive answers from Washington to questions he has about the exchanges, mainly the amount of flexibility Tennessee would have if it set up its own.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville told reporters earlier this week that he expects the governor to keep his options open on the state-run exchange
— Note: Here’s a statement issued by the governor: “The deadline for states to respond to the federal government about health insurance exchanges has been extended,” Haslam said.
“We are hopeful in the coming weeks we will receive answers from Washington to the many questions we’ve asked in our effort to have a full picture of the future of exchanges in Tennessee.
“Let me be clear, I oppose the Affordable Care Act. I joined with other Republican governors earlier this year to fight the law. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld a majority of it this summer, including the provision that states are required to either participate in a federal exchange or establish their own.
“I understand there is a lot of passion and uncertainty about the health care law, and I share that frustration. As governor, I believe it is my job to put emotions aside and to make the tough decisions on the serious issues that impact Tennesseans. That is what I’m working hard to do.”
Tennessee Green Party candidates for public office will have to wait more than three weeks before their names will appear on the state’s elections website, says The Tennessean. State officials do not plan to publish the official list of candidates for the November election until Aug. 30, state elections director Mark Goins said Tuesday.
That’s when Goins’ office is required by state law to finalize and announce results from Tennessee’s recent primary elections, he said.
“Their names will be there unless the court tells us otherwise,” Goins said.
A federal judge earlier this year ruled that members of third parties have a right to appear on the ballot, identified by their party, as opposed to being included in the listing of independent candidates.
The state has appealed that decision, and a federal appeals court has yet to rule on the issue.
“There’s a decent chance that we’ll know by Aug. 30,” Goins said.
If not, the state plans to include a reference to the pending appeal, noting that Green Party candidates could be removed from the ballot if the original ruling is overturned.
In recent days, candidates from the Green Party have been raising concerns that state officials were dragging their feet on updating the lists of candidates on the elections website.
As of Tuesday, only Republican, Democratic and independent candidates were named.
“This has really hurt our candidates,” said John Miglietta, who is running as a Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District. Candidates from the party have been missing out on candidate forums and being mentioned in lists of individuals who will be on the ballot this fall, he said.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former state Sen. Rosalind Kurita on Thursday lost a federal appeal of her ouster as the Democratic nominee in her 2008 bid for re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly.
In a brief ruling, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s refusal to reinstate Kurita to the ballot after Democratic officials declared her 19-vote primary win as “incurably uncertain.”
The legal team for Kurita’s primary opponent and successor, Clarksville attorney Tim Barnes, argued that there had been heavy Republican crossover voting and alleged that poll workers directed his supporters to vote in the wrong primary.
Democrats were angry with Kurita after casting a key vote in favor of Sen. Ron Ramsey in the Republican’s 2007 election as Senate speaker. Ramsey had subsequently named Kurita as Senate speaker pro tempore, the ceremonial No. 2 position in the upper chamber.