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Committee Rejects Campfield Bill to Restrict Newspaper Delivery

The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday rejected a bill by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, that would have prohibited delivery of free newspapers to people who don’t want them.
Only two senators voted for the bill (SB2670) while seven voted against it.
Campfield told the committee that throwaway newspapers create unnecessary litter and are “a crime hazard” because an accumulation of papers in a yard can tip off burglars that homeowner is away on vacation.
Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association, told the committee there are questions about the constitutionality of the bill, though Campfield contended changes made from the original version make the measure valid.
Gibson also said the measure would put a “new burden on newspapers” as they would go to “extra lengths to avoid even an inadvertent violation.” The measure would basically double the cost of newspaper distribution, Gibson said, and could mean the end of some free publications.
Some committee members also questioned Campfield’s proposal, including Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, who said free newspapers are a major source of information in her district. She mentioned the Mount Juliet News in her hometown.
“Is that the one you in an investor in?” asked Campfield.
“I’m not an investor in any newspaper,” replied Beavers.
Beavers has filed a lawsuit, recently receiving media attention, in which she seeks repayment of $50,000 that the senator characterizes as a loan to the publisher of the Macon County Chronicle. The publisher, in responding to the lawsuit, has characterized the $50,000 as an investment in the newspaper and, as such, not subject to the repayment demand since the money was at risk.
Campfield said later that his question to Beavers, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, was inappropriate and that he had apologized to her.