(Note: This updates, expands and replaces earlier post)
State attorney general Bob Cooper says a new state law protecting handgun permit holders from criminal prosecution for keeping their guns in locked cars still leaves them vulnerable to being fired by employers who prohibit weapons on their premises.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said the opinion, made public Wednesday, “ignores the clear legislative intent of the law.” (Note: full text of opinion HERE)
John Harris, president of the Tennessee Firearms Association, said Cooper’s analysis is correct and echoes points that Second Amendment advocates raised during legislative debate, only to be ignored by Republican legislative leadership.
The attorney general’s opinion, requested by Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, also addresses four legal questions raised about the so-called “guns in parking lots” law enacted earlier this year.
Two of them were the subject of considerable debate, including amendments offered on the House floor by Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, who had Harris’ help in drafting them.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Metro Nashville Board of Education brought by a charter school that was ordered to be closed because of poor student performance.
The Metro School Board voted in November to shut down Smithson Craighead Middle School because the charter school ranked among the worst academic performers in the state and was losing enrollment.
Afterward, the school and parents filed a class action lawsuit against the board of education arguing that the board violated their due process and equal protection rights.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting the parents’ claim that they would be forced to send their children to inferior schools and denying that the charter’s rights were violated.
The board that enforces Tennessee’s campaign finance law voted Tuesday against imposing any penalties in two cases where political action committees were accused of illegally sidestepping limits on how much money can be given to candidates for the state Legislature.
In one case, Andrew Miller Jr., a Nashville businessman, set up Truth Matters PAC in July and gave it $71,000. The PAC then contributed to 10 legislative campaigns, including eight that had already received the maximum allowable donation from Miller as an individual.
Registry of Election Finance staff had raised the possibility that the PAC had been used as an illegal “conduit,” allowing Miller to bypass the limits on campaign contributions he could give the candidates as an individual.
Miller, attorney James Weaver and Tracy Miller, Andrew’s brother and treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry board they could understand the suspicion. But they said that, looking outside the “snapshot” period of the covered by the Truth Matters’ first report, the PACs activities showed Miller had obtained pledges of contributions from others before the filing and they did, in fact, contribute to the PAC after the filing.
“If I’m guilty of anything, it’s getting in a rush,” said Miller, referring to his failure to wait until others contributed to the PAC before sending PAC donations to candidates he supported.
Registry board member Lee Anne Murray said she understood that an intent to bypass campaign limits was necessary to impose a penalty and the statements by Miller and a man who intended to contribute earlier showed their was no intent to act as a conduit. Member Henry Fincher disagreed, saying the PAC had actually acted as a conduit bypassing campaign donation limits though Miller appeared “a nice guy” who was not trying to act illegally.
Fincher said that :when the next guy, who is not so nice,” does the same thing, he will be able to argue as a precedent, “Well, Andy Miller did it. Why not I?”
The board voted 4-2 against imposing any penalties. The board’s newest member, Norma Lester of Memphis, joined Fincher in voting no on the motion to dismiss.
In the other case, Green PAC was set up by Mark Green, a candidate for state Senate from Clarksville. The PAC had three donors – Green making a $250 contribution and two other men making a total of $8,000 in donations. The PAC then donated $8,000 to Green, the only candidate to get a contribution during the PAC’s first reporting period.
Rachel Barrett, treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry that Green PAC received contributions from other people after the reporting period and also gave money to multiple candidates later. Only Fincher voted no on the motion to dismiss a complaint that had been filed by Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance today unanimously agreed to take no action against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, ending its inquiry into a series of irregularities in his campaign disclosure forms.
The decision, members said, comes in the wake of 11 amendments the mayor filed last week with local election officials and a 24-page affidavit he submitted to the state that accuses his now ex-wife of engaging “in a pattern of deception by transferring thousands of dollars to various accounts for her own “personal benefit” and without his knowledge.
The mayor’s attorney, Stephen Zralek, said today that Burchett “went to great lengths” in an attempt to reconcile his campaign books and that the discrepancies are “evidence of a sad divorce” in which “it appears that his ex-wife was funneling campaign funds for her own personal use.”
“This is not a blame game,” Zralek said. “This is reality. The mayor should not have trusted his ex-wife for so many reasons, the least of which is his campaign funds.”
Burchett, who did not attend the meeting, was facing as much as a $10,000 fine for each accounting irregularity.
The six-member state panel, however, said that the mayor’s work is not done, noting that he still needs to at least “zero-out” his statements, since they reflect a negative $15,537 in his political account.
“You certainly have work to do to bring that balance to a positive balance or a zero balance, so keep that accountant busy,” registry member Lee Anne Murray told Zralek.
The attorney, though, said he didn’t know if the campaign “will ever get a complete and accurate picture — we’ve disclosed everything.”
He said Allison Beaver “has refused to cooperate” and turn over receipts and accounting information so “there will always be some confusion about these accounts.”
He said Burchett “takes the ultimate responsibility for complying with the law, but like most of us he trusted those who are closest to us.”
The mayor did not attend today’s “show cause” hearing at Zralek’s request.
The full story from Mike Donila is HERE.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee state troopers for the second straight night arrested Wall Street protesters for defying a new nighttime curfew imposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in an effort to disband an encampment near the state Capitol.
And for a second time, a Nashville night judge dismissed the protesters’ arrest warrants.
The Tennessean newspaper reported early Saturday morning (http://tnne.ws/vE2PXN) that Magistrate Tom Nelson told troopers delivering the protesters to jail that he could “find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza.”
Occupy Nashville protesters — including many of the 29 arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Friday — returned to the Legislative Plaza that evening and remained through the 10 p.m. curfew.
“To see it from the other side is even more infuriating,” said Chip Allen, one of the protesters arrested in the first raid. “When you’re in it, it’s almost surreal. This takes on a whole ‘nother flavor.”