News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the agreement between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”), through the Davidson County Sheriff, and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) does not violate the Metro Charter or other state law.
In 2009, Metro authorized the Sheriff to enter into an agreement with ICE that allowed designated Sheriff’s officers to perform certain immigration officer duties after being trained and certified by ICE. Those duties included interrogating any person believed to be an alien as to his right to be, or remain, in the United States; processing any removable alien or those aliens who have been arrested for violating a federal, state or local offense for immigration violations; serving arrest warrants for immigration violations; and detaining and transporting arrested aliens subject to removal to ICE-approved detention facilities.
The agreement was challenged by plaintiffs Daniel Renteria-Villegas, David Ernesto Gutierrez-Turcios and Rosa Landaverde in a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief filed in the United States District Court in Nashville against Metro and ICE. Renteria-Villegas and Gutierrez-Turcios alleged that Sherriff’s officers arrested and wrongfully interrogated and detained them while the officers investigated their immigration status and Landaverde alleged that removal proceedings were instituted against her son after he was processed by Sheriff’s officers pursuant to the agreement. The plaintiffs argued that provisions of the Metro Charter precluded the Sheriff’s office from performing the law enforcement duties in the agreement with ICE because, under the Charter, those duties are solely the responsibility of the Chief of Police. The United States District Court certified a question of law regarding the Sheriff’s authority to enter into the agreement to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, answered the certified question by ruling that neither the Charter nor other state law precludes the Sheriff from performing immigration enforcement duties. Metro had the statutory authority to contract with ICE and authorized the actions of the Sheriff. While the Charter designates the Police Chief as the “principal conservator of the peace,” the Charter does not provide that the Chief is the only conservator of the peace for the Metro government and the Sheriff retained some law enforcement functions under the Charter.
To read the Daniel Renteria-Villegas et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al. opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/renteria-villegasdanielopn.pdf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall says he will not renew a controversial agreement that allows local deputies to enforce federal immigration law.
Hall began the 287(g) program in 2007 after an illegal immigrant killed two people while driving drunk.
Immigrant rights activists have fought it for years, saying it punishes immigrants who have committed only misdemeanor offenses. They also believe it encourages racial profiling.
On Tuesday, Hall said that since 2007, there has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of arrestees who are illegally in the country. He attributed much of the decline to the success of 287(g), although illegal immigration also has decreased greatly in recent years.
The program will be replaced with Secure Communities, in which the federal government checks the fingerprints of arrestees for immigration status.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State troopers will be targeting traffic violators in school zones as classes resume across Tennessee.
The speed limit is 15 mph in school zones and the fine for speeding in such a zone is up to $500. It also is against the law to pass a school bus when it is stopped and loading or unloading passengers; fines for that are no less than $250 and up to $1,000.
In 2011, state troopers issued almost 3,900 citations in school zones, up from 3,200 a year earlier.
THP Col. Tracy Trott said motorists who are distracted, impatient or careless can expect a stiff penalty for driving unsafely in school zones.
Six-hundred thousand children ride school buses in Tennessee.
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The State of Tennessee saw an increase in the number of hate crimes committed in the state and a decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed or assaulted for the calendar year 2011, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s statistical analysis of Tennessee crime statistics and the compiling of two separate, annual reports.
Today, the TBI released both “Tennessee Hate Crime 2011” and “Tennessee Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted (LEOKA) 2011” based on required monthly reporting of local law enforcement agencies crime statistics across the state.
Bias motivated offenses were up nearly 51% to 261 offenses reported in 2011 compared with 173 in 2010. Prior to 2011, a three year analysis of hate bias offenses showed a decline every year between 2008 and 2010. There were 1,810 LEOKA incidents reported in 2011 compared with 1,854 in 2010, a 2.4% decrease.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has passed a bill declaring that Tennessee wouldn’t enforce federal regulations governing child labor on family farms.
The chamber voted 70-24 on Monday evening to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby.
The measure is in response to rules being considered by the U.S. Labor Department seeking to keep children away from some of the most dangerous farm jobs.
Farm groups had complained that the initial rules proposed last year would upset traditions where children often work alongside their parents and relatives to learn how a farm operates.
The Labor Department last month agreed to modify the plan to include broader exemptions for children whose parents are part owners or operators of farms.
The companion bill is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
— Note: It’s HB2669. There was much debate, with some Democrats saying the bill could prompt a cutoff of federal farm subsidies and questioning legality of the measure.
A bill intended as a “pilot project” to strengthen enforcement of beer and liquor licensing laws in the Chattanooga area was amended in a House committee Tuesday to include bars in Knoxville, Farragut and Knox County as well.
HB3633, as amended in the House State and Local Government Committee, mandates more coordination between local beer boards, which issue licenses for beer sales, and the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which issues licenses for the sale of liquor and wine.
It makes several changes in bar licensing laws that are contrary to general state law and provides the revisions will be effective in the “pilot project” areas until July 1, 2014. The Legislature could then decide to extend the changes statewide.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A coalition of business and law enforcement groups is urging lawmakers to abandon a bill that would allow employees to store guns in their vehicles at work, calling the proposal a “major infringement on private property rights.”
The letter, which was sent to all 132 lawmakers on Thursday, said the legislation aims to curtail the rights of private property owners by “forcing them to allow firearms to be carried onto their premises — even if the property owner objects.”
While the legislative website describes the legislation as applying to “individuals licensed to carry,” the bill itself makes no reference to state-issued handgun carry permits, meaning it could apply to any gun owner in the state.
“The proposed law is a major infringement on private property rights,” the letter said. “Supporters of this legislation argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another.”
Supporters of the guns in parking lots measure include the Tennessee Firearms Association, which has urged its members to lean on lawmakers not to allow the “employee safe commute” bill to be pushed aside.
The association issued a release Thursday that said the House leadership is seeking to kill the bill to “appease the big business … big money investors in House leadership.”
“Sadly for conservatives, this support is apparently based more on Chicago style influence peddling for dollars rather than supporting bills based on conservative and constitutional principles that directly impact the citizens,” the release said.
Previous attempts to allow guns on college campuses have drawn heavy resistance from the state’s higher education system, while the guns in parking lots measure has been vehemently opposed by business interests.
The Tennessee Bankers Association and the Hospital Alliance of Tennessee are among the 18 entities in the letter, which also includes the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.
The Senate version of the proposal is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, while the companion bill has been stuck in a House subcommittee since early last month.
Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga is proposing a competing bill that would narrow eligibility to “employees who possess a valid handgun carry permit.”
Rep. Eddie Bass, the sponsor of the original House proposal, said he hasn’t talked to McCormick, but the Prospect Democrat said he just wants “the best bill for the people.”
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters later Thursday that he expects a compromise to be reached on the issue.
“It will be a compromise that protects property rights, and at the same time allows law-abiding, handgun permit carrying people to take their guns in places that seem legitimate,” said the Blountville Republican.
Read SB3002 at http://capitol.tn.gov.
A state House bill that would allow law enforcement to check the immigration status of someone pulled over or detained was put on hold last week, at least for the moment., observes The Tennessean. The Lawful Immigration Enforcement Act (HB1380) was moved behind the budget by a House finance subcommittee Wednesday morning. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, acknowledged that the move, made until an estimated $3 million can be generated to implement the measure, slows its progress.
“Putting it behind the budget doesn’t kill it,” he said. “It basically parks it.”
The bill would allow law enforcement to check someone’s immigration status if an officer reasonably suspects a person already stopped or detained isn’t a citizen or legal immigrant. The bill also would create a training program for law enforcement about immigration laws.
“We are prioritizing the state’s stance on illegal immigration based on the financial resources we have,” Carr said. ‘Very targeted approach’
Eben Cathey, communications coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, is pleased by the bill’s delay — although he would have rather seen the subcommittee defeat the “discriminatory legislation” outright.
“This Arizona copycat bill doesn’t reflect the values and priorities of Tennessee voters,” he said. “It takes some of the worst aspects of these bills and tries to implement them in Tennessee.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — About 900,000 people are projected to travel by car over the long holiday weekend in Tennessee with a special law enforcement crackdown in effect.
Various law enforcement agencies will be especially on the lookout for seat belt violators, impaired drivers and speeders as part of the state’s new “More Cops, More Stops” campaign. Kendell Poole, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, says authorities will be out in force.
State transportation officials will halt all lane closures during the weekend in anticipation of higher traffic volume. However, workers may be on site in some construction zones.
Tennessee had 1,031 traffic fatalities in 2010. So far this year, 831 people have died in traffic accidents, down from 945 at this time a year ago.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state of Tennessee agreed Monday to stop enforcing a new curfew used to dislodge Occupy Nashville protesters from the grounds around the Tennessee Capitol.
The protesters went to federal court seeking a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bill Haslam saying the curfew and arrests of dozens of supporters violated their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.
State Attorney General’s Office Senior Counsel Bill Marett announced at the beginning of a hearing before Judge Aleta Trauger that the state would not fight efforts to halt the policy.
Trauger said she had already decided to grant the restraining order because she the curfew was a “clear prior restraint on free speech rights.”
“I can’t think of a more quintessential public forum than Legislative Plaza,” Trauger said.
State troopers used the curfew put into place on Thursday to arrest 29 protesters early Friday and 26 people early Saturday.
Both times a Nashville magistrate refused to jail the protesters saying the state didn’t have probable cause to arrest them. They were released with citations.
The Nashville protesters are part of the six-week-old Occupy movement, which began in lower Manhattan to decry corporate influence in government and wealth inequality. It has spread to cities large and small across the country and around the world.
Marett said his office will meet with the plaintiffs to come to an agreement on health and safety issues.
The suit says Haslam approved the new curfew after complaints over three misdemeanor violations — “an assault, public urination and an apparent tryst beneath a magnolia tree” — around Legislative Plaza, where the protesters have been rallying since Oct. 6.
Note: Other coverage of the court hearing in Nashville Scene; the Tennessean.