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TN GOP Leaders Now Willing to Fight the ‘Fringe’

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before a House vote to give final approval to a contentious firearms bill last week, Speaker Beth Harwell implored her Republican colleagues to ignore demands from what she deemed “fringe” groups to make major changes to the measure.
The chamber took Harwell’s advice and passed the bill guns-in-parking-lots bill without any changes. Lawmakers have also in recent weeks drawn the line at proposals to bypass the federal government by allowing the creation an independent health care network and stopped a proposal to ban the enforcement of federal firearms laws in Tennessee.
The failure of those two bills in House and Senate committees indicates a new willingness among leaders of the GOP supermajority to reel in some of the more extreme — and likely unconstitutional — measures before they reach a floor vote, where lawmakers might have a harder time voting against them for ideological reasons.
Last year Gov. Bill Haslam decried the attention being paid to what he called the “craziest” measures, although he blamed the news media and not the lawmakers for that. It was a signal, nevertheless, that Republican leaders have worried about how some of the bills reflected on Tennessee’s image.

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