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Last Week of 2012 Legislating: God, Guns, Gays and Money

God, guns, gays and money are scheduled debate topics for the 107th Tennessee General Assembly in its windup week.
Enactment of a state budget for the coming fiscal year, a duty formally assigned to the Legislature by the Tennessee constitution, is clearly the most substantive issue remaining as legislative leaders push to adjourn the session by Friday.
The $31 billion budget plan submitted by Gov. Bill Haslam is generating some disputes. The general theme of Democratic critics is that Republican plans unnecessarily hoard at least $200 million from increasing state revenue. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says the total could reach $400 million if revenue trends continue.
Republicans are ready to dip into the growing surplus for some causes, notably including a last-minute move to repeal the state’s “gift tax” at a cost of $15 million in lost revenue. But they insist some hoarding is appropriate because of potential fiscal problems in the year ahead.
House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, cites the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold a federal health care reform law. That alone, he says, could require another $200 million in state spending in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
But, insofar as debate rhetoric and media attention go, the budget may be overshadowed by pending action on several social issues. Among them:

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