A state lawmaker whose vehicle was shown speeding by a traffic camera in upper East Tennessee co-sponsored a bill to take that camera down this year, reports The City Paper. Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) was cited for driving 60 miles an hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone while driving in Bluff City in 2010, just weeks before voters elected him to a third election. The photo-enforced traffic cameras did not show images of the driver, and Lundberg said an employee of his public relations firm was driving the company vehicle at the time.
The traffic camera speeding ticket “has absolutely zero effect” on his decision to sponsor the bill, Lundberg told The City Paper. “In fact, until you said that, I completely forgot about that.”
Lundberg was cited after his 1998 Ford F15 was pictured driving 15-miles over the speed limit just after lunchtime on Oct. 21, 2010. The $90 fine was paid. Because the traffic camera images do not include a photo of the driver, the ticket is considered a non-moving infraction.
The stretch of road leading up to the photo-enforced intersection had been a point of controversy a month before Lundberg’s company vehicle sped through the intersection. Local city officials were figuring out when and whether to change speed limits leading up to the site in reaction to a new ban freshly approved by lawmakers that spring to space out speed reductions and photo-enforced cameras.
The cameras are still a sore spot to this day, said Lundberg. He said he receives constant complaints that the traffic cameras are a deterrent for travelers wanting to visit the Bristol Motor Speedway in his district. He said he is also worried about traffic crashes at the site of the cameras.
— Note: The bill, HB314, did not pass.
Tennessee legislators have been fighting over cockfighting for decades and, as with many morality matters in our state and elsewhere, the squawking boils down to whether traditional values or emerging values prevail in the pecking order of our collective consciousness.
That collective consciousness, of course, is reflected in the people we elect as our state representatives and senators, and what they can agree upon without ruffling too many feathers. It does not involve a question of which came first, as with the chicken or the egg.
The traditionalists came first. Andrew Jackson raised fighting roosters. He also had slaves. There’s an obvious and monumental difference, of course: human beings versus animals. The fate of chickens is irrelevant, inconsequential trivia in comparison to slavery.
And remember that Andy Jackson relied upon a well-armed state militia, composed of citizens with a right to bear arms, in defeating the Creek Indians and, later, the British at New Orleans. In that respect, his traditional view prevails somewhat today in our state’s collective consciousness as reflected by our pro-gun Legislature.
But, well, cockfighting is a matter of debate. Maybe as high up there as such major controversies as whether wine can be sold in grocery stores or whether guns can be kept in cars, just to pluck a couple of issues from among many wherein lobbyists are spurred into what passes these days for mortal combat in Legislatorland.
The 2013 version of legislation to increase penalties for cockfighting in Tennessee on Wednesday cleared a House subcommittee where it has died in previous years – though not without opposition.
Under the bill by Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, cockfighting would remain a misdemeanor on first offense, but the minimum fine would increase from $50 to $500. On second offense, cockfighting would be a felony punishable by one to six years in prison.
Last year’s version called for a felony classification on first offense and set the minimum fine at $2,500. The measure cleared a Senate committee, but died in the House Agriculture Subcommittee.
The House Agriculture Subcommittee, with a somewhat changed makeup from the previous legislative session, approved the bill on voice vote Wednesday. Two members, Republican Reps. Andy Holt of Dresden and Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, had themselves recorded as voting no. (Note/Update: Also, Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, voted no — though he had not been listed as doing so when the roll call was initially checked.)
Matheny said “a lot of people in my area – I don’t know that they’re cockfighting – raise roosters” and that he generally believes the Legislature “has better things to worry about than what to do with the lowly chicken.”
Attorney General Bob Cooper says a state law that requires liquor store owners to be Tennessee residents – enacted by state legislators who said they wanted to block “interstate whiskey” – violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, who requested the Cooper opinion released Tuesday, says he will next year sponsor legislation to repeal the requirement and hopes it will be a first step toward a comprehensive rewrite of state liquor laws that currently “are not business-friendly and not citizen-friendly.”
The Cooper opinion (full text HERE) deals with statutes applying to both wholesale and retail liquor licenses.
To get a wholesaler license, a corporation’s officers and stockholders must be Tennessee residents for five years and “a majority of its assets” must be located in Tennessee. For a retail package store license, a company must have “all of its capitol stock” owned by persons who have resided in Tennessee for at least two years.
“These residency and corporate asset location requirements for applicants seeking a license as an alcoholic beverage wholesaler or package retailer violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution,” says the opinion.
Synthetic drug sellers and makers now face felony jail time and fines up to $5,000 following a ceremonial legislation signing by Gov. Bill Haslam in front of Tennessee High School’s student body Monday, reports Hank Hayes. Two bills sponsored by state Reps. Jon Lundberg and Tony Shipley — which address both synthetic marijuana and bath salts similar to controlled substances — are now law. Shipley’s bill took effect Monday, while the effective date of Lundberg’s legislation was April 27.
The law also allows authorities to declare synthetic drug businesses as a public nuisance. Haslam indicated earlier this year he didn’t know that much about synthetic drugs, but then began hearing about student protests outside local head shops.
“I think one of the things that affected our thinking … was this is a big issue,” Haslam told reporters following the legislation signing at Viking Hall. “We had a student death up here, and we heard repeated tales from the emergency rooms here about how many patients they were seeing from bath salts or synthetic drugs. It really was something becoming way too commonplace. This place was the epicenter of it.”
Shipley, R-Kingsport, asked THS students: “How many of you know someone who’s taken bath salts or know where they’ve bought bath salts?”
Many hands went up.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the reason we passed this law. This was an epidemic attacking our community,” Shipley declared.
…Haslam’s administration included more than $300,000 in the recently passed state budget to pay for incarceration expenses in the law. Those expenses were based on more than 60 people going into the Department of Corrections for a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance offense in each of the past 10 years.
The new laws and increased public focus on synthetic drugs, Lundberg said, apparently have scared off synthetic drug sellers. He added synthetic drug cases in local emergency rooms have dropped dramatically.
“I think it’s had an impact that people know it’s illegal. … It hit us the worst,” Lundberg observed
…For more information go to www.capitol.tn.gov. Shipley’s bill was HB 3175. Lundberg’s bill was HB 2286.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House passed a bill that would make it a felony to make or sell synthetic drugs often called bath salts that imitate controlled substances.
The bill passed unanimously during the House floor session on Monday. Sponsor Rep. Jon Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol, said the drugs have hit his district in northeast Tennessee hard after Virginia banned the drugs and people have been crossing state lines to purchase the drugs in stores in Tennessee.
Lundberg said the drugs are not marketed for ingestion and can be purchased in convenience and tobacco stores. The bill would also allow authorities to declare the stores where the drugs are sold as public nuisances.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the bill.
The latest effort to legalize the sale of wine in Tennessee grocery stores appears stalled at the starting gate, but the sponsor insists that it’s only a matter of time until the effort is successful.
Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, on Jan. 26 filed HB2874, which would allow sales of wine in supermarkets or groceries in any jurisdiction where voters approved in a local referendum. But no companion bill was filed in the Senate and the deadline for doing so has passed, meaning the measure cannot become law.
Bills to simply grant a general state authorization for sale of wine in grocery stores in cities that already authorize liquor-by-the-drink sales have failed repeatedly in recent years in the face of strong opposition from owners of stores now licensed to sell liquor and wine.
Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, perhaps the best known supporter ofJon Huntsman’s run for the Republican presidential nomination, has joined Huntsman in endorsing Mitt Romeny now that the former Utah governor is out of the race.
In October, Ashe and his wife, Joan, co-hosted a fundraising luncheon for Huntsman at the couple’s Kingston Pike residence. The couple also qualified as delegates for Huntsman on Tennessee’s March 6 presidential primary ballot – comprising two of the three delegates Huntsman had statewide.
From the News Sentinel: “I certainly understand the reason that Gov. Huntsman decided to suspend his candidacy,” he said. “It’s just another example of him putting his country first.”
Ashe said during his time in the race, Huntsman provided a “valuable contribution to the debate and at 51 years old, he will be around in national politics for some time to come.”
Huntsman has endorsed Romney, and Ashe said that is where he has put his support now, too.
“Personally, him (Romney) being a former governor, which shows executive experience, and a success in Iowa and New Hampshire shows a strong cross section of Republicans favor his nomination,” Ashe said. “He presents the strongest alternative to President Obama.”
Tennessee political consultant Tom Ingram, who is in New Hampshire helping GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, tells Georgiana Vines, “”A day’s a lifetime up here.” Huntsman, who did not compete in Iowa caucuses earlier in the week, is banking a lot on New Hampshire. He has been running low in national polls, although in New Hampshire he’s done better. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to be the leader.
“We’ve put a lot into New Hampshire. We’ve spent more time than any other candidate,” Ingram said.
Ingram has been assisting Huntsman, a former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador, for months but his duties have changed since he began his part-time relationship with the presidential aspirant. At first he was to work with the media team, but they moved to Huntsman’s political action committee, Our Destiny PAC.
“It can raise money with different limitations but cannot coordinate with the (official) campaign,” Ingram said.
Among his duties is “being part of the prep debate team,” Ingram said. Two debates with all GOP candidates are scheduled this weekend — on ABC at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire at 9 p.m. today and “Meet the Press” on NBC at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Republican presidential aspirant Jon Huntsman, while on a visit to Knoxville today, called the nation’s debt problem a “cancer” that has resulted into a national security problem, reports Georgiana Vines. Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, arrived in Knoxville for a luncheon at the home of former Knoxville Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe and his wife, Joan, after speaking Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas. The San Antonio Express-News reported he spoke to a crowd of about 200 employees of USAA financial center there.
Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and served as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. On the national scene, he has not been as successful in fundraising as two other GOP candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. He is hoping to score an upset in the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire.
Ashe (a former ambassador to Poland) said he expected about 100 people to attend the lunch. Among those he said he expected to attend were Knox County Republican Chairman Ray H. Jenkins; Becky Duncan Massey, Republican nominee for the 6th District Senate seat;, and state Sen. Doug Henry of Nashville, a Democrat and longtime Ashe friend.