Education officials from all over the state are saying they don’t anticipate using the new state law allowing teachers with police training to carry guns, the Tennessean reports, and many are adamant that the proposal won’t come up in their community. “We don’t want any guns in here,” said Michael Martin, director of the small Van Buren County school system. “I know most of the Upper Cumberland directors, and I don’t see us arming teachers.”
The Tennessee School Boards Association also knows of no school system planning to use the new School Security Act of 2013, but it believes conversations may heat up after July 1, when the law takes effect.
“I would anticipate more of those conversations just prior to school starting back,” said association spokesman Lee Harrell.
Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register “has made it pretty clear that is not going to happen here,” system spokesman Joe Bass said Thursday.
Register several times voiced firm opposition to the idea when it first surfaced shortly after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut killed 26 people — 20 of them children.
Tennessee legislators began discussing the idea of arming teachers or other school employees almost immediately after going into session in January. Filed as an alternative to letting any teachers with handgun carry permits bring their weapons onto campus, the measure passed in the state House 82-15 and was approved 27-6 in the Senate. Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law in May.
Under the law, school systems may hire retired law enforcement officers who meet certain requirements, such as completing a 40-hour school security course. The description could apply to teachers in a school’s criminal justice program, a police officer turned teacher or a volunteer with police experience.
State Sen. Frank Niceley, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, was not concerned about the slow pace of adoption. He said the bill’s primary purpose was to give small districts a cheaper alternative to school resource officers, regular-duty police officers assigned to schools.
“I’m not convinced everybody knows about it yet,” said Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. “It’ll sift down.”
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be breaking federal law by raising money and working with private groups to help roll out the federal health care law “outside of the government,” according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. “Secretary Sebelius’ fundraising for and coordinating with private entities helping to implement the new health care law may be illegal, should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress,” Alexander said.
The ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees health care policy, Alexander likened Sebelius’ actions to the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. That erupted when it was discovered that a Reagan administration official, Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, sold arms to Iran and sent some of the money through private groups to arm Nicaraguan rebels after Congress refused to appropriate funds for that purpose.
“Only the Congress has the authority to appropriate money,” Alexander told reporters in Nashville. “And when the secretary seeks to do things outside of the government, which Congress refuses to do, the Constitution doesn’t permit [it] and the federal law makes it illegal.”
Alexander cited a Washington Post article from last week. The Post reported Sebelius was asking health industry executives, community organizations and church groups to assist groups like Enroll America, a nonprofit coalition working to ensure Americans get enrolled for coverage under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Asked for comment, HHS spokesman Jason Young said in an email to the Times Free Press on Saturday that the practice is legal. He emphasized that “the Secretary has made no fundraising requests to entities regulated by HHS.”
“Part of our mission is to help uninsured Americans take advantage of new affordable, high quality insurance options that are coming, thanks to the health law,” he said.
For the last several months, Young said, Sebelius “has been working with a full range of stakeholders who share in the mission of getting Americans the help they need and deserve. We have always worked with outside groups, and the efforts now ramping up are just one more part of that work.” Note: Alexander’s press release is below.
News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation:
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released two annual reports that compile crime statistics reported by individual law enforcement agencies through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System analyzing the number of reported hate crimes and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted in 2012.
The “Tennessee Hate Crime 2012” report shows a significant increase in the number of bias motivated offenses reported by law enforcement; however, that increase can be attributed to one agency reporting inflated numbers in the category of unknown bias that should have marked as bias- none. The most up-to-date statistics should be reflected atwww.tncrimeonline.com.
Law enforcement officers killed or assaulted (LEOKA) in 2012 increased more than 3% from the previous year. In 2011, 1,826 LEOKA offenses were reported compared with 1,883 in 2012. LEOKA 2012 Highlights
Of the 229 Tennessee agencies who reported LEOKA incidents for 2012, only one, the Memphis Police Department, reported an officer who was feloniously killed in the line of duty.
A total of 1,705 LEOKA incidents were cleared resulting in a 90 percent clearance rate. Eighty-nine percent of those incidents were cleared by arrest.
The most frequently reported weapon type used was personal weapons (hand, fists, feet) at 64 percent.
Firearms were reported being used in offenses committed against officers in nearly 10 percent of the incidents.
Full copies of these reports can be downloaded from the TBI website here. Additional information and updated statistics can be acquired at www.tncrimeonline.com.
Also winning final approval late in the session was “Lynn’s Law,” named after Lynn Cameron, a 19-year-old developmentally disabled Illinois woman who was abandoned by her mother in a Caryville, Tenn., bar last year.
When authorities located the woman’s mother ten days later, they found she had not violated any existing state law and could not be charged. The bill (HB531) creates a law to cover such situations in the future.
Sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, the bill legally defines the “caretaker” of a developmentally disabled person unable to care for himself or herself without assistance.
The bill says a caretaker who willfully abandons his or her responsibility can be punished under a current law against abuse and neglect of the developmentally disabled – a Class E felony, punishable by one to six years in prioson and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.
The chamber voted 50-43 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, after defeating several proposed amendments and an extensive debate that at times featured lawmakers making animal noises.
Bills must gain at least 50 votes in the 99-member chamber to pass. The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said earlier this week that he didn’t know enough about the measure to say whether he would sign it into law.
Animal protection activists like the Humane Society of the United States have said the bill would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and prevent undercover operations from establishing a pattern of abuse.
In 2011, the Humane Society secretly filmed video inside a Tennessee Walking Horse stable showing trainers applying caustic substances to the horses’ legs and beating them to make them stand.
Trainer Jackie McConnell, whose stable was in Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham’s West Tennessee district, pleaded guilty in federal court in September.
The Senate version passed 22-9 on Tuesday.
Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, objected to the bill during the Wednesday debate, calling it unenforceable and “Orwellian.”
“If you walk down the street and see someone commit a murder and you don’t report it, that’s not a crime,” he said, “but under your bill, if you see and record animal abuse and don’t report it, that is a crime.”
Among the failed amendments proposed on Wednesday was one that would have broadened it to require anyone observing animal abuse to report it and not limiting the reporting requirements to a person intentionally recording or photographing the abuse.
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, tried to amend the bill to specify that news reporters would be protected from prosecution.
“We don’t punish the people who gather the information on the crime, we punish the people who commit the crime,” Lynn said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state House has passed a watered down version of a bill that originally would have lifted a ban on switchblades and knives with blades longer than 4 inches.
As amended under a bill passed 77-18 on Tuesday, the measure does away with those two provisions, but it still removes the power of local governments to make their own knife regulations.
Currently, local governments can pass their own ordinances restricting knives, although the maximum penalty they can impose is a fine of up to $50. The bill gives the state legislators the sole power to decide rules for the possession, transfer and transportation of knives.
Some representatives on Tuesday expressed concern that the bill removes local control of the issue.
“We need to just put this to bed about local control,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin. “We argue for it on one and then against it on the next one. Let’s get a little consistency.”
Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, said he is usually “all for local control,” but this case is an exception.
“Any law that allows you to travel from one county to the next without breaking the law is good,” he said.
Rep. Vance Dennis is the House sponsor. The Savannah Republican said he expects the Senate to conform to the House version.
Speaking in favor of the original bill in March, sponsoring Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said that citizens should have a right to carry switchblades and long knives.
Legislators out to stop what they see as “vigilante” attacks on the livestock industry are pushing for enactment of a bill that critics see as an attack on constitutional freedom of speech.
The bill (SB1248) would require anyone observing abuse of livestock to promptly turn over all “unedited photographs, digital images or video” related to the abuse to law enforcement authorities. Under the current Senate version, this would have to occur within 48 hours of when the recording was made or, if the recording was made on a weekend, on the next weekday.
Violators would be guilty of a “class C” misdemeanor, penalized by a maximum fine of $500.
“This is a Catch-22 bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, when the proposal (SB1248) came up on the Senate floor last week, referring to the Joseph Heller novel on a paradoxical situation.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would allow school districts to hire retired law enforcement officers for security advanced in the Legislature on Wednesday after being approved by the governor.
The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland passed the House Civil Justice Committee on a voice vote before being approved 5-2 by the Senate Education Committee.
The proposal is different from the original version, which would have allowed school teachers and faculty with handgun carry permits to be armed at school. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has said he’s against such a proposal and others like it being considered this session.
However, a representative from the governor’s office said Wednesday that the governor is OK with the bill that’s advancing.
The proposal would allow schools to hire retired law enforcement officers after they meet certain requirements, such as completing a school policing course. Total raining could require over 400 hours.
By Kristin Hall, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to take up a measure that seeks to restrict police agencies in the state from using unmanned drones and the sponsor is someone with experience piloting the planes.
It’s a hot topic both in Congress and on the state levels as the technology has rapidly outpaced regulations on the use of remotely piloted aircraft domestically. Currently, Tennessee law enforcement agencies are using drones rarely.
A House civil justice subcommittee on Wednesday pushed a vote on the proposal to next week. Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, is the sponsor.
The military has relied heavily on drones overseas, which Van Huss experienced firsthand as a former active duty Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“I have actually piloted a drone myself in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Not one of those $7 million drones, but technically a surveillance drone.”
He said the technology has been a valuable tool on the battlefield, but he doesn’t want to see it used to target Americans.
The latest list of bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, as provided by his office on March 15, 2012:
This bill expands the current confidential records statute and deems as confidential all information and records received or generated by the comptroller containing allegations of unlawful conduct, fraud, waste or abuse.
(Passed House 90-1; Passed Senate 30-0)
This bill allows the holder of a valid handgun carry permit to store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder’s privately owned motor vehicle subject to certain restrictions.
(Passed House 77-22; Passed Senate 28-5)
This bill requires that teachers who teach in multiple subject areas in which end of course examinations are required for a student to satisfy graduation requirements to pass the content specific licensure exam test for each content area in which they are teaching by January 1, 2014.
(Passed House 92-0; Passed Senate 29-1)
This bill extends the Investment Advisory Council to June 30, 2018.
(Passed House 92-0; Passed Senate 31-0)
This bill extends the Tennessee interagency cash flow committee to June 30, 2017.
(Passed House 90-0; Passed Senate 30-0)
This bill, pursuant to the request of the Gibson County Special School District, permits the district to issue and sell bonds or notes, participate in federal or state matching grants or loans, or enter into loan agreements with the state in an amount of $3 million or less.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 32-0)
This bill extends the Tennessee auctioneer commission to June 30, 2018.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 32-0)