Tag Archives: legislation

Kyle asks Haslam to veto a Haslam administration bill (pseudoephedrine limits)

News release from state Sen. Jim Kyle:
NASHVILLE – State Sen. Jim Kyle today urged Gov. Bill Haslam to veto legislation limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine, arguing that the new law doesn’t go far enough to combat the problem.

“I do not believe that the limits set by this piece of legislation are strong enough to make a dent in the problem,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said in a letter to the governor.

“This bill is not stringent enough to keep people from producing meth, especially in the ‘shake and bake’ laboratories for which there are weekly accounts of explosions and burns.”

The legislation sets a monthly limit on the purchase of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine of 5.76 grams per month, which equals approximately 48 pills. The limit in the legislation is far less stringent than Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Safety recommended in January of this year.

The legislation was transmitted to the governor May 5, meaning it needs his signature by May 14 to become law.

Note: It’s HB1574, introduced as a Haslam administration bill with the push for passage led by Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons. The House expanded the limits for non-prescription sales and the Senate, which had originally back the Haslam version, retreated. Haslam has said he is comfortable with the compromise. In other words, it’s pretty doubtful that the Republican governor will heed the Democratic leader’s request.

Haslam tours the state — seven stops — for ceremonial signings of Tennessee Promise bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — It’s not unusual for a governor to hold a ceremonial bill signing on a different day than when he actually puts his signature on a piece of legislation.

But Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is holding seven ceremonies this week for the same bill.

The Republican governor is making a series of stops around the state this week to celebrate the enactment of his Tennessee Promise law, which will cover the full tuition for community college for high school graduates.

Haslam starts the bill-signing spree in Cookeville on Tuesday, followed by encore signings in Jackson and Covington on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Haslam will do the same in Blountville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, and the finale is scheduled for Overton High School in Nashville on Friday.

More bills signed into law by the governor (list updates through April 16, 2014)

Bills recently signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, as provided by his communications office, and going through April 16 (earlier lists posted previously):

HB 937 (Durham):

This bill deals with the governor,, General Assembly and PPACA.

Passed House as Amended 69-24; Passed Senate as Amended 23-6, present not voting-1; House Concurred in Senate Amendment; Passed Senate 23-6, present not voting-1

HB 1520 (McDaniel):

This bill changes a requirement that allows a judge to have a hand gun in the courtroom while discharging his official duties.

Passed House 95-0, present not voting-1; Passed Senate 27-2

HB 1580 (Matheny, Ragan, Hardaway):

This bill extends the sunset date of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to June 30, 2018.

Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 31-0
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Senate sends governor bill banning United Nations election monitors from Tennessee

The Senate has sent to Gov. Bill Haslam legislation that, if he signs its, would declare that the United Nations is banned from monitoring elections in Tennessee.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, sponsor Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, merely declared that “this is a one-sentence bill.” Then he read the sentence:

“ Any representative of the United Nations appearing without a treaty ratified by the United States senate stating that the United Nations can monitor elections in this state, shall not monitor elections in this state.”

There was no debate. Senate approved the bill 23-2. It House earlier approved the measure 75-20 after some discussion. House sponsor Rep. Micah Van Huss characterized the measure as an assertion of the state and nation’s sovereignty. Van Huss said he was upset that a United Nations affiliate organization sent two representatives – one from France and one from Armenia – to monitor Tennessee elections in 2012 because the state had enacted a law requiring a photo identification for voting.

The bill is HB2410, as amended.

Advancing bill would let bars be just bars

A bill to repeal Tennessee’s long-standing requirement that bars sell food along with alcoholic beverages has advanced through committees of both the House and Senate.
Keith Bell, executive director of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, told legislators the agency would welcome the change because agents now spend much of their time as “food police” – reviewing and auditing the records of an establishment to make sure they are meeting the mandate.

“It really does take a huge load off of us,” Bell told the Senate State and Local Government Committee, adding that ABC agents would be able to spend more time enforcing laws to prohibit underage drinking, which he said is a growing problem.

When Tennessee first authorized liquor-by-the-drink sales in the 1960s, the law required that licenses go only to restaurants with a majority of their sales in food. Two years ago, the Legislature approved a new category of license that reduced the food requirement to 15 percent of sales.

But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, the House sponsor of HB2406, said even that leaves some establishments in a “precarious” position while trying to avoid violation of the law.

“They’ll ring up a beer as a baloney sandwich,” he told the House Finance Subcommittee. Others may list popcorn, peanuts and pretzels that are given away as sales.
The House and Senate versions of the bill are different. Turner’s bill requires bars that have less than 15 percent of their sales from food pay an extra $2,000 for their license and prohibit persons under age 21 from entering the establishment.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, had those provisions deleted in the Senate version and said Turner had indicated he would go along with the change.

Johnson said he saw no reason to raise the licensing fee. As for admitting teenagers, he said many establishments offering live music rely on younger customers for a substantial part of their business and have procedures in place to assure the youths can buy only soft drinks – typically by checking identification at the door and issuing a wrist band, required to buy alcohol, only to those 21 and over.

Change of Lake City’s name to Rocky Top gets final legislative approval

The Senate has unanimously approved a bill authorizing Lake City to change its name to Rocky Top, sending it to the governor for his expected signature.

The bill was approved in the Senate Thursday without discussion as part of a “consent calendar” – non-controversial bills that are grouped together and approved with one vote. The vote was 30-0.

The House had approved the measure earlier, 89-0.

The bill, HB1469, is sponsored by Rep. John Ragan and Sen. Randy McNally, both Oak Ridge Republicans.

List of bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, 4/4/2013

Here is a long list of bills recently signed into law by Bov. Bill Haslam, as provided by his communications office:

HB 455 (Hardaway, Towns, Cooper):

This bill relates to delinquent tax suits and sales in Tennessee.

Passed House as Amended 89-4; Passed Senate 32-0 as Amended; House Concurred in Senate Amendment 96-0

HB 1582 (Matheny, Ragan):

This bill extends the sunset date of the Board of Physical Therapy to June 30, 2019.

Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate as Amended 96-0; House Concurred in Senate Amendment 92-1

HB 1585 (Matheny, Ragan):

This bill extends the sunset date of the Board of Social Work Licensure to June 30, 2020.

Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate as Amended 32-0; House Concurred in Senate Amendment 91-2
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For-profit charter schools bill clears House Education Committee, 8-7

Legislation authorizing for-profit companies to manage charter schools won a key vote Tuesday in a committee widely viewed as its last major stumbling block to enactment.

The House Education Committee approved the bill 8-7 after the sponsor, Democratic Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis, linked the measure (HB1693) to a separate bill that declares charter schools can be closed if they get on the state’s list of “failing” schools because of poor student scores.

The latter bill (SB2285) won final legislative approval Monday night in the House. It now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his expected signature.

“So we’re mandating that charter schools have to be run better, they have to be managed better, than public schools are or we’re going to shut them down,” said DeBerry in the opening remarks of an hour-long debate in the Education Committee.

Given that situation, he argued that charter schools should now have the right to contract for for-profit management to gain expertise they need “to be better than public schools.”

DeBerry, known as one of very few Democrats advocating for charter schools, also delivered an impassioned denunciation of “innuendo, false facts, false perceptions and just plain untruths” he said have been circulated by critics of the bill.

Much of the criticism has centered on the general objections charter schools, which are funded by taxpayer dollars while operating independently, providing profit to out-of-state corporations and doubts that they would improve anything.
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Haslam’s voucher bill revised, moves forward in Senate; still stalled in House

The governor’s version of a school voucher program is on the move in the Senate, but it’s different from the version now being followed in the House — and stuck in the Finance Committee there, reports Andrea Zelinski.

Lawmakers so far agree that up to 5,000 so-called “opportunity scholarships” covering tutition for public school students to attend private schools will would be up for grabs this fall under both proposals. The two measures are also focused on children zoned for the state’s lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, but the the main difference between the bills is who is eligible for the free ride and who can apply in a second round if any vouchers are left over.

Currently, 83 schools make up the state’s bottom 5 percent of schools and they sit in five counties: Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman, Knox and Shelby.

Under the governor’s version of the bill carried in the Senate, only students at those schools qualifying for free or reduced price lunch can apply for a taxpayer-funded voucher. Any vouchers not used can go to other low-income students zoned for public schools anywhere in the district. That would mean collectively, more than 200,000 low-income students could be eligible to apply under that plan, representing about 1 in 5 students statewide.

The House version is smaller, but does not account for a student’s income. The measure offers vouchers to all children at the bottom 5 percent of schools regardless of income. If vouchers are left over, students at schools in the bottom 10 percent of schools in the state — another 84 schools — would become eligible. That would extend the program to five more counties, including Carter, Fayette, Granger, Lake and Morgan. Between both rounds, some 70,000 students would be eligible.

More than two-thirds of schools in the bottom 10 percent statewide are in Memphis, followed by 24 schools in Metro Nashville.

New effort launched to raise penalties for cockfighting in TN; wins House & Senate committee OK in same day

A new effort to enhance penalties for cockfighting in Tennessee was launched Wednesday in Senate, reviving an effort that has failed repeatedly in past years with the support of Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and other law enforcement officers.

The move came with Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, converting a previously-filed bill (HB2120) on unlawful photography of children into a measure that would increase the minimum fine for spectators at a cock fight from $50 to $500.

“All those animal fighting games are about money,” said Rausch after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the bill. “That’s where you’ve got to hit them to stop them – in the pocketbook.”

Rausch is leading legislative efforts for the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police this year. He said that, while cockfighting has not been a problem in Knoxville recently, it is in other East Tennessee counties.

Ketron said gambling, drugs and other illegal are routinely involved in cockfights. Though cockfighting is illegal in Tennessee, he said the standard $50 penalty for spectators provides little deterrent and has made the state a magnet for those involved in the practice.

The Humane Society of the United States is backing the bill and Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, low penalty cited that endorsement in declaring his opposition to the bill. Bell cast one of two no votes against the measure.

He said HSUS has “already spent millions” in California and Maine in a push to prohibit bear hunting with dogs and “anytime I see them rear their heads in Tennessee I know their next plan is to do that.” The state’s current law against animal fighting explicitly excludes hunting with dogs, but Bell said the cockfighting measure could be a stepping stone in that direction.
Ketron said that, as a hunter himself, is backs hunting with dogs and “I will stand with you if they come in and try to do that.” He said cockfighting is a different matter.
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