NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has given final approval to a bill requiring local and regional planning commissioners to file interest disclosures with the Tennessee Ethics Commission.
The House voted 88-2 Thursday to pass the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Gotto of Nashville. The measure would require the state’s estimated 3,000 planning commissioners to submit the same disclosure requirements as many other public officials.
The companion bill unanimously passed the Senate last month.
The disclosure law already applies to most state and local officials. According to the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, more than 7,500 officials have filed disclosure forms since the beginning of the year.
While several Republicans raised concerns about the bill in House committee, there was no debate about the measure on the floor Thursday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to change the Tennessee Constitution to give the Legislature power to reject the governor’s appointments to the state Supreme Court cleared the House on Thursday.
The House voted 70-27 in favor of the resolution sponsored by Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol. The Senate passed the measure on a 23-8 vote earlier this week.
Under the current Tennessee judicial selection method, a commission nominates appeals judges and Supreme Court justices, the governor appoints them and voters cast ballots either for or against keeping them on the bench. While the system has withstood legal challenges, critics say it conflicts with language in the state constitution that says Supreme Court justices “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.”
Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republican speakers of the House and Senate earlier this year declared their support for a constitutional amendment to underscore the current system, but lawmakers preferred getting rid of the nominating panel and giving the Legislature the added power to deny the governor’s appointments within 60 days.
Haslam’s original proposal has died in the House, but the Republican governor has said he doesn’t oppose the confirmation model.
The resolution would have to be again approved by both chambers by a two-thirds majority within the next two-year General Assembly before it could be put before the voters in 2014.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that increases the penalty for domestic assault is headed to the governor for his signature.
The measure, which is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s crime package, was unanimously approved 33-0 by the Senate on Wednesday. The companion bill passed the House 97-1 last week.
The legislation carried by Republican Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville adds fines and jail time for second and subsequent convictions of domestic assault.
It originally would have cost local jails about $8 million, but the proposal was amended to decrease jail time, as well as add a dollar to the amount the state pays for housing jail inmates. The changes reduced the cost to local jails by about $2 million.
Haslam has appropriated close to $600,000 in his budget for the legislation.
A news release is below
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam’s more than $31 billion spending proposal is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee approved the plan 10-0 Tuesday night. It’s expected to be voted on Wednesday.
The plan seeks to phase out Tennessee’s inheritance tax and lower the state’s sales tax on groceries.
The inheritance tax currently applies to estates worth more than $1 million, and was paid by 845 estates in the last budget year. Haslam’s plan would bump that exemption up to $1.25 million next year and to $5 million by 2016.
The sales tax on food would be cut from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent.
The proposal also calls for raises for state employees and more spending on construction on college campuses.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The House voted on Thursday to begin phasing out Tennessee’s inheritance tax and to lower the state’s sales tax on groceries.
The chamber voted 88-8 on the estate tax measure, and 96-0 to cut the food tax from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent.
Republicans hailed the estate tax cut as a way to keep retirees from moving out of state, while Democrats argued that the tax cut on groceries affects a far larger number of people. Both measures were part of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative agenda this year.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to overhaul state civil service rules headed to him Thursday to become law despite opposition from some lawmakers whose constituents are uncomfortable with parts of the legislation.
The proposal passed the Senate 30-3 on Thursday, a day after being approved 74-19 in the House.
The measure would make it easier for executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and would allow for merit raises for high-performing workers — and pay decreases for poor ones.
Other elements of the bill would require written performance standards and annual evaluations, set a minimum of three candidates to be interviewed for openings, and reduce the minimum layoff notice from three months to 30 days.
After years of sometimes heated argument, the House quietly sent to the governor Monday night compromise legislation that puts into place a new system for disciplining judges for misdeeds on the bench.
Final approval came on an 88-5 House vote without any debate. The Senate had approved SB2671 unanimously earlier.
Though the votes came with virtually no discussion, the debate over the past three years has included repeated charges that the present Court of the Judiciary ignored judicial misdeeds and operated in unwarranted secrecy. Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was offered by critics of the current system as a prime example of its shortcomings.
The bill abolishes the Court of the Judiciary, which was composed of judges and lawyers appointed by the state Supreme Court and the Tennessee Bar Association. In its place, the legislation creates a new 16-member Board of Judicial Conduct, 10 of them judges and six nonjudges. Of the nonjudges, three will be lawyers and three will be “lay persons.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A proposal designed to evict Occupy Nashville protesters is headed to the governor for his consideration.
The legislation passed the House 68-21 on Monday evening after lawmakers agreed to a change by the Senate, which approved the bill 20-10 last week.
The measure makes it a crime to camp on any state-owned land that is not specifically designated for camping.
Those violating the proposed law could have their belongings seized and be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by nearly a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
The bill comes at the same time Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is seeking to break up the Occupy Nashville encampment by establishing rules for the use of the War Memorial Plaza.