As part of a lengthy review of the “tricky” politics of the so-called “ag gag bill,” Andrea Zelinski includes a rundown on sponsor Rep. Andy Holt’s ‘shaky’ dealings with TDEC permits on his hog farm. While Holt is pushing hard for these new rules on farm animals, he has a shaky history of following other regulations on own hog farm in West Tennessee.
Since 2009, the state has repeatedly found Rep. Andy Holt’s 1,400-hog farming operation out of compliance with regulations set by two state agencies, according to a review of records by The City Paper, such as operating without a valid permit and failing to submit certain manure quality tests to state officials.
The latest notice came April 30 from the Department of Agriculture, giving him a 30-day window to complete his application for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permit, known as a CAFO. His last permit expired in August of 2009.
“Operating your CAFO without a permit is a violation of state, and possibly federal rules,” read the letter by Sam Marshall from the Department of Agriculture’s Water Resources division.
While the Department of Environment and Conservation has sent Holt two violation notices and three letters urging him to get a permit and warning him against dumping hazardous waste, the department has not leveled civil penalties against the lawmaker, according to TDEC.
“There are a number of operators in the same position as Mr. Holt,” said Shannon Ashford, a TDEC spokeswoman. “It is not that the operators have ignored the process. They made submittals that did not meet the requirements of the regulations. If the deficiencies are not corrected, the department will consider enforcement action.”
Holt’s farm includes contract swine owned by Tosh Farms, which are then sold to a packer, according to the Holt Family Farms website. His operation also includes a cow calf operation and a goat herd, sells brown eggs and includes a pumpkin patch for school and group visits.
Since his permit expired, TDEC has sent Holt several notifications that his permit was incomplete and reminded him he was banned from dumping hazardous waste “under any circumstance” without the proper permit.
“We’re in the process of applying here for a permit, and we’ll finish that sometime here very soon,” said Holt, who added acquiring other farms and testing and analyzing materials has slowed his application down. “There’s several things that take some time. It’s our intention to be law abiding. That’s the purpose.”
…Regardless of him running behind on regulations on his farm, Holt said the attention needs to be on getting livestock abuse reported quickly.
“Sometimes their investigations, which have taken weeks or months to complete, have left several animals in a horrible situation,” said Holt, who the Weakley County sheriff’s office has said has been subject to no animal abuse complaints. “Nowhere along the way does it say that you have to come in with 30 counts to indict an individual.
“I’ll always lose the emotional issue if folks don’t use logic associated with that emotion.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to seal Tennessee’s handgun carry permit records from public scrutiny is advancing in the Legislature.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Ferrell Haile of Gallatin unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 8-0 on Tuesday and is headed for a vote by the full Senate. The companion bill was approved 84-10 in the House last month.
Both versions of the bill would allow for the media and Safety Department to confirm whether someone who had run afoul of the law was a permit holder, but only by providing a legal document or other record “that indicates the named person is not eligible to possess a handgun carry permit.”
The legislation doesn’t create an exception for political operatives and lobbying groups to obtain the entire set of names and addresses.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was after 2 a.m. when David Aller was thrown out of the Klub Cirok Nightclub & VIP Lounge for fighting. That’s when police say the 26-year-old man retrieved a loaded handgun from his car in the club parking lot and returned to threaten patrons.
Aller, who was charged with aggravated assault for the Nov. 11 incident, was also a handgun carry permit holder.
Ever since lawmakers opened serious consideration of a bill to allow permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles — no matter where they are parked — backers have maintained security won’t be threatened because gun permit holders are law-abiding citizens and unlikely to commit crimes.
Public records reviewed by AP show, however, that some incidents, like the one at Klub Cirok, have the potential to become violent when guns are drawn by permit holders in parking lots. And club promoter Joe Savage said the bill is misguided.
“If it’s at the Waffle House it’s one thing, but if it’s Cirok’s it’s another,” Savage told AP in the club’s parking lot. “You can’t just say across the board it’s going to be all right — because it’s not all right.
“If this was a church and they were all nuns and priests, then fine,” he said. “But that’s not what this is.”
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A National Rifle Association-backed effort to block public access to handgun carry permits goes too far for Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, one of the top gun rights advocates in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Ramsey told The Associated Press that the ability to scrutinize the identities of people with handgun carry permits strengthens arguments that gun enthusiasts are worthy of carrying loaded firearms in public.
“Having the handgun carry records open actually helps the cause of the Second Amendment,” he said in an interview Thursday. “Because people can go look at those and realize that they truly are law-abiding citizens.”
Ramsey added, “I encourage people like the press to look through these to figure out whether there’s something we’re missing. When you don’t shine light on something, that’s when problems are caused.”
Ramsey’s position conflicts with NRA, which has long called for sealing the records so the public and news media cannot see who has the state-issued permits.
“Members of the media have no business possessing personal information of Tennesseans with handgun carry permits,” NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford said in an email.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey disputed assertions Thursday that his bill making it legal for workers to store firearms in vehicles at work leaves them vulnerable to being fired by unhappy employers, reports Andy Sher. “I think if it’s legal for them to have it in their car, they [employers] couldn’t terminate them based on doing a legal act,” the Blountville Republican told reporters. “There’s nothing illegal about having them there.”
He said it is “not my intent at all” to leave workers unprotected. Earlier this week, the House sponsor of Ramsey’s bill, Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said the Senate-passed bill will not protect gun-carry permit holders from Tennessee’s “at will” employment law.
State law allows employers to fire, suspend or discipline workers for any reason or none at all, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.
“If a business decides to fire someone or to reprimand someone, that is their rule,” Faison told the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, which approved the bill. “This is an at-will state, and they’ll still be able to do whatever they want with a person who has a gun in their car.”
By Erik Schelzg, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state Senate on Monday passed a bill to give people with handgun carry permits the right to store their loaded firearms in their vehicles wherever they are parked, brushing aside concerns raised by businesses and higher education administrators in Tennessee.
The chamber voted 28-5 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville after rejecting Democratic efforts to add potential exclusions for businesses if they were approved by the state Department of Safety.
“If you allow people to come onto your parking lot then they have the right to have that firearm in the car,” Ramsey told reporters before the vote.
Ramsey has been pushing for the quick adoption of the bill to avoid a repeat of a drawn out fight last year between gun advocates and the business lobby.
The failure of last year’s bill ended up costing House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart her legislative seat when the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates later bankrolled her primary opponent.
Robert Houk says that state law should be changed to allow carrying of guns openly and without the need for a carry permit. Just maybe, he’s being a bit sarcastic. There’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says that an American must get a government permit to carry a gun, so why does the state of Tennessee think we need one?
I know there are some folks who say the permit is needed so that people will get the proper training in how to handle their gun. Poppycock! Everyone knows that a true American is born with gunpowder on his fingers.
The only people who might need training are liberals (because everybody knows, aside from Atticus Finch, liberals can’t shoot straight).
Meanwhile, Frank Cagle – clearly serious, not sarcastic – opines that gun owners should be taking the lead in backing sanctions against those who abuse their right to carry a weapon. He focuses on the “stand your ground” law and a couple of cases in Florida, one that’s received a lot of attention and one not so much — yet. Responsible gun owners cannot allow irresponsible gun owners to try and use law-abiding citizens’ hard-won rights and put those rights in jeopardy. Dunn has a carry permit. If he did wrong, it should not negate the responsible practices of literally thousands of permit holders nationwide.
Responsible gun owners should be in the vanguard urging prosecution of people who abuse gun rights.
Further, Otis Sanford brings up the topic in a piece declaring Gov. Bill Haslam needs to stand against more conservative members of his own party. This legislature is determined to enact a law allowing people with handgun-carry permits to bring their guns to work and keep them locked away in their vehicles — even if business owners don’t want firearms on their property.
Haslam and Ramsey disagree over whether a revised version of the bill should allow firearms on college campuses. Haslam wants colleges excluded. Ramsey thinks that’s an overreaction, but he has hinted of late that he may be willing to exempt colleges from the bill.
For his part, Haslam is no fan of the bill either way. But he knows that train has already left the station.
Pardon the pun, but Haslam should stick to his guns on this and other major issues, and not be continually swayed by a rolling tide of extreme conservatism.
— Note: The columns were written prior to the Connecticut school massacre.
Second amendment advocates are unhappy with a TBI proposal to divert $3 million $3 million from handgun permit fees to upgrade the state’s fingerprinting database, reports Andrea Zelinski. “The objective of the government to invest money in fingerprinting is not an activity that can be identified as servicing the permit holder process,” said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.
“Our view is they shouldn’t be charging essentially the permit holder for the cost, or even a substantial portion of the cost, for the technology and personnel when it’s a part of law enforcement that needs to be funded by the state’s general budget,” Harris said.
Every time someone buys a $115 Tennessee handgun permit, $15 is channeled to the TBI and held in a fund “for the sole purpose of updating and maintaining its fingerprint criminal history database,” according to state law. TBI has proposed taking a total of $3 million from that fund in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Storage for the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System database is now reaching capacity, TBI Director Mark Gwyn told Gov. Bill Haslam during a budget hearing Nov. 4 on Capitol Hill.
“If we don’t have this upgrade, we just will not be able to put any more latent fingerprints in the system, and obviously, if that there were to happen, there would be crimes that would not be solved,” Gwyn said at the hearing.