News release from state Department of Agriculture:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced a revised Order by the State Veterinarian specifying conditions under which wild-appearing hogs are to be transported in the state.
The revised order, which went into effect June 10, is in support of legislation passed last year by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam making it illegal to transport and release wild-appearing hogs without documentation from the department.
“Wild hogs have the propensity to reproduce in great numbers, carry diseases, destroy crops and cause serious ecological damage,” state veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM, said. “The new order strengthens efforts to prevent the illegal transportation and releasing of wild hogs by requiring individual animal identification and documentation for all wild-appearing hogs being moved.”
Wild hogs are typically two to three feet tall and up to five feet long with larger heads and heavier shoulders compared to domesticated breeds. Wild hogs also have smaller, pointed and heavily furred ears, longer snouts, tusks and straight tails.
The previous order exempted individual animal identification in specific cases. The revised order requires all wild-appearing swine being moved within Tennessee to have state or federally approved individual animal identification and:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled against a Brentwood man who claimed state law regulating the carrying of firearms was unconstitutional.
Leonard Embody filed a lawsuit in 2010 after state officials took away his carry permit, finding a “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public.”
The revocation came after Embody was detained by Belle Meade police in 2010 while walking with a .44-caliber black powder revolver in his hand. He was detained in 2009 while walking in Radnor Lake State Park with an AK-47-style pistol. He also has been stopped in at least three similar incidents, although he was never charged with a crime.
Embody, who represented himself, claimed in court that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives him a right to carry firearms.
According to the court, “The crux of Embody’s argument is that, as a law-abiding citizen, the legislature may not constitutionally bar him from carrying loaded firearms in public.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Commercial fishermen in Tennessee say they could help reduce the number of invasive Asian carp with a relatively minor change in fishing regulations.
The carp grow up to 50 pounds. In addition to having a voracious appetite for the same food native fish feed on, the carp have injured fishermen by jumping into boats.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/Ybu4qj ) reported fisheries chief Bobby Wilson of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency calls them a gigantic problem.
Fishermen want the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission to approve nets with wider openings.
Fishermen say there’s a market for the fish in China, where the flesh is considered a delicacy.
The species was accidentally released into American waters two decades ago.
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services must provide to the public records of children who died or nearly died after the agency investigated reports they had been abused or neglected, a Nashville judge ruled Wednesday.
Chancellor Carol McCoy gave the department 10 days to redact confidential information from documents that serve as summaries for four specific cases. The records then must be turned over to 12 news media organizations that sued under Tennessee’s public records law. The media coalition was led by The Tennessean and included The Associated Press.
In ordering the disclosure of the redacted files, McCoy said she had to weigh competing priorities of protecting the privacy of abused children versus holding the state accountable when a child dies.
McCoy determined that a child’s right to privacy is diminished after the child dies and the more important concern becomes what the state did or did not do to try to prevent the death. Attorneys for the state had argued that DCS — which initially revealed only one line of information on the cases of 151 children who died and 55 who suffered near fatal injuries since 2009 — was prohibited by state law from releasing its records.
McCoy found that while the law does protect the privacy of children and families involved with DCS, the agency’s records relating to deaths and near fatalities are subject to the public records law.
A recent Tennessee Supreme Court rule change that will make oral arguments from all of the state’s appeals courts available online has delivered a shock to some appeals court judges and family law attorneys, reports The Tennessean. Under current rules, oral arguments from the Court of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court are available by request and for a nominal fee — usually about $20.
But in a little-noticed policy change in the name of “transparency and openness of the courts” expected to take effect this spring, digital recordings of all oral arguments in appeals courts will be available online at no cost.
The action has led some, including Appeals Court Judge Frank Clement, to voice concern that it could complicate the lives of children whose parents are going through messy divorces, not to mention “cast a dark cloud” over the parents themselves, according to a letter Clement recently wrote to the high court.
“I’m very concerned about Internet bullying, harassing and abuse,” Clement said in a telephone interview. “This is not about the courts keeping secrets. It’s about preventing children from being abused and bullied.”
Michele Wojciechowski, a Tennessee Supreme Court spokeswoman, said giving the public open access to the courts is important. That said, she noted that the court is now devising a way to “mitigate possible abuse.” The court will catalog complaints over the program’s one-year trial period.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik in a lawsuit that accused her of defamation for a campaign advertisement targeting rival Diane Black.
The suit was filed by Aegis Sciences Corp., a drug-testing company owned by David Black. He is the husband of Diane Black, who won the election for the 6th District seat.
The 2010 advertisement showed Diane Black, who was then a state senator, handing a $1 million check from “Tennessee Taxpayers” to her husband.
In an opinion filed this week, a three-judge panel of the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 for Zelenik. The court found that the advertisement portrayed Diane Black as a big spender but did not imply that Aegis received graft.
A spokeswoman for Aegis declined to comment.
House Speaker Beth Harwell’s move to limit the amount of legislation that can be filed by state representatives was softened Wednesday in the face of criticism – some from fellow Republicans – while Gov. Bill Haslam agreed to limit administration bill filings as well.
Harwell originally proposed a general 10-bill limit for individual House members with some exceptions. The compromise on Tuesday calls for a 15-bill limit, with some more exceptions.
The proposal, which is an amendment to House rules, was also revised to put a 75-bill limit on legislation introduced at the governor’s behest.
Haslam, who proposed 55 administration bills last year, agreed to the limit. He began calling for a reduction in bill filings in 2011.
The bill limit plan will now go before the full House for approval, probably on Thursday. Democrats said they may seek further revisions on the floor, though they are virtually certain to rejected by the Republican majority.
House Speaker Beth Harwell says she’s ready to “fight for” rule changes she’s proposed to modify how the chamber does business, reports WPLN. Considering those rules will be job number one as the General Assembly convenes this week. Speaker Harwell will first name a special rules committee, and within hours they could take up her suggestions. At least one has resulted in grumbling among lawmakers and lobbyists alike. It limits each member to sponsoring just 10 bills.
Except for Mississippi, Tennessee legislators introduce more bills than any other state in the region, according to the Council of State Governments. Harwell says reducing the number of bills will make the House more efficient.
“I think I hear loud and clear from the public that they don’t want more government; they want less government. And I think it behooves us to prioritize. Why are we down here? And how many additional laws do you really need regulating your life? Let’s be honest about that.”
Harwell has also proposed banning a long-held practice of voting in place of another lawmaker when he or she is away from their desk.
— Note: The speaker also says she doesn’t favor a suggestion of state Rep. Bill Dunn that, when a legislator passes one of his bills, he or she gets to introduce another one. Harwell said that struck her as “convoluted” and that it would be hard for staff to keep track of things.
News release from House Speaker’s office:
NASHVILLE – Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced she is recommending changes to the Tennessee House of Representatives internal rules that will make the governmental process more efficient and save taxpayer money. The changes follow an effort two years ago to streamline operations.
“Tennessee taxpayers have entrusted us with the task of governing–something I take very seriously,” Harwell stated. “These changes reflect the will of Tennesseans: that state government operates efficiently and effectively while saving money. These changes also reflect the will of the body. After surveying the members of the last General Assembly, we have incorporated some of their suggestions as well. While Congress remains mired in partisan gridlock and continues to waste time, the state legislature is working toward better government.”
The changes include:
•Restructuring the committee system to balance the workload of each;
•Adopting the annual ethics resolution into the House Rules which will ensure the body is abiding by an ethics policy from the first day;
•Limiting the number of bills filed to 10 per member annually which will encourage members to prioritize;
•Reaffirming that each member vote for only him or herself;
•And deleting the requirement that every document be printed to reduce the amount of paper used in committee and for floor sessions.
Harwell noted the committee restructuring, bill limits, and paperless measures are among those that will, in the long run, save the Tennessee taxpayer money.
“The new committee system will balance the workloads of each committee, ensuring that they are as efficient as possible. Bill limits will reduce duplication and ensure each member prioritizes their issues. I am seeking to eliminate the requirement that every document we produce as a body be printed in effort for us to adapt to the technology available and reduce the enormous amount of paper used each year. Each of these measures together ensure a more efficient, effective, and accessible government. This will also give us more time for thoughtful, deliberate analysis on each piece of legislation–which is something Tennesseans expect and deserve.”
— Note: Some details below.
The proposed recommendations will be taken up by the House Rules Committee, which will be appointed by the Speaker in January.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that six Memphis suburbs cannot start public school systems, saying that any actions taken under a state law that initially cleared the way for the new districts are void.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Mays issued a 65-page ruling saying that the state law that allowed voters in the six Shelby County municipalities to decide if they wanted their own school districts violates the Tennessee Constitution because it applies only to one county.
Mays’ ruling said he would consider arguments on other aspects of the case next month. A trial scheduled for Jan. 3 on claims that the suburbs’ decision to seek their own school districts was made partly on racial grounds was continued.
Voters on Aug. 2 approved referendums to form school districts in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington. The suburbs want to break away from the Shelby County school district and avoid the planned merger between the larger, struggling, majority-black Memphis school system and the smaller, more successful, majority-white county system.