Legislation declaring that new federal laws and executive orders on firearms are invalid in Tennessee has been killed in a House subcommittee.
The bill (HB42) by Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, also would have made attempts at enforcement of federal gun laws and executive orders a misdemeanor crime within the state. It would have applied to measures taking effect after Jan. 1, 2013, thus covering executive orders on gun regulations issued recently by President Barack Obama and any gun laws enacted by Congress this year.
“I understand that we’re pushing the envelope a little bit here,” Carr told the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. “But it’s our intent to do this in some respects.”
He told the panel that “we are seeing a tyranny coming from Washington” and the bill is “seeking to assert the sovereignty of this state as defined in the Second Amendment.”
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, told Carr he disagreed with the bill as “throwing a wrench in these 200-year-old gears” at the federal level. But otherwise there was little debate or discussion before the subcommittee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Jim Coley of Memphis, called for a vote.
The bill was killed on voice vote. Only two members of the eight-member panel — Republican Reps. Mike Carter of Ooltewah and Jon Lundberg of Bristol — asked that they be recorded as favoring the bill.
A bill stripping the state attorney general of most responsibilities and giving them to a “solicitor general” was killed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday.
The new office of solicitor general, under HB1072, would have been filled by appointment of the state House and Senate, meeting in joint session. Tennessee’s attorney general is now appointed by the state Supreme Court under a provision of the state constitution.
House sponsor Rep. Barrett Rich, R-Somerville, said the bill had been brought to him by the Fayette County Tea party and was priority legislation for tea party members statewide. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, sponsored the measure in the Senate.
Many tea party members were upset when Attorney General Bob Cooper last year failed to file a lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, as did attorneys general in other states.
“If we determine, as a Legislature, that we should file an injunction (against a federal law considered unconstitutional), the attorney general would not have to pursue that,” Rich said.
With enactment of the bill, the solicitor general would be obliged to file such a lawsuit to “fend off the federal government,” Rich said.
Rich said the creation of a solicitor general position is permissible under the state Constitution because, while granting the Supreme Court authority to name the attorney general, the document gives the position no duties other than reporting decisions of the Supreme Court. Thus, he said current attorney general duties such as representing the state in lawsuits and issuing legal opinions can be assigned by statute to a solicitor general.
But other legislators questioned that contention. They included Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, also an attorney, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ootelwah, a former judge.
Carter said he “understands the frustration behind this,” but believes that the bill might lead to a lawsuit rather than correcting the problem and to situations of “the state of Tennessee suing the state of Tennessee.” Appropriately addressing the situation, Carter said, “may require a constitutional amendment, to be honest with you.”
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, asked how members of the judiciary felt about the bill. Rich said he did not know, but conceded “they probably wouldn’t like it.”
The bill was killed on a voice vote. Only one member of the eight-member subcommittee, Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah, had himself recorded as supporting the measure.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to allow local referendums on whether grocery stores should be able to sell wine has been delayed in its final Senate committee to consider several changes desired by groups newly interested in negotiating over the measure.
A special subcommittee was appointed on Tuesday to work out a final version of the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro. A full Senate Finance Committee vote was rescheduled for next week.
Among the issues supporters want to hammer out is whether the bill should also allow liquor stores to sell beer, which hours wine would be available for sale and the exact start date of supermarket wine sales after it is approved by voters and w.
The bill has been opposed by liquor wholesalers and package store owners.
House Speaker Beth Harwell cast the deciding vote Wednesday to keep a wine-in-grocery-stores bill from failing in a House subcommittee.
Harwell, who has the right under House rules to sit and vote on any committee, voted twice in the House State Government Subcommittee.
First, she broke a 4-4 tie on a motion by Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, to delay action on the bill (HB610) until July, 2014. Carr said the delay – which would have effectively killed the bill – would provide “time to sit down on both sides and see if we can get something worked out.”
After Carr’s motion was defeated, Harwell then broke a 4-4 tie on the bill itself. With her vote, the measure advances out of the subcommittee for a vote next week in the full House State Government Committee.
Harwell said afterwards she felt it important to “show momentum” for the legislation in the House and hopes that will “bring folks to the table” from the opposing side to negotiate some compromise – probably to be incorporated into separate legislation.
The bill as introduced by Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, would allow local governing bodies in cities or counties that already have liquor-by-the-drink and retail liquor stores to hold a local referendum on whether line could be sold in grocery stores and supermarkets within their jurisdiction.
The bill has now cleared its initial committee hurdles in both the House and Senate, though several remain before floor votes. Similar bills to straightforwardly legalize the sale wine in grocery stores – without the referendum provision – have failed repeatedly over the past five years.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill to prevent businesses, schools and colleges from banning firearms in their parking lots was approved by a House subcommittee after a six-minute hearing on Wednesday.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby, would give the state’s 390,343 handgun carry permit holders the ability to store firearms in their vehicles parked on company or school property.
Faison argued that permit holders who undergo background checks and meet training requirements are “worthy of carrying … and keeping a gun.”
Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones of Nashville was the only member of the panel to raise questions about the measure and to convey her opposition when the bill was advanced to the full House Civil Justice Committee on a voice vote .
“So you could go to church, school, drive down to the guy’s house down the block? Any restaurant, any business anywhere?” she asked, referring to those storing firearms in their vehicles.
State Sen. Jim Summerville was removed Thursday as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee after an email sent from his personal email account used a graphic term to convey to the legislature’s black caucus his view of its response to a hearing Summerville chaired last week on grade changes at Tennessee State University.
Further from Richard Locker: “I am very disappointed in the unfortunate choice of words and tone used by Senator Summerville in responding to Rep. (Barbara) Cooper,” Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, said in a statement Thursday. “There is a standard of courtesy that must be observed by members of the General Assembly and this went beyond what is acceptable. He has been removed as the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman.”
Summerville, R-Dickson, did not return repeated calls and emails from reporters to his home and office for comment. The email was sent to Cooper, D-Memphis, Wednesday night and, apparently at Summerville’s request, she forwarded it to her colleagues in the black caucus and other legislators. Summerville is a freshman lawmaker known for his candid public statements.
The message from a personal email address that Summerville has publicly posted as his says: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks. Jim Summerville”
The subject line of Summerville’s email to Cooper says “Please share this response with your colleagues”.
The email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, is one that Summerville has publicly posted as his personal contact for several years on various websites, including the National Association of Scholars, of which he was Tennessee chapter president. He is an adjunct professor of history at Austin Peay State University.
Cooper could not be reached for immediate comment but Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, chairman of the legislative black caucus, said that if the message is from Summerville, “that’s appalling. Not only does he embarrass himself, he embarrasses the entire state of Tennessee by making a statement like that. It makes you wonder what his state of mind was at the time. Why would a state senator even think that and why would you put it out publicly?
— Note: Statement from House Democratic Caucus, Democratic party below.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A special panel of members of the state Republican Party’s executive committee is meeting behind closed doors to consider an election challenge in a legislative primary race.
The six-member subcommittee appointed by Chairman Chris Devaney was scheduled to meet in Nashville on Thursday morning to evaluate the challenge brought by Shirley Curry, who wants to overturn her four-vote loss in the House District 71 primary.
Adam Nickas, the executive director of the party, wouldn’t say why the public wouldn’t be allowed to follow the hearing and declined to elaborate on the basis for Curry’s challenge.
The special panel will make recommendations to the full executive committee on Sept. 5.
Messages seeking comment from Curry and Dennis were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
— Note: The six members of the subcommittee are Rob Ailey of Seymour, chairman; Betty Cannon of Nashville; Beth Campbell of Nashville, Kurt Holbert of Decaturville; Paula Sedgewick of Arlington and Ken Gross of Knoxville.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has rushed four bills out of subcommittee to guarantee workers the right to store firearms in vehicles parked on company lots.
The measures were advanced to the full Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee on Tuesday after a truncated debate.
Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville said last week that she expected the gun bills to be vetted through committees despite word from the Senate that the companion bills are not likely to receive full floor votes this year.
The bills are strongly opposed by business, higher education and law enforcement groups on private property and safety grounds.
Gun advocates argue that parked vehicles should count as the employees’ private property regardless of whether the parking lots are owned by businesses that seek to prohibit firearms.
Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect and a main sponsor of one of the parking lot gun measures, said he was undeterred by word that the companion bill was dead in the Senate.
“It seems like everything up here a lot of times is a game,” Bass said. “So I’m playing the game until the final buzzer sounds.”
Legislation to set up a system for dispensing marijuana for medical use in Tennessee cleared a House subcommittee on voice vote today.
The measure (HB294) would have marijuana growers licensed and certified by the state Department of Agriculture, enable doctors to issue prescriptions for persons suffering from designated ailments and authorize pharmacists to fill those prescriptions.
Sponsor Rep. Jeannie Richardson, D-Memphis, said the proposed system would have the tightest regulation of any of the 16 states that now authorize sales.
The bill was approved by the House Health Subcommittee. It now goes to the full committee and will have other steps beyond that. The Senate version of the bill has yet to have its first hearing, but Richardson said sponsor Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, has indicated she will seek a vote promptly.
Legislation repealing the requirement of a photo ID for voting was approved Wednesday by a House panel had killed other Democrat-sponsored bill to make smaller changes in the current law.
State Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, and Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, the Legislature’s only independent, joined three Democrats on the House State and Local Government Subcommittee to make passage possible.
Three Republicans on the committee voted no and another, Rep. Jim Cobb of Spring City, was absent.
Ramsey said afterwards that he was being consistent, since he was one of the few Republicans to vote against requiring a photo ID for voting when the Legislature enacted the law last year. Williams had also voted against the measure last year.
“My understanding is there may be some impediment to voting for some people (with the photo ID requirement),” said Ramsey.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, who watched the vote, afterwards said he was concerned the people hearing about the subcommittee vote could think the photo ID law has now been repealed and that would hinder the “education effort” to make voters familiar with the new law.
“It has a long way to go (to pass) and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Goins.
Virtually all other Republicans have backed the photo ID law and, since the GOP has a strong majority, the repeal bill sponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville (HB2176) is widely expected to fail further along in the process – probably next week when it goes before the full State and Local Government Committee.
The subcommittee, in fact, voted down several other bills proposed by Democrats to revise the law without actually repealing it.
These included bills to legalize new formers of photo identification, including college student Ids and identification cards issued to employees of city and county governments. Both those identifications are now prohibited for use in voting. Republican leaders say they are too easy to fake.
Another rejected Democratic bill would have exempted persons over age 65 from the photo ID requirement for voting.
There was one other Democratic success, a bill by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-that would allow photographs to be made of voters at the polling place if they had no photo ID. The photographed voters would then be allowed to cast their ballots without casting a provisional vote, as required under current law.
The vote on Fitzhugh’s bill (HB2062) was 4-3 as Williams teamed with all three Democrats on the panel in favor of the bill. Ramsey voted no with two other Republicans. But two other Republicans were absent.
Afterward the Democratic successs, House Speaker Beth Harwell came into the committee to assure Republicans had a majority to kill the other Democratic bills. House rules allow the speaker to vote on any committee or subcommittee. But Harwell had left by the time Turner’s repeal bill came up.