During the Tennessee General Assembly’s two-week recess, some of Rutherford County’s legislative members have been busy filing bills.
As of Thursday, Sen. Bill Ketron had filed the most bills at 14, while Sen. Jim Tracy had submitted eight for consideration during the 108th General Assembly.
In the House of Representatives, first-term member Rep. Dawn White has not filed any bills as had Rep. Mike Sparks. Rep. Rick Womick has filed one, while Rep. Joe Carr, who is considering a run for Congress in 2014, has filed two, one of which has garnered national attention.
Ketron focuses on election laws
Three of Ketron’s bills already filed this session deal with election issues.
Senate Bill 0125 would allow any photo identification issued by Tennessee or the federal government to be used as identification when voting, but it would not allow the county or municipal IDs to be used.
SB 0126 would require a sample ballot be posted before an election on county election commission’s websites, or if they do not have a website, be placed on the Secretary of State’s website.
The third bill, SB 0127, deals with three issues, one of which has to do with elections concerning alcohol, as does two of his others.
SB 0127 would require county election commissions to certify results of an alcoholic beverage referendum to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
It would also require county officials to accept applications for voter registration on the next business day following a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday when the 30th day before an election falls on one of these days.
In addition, this bill also would require the posting of sample ballots online.
The two bills concerning alcoholic beverages are SB 0128 and SB 0129, the first of which would remove beer from the calculation of gross revenue for limited service restaurants. The second would clarify provisions where distilleries may be located in the state without holding a referendum and would allow any licensed distillery to get a special retail permit to sell its own produces on its premises.
Tracy looks to transportation issues
Since the first week of the session, two of the bills Tracy initially filed appear to have been re-filed under different numbers.
SB 0038 and SB 0065 would authorize an 18-wheel truck to exceed the maximum gross weight requirements by a certain amount if it has idle-reduction or other emissions-reductions technology installed.
SB 0039 and SB 0064 would authorize counties divided by a river or stream to enter into agreements for constructing and operating a bridge over the body of water and maintain sufficient railings.
Tracy’s only new bill filed since the first week is SB 0078, which would allow municipally owned electric systems to promote economic and industrial development by participating in the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.
Carr gains national attention
Carr’s House Bill 0042 has garnered national attention since his interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on his MSNBC talk show, “Politics Nation,” broadcast Jan. 18.
The bill would prohibit the use of state or local government funds to regulate or enforce any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation that becomes effective after Jan. 1 of this year, which imposes restrictions on citizens who lawfully possess or carry firearms in Tennessee. However, it would allow the use of state or local resources if federal funding were provided.
Sharpton asked if he thinks a state bill can trump federal law, to which Carr replied that he is trying “to illustrate here that the federal government, systematically over the years, has been on a full assault of the Second Amendment.” Carr added such steps also assault the entire Bill of Rights, which he claims has been under attack by the federal government for years.
During the nearly nine-minute exchange, the two also sparred over exactly what weapons should be allowed, prompting Sharpton to ask, “Why can’t I have a hand grenade. Why can’t I have rockets? I mean, if you’re going to say arms, then anyone can define what that means, then why can’t I have whatever I want – a nuclear weapon under my bed?”
The two also exchanged barbs about the Supremacy Clause and the 10th Amendment. Sharpton pointed out the Supremacy Clause states the U.S. Constitution and federal laws are “the supreme law of the land.” Carr countered with the 10th Amendment, which reserves to the states all powers that are not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, except for those powers that states are constitutionally forbidden from exercising.
Womick files single bill
Womick’s single bill thus far, HB 0080, would limit the per diem payments to certain members and revise mileage allowances for certain members of the General Assembly beginning in November 2014.