“This is about me doing what I think is right. It has nothing to do with the NRA. None at all,” he said with a straight face.
So we thought it was funny that House Speaker Beth Harwell, bucking up her caucus today before the vote on guns-in-cars, made a big point of saying the NRA is for the bill. The NRA's influence might be on the wane in some parts of the country, but not in Tennessee, no sir.
"I’m going to say to you that the National Rifle Association has come out and officially endorsed this piece of legislation," she declared.
That was before she gave Republicans permission to vote for Democratic amendments if it made them feel better—she could fix that in conference committee later if need be—and suggested that they keep their traps shut during the debate if they didn’t want to wind up in the newspaper saying something stupid about guns only a little while after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre.
Here are excerpts from Harwell’s little speech this morning to House Republicans:
The Beav is tweeting her distress at her mistreatment in the legislature. Why would anyone disrespect her? Could it be her insistence on advocating for asinine legal theories and wasting hours of the Senate's time with crackpot legislation?
“They’re doing all these things for the businesses and the wealthy people,” the House’s second-ranking Democrat told reporters. “I asked the governor, when are we going to do something for the working people? There’s a trend here. We’re not really doing anything for the average Tennessean.”
Haslam’s workers’ comp bill takes claim disputes out of the court system and establishes a state agency to handle them, and the new system is rigged against workers who are injured on the job. The governor appoints the agency’s director, and the director selects the administrative judges to hear cases.
Haslam claims he’s trying to create “a fair playing field.” But as the pro-union Tennessee Citizen Action points out, his workers’ comp czar will become the ultimate decider of disputes. “What’s fair and impartial about that?” Citizen Action’s Mary Mancini asks.
Adds Turner: “They talk about how great and fair it is. It appears that they are taking money right out of the pockets of working people.”
As for pension plan changes, Turner points out, “Our pension system is sound. It’s never been overly generous. They’re asking the people to pay more and the state’s giving them less.”
Here's the governor himself on video explaining his workers' comp plan:
Only a couple of months after the Newtown, Conn., shootings as the rest of America debates restrictions on firearms and ammunition, the legislature now has adopted a major new expansion of gun rights in Tennessee.
“Today we’re telling businesses they must allow guns on their property, and the question is, what will we do next?” House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh asked. Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis, wondered if "God forbid, guns in churches" is on the NRA's to-do list.
It’s a big victory for the NRA, which has demanded this so-called safe commute law for years. It lets the state’s nearly 400,000 handgun carry permit owners keep weapons in their vehicles in parking lots at work or school or anywhere else they please.
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and big employers—such as Volkswagen, FedEx and the University of Tennessee—always have managed to beat it back in the past, citing security issues and claiming the right to control their own properties.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, and Aller was arrested. But the incident illustrates one of the obvious dangers of the guns-in-cars bill. Shouldn’t nightclubs, at least, retain the right to prohibit guns in the cars in their parking lots?
"If it's at the Waffle House it's one thing, but if it's Cirok's it's another," the club’s owner, Joe Savage, told AP. "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."
The AP also looked at public records and found that 2,133 people have had their permits revoked or suspended for criminal charges or orders of protection over the last two years. Handgun permit owners have killed or been accused of killing at least 16 people in the past five years—four people in parking lots. One of the shootings started as argument over how close together two SUVs were parked.
Schelzig's story should cause lawmakers to reconsider voting for guns-in-cars, but of course it won’t. Republicans are thinking, not about public safety, but about their own reelections. Rep. Debra Maggart’s defeat last year taught them a lesson, and they are determined to make the NRA happy.
Nashville is getting more tornado sirens and changing the sound used for tornado warnings.
The system expansion and upgrade, estimated at $2 million, is expected to begin in February and be completed by the end of April.
The old sound was an electronic tone which, I've noticed on multiple occasions, can be hard to hear over the wind. The new tone will sound more like an old air-raid siren, which should make it easier to hear under adverse conditions.
Reporters yawned their way through a press conference on the amendments this afternoon. Said House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh:
This is a major and radical change in Tennessee's long-held policy of protecting the rights of property owners. We know the majority wants to pass this bill and they want to pass it quickly. It's made a pretty quick dash through the Senate and the House. In one committee in the House, the bill came out in less than six minutes. So we don't know how long we'll have as a minority party tomorrow to voice our concerns about this bill. That's why we're here today.
Mercifully, the bill died on a 4-4 vote, but first Sen. Brian Kelsey carried on a bizarre debate with a couple of crackpot witnesses who urged the legislature to ignore 200 years of Supreme Court decisions and exercise Tennessee’s fictional right to nullify federal laws.
One of them, a woman who identified herself only as Publius Huldah and wouldn’t give her real name, waved around a ragged copy of the Federalist Papers and went on a long rant for states’ rights.
“Carry a knife—save a life!” That’s one of Knife Right’s catchy mottos, and NRA chief Wayne LaPierre is right there on the outfit’s website giving his stamp of approval to this movement, which is gaining steam around the country.
"Knife Rights is the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment,” LaPierre says. “They are the premier grassroots organization protecting our right to own knives. Those who love freedom need Knife Rights, so please join me in supporting their mission."
Knife Rights says it asked state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, to introduce his bill, which zipped out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on a 7-1 vote. Senators asked few questions at that time, and the public was left to ponder the bill's implications.
Daggers, switchblades, stilettos, Bowie knives, and ham slicers—absolutely, they're legal. But what about meat cleavers, cutlasses, machetes and Samurai swords? Could someone carrying his favorite pig sticker sit down at a bar and enjoy a few drinks? It turns out people are right to wonder. Bell is wondering himself. He admits he's not sure what his bill actually might do. That's not to say he's against making it legal to carry swords.
"My bill specifically references knives," Bell says, thinking out loud. "A sword is not defined in the code. It is not my intention. Now, if somebody brought a bill to allow people to carry swords, at that time I would look at that bill. But my bill specifically covers knives and removes the length prohibition on a knife."
Maybe before the legislature enacts this bill into law, someone will figure out exactly which dangerous weapons suddenly will become legal to carry.
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