Legislature

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dean Urges Legislators to Preserve Metro Authority to Ban Guns in Parks

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Mayor Karl Dean is urging members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against a bill that would take away the city's authority to ban guns in parks.

The bill — SB 1496 / HB 1407 — sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) would amend state law pertaining to guns in parks by deleting provisions allowing local governments to opt-out of allowing guns in local parks. Nashville did just that in 2009.

In an email to committee members, Dean says he "support[s] the Second Amendment right to own firearms, there are legitimate public safety concerns as to where and when people can possess guns."

Read the full email from Dean after the jump:

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Kelsey Introduces Bill Aimed At Meal Breaks For Workers

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Meal breaks are under attack in Tennessee. Last week, Sen. Brian Kelsey introduced a measure that would allow hourly employees to surrender their right to a 30-minute unpaid meal break — something now required under state law after an employee works six straight hours.

Employee activists and labor attorneys consider the proposed law, which is sure to pass the Republican supermajority in both chambers, a disappointing setback for workers’ rights and one that will likely stoke additional friction between workforces and employers.

Two years ago, meal-break laws changed in Tennessee for people who work in the restaurant industry in the same way. For servers and others whose hourly wage includes tips, 30-minute unpaid meal breaks can now be waived. Kelsey’s bill attempts to make this the norm for all workers on the clock.

According to the state’s latest figures, some 220,000 Tennesseans work in the food service industry, a number that has spiked 8 percent over the past year. In Middle Tennessee, approximately 712,000 workers work in an hourly field that provides some kind of service. Which is to say: The number of people affected by the meal-break law change in 2012 and the one recently proposed is huge.

In the food service industry — where I worked the last two months — there persists a culture in which breaks of any kind are shunned and the mere discussion of them can provoke awkward conversations between management and employees. At the restaurant where I worked, managers generally say that a break is permitted, as long as it gets their blessing.

It’s a refrain echoed at restaurants all over Nashville, although it’s steeped in a misunderstanding of the law. According to state law, it’s not up to the manager to greenlight a break after six hours. Instead, the only way a restaurant is not breaking the law by avoiding breaks after six hours is if the employee signs a waiver opting out of the statutory right to chill out for a half-hour without pay.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

AP: Deal Close on Wine in Grocery Stores

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Our long Tennessee nightmare could soon be over.

The Associated Press reports that the two sides of the wine in grocery stores debate are close to a deal that would allow voters to decide whether they can buy some Pinot with their pasta.

From the report:

David McMahan, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, told The Associated Press that the two sides are "very, very close" on a deal that would allow cities and counties to vote on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets. But the measure would maintain the current ban at convenience stores and big box retailers like Wal-Mart or Target.

McMahan does note later on, however, that the deal could still fall apart, if the aforementioned convenience stores and big box retailers aren't OK with being left out. Indeed, getting the various interested parties on the same page has always been one of the main challenges for efforts to pass such a bill.

But after failing to even make it out of committee for years, wine in grocery stores has been gaining some momentum lately. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters in September that he thought this would be the year it went all the way. And it made our list of hopes for the new year.

We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, perhaps, but if someone's thinking about a 2014 commemorative bottle, consider it sold.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Does Florida Ruling Mean Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients in Legal Limbo?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 11:04 AM

We've already pondered this week whether a ruling on same-sex marriage in Utah could be the writing on the wall for Tennessee. Now, a ruling by a federal judge in Florida on drug testing for welfare recipients has us asking the same thing again.

One wonders how many laws will remain in Tennessee once the courts catch up with them all.

District Court Judge Mary S. Scriven ruled Tuesday that Florida's required drug tests for welfare applicants violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. A previous ruling had halted the policy temporarily, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the state will appeal the ruling.

Tennessee's law is different. While the original bill, as proposed by Republicans state Sen. Stacey Campfield and former state Rep. Julia Hurley, required drug testing all applicants, it was amended after two opinions from the state's attorney general labeled it constitutionally suspect. The final law would set up "suspicion-based" testing for applicants who raise red flags on a screening — an provision that officials believed would help the law sidestep legal trouble.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law in May 2012, giving the Department of Human Services until July 1, 2014 to implement it.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

State Building Commission to Hear Public Comment on Sounds Stadium Deal

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 4:04 PM

The state Building Commission will hear from the public before it considers the land transaction that is part of the plan for a new Nashville Sounds baseball stadium at Sulphur Dell.

A release from the state Thursday afternoon says the commission will offer a public comment period at its meeting this Monday. The meeting agenda can be seen here (in PDF form).

Read the details of the deal here, and check out Mayor Karl Dean's chat with reporters here.

The Building Commission meeting will take place this Monday, Nov. 25, at 10:30 a.m. in Hearing Room 30 of the Legislative Plaza.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Ron Ramsey Attempting to Ally With Stacey Campfield (Updated)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

UPDATE: It turns out that DeSano Pizza Bakery was not aware of this event, and says they are not hosting it. More here.

It seems that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state Sen. Stacey Campfield will be co-hosting a fundraiser at DeSano Pizza Bakery — it's a great place, and we won't hold this against them — later this month.

From Campfield:

Friends,

The opportunity to work for a better Tennessee in the State Senate for the past 3 years (as well as 6 years prior, serving as a member of the State House of Representatives) has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I greatly appreciate the confidence and trust placed in me by the citizens of my legislative district. I hope to continue working for the people of Tennessee, as an honored member of the State Senate, through our efforts to reduce government intervention, support individual responsibility, crackdown on acts of crime, and to promote economic growth.

The 2014 election cycle is just around the corner, and I am asking for your financial support for this up-and-coming campaign season. Although raising money is not amongst myfavorite campaign activities, being adequately funded is necessary for a successful campaign. Your support of this effort will go a long way in achieving this critical goal.

With that in mind—on October 22nd, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and I will be co-hosting a fundraiser reception from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The event will take place at DeSano Pizza Bakery, located in downtown Nashville at 115 16th Avenue South.

I wish you all to attend as my guest.

Please—feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Sen. Stacey Campfield
VOTESTACEY.COM
2011 Flagler Road
Knoxville TN, 37912

But wait! There's more after the jump:

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ron Ramsey Thinks You're Stupid

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 10:14 AM

We can only assume that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will soon be offering to sell the citizens of Tennessee a bridge, probably on behalf of a Nigerian prince.

You may remember that earlier this month, on Sept. 11, a statement was posted on Ramsey's Twitter account that read as follows: "As the President attempts to ally w/ Al-Qaeda in Syria's civil war, we must always remember who attacked us on our soil 12 years ago. Let us never forget those who died, those who served and those who carry on."

For obvious reasons, the statement was inflammatory and disingenuous.

But now, in a media availability, Ramsey says he was shocked, shocked, at the negative reaction to the statement. (He also makes an unconvincing case for why the president is attempting to "ally with Al-Qaeda" but Sen. Bob Corker isn't.)

“I had no idea,” Ramsey tells the Tennessean's Chas Sisk. “Had no idea. Never entered my mind that that would be a provocative tweet. Never once. That was absolutely amazing.”

Props to Chas for pressing him on it. For one thing, it's the first opportunity we've had to actually hear from Ramsey on the matter, instead of his flack. It's also interesting to know that the lieutenant governor would rather have us believe he's startlingly oblivious than admit to being a troll occupying one of the biggest offices on Capitol Hill.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ron Ramsey Says the President Is Attempting to 'Ally With Al-Qaeda'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM

We assumed the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 would be the occasion for some head-meet-desk moments, but we hoped we'd at least be able to finish our first cup of coffee before something this foolish came over the transom.

Noting the anniversary, Lt Gov. Ron Ramsey tweeted the following:


This is a stupefying statement, and not just because the lieutenant governor has decided that Sept. 11 is the day to make it.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Introducing the Tennessee Legislative Stupidity Index: First Up, Merry Christmas

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 2:08 PM

State legislatures are, generally speaking, horrible places.

For all the necessary functions they perform, these houses of state government often serve as incubators for depraved minds and rotten ideas (whether they come from legislators themselves or a no-assembly-required ALEC package). In fairness, that's probably been said about newspapers. But in the confines of the statehouse, these pieces of intellectual excrement are formalized, filed and given a fair chance of becoming laws. This is bad.

You know this, of course. For the last several years, Tennessee has been a leading leader among the country's batshit factories. Last year, in fact, Mother Jones ranked our legislature No. 1 on a list of the 50 Worst State Legislatures. (Get it? They're all bad.)

Still, we're honor-bound to tell you what they're up to. So in an effort to do that, while also sequestering some mind-numbing ideas with the hope of protecting the occasional important discussion that goes on around here, we introduce Tennessee's Legislative Stupidity Index©. Using the LSI, we'll rate legislative proposals according to their relative stupidity on the following scale: Not Stupid; A Little Stupid; Half Stupid; A Lot Stupid; and Full Stupid. Consider this our attempt to jump on the grenade. We're over-thinking this stuff so you don't have to.

Without further ado, we kick things off after the jump, with the latest proposal from...oh come on you know.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Post: Haslam Open to Guns-in-Lots Edit

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

First, a programming alert: With the closing of The City Paper, Andrea Zelinski's statehouse reporting will be moving over to the Nashville Post. Reset your bookmarks accordingly (and hey, maybe consider subscribing) toward Post Politics (or @post_politics on the Twitters).

This morning, she reports that Gov. Bill Haslam says he's willing to considering re-opening the discussion about the guns-in-lots law Republicans passed last year, despite having said previously that he'd had enough of gun play at the legislature. An opinion from Attorney General Bob Cooper undercut the legislation, and some Republicans are expected to push to change the law accordingly.

Haslam says he'll talk to the Ron Ram about it.

From AZ at the NP, after the jump:

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