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Senate OKs no-permit open carry

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to allow open carrying of handguns in Tennessee sans permit.

Apr 8, 2014 2:23 PM

Haslam wants VW to stick with the vote

A check of authorization cards the UAW claimed it gathered prior to the vote to unionize at Volkswagen can be "influenced in a lot of different ways" and not necessarily portray how employees feel, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday. More on what he thinks of talk that the car company might let the UAW in anyway.

Apr 8, 2014 10:20 AM

Legislators pass ‘jock tax’ repeal to governor

Lawmakers in both chambers scored an easy layup Monday night, approving a heavily lobbied bill repealing the so-called “jock tax” on NHL and NBA athletes who play here.

Democrats in the House argued the legislation would target Memphis and Nashville where the state’s effected sports teams reside. The tax for hockey players would disappear immediately once the governor signs the bill and linger for two years for basketball players. The tax does not apply to NFL players.

"We're giving tax breaks to millionaires. It's no wonder we're in the situation we're in," said Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, voicing opposition to the bill in light of the state's budget woes.

Professional hockey and basketball athletes who play in Tennessee currently are on the hook for $2,500 per game and up to $7,500 a year. The money is deposited in municipal funds but is ultimately funneled back to team owners to bring events to their facilities. It does not go to the state.

"What we're doing is taking a little bit of money away from zillionaires that don't need it and letting athletes keep it," said House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga.

The legislation is the result of a year and a half of negotiation, officials said. A similar bill failed to make headway last year, although it passed the House on a partisan 66-25 vote and a 30-2 vote in the Senate Monday night.

For lawmakers opposed to the bill, it came down to a repeal that meddles with local control while leaving elected officials out of the negotiations. Metro officials said they have no position on the bill although House Minority Leader Mike Turner, a Nashville Democrat, said the Metro Council has asked lawmakers to oppose the bill.

The bill's next stop is the governor's office.

Apr 8, 2014 7:44 AM

Wamp raises $370,000

Weston Wamp is going to report north of $370,000 in first-quarter donations (and that's a lot).

Apr 8, 2014 7:15 AM

Senate approves lower limit on lifetime welfare benefits; Campfield wonders if exceptions reward negative behavior

The Senate approved a measure rolling back the maximum lifetime welfare from five years to four years — with exceptions for victims of domestic violence and people with mental illness.

Stacy Campfield had some questions:

Campfield said that the domestic violence exception could mean that, for those wishing to avoid a cutoff of benefits to a family member, “all they have to do is beat their wife.” The wife could then report the abuse and be exempted from an end to benefits, he said.

Further, he said, the domestic violence provision, Campfield said, could be “encouraging people to stay in a bad relationship.”

Kelsey said he doubted that anyone would “request it or ask for it (becoming a victim of domestic violence), simply to retain welfare benefits for another 12 months.”

Similarly, Campfield said the other exemption provision appears to be “rewarding people who stay on drugs.” He said it could lead people diagnosed with mental illness – or those dependent upon them – to engage in substance abuse.

Apr 8, 2014 7:13 AM

In-state tuition for U.S.-born students of immigrants heads to governor

The House easily approved a bill requiring schools to charge in-state tuition to U.S.-born students who live with their undocumented parent and are sending the bill to the governor’s desk.

State law currently doesn’t provide for charging the students in-state tuition, although many schools do it anyway, officials say. Changing the law would protect the state from potential lawsuits, said the bill’s sponsor, Memphis Republican Rep. Mark White.

The chamber passed the bill on a bipartisan 63-27 vote, with all but one “no” vote cast by a Republican. Nine legislators abstained, including seven of them facing contested elections this year. They include:

* Republicans: Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin; Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin; Rep. Mike Sparks, of Smyrna; Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg

* Knoxville Democrat Rep. Joe Armstrong

* Rep. Joe Carr, D-Lascassas, who is taking a bid for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary

* Not facing a contested election: House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown, both Republicans

The effect of this legislation is limited compared to a similar bill that would give 14,000 undocumented immigrant students access to in-state college tuition, according to immigration advocates. Hitting on the touchy issue of illegal immigration, the legislature shelved that bill for the year.

Under the bill passed Monday night for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, the state says 60 such students are now attending public colleges and universities and estimates another 200 students will enroll next year under this plan.

The Senate approved the bill on a 20-10 vote last month.

Apr 7, 2014 9:18 PM

On-air: Cutting back the budget

Our own Andrea Zelinski was on WPLN talking about what's behind this year's budget cuts and what that means for the governor's promise to lead the nation in teacher salary increases by the time he leave office. Listen here.

Apr 7, 2014 3:22 PM

Harwell was 2 minutes away from a Tea Party challenger

The House Speaker was THIS close to having a primary opponent

Apr 7, 2014 2:48 PM

Few voucher opportunities in Memphis, researcher says

A small number of private schools in Memphis are willing to accept students with school vouchers, and those that are don't have many extra seats, says an education researcher at Vanderbilt. WPLN has the story.

Apr 7, 2014 12:00 PM

The end is near

The AP with the story of the legislature aiming for the end.

Apr 7, 2014 10:51 AM