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Haslam signs into law ending forced annexations

Via Sher, the law requires cities annex by consent of a landowner or through referendum votes approved by a majority of the landowners to be annexed.

Apr 16, 2014 2:48 PM

U.S. House Democrats open inquiry into VW union vote

Via Committee on Education & the Workforce:

Leading House Democrats today began an inquiry to assess whether Tennessee state officials may have violated or otherwise run afoul of federal law by undermining, or attempting to undermine, labor rights guaranteed to workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, during the recent United Auto Workers union election.

Committee Democratic Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and John Tierney (D-Mass.), ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee, sent a letter today to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam seeking more information about whether any Tennessee state officials conditioned, or threatened to condition, state aid to Volkswagen on the outcome of workers’ efforts to establish a union and/or a works council at the Chattanooga plant.

Apr 16, 2014 2:40 PM

Electrocution bill passes House

Via Pith, the House passed the bill allowing electrocution if lethal injection drugs are unavailable. The Senate had already approved the measure.

Rep. Johnny Shaw told the bill's sponsor, Rep. Dennis Powers, that he couldn't support capital punishment because, citing the Bible, Shaw wasn't entitled to "throw a rock." Powers said he agreed with Shaw that only God could ultimately judge but that "it's our job to arrange the meeting."

Apr 16, 2014 2:21 PM

Haslam says Hall cut not a top priority

If it comes down to it, the governor would rather give raises to state employees instead of nixing the Hall tax.

Apr 16, 2014 12:50 PM

Shenanigans!

A resolution sponsored by Joe Carr regarding the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban has some unfriendly amendments from Democrats to fend off — including one that uses the phrase "softly and tenderly."

Apr 16, 2014 12:50 PM

Criminalizing flash mobs

The state is trying to curb flash mobs:

The House of Representatives voted 63-31 to create a new offense of "aggravated vandalism" that could be applied to the organizers of flash mobs that go awry. The legislation clearly unnerved some members, including state Rep. Vince Dean, an East Ridge Republican who copped to having flash mobbed just last weekend with his church.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, assured lawmakers that dancing flash mobs would not be criminalized. Nor would protests such as the Moral Monday crowd that gathered a couple of days ago inside the state Capitol.

Apr 16, 2014 11:46 AM

State will express regret, but not offer apologies for slavery

The House changed some language in a resolution that started out as an apology for slavery.

Apr 16, 2014 10:10 AM

Wamp gaining, but still has a big gap to make up

Weston Wamp has out-raised Chuck Fleischmann, but there's still $270,000 to make up to catch the incumbent.

Apr 16, 2014 7:13 AM

House passes Haslam's community college program

Despite concern the governor’s plan to guarantee two years of free community college will put too much pressure on community colleges, draw students from four-year schools and create a state-level entitlement program, the House endorsed the plan 87-8.

Approved by the Senate 30-1 on Monday, the General Assembly will next send the last dollar scholarship program to the governor for his signature.

The governor has spent the last year stressing emphasis on higher education in an effort to lift the number of Tennesseans with post secondary degrees from 32 percent now to 55 percent in 2025.

Although the legislation passed easily in both chambers, four-year institutions are worried the program will funnel graduating high schoolers into community colleges and away from four-year schools but have agreed to support the legislation.

No votes on the bill came from Republican Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas, Glen Casada of Franklin, Jeremy Durham of Franklin, Andy Holt of Dresden, Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, Cameron Sexton of Crossville, Billy Spivey of Lewisburg, and Rick Womick of Rockvale. 

Apr 15, 2014 9:46 PM