Clock ticking for Haslam to sign bill criminalizing pregnant drug use

Gov. Bill Haslam must decide by Tuesday whether he’ll endorse a push from the legislature to charge women with assult for abusing drugs while pregnant.

The issue has drawn fire from across the country from groups arguing the change would drive women to having more abortions or avoiding prenatal care. Attention has spanned from women’s rights groups and the ACLU to the editorial pages of the New York Times.

The law would be the first in the nation to criminalize illegal drug use abuse during pregnancy. Lawmakers passed the bill 64-30 in the House and 26-7 in the Senate with bipartisan support.

Under the proposed law, women can be charged with assault for abusing drugs while pregnant if their baby is born drug dependent or harmed by her addiction. Assualt carries a misdemeanor charge with up to one year jail time. However, the bill permits the woman an affirmative defense to prosecution if she is actively enrolled in a drug recovery program before, during and after her pregnancy and successfully completes the program.

Apr 25, 2014 7:00 AM

TDOT Commish suggests a user fee to replace gas tax

TDOT's commissioner says big rigs do almost all of the damage to the state's roads and floats the idea for a usage fee instead of what he calls an "archaic" gas tax.

Apr 24, 2014 1:21 PM

The best Tennessee campaign logo of 2014 (so far)

In a statement this week, State Sen. Mae Beavers formally announced she is running for re-election. No real news there, as there'd be no indication she'd not, but the statement included a new logo for the Wilson County legislator, which is awesome:

Apr 24, 2014 9:32 AM

How the Amp got on the ropes

Steven Hale details what went wrongish for the Amp on Capitol Hill. The short answer is, "Plenty," and much of it has been the result of the Dean administration being caught flat-footed. As to where things go from here...

The legislative fight over The Amp has stirred up a volatile set of political dynamics that could be factors in this and other issues going forward. For instance: What effect, if any, does the open gubernatorial race in 2018 have on issues that pit Democrat Karl Dean against Republican Beth Harwell? That's a juicy what-if. But at present, there's a more pressing issue, according to insiders and a good set of eyes: the frosty relationship between Dean and Davidson County's state legislators, exacerbated by the mayor's inability, or unwillingness, to cultivate Tennessee lawmakers on pivotal city issues.

Apr 24, 2014 9:27 AM

Clayton loses federal case

A federal judge has tossed Mark Clayton's lawsuit against the TNDP seeking to be reinstated to the gubernatorial ballot.

Apr 24, 2014 7:06 AM

A Democrat got a bill passed?

Don't ever say the governor's not bipartisan: he signed a bill sponsored by Democrats into law. This one prohibits the post office from shredding Imagination Library books and instead requires they be donated to pre-K.

Apr 24, 2014 7:02 AM

Summerville plans another affirmative action ban push after SCOTUS ruling

Jim Summerville says after the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding a Michigan law prohibiting race-based admission standards, he'll make another push to enact similar laws here.

Apr 23, 2014 12:51 PM

National progressive group endorses Mancini

Inbox:

Mary Mancini, candidate for State Senate in District 21, announced that she has been endorsed by Progressive Majority, a national organization dedicated to identifying and electing strong progressive candidates at the state and local level.

"Mary Mancini is the clear progressive choice in Senate District 21 and Progressive Majority is excited to stand with her as she works to make the people of Tennessee the legislature’s number-one priority," said Gloria Totten, president of Progressive Majority. "Mary’s strong support of progressive values, ideas and policies makes it a pleasure to support her candidacy."

"I am looking forward to working with Progressive Majority during the campaign and as a state senator," said Mancini. "As Democrats and progressives, we know that it’s only when we work together that we can make a real change in the priorities at the state capitol."

Apr 23, 2014 12:05 PM

Paying for the privilege

The governor is speaking at a conference at War Memorial on "faith, culture and public life," but if the media want to cover it, the media will have to pay...$775.

Apr 23, 2014 9:13 AM

Ramsey brags on short legislative session

"When we aren't in session, you don't have to worry about us passing intrusive new laws or reaching into your back pocket," Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says in his end-of-session recap video out today. The clip, here.

Apr 22, 2014 3:25 PM