Bill to allow guns in parks signed

On June 13, 2009, in News 2009, by Mark Norris

Deal to remove local provisions falls through

By Tom Humphrey,
June 13, 2009

Gov. Phil Bredesen on Friday signed a bill that will allow people holding handgun carry permits to take their weapons into state, local and national parks.

The move came after a tentative arrangement with sponsors of HB716 fell through. Under the proposed deal, the sponsors would recall the bill from the governor’s desk and amend it to remove provisions dealing with local parks.

Republican Sen. Mae Beavers said earlier Friday that “the deal is off” and said an override would be attempted if Bredesen vetoed the measure. Instead, the governor chose to sign the bill into law. In a letter sent to the House and Senate speakers, the governor said:

“I continue to have concerns about the inclusion of local parks in this bill. The suggestion made by the sponsor to remove these local parks was good and I am sorry he withdrew it. I do want to urge local governments to use the opt-out provisions of this bill to remove parks from its effect where they are located close to schools and other places where large numbers of children gather.”

Bredesen also Friday allowed HB1796, called the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, to become law without his signature. In a message to the speakers, Bredesen said the bill “is not about firearms. It represents a fringe constitutional theory that I believe will be quickly dispensed with by the federal courts,” Bredesen wrote.

The bill declares that any firearms manufactured within the state and stamped “made in Tennessee” can be bought and sold without complying with federal firearms laws.

The Senate on Friday gave final approval to legislation revising the state system for selecting appeals court judges.

Final approval came in the form of a 21-10 vote to concur with a House amendment to the bill, sending SB1573 to Gov. Phil Bredesen. He has voiced support for the measure.

The measure makes several changes that proponents say will make the process more open and less subject to control by special interest groups.

The Judicial Selection Commission, the centerpiece of the present system, will cease to exist July 1. Under the bill, it will be replaced by a Judicial Nominating Commission with fewer lawyer members. It will also meet in public. The old commission conducted most of its work in private sessions.

The new commission was given a two-year life span, and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson, who sponsored the bill, says more changes may be in store.

The final Senate vote had been postponed by Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, who had pushed for passage this year of a bill seeking a constitutional convention on judicial selection. Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle had blocked that move, saying debate on a convention should wait until next year to allow more time for public input.

The Senate also Friday took final action on several other bills, including SB2300, Bredesen’s energy efficiency legislation. Approval came when the Senate adopted a House amendment that allows counties to opt out of a requirement that they adopt residential building codes. About 60 counties currently do not have rules in place for residential construction.

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