February 12, 2013

The Daily Buzz
Gun Bill Passes Despite Concerns

The state Senate on Monday passed a bill to give people with handgun carry permits the right to store their loaded firearms in their vehicles wherever they are parked, brushing aside concerns raised by businesses and higher education administrators in Tennessee.

The chamber voted 28-5 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville after rejecting Democratic efforts to add potential exclusions for businesses if they were approved by the state Department of Safety.

Email Directs Teachers To Delete Bad Grades

At the center of the controversy is the Tennessee Virtual Academy -- a for-profit, online public school that Republican lawmakers touted as a way to improve education in Tennessee. Two years ago, state lawmakers voted to let K12 Inc. open the school, using millions of taxpayer dollars.

But, now, those lawmakers are concerned about standardized test results that put it among the worst schools in the state.

In fact, the email suggests that even school leaders are becoming increasingly concerned by how their students' grades may look to parents and the public.

"That is not something I would ever be told in my school -- I mean, it's just not acceptable," said state Rep. Gloria Johnson, a Knoxville Democrat who is also a career teacher. "Quite honestly, I was horrified."

The email -- labeled "important -- was written in December by the Tennessee Virtual Academy's vice principal to middle school teachers.

"After ... looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays," the email begins.

Among the changes: Each teacher "needs to take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress."

Rep. Steve Cohen's Guest

House and Senate members are allowed a guest each to this evening's State of the Union address, and a Tennessee congressman is using the opportunity to push for tougher gun laws.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., confirmed Monday he's inviting a relative of someone who died in December's mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

A Cohen spokesman told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he didn't have further details Monday. It was unclear whether the guest is male or female, child or adult. But the four-term Memphis Democrat appears to be the only Volunteer State lawmaker to publicly back a coordinated gun-control effort among at least two dozen members of Congress.


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Quick Hits

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey laughs at Volkswagon's concern over Guns in Trunks bill 

LINK w/video


State Rep. Pody Looking to Cut Vanderbilt Police Jobs LINK 


A Knox County Schools security officer was reprimanded for brandishing his gun at Bearden High School and allegedly pointing it at a fellow officer.



All-Comers Ban Returns, Limited to State Schools LINK 


DCS hopes to get back on track in protecting Tennessee children. LINK


TennCare expansion is just common sense. LINK 


 Investigators in Memphis are searching for a serial killer. LINK


Metro vs. State again. LINK


Office Of The Repealer?

Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson have proposed the creation of an Office of the Repealer - an executive branch position charged with identifying unnecessary or "oppressive" state laws and recommending their repeal to the legislature.

The cognitive dissonance of creating more government with the ultimate goal of creating less government notwithstanding, is dubbing some ex-Republican legislator as Lord High Cancellor really worth the $75,000 he'll be paid?

Upon election, Gov. Bill Haslam promised a top-to-bottom review of state government, with an eye to eliminating redundancies and unnecessary positions. This review resulted in a statistically insignificant level of cuts.

At their press conference, Casada and Johnson rattled off a number of state laws they find humorously unnecessary. Things like the prohibition against the launching of more than 25 balloons. While that law is certainly silly, the number of jobs created by its elimination will be nil, unless local balloon men, desperate to blow up a 26th balloon, have been hoarding balloon-blower resumes for decades.

Identifying these laws doesn't require a new government position. It requires typing in "Weird Laws TN" into Google and clicking on any of the legion of websites that collate these anachronisms.

Not to put too fine a point on it - but don't the people of Tennessee elect legislators to craft laws with the goal of creating a better and more efficient government? Why add an executive branch position when there are 132 (allegedly) perfectly capable lawmakers, all of whom (presumably) can read and think on their own? All of whom have some notion of what good government is, and are all allowed - even charged - to write legislation reflecting that philosophy.


More On The Passing Of The Guns In Parking Lots Bill

Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, mentioned the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and complained that with this year's session only just beginning "the first thing we're doing is talking about guns."

"There has to be another way," she said.

But Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, said, "We regret the loss [at Newtown, Conn.] but this bill actually helps prevent that loss. Who are we to tell a single mom driving through a rough part of town who has her child in the back of her car that she can't protect herself? It's not only her right to protect her child, it's her duty to protect that child."

Sen. Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey, asked: "Nissan, Volkswagen-we spent millions of dollars trying to bring them here. Are they OK as this bill is written?"

"Some in the business community are comfortable," Johnson said, without naming any. "Some are not. I want to very clear."

Burks replied, "It's a very hard vote to take, but I think private property owners and business property owners should have a right to voice their opinion as to whether they want anything, not just guns, but anything on their property."

Law enforcement officers, school administrators, businesses and just about everybody except the NRA and yahoo survivalists are against this. It makes it too easy for deranged employees to grab their guns and shoot up their workplaces in fits of rage, business owners say. With the help of legislative leaders, they beat back the bill last year as a denial of property rights. But the NRA retaliated by ousting the House's third-ranking Republican, Rep. Debra Maggart, in last summer's party primary. So this session, enacting this bill has become a GOP top priority.


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