state capitol

That’s a wrap! Lawmakers go home for the year

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) speaks to reporters in the House chamber in Nashville on April 17, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Tennessee General Assembly has concluded its business for the year. Here’s a roundup of some of the last-minute festivities:

Who was at the closed-door DeVos meeting?

While reporters headed out to set up for a photo-op and gaggle at a Nashville charter school, Gov. Bill Lee and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hosted a closed-door roundtable in a conference room in the state Capitol. The specifics of what was discussed were not divulged, but attendees helpfully took photos to give hints about who was there.

Besides the usual suspects of Senate and House leadership, the Beacon Center appears to have been heavily represented with Vice Chairman Joe Scarlett (the retired head of Tractor Supply Co.), board member Fred Decosimo (Lee’s campaign treasurer), and President Justin Owen. Others included Lee Barfield (a former lobbyist and longtime voucher advocate), Victor Evans (of TennesseeCAN), Hugh Morrow (president of Ruby Falls), Bradley Jackson (head of the state Camber), and Mark Gill (president of Rodgers Capital Group). Not pictured is Scarlett’s daughter, Tara.

Seemingly not in attendance? State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. (We hear she was out of town on TNReady business)

Recognize anyone else?

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Lee won’t lift gun ban within state Capitol

Gov.-elect Bill Lee won’t lift the ban on firearms within the state Capitol when he takes office.

That’s according to Sam Stockard over at the Daily Memphian.

“I think the regulations as they are will stand. I’m not going to change that,” Lee said.

As of the start of the year, 628,427 Tennesseans had state-issued permits to carry firearms in public. The state suspended or revoked 2,252 permits for criminal charges or orders of protection in domestic violence cases. Another 2,882 permit applications were denied.

The General Assembly began allowing handgun carry permit holders to bring their firearms into the new Cordell Hull legislative office complex when it opened last year. But outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam maintained the ban within the Capitol.

Permit holders must present themselves to state troopers at the Cordell Hull entrances, and are required to keep their guns holstered all times within the building.

New House Speaker Glen Casada told the publication he sees no reason to change the policy.

“I support the current policy in place allowing citizens to go armed in the Cordell Hull building,” he said. “An armed, law-abiding citizen creates a safer environment for all Tennesseans.”

Democratic state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), a former Marine, said Lee’s decision to keep the ban in place is unsurprising.

“I think he wants to keep himself safe,” Parkinson said.

Capitol Commission: Not so fast on Polk move

Gov. Bill Haslam attends a ceremony at the James K. Polk tomb in Nashville on Nov. 2, 2012. (Image credit: Gov. Bill Haslam’s office)

(A report from on our James K. Polk correspondent J.R. Lind)

The Capitol Commission, the obscure hodgepodge body charged with maintenance of the state Capitol grounds, will wait just a bit longer to decide whether to give its imprimatur to the effort to relocate the tomb of President James K. Polk and his wife, Sarah.

The commission heard arguments from both sides Friday, but opted to delay a vote to some unspecified future date on the advice of chairman Larry Martin, the commissioner of Finance and Administration.

Spearheaded by Maury County legislators led by Republican Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, the movement to exhume the Polks from their tomb on the Capitol grounds and move them to the Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia has wound through the legislature for nearly two years.

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Nobody goes there? House panel OKs Polk move

Gov. Bill Haslam attends a ceremony at the James K. Polk tomb in Nashville on Nov. 2, 2012. (Image credit: Gov. Bill Haslam’s office)

Supporters of moving the body of President James K. Polk body say he never wanted to be buried on the grounds of the state Capitol, a site about 500 feet from where his will called for him to be interred. So they want to move him about 50 miles south to Columbia, a city where he lived as a young man.

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Sexton postpones presser on unborn monument

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) signals a vote on the House floor in Nashville on March 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), the sponsor of the vetoed bill to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee, has postponed a Tuesday press conference on the creation of monument to the unborn on the grounds of the state Capitol. The official reason for the cancellation is “unforeseen circumstances.” Though one suspects that the fact that most of Nashville’s TV and print journalists are preoccupied with that little matter of the mayor’s resignation might have had something to do with it.

The event billed as the introduction of  an initiative to “recognize the men, women, and children affected by the tragedy of abortion and miscarriage” has been rescheduled for March 13.

 

Haslam sticks to his guns in banning firearms at Capitol

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he has no intention of changing his administration’s stance on barring handgun-carry permit holders from bringing their weapons into Tennessee’s state Capitol even though they will be allowed in the Cordell Hull Building where state legislators have offices and hold hearings, reports the Times Free Press.

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With N.B. Forrest staying at TN capitol, should W.G. ‘Parson’ Brownlow return?

At least three Democratic state legislators tell the Nashville Scene they’d like to see a portrait of Republican Gov. William G. “Parson” Brownlow returned to the state Capitol building, reversing a 1987 decision – when Democrats controlled the General Assembly – that sent the controversial Reconstruction governor’s likeness to the state museum. But the idea doesn’t seem to have much support from Republicans, now the state’s majority party.

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Haslam request to move Forrest bust rejected

The State Capitol Commission today rejected Gov. Bill Haslam’s request to move a bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from the lobby of the state Capitol building to the state museum. Seven of the members on hand opposed the move; five voted yes – and the tally could be seen as a legislature-versus-the-governor lineup.

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Prodded by Haslam, panel schedules meeting on Forrest bust

The State Capitol Commission, one of two state government entities that must approve the removal Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from inside the Tennessee capitol building,  has scheduled a special meeting for Friday.

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