‘Open container’ bill dies despite Haslam’s support

Legislation prohibiting open containers of an alcoholic beverage in moving vehicles is dead again this year even though Gov. Bill Haslam made it part of his official legislative package for 2017.

Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, who has pushed the idea for years, had hoped Haslam’s backing would make a difference, reports WJHL-TV, and is disappointed by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (sponsoring SB1219 for the administration) pulled the bill without a vote.

Norris said there’s not enough support among legislators for passage and debating the matter would be “a distraction” from the push for passage of the governor’s priority bill of the year — a package of tax legislation including increases in gas and diesel fuel taxes.

“I’m surprised, frankly. And somewhat discouraged,” Lundberg said…. “I don’t think that’s a distraction, again that’s a solid piece of legislation,” Lundberg said.

…“You know anytime you keep alcohol out of cars and bring in millions of dollars in federal funding that were our monies to begin with, I think that’s good and strong,” he said.

Haslam called for changing the law so the lost funds could be spent on road and bridge projects across the state, and pledged to find funding for previously dedicated to prosecutors from other sources.

Note: See also the AP’s report, HERE.

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