Gun Bills Make Debut in Senate Committees

Nashville – Tuesday, two bills authored by the National Rifle Association and sponsored by Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) made their debut before two Senate Committees.

In the Senate Judiciary Committee, SB3002 would prevent any employer – public or private – from prohibiting an employee from storing a firearm in their vehicle while on the employer’s property.

In the Senate Commerce Committee, SB2992 would prevent a potential employer from not hiring an employee on the basis that the prospective employee would store or possess a firearm on the employer’s property. The business lobby is opposed to both bills on grounds they violate private property rights. Others including public and private colleges, hospitals and law enforcement oppose the measure on workplace safety ground.

Witnesses from the NRA and Tennessee Firearms Association testified on each bill before the respective committees. Some committee members appeared genuinely concerned about the proposals’ possible overriding of private property rights and questioned the NRA witness about the measures’ intent. Opponents of the bills will testify before a final vote is taken on March 6th. The NRA is also targeting other states with similar legislation including guns on college campuses in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

NRA, Others Preparing for Major Gun Votes

Groundwork is quietly being laid by the National Rifle Association in an attempt to pass some of the broadest gun possession legislation in the state’s history.

SB3002 (Faulk, R-Church Hill) would rewrite state law and allow permit holders to store firearms in their personal vehicles at their places of employment. Tennessee’s business advocates, individual employers, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry are adamantly opposed to the bill on the grounds that it violates the private property rights of business owners and employers that choose to restrict firearms from their premises.

Currently, the bill includes all places of employment – public and private – including hospitals, K-12 schools, colleges, and government offices and buildings. SB3002 is co-sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville). The House companion bill, HB3560, is sponsored by Representative Eddie Bass (D-Pleasant Hill). Bass has repeatedly stated that he will not move the House bill until the measure passes in the Senate.

On Tuesday, SB3002 was before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Faulk briefly spoke to the bill and asked that a final vote be scheduled for March 6. Faulk stated that he would like proponents of the bill to be allowed to speak before the Committee on February 21 and opponents to speak before the Committee on February 28.

Another bill by Faulk and Bass (SB2992/HB3559) is of equal concern to the business community and public employers. This measure also is being pushed by the National Rifle Association and prevents employers from asking employment applicants or employees whether they own, possess, or transport firearms or ammunition. The Senate bill was before the Senate Commerce Committee. Faulk asked for the same discussion timeline on the measure as he did for SB3002 in the Judiciary Committee.

The University of Tennessee, Tennessee Board of Regents, and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) all are in opposition to the two proposals.

More and More College Operating Costs Being Passed On to Students

MURFREESBORO — In the past ten years, the state has gone from covering 55 percent of Tennessee’s public college and university budgets, to just 30 percent. The other 70 percent is covered by the students, according to data from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

The state’s HOPE scholarship for high achievers used to cover about 60 percent of university tuition. It’s 45 percent now.

In June, the University of Tennessee system’s trustees approved tuition hikes of 12 percent at the Knoxville campus and 10 percent at others. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved increases ranging from 8.8 percent to 11 percent, depending on the campus.

All that means students are taking out bigger and bigger loans.

It’s a situation that Richard Vedder, who heads the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, says is unsustainable, according to The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/yqOBu0 ).

Complete (AP) story here:

http://bit.ly/wsLsDs

Guns in Cars

Legislation introduced by Sen. Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) to require all employers – public and private – to allow employees to store firearms in personal vehicles at their workplace is scheduled to be before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. SB 3002 would arguably go as far to include employees of K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. UT and Tennessee Board of Regents remain opposed to any change in current law easing restrictions on firearms on campuses. Both Systems believe that current law provides necessary exemptions for law enforcement, active military, ROTC and select others to possess firearms on campuses. The House companion, HB 3560, is carried by Rep. Eddie Bass (D-Prospect) awaits scheduling in the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee.

This item is from the Feb. 10, 2012 UT State Relations Friday Brief, which can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/Atja7u