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Journal Archives

Arkansas Senate Panel Endorses Bid to Reinstate Voter ID Law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A Senate panel has advanced a reworked proposal to reinstate an Arkansas voter ID law that was struck down more than two years ago as unconstitutional.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday endorsed the proposal requiring voters to show photo identification before they cast a ballot. It's nearly identical to a 2013 law the state Supreme Court struck down in 2014.

The House-backed measure was amended to allow voters who don't show ID to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identity. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

The bill is aimed at addressing a concern three of the court's seven justices raised that the 2013 law didn't pass with enough votes in the Legislature when it was enacted.

Read more: https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2017/feb/22/arkansas-senate-panel-endorses-bid-to-reinstate-voter-id-law/

Man who plowed truck into crowded parking lot is convicted

CLINTON — When Lee Cromwell's truck raced backward through a crowded parking lot, prosecutors said he might as well have fired a gun into the heart of the throng.

James Robinson died pushing his two daughters, Jade and Jackie, out of the truck's path. Other victims lived but still suffer from injuries caused as the Dodge Ram pickup driven by Cromwell, 65, careened through a crowd after the July 4, 2015, fireworks show at A.K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge, striking people and vehicles.

"He doesn't have to know he's going to run over somebody to be guilty," prosecutor Tony Craighead told an Anderson County jury. "He just has to know driving through that parking lot at that speed was reckless."

Jurors agreed. They deliberated about four hours before finding Cromwell guilty Wednesday of vehicular homicide in the death of Robinson, 37, and eight counts of aggravated assault against those struck or otherwise hurt in the rampage.

Read more: http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/crime/2017/02/15/jury-gets-case-deadly-anderson-crash/97936730/

Tennessee senator vacates, locks office amid renewed protest

A Tennessee senator has locked up her state Capitol office amid a renewed feud with protesters.

About a dozen people were involved in Tuesday's protest at Republican Sen. Mae Beavers' office. Some read civil rights writings and knocked on her door inside the office.

Last week, Beavers and GOP Rep. Mark Pody abruptly ended their own news conference when protesters interrupted to oppose the lawmakers' bathroom bill and legislation defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Afterward, Beavers suggested the protesters should be imprisoned, spurring Tuesday's sit-in.

Read more: http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/21/tennessee-senator-vacates-locks-office-amid-renewed-protest/98212744/

Hundreds press Marsha Blackburn for answers at town hall

James Burks taught school for 42 years, and lost much of his right arm due to a treatable but incurable form of cancer. He drew perhaps the most rousing applause from about 130 residents on Tuesday inside at a town hall in Fairview hosted by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

The applause wasn't for his question. It came when he gave a piece of advice to the eight-term Republican from Brentwood.

"Understand that, please, the things going on in America today are not Democrat or Republican things," he said. "(What you're doing,) you're doing it for the good of the people, not anyone on any side of the aisle."

Burks, who says he split his vote in November between Democrats and Republicans, told Blackburn to "be careful" with school vouchers, health care and other key issues facing the Republican-led Congress and a White House facing intense criticism.

Read more: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/21/marsha-blackburn-host-town-hall-fairview/98167918/

Lawmakers want $25M from surplus for Gatlinburg wildfire relief

A bill to provide property tax relief to victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires easily cleared a House committee Tuesday, but East Tennessee lawmakers are still hoping Gov. Bill Haslam revises his plan for the $1 billion in state surplus money to include at least $25 million in relief funding.

The bill was never expected to meet much resistance considering the focus of the legislation — the Senate version cleared that chamber's finance committee unanimously last week — but the use of state surplus money is still a question.

Haslam has said much of it is already targeted for key initiatives like the state's rainy day fund, raises for teachers and a tax cut he's including as part of his broad plan to address the state's backlog of road projects.

Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, said Tuesday after the House Local Government Committee that the state has contributed more than $2 million in state grant money to go toward infrastructure, but have a round $25 million figure in mind to get from the state's budget surplus.

Read more: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/21/lawmakers-want-25-million-surplus-gatlinburg-wildfire-relief/98175938/

Council advances $14M in incentives for Opryland water park

Ryman Hospitality’s plans for a new water park complex at its Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center took a significant step forward Tuesday with the Metro Council giving preliminary approval of an incentive package for the company valued at an estimated $13.8 million.

The council voted 33-3 on a key second of three votes to approve a plan to keep Opryland’s property tax payments flat through 2025 after this year’s reappraisal. In doing so, Metro would forfeit about $1.63 million in expected annual property taxes the city would typically collect from the water park.

The deal also would extend $1 million in annual hotel-tax rebates that Ryman began receiving from Metro after the city's devastating 2010 flood by six years to 2031. In addition, Ryman is to donate two parcels, at 2400 and 2410 McGavock Pike, to Metro, providing Nashville's parks department new land for public boat access to the Cumberland River.

The total value of the incentives is subject to fluctuate after future reappraisals.

Read more: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/02/21/council-advances-14m-incentives-opryland-water-park/98191506/

Lawmakers, LGBT advocates far apart on marriage, parenting bills

If you’re a man living in Tennessee, state law says you can claim paternity by performing what reads like a line from a famous Disney movie about a lion cub.

A man is presumed the father of a child if “while the child is under the age of majority, the man receives the child into the man's home and openly holds the child out as the man's natural child,” a state statute reads.

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, cited that statute in defending legislation she introduced that would repeal a law that grants legitimacy to children conceived through artificial insemination in married heterosexual couples.

Weaver said repealing the law means "the state will no longer intrude into how a woman conceives her child," while other state rules about marriage and children would remain in effect.

Read more: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/20/lawmakers-lgbt-advocates-far-apart-marriage-parenting-bills/98065390/

Dallas lawmaker accuses Democrats of pushing 'tyranny' in fight over consumer protection bureau

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeb Hensarling figures not one in a thousand Americans has heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And so the Dallas Republican wants to leave a first impression for the unacquainted.

"It is the single-most unaccountable and powerful agency in the history of our republic, running afoul of every tenet of separation of powers and checks and balances," he said.

That saber-rattling tone marks the latest tactic from the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee as he and others in the GOP consider sundry ways to claw back components of a major law that tightened financial-sector regulations after the 2008 crisis.

The consumer bureau, so far, has emerged as ground zero.

Hensarling says he wants to protect consumers not just from Wall Street, but also from "Washington elites." He's worked up efforts to defund the agency that was founded in 2011, oust its largely independent director or dispense with the bureau altogether.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/business/banking/2017/02/20/dallas-lawmaker-accuses-democrats-pushing-tyranny-fight-consumer-protection-bureau

Dallas teen carrying Mexican flag jumps on moving car during school walkout, police said

Police arrested a Dallas high school student who participated in a school walkout last week, one day after "A Day Without Immigrants" demonstrations took place across the county.

According to police reports, Cristhian Pagoada, 17, blocked traffic, tried to jump on a moving car and attempted to evade arrest outside of Bryan Adams High School.

Police arrived at the school Friday to find Pagoada and a large group of students from the high school walking in the middle of the road.

Officers said they asked the group several times to move to the sidewalk, but the crowd refused.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/02/21/dallas-teen-jumped-moving-vehicle-school-walkout-police-said

Potential Dallas police and fire pension fix emerging in Texas Legislature

Texas House Pensions Committee Chairman Dan Flynn has the makings of a plan he thinks can save the failing Dallas Police and Fire Pension System without cutting back on benefits members have already earned.

But one big hurdle still exists: nobody really likes the plan. Not yet, at least.

"All these plans are terrible," said council member Philip Kingston, a pension board trustee. "I just think Flynn's is the best of the bad options."

Flynn's plan isn't in writing yet, but the pension board was briefed Monday on the highlights of a bill he intends to file in Austin soon.

The Republican lawmaker's plan, in its current fluid condition, would cut back the benefit multiplier for everyone going forward, eliminate future interest payments on lump-sum accounts, increase contribution rates and would likely mean nobody receives a cost-of-living raise for the next 20 years or so. The full retirement age would go up to 58 from 50 or 55, depending on when first-responders were hired.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/dallas-city-hall/2017/02/20/potential-dallas-police-fire-pension-fix-emerging-texas-legislature
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