In her latest Legislative Report, State Senator Mae Beavers says the General Assembly addressed bills this week that left many scratching their heads as to the role of government and the validity of the Constitution.
Senator Beavers says she saw herself as the sole "no-vote" in the Senate after debate on an energy bill that would heap huge costs and burdens on small counties in the form of mandated international building codes. In addition, bills were passed that stressed the importance of both the 10th and 2nd Amendments. The Senate hopes to wrap up its business within the next two weeks before adjourning for the summer.
Meanwhile Senator Beavers says the State Senate approved legislation this week that seeks to combat the destruction of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution by the Federal government in their attempt to infringe upon states' rights. Senate Bill 1610, known as the "Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act," sponsored by Senator Beavers, takes a step in the right direction to restore to the states control of intra-state commerce and the regulation of firearms manufactured and sold within Tennessee.
"Be it the federal government mandating changes in order for states to receive federal funds or the federal government telling us how to regulate commerce contained completely within this state - enough is enough," urged Beavers. "Our founders fought too hard to ensure states' sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials and judges sticking their noses where they don't belong."
The Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act asserts that if a firearm and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, and stamped "Made in Tennessee", then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion so long as it remains in state and outside of interstate commerce. All state regulations applying to the possession of firearms in Tennessee would still be applicable and must be complied with. This legislation is being proposed to prevent a federal attempt to legislate beyond the Constitutional limits of Congress. This bill is similar to one signed into law in Montana, and is currently pending passage in at least 30 other states.
The State Senate has approved legislation (SB 2300) aimed at drawing down stimulus funds for energy efficiency in Tennessee. Yet, opponents of the bill, most noticeably Senator Beavers, argued that such high energy standards would heap huge costs on local builders.
"The last thing we need to do during a housing slump is to raise the prices of homes so that environmentalists in Washington and Europe can have something to cheer about," argued Beavers. "Protecting the environment and lowering future energy costs is important; however, for the state to mandate adoption of international building codes during a recession is pure stupidity."
The Senate voted 21 to 9 on Thursday to override Governor Phil Bredesen's veto of legislation that would allow law-abiding handgun permit holders to "carry" into restaurants that serve alcohol. The measure would apply as long as the owners of the premises have not posted notification that guns are banned and that the legal permit holder abides by current law which prohibits them from drinking alcoholic beverages while carrying their firearm.
The vote to override the bill was taken as crime victim Nicki Goeser, who supported the action, looked on from the floor of the Senate. Goeser's husband Ben Goeser was shot and killed by Hank Calvin Wise in April in the Karaoke business he managed. There were about 50 people inside the business when the shooting occurred. Nicki Goeser and patrons who watched as the crime occurred were prevented from carrying a weapon in the establishment under current Tennessee law.
Thirty-six other states, including Tennessee's neighbors, have a law that allows for legal permit holders to carry their firearms into restaurants or bars that serve alcohol. There has been no move to repeal any of those laws.
Two bills dealing with landowners and their responsibility when trespassers come onto their property were approved this week. One bill, SB 679, amends Tennessee's criminal trespass law to shift the burden from individual property owners to the alleged trespassers. Current statute requires extensive posting and signage, and this bill shifts that burden to the individual who will be required to know if he/she has permission to be on the land. Farmland can prove to be especially difficult to post, and this bill will protect farmers to ensure that trespassers are held accountable for their actions.
The second bill, SB 2102 , addresses problems experienced by landowners and farmers where ATV riders or others have trespassed on private property. Under current law, if a trespasser is harmed by a dangerous condition created by a force of nature, like a ditch produced by heavy rainfall, the landowner could be responsible regardless of whether or not the person harmed was invited. This legislation seeks to remedy that action by protecting landowners when the condition is one created by natural forces.