Local News Articles

Tigerettes Alumni Game Set For Saturday

April 21, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tigerette Coach Danny Bond

The DeKalb County Tigerette Alumni Game is set for Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the DCHS field.

Coach Danny Bond says this is the first Tigerette Alumni game in the program's 25 year history. "I want to invite everyone in DeKalb and surrounding counties to come out Saturday, April 24th for our Alumni game. This is our first Alumni game in 25 years and it'll start at one o'clock at the DCHS field. There's going to be three teams and there will be three, five inning games. We're looking for a big turnout. We're hoping everybody will come out, watch the game, and enjoy some good softball."

Among the players scheduled to participate are:

Michelle Gard
Beth Hale
Dondi Miller
Laurel Landrum
Nanci Allen
Misty Blumn
Danyelle Davenport
Bethany Pack
Rebecca Waggoner
Cherise Phillips
Kelly Taylor
Rachel Evans
Julie Ashley
Mindy Higdon
Mindy Redman
Crystal Norton
Kelly Maynard
Kari Taylor
Amy Barnes
Kelly Parkerson
Amanda Washer
Martha Knowles
Cassie Johnson
Jennifer Hampton
Karen Taylor
Jennifer Turner
Jessica Turner
Brittany Alvis
Ashley Redman
Courtney Davis
Madison Denman
Chelsey Young
Kelsey Foutch
Brittany Armour
Kara Young
Sara West and possibly others

Former players who plan to attend as spectators include Gena Cripps, Patty Redman, Tonya George, Kim McCoy, and Elisha Vickers

Meanwhile, Coach Bond says in appreciation to the fans, next Tuesday children will be admitted free to the game while next Thursday, senior citizens will get in free.

McBride Injured in Traffic Accident

April 20, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bertha McBride injured in Wreck
Bertha McBride injured in Wreck2
1999 Ford Explorer driven by Ismael Solis

A Smithville woman was injured in a two vehicle traffic accident Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of West Broad and Carter Street.

Central dispatch received the call at 4:28 p.m.

Lieutenant Randy Maynard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 81 year old Bertha McBride was driving south on Carter Street, crossing West Broad Street in a 2003 Buick LaSabre, when she entered the path of a 1999 Ford Explorer, driven by 60 year old Ismael Gaona Solis, who was east on Broad Street.

Solis' Ford Explorer struck McBride's car in the passenger side, forcing it off the highway and into a ditch.

McBride was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS until a helicopter ambulance arrived to airlift her to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Solis was not injured but was charged with driving on a revoked license.

In addition to the Tennessee Highway Patrol and DeKalb EMS, officers of the Smithville Police Department and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

DeKalb 911 Dispatchers Recognized during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week

April 20, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Dispatchers

Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. It's called National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week

In DeKalb County, local dispatchers at the central dispatch/911 center were recognized.

"We took this opportunity to honor our local dispatchers in DeKalb County. We would like to say thank you to the Smithville Fire Department, the DeKalb County Fire Department, and Bumpers Drive-In for their contributions to this years PST week. Each year National PST week is set aside to nationally recognize emergency dispatchers," said Brad Mullinax, Director.

National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years. Members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) became involved in the mid-1980s.

By the early 1990s, the national APCO organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create "National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week." According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994, and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.

Across the nation, 9-1-1 dispatchers are celebrated National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week. The United States Congress designated the second week in April as a time to honor all 9-1-1 dispatchers who answer the calls for help and provide emergency assistance to the public and emergency public safety responders.

Most people do not think about the people behind the voices of 9-1-1 until they need to call for help. Some people equate 9-1-1 with police cars and fire trucks, with lights and sirens blaring, or an ambulance speeding off to a hospital emergency room. While police, fire, and ambulances are obviously linked to 9-1-1, it may be difficult to visualize the people who perform the functions behind the scenes. 9-1-1 dispatchers are the "first" first responders in emergencies. In addition to the long hours, holidays, and weekends worked that these professionals endure, the 9-1-1 dispatchers often volunteer their time in other ways to support the community, such as helping to educate children about 9-1-1, participating in school events, and lending a helping hand for various community causes.

National Telecommunicators Week is dedicated to public safety Telecommunicators who aid in providing 9-1-1 emergency assistance to citizens everywhere. The term "9-1-1" is often associated with rapid emergency response, poise under pressure, aid and compassion in times of distress, and critical decision-making within seconds. Many people do not stop to think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience an actual emergency themselves. These professionals make the difference between life and death in many instances.

This year the week of April 11 - April 17 was set aside to recognize these individuals across the nation and to show appreciation for all that these dispatchers do on a daily basis.

(Pictured from Left to Right Back Row:
Supervisor Anthony Boyd, Leslie Lytle, Misty Green, Kim Ray, Training Officer Janice Higham, Jennifer Bouldin, and Ronnie Davis

Kneeling from Left to Right:
Lonnie Laxton, Terry Cowart, Stephanee Wright, Kristina McMillen, and Supervisor Tony Thomas.

Sitting in the Middle:
Director Bradley Mullinax
(Not pictured: Chase Ferrell and Darcie Cripps)

City To Create Four Way Stop at Dangerous Intersection

April 20, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
City to Create Four Way Stop at South Third and Webb Street
 City to Create Four Way Stop at South Third and Webb Street2

A four way stop will soon be created at a dangerous intersection near the public square downtown.

During Monday nights city council meeting, the Smithville Aldermen voted five to nothing to create a four way stop at the intersection of Webb Street and South Third Street. Signs will soon be posted alerting motorists. This intersection is located across from the dentist office, just south of Hilton Conger's law office, and near the Real Life Community Church.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs raised the issue in March, saying many people have become concerned about public safety at that intersection. After doing some research, Lieutenant Steven Leffew discovered that several traffic accidents have occurred there in recent years. A state consultant was contacted and gave the city a couple of options to consider.

On Monday night, Alderman Jacobs, reading from Lieutenant Leffew's letter to him regarding the state consultant's evaluation, said there were basically two options. "There are not a lot of options from the state consultant. Option one is to hire a consultant as to the feasibility of lights, property removal, or other methods, the costs of which would be incurred by the city. The second option is to make the intersection a four way stop with appropriate signs stating that the intersection is an "all ways stop". This option would also include four painted white lines known as "stop bars". These painted lines would be two feet wide and begin at the edge of the pavement of the center of the street. Each "stop bar's" location would be marked approximately six feet back from the intersection. State code requires a minimum of four feet."

After a brief discussion, Alderman Jacobs made a motion that a four way stop be created at the intersection. Alderman Steve White offered a second to the motion. Aldermen Aaron Meeks, W.J. (Dub) White, and Cecil Burger all voted for the motion.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson agreed with the board's action saying "it was a good decision."

City Officials Concerned About Large Water Loss

April 20, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Kenny Dyal

The Smithville mayor and aldermen have asked the water plant supervisor to do what he can to find the cause of a water loss, which if not addressed could prove costly to the City of Smithville.

In his monthly update to the mayor and aldermen Monday night, Supervisor Kenny Dyal reported that for at least the last couple of months, the city has had a significant water loss. "In February we pumped 49-million, 401 thousand raw gallons of water from the lake. We treated 44-million, 602-thousand gallons. The gallons sold were 34-million, 649-thousand 400. We had a loss of 9-million, 952-thousand 500 gallons. That's a 23% loss. I have no idea where it's going."

"In March, we pumped 55-million, 060-thousand gallons from the lake as raw water. We treated 48-million, 956-thousand. We sold 34-million, 116-thousand gallons. That's 12-million, 845-thousand gallons lost. That's 26%. It's a big loss.

Dyal added that while all utilities have some water loss, this is out of the ordinary."There's always loss, but the normal loss is between seven and fifteen percent. If we keep it below fifteen percent, the state is happy. But when it starts getting above fifteen percent they start wondering where your water is going."

Dyal says this large water loss is a mystery because there haven't been any large noticeable leaks. "Our leaks haven't been that big, it's just been service leaks. And I've checked the meters at the plant and every thing is registering fine."

The mayor and aldermen, in response, suggested that a concerted effort be made as soon as possible to address this problem.

In other business, the mayor and aldermen voted to have a workshop next Monday night, April 26th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall to interview the three applicants for the position of Smithville Police Chief, Randy Caplinger of Smithville, Larry D. Parsley of Lenior City, and Kenneth Smith of Watertown.

Caplinger is a retired Lieutenant Colonel/Major of the Tennessee Department of Safety/Tennessee Highway Patrol. Parsley is a retired Lieutenant of the Tennessee Department of Safety/Tennessee Highway Patrol. Smith is currently serving as Chief of Police of the Lakewood Police Department at Old Hickory, Tennessee.

Meanwhile, the aldermen voted five to nothing to include $1,500 in next year's budget to donate to the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce to help fund the printing of a new DeKalb County tourism brochure.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, made the request during Monday night's meeting. "One of the main ways the chamber promotes our area to potential newcomers and tourists alike is through our brochure. Hundreds of these brochures are distributed annually through the chamber office, local and state welcome centers, key entry locations like the Lebanon Outlet Mall and many other venues through the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association. Our current brochures will be depleted by around June of this year. We're in the final stages of developing a brand new brochure. Our new brochures are designed to stimulate tourism activities as we showcase Smithville and our county with it's charm, Center Hill Lake, the arts, and major events including the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival. We'll be printing a minimum of five thousand copies. That'll provide brochures for a minimum of the next five years. We need to raise $3,000. The county has agreed to contribute $1,500 for marketing materials if the city of Smithville will agree to contribute the other $1,500."

Williams was joined in making the request by Chamber President Tim Hintz and Leadership DeKalb Director Jen Sherwood.

Kevin Robinson, Public Works Director, reported to the mayor and aldermen that the city has recently paved all or parts of several streets including Williams Lane, all of Carter Street, two portions of West Main Street, Magnolia Lane (by the golf course), part of Riley Avenue, and Shaw Street.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said the city could do still more paving later this summer at the current bid price before the new bid prices take effect. "When we did our bid last year, we specified in our bid as we did two years before, that the bid would hold good for a year. This current bid price will remain good until September. I think we got it at around $58 dollars per ton in place. Right now the bids are going for $75. So what we did two years ago and what we can do this year is whatever we have in the budget, starting in July, we can opt to do it (street paving) on this $58 per ton bid price before (the bid price goes up) September 1st and save a third. That will be good business to do it that way."

Earlier this month, the aldermen voted to take advantage of a Neighborhood Stabilization Program through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency which provides funds to cities and counties wanting to demolish blighted properties.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the city owned building, located across the street from city hall on the north side, qualifies for the program. Once the building is removed, the property may be used for any city purpose, but under terms of the program, the property cannot be sold or leased for private purposes for a period of time, otherwise the city would have to refund all or a portion of the funds used to demolish the building.

During Monday night's meeting, Mayor Hendrixson said bid notices for the demolition of the building will be advertised next week. "I talked to Ken Mabery today with the Upper Cumberland Development District. A week from Tuesday and Wednesday, a bid notice for the demolishment of that building will be in the papers for contractors, so it's moving rather quickly, more quickly than I thought it would. So I'd say within the next five or six weeks it should be all done and cleared away."

Two More Defendants Arrested in Round-Up

April 19, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Brad Elliott Johnson
Danny Wayne Caldwell
 Robert Paele
Jordan Bennett
Tracy Nicole Henry
Jessica French Hale

Two more defendants have been picked up on grand jury sealed indictments returned last week as the result of local undercover investigations.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 36 year old Brad Elliott Johnson of Carter Street, Smithville is charged with three counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug and one count of sale and delivery of a schedule III drug. Bond for Johnson is set at $80,000.

48 year old Danny Wayne Caldwell of Avant Circle, Alexandria is charged with three counts of sale and delivery of a schedule III drug and six counts of violation of a drug free zone. His bond is $70,000

With the arrest of Johnson and Caldwell, a total of 50 defendants have been arrested.
(Click here to see pictures of each defendant
http://www.wjle.com/node/10295)

Meanwhile, in his weekly update on crime news, Sheriff Ray reports that 19 year old Robert A. Paele of Flat Rock Road, Lebanon is charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia. 19 year old Jordan L. Bennett of Lebanon Highway, Lebanon is charged with simple possession of a schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sheriff Ray says on Friday, April 16th, a deputy, while on patrol on Highway 70 west, saw a suspicious vehicle setting beside of an office building. The officer stopped to check the automobile and after obtaining consent to search, found Paele, the driver, to be in possession of 1.01 ounces of marijuana and a marijuana pipe. Bennett, the passenger, was found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana, rolling papers, and a pair of hemostats. Paele's bond was at $6,000. Bond for Bennett is $2,000. Both men will appear in court on April 29th.

30 year old Tracy Nicole Henry of Rogers Lane, Lebanon is charged with criminal impersonation. Her bond is set at $1,000 and she will be in court on April 29th. Sheriff Ray says on Wednesday, April 14th, a deputy was dispatched to Highway 56 south to investigate a suspicious female walking down the roadway. After locating the woman, the officer asked for her name. She replied that her name was Tracy Daniels and she provided a social security number. After checking the information, the officer discovered that the social security number was for someone else. He also learned that the woman is actually Ms. Henry and that the reason she gave a fake name is because she is wanted in Wilson County on state warrants.

24 year old Jordon Thomas Adams of Game Ridge Road Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is set at $3,000 and he will be in court on April 29th. Sheriff Ray says on Thursday, April 15th, a deputy answered a suspicious person call on Students Home Road where a man appeared to be intoxicated, going door to door asking for work. Upon arrival, the officer found Adams slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle on Students Home Road in a driveway. Adams had slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. Adams also failed field sobriety tasks.

44 year old Kenneth Lavon Teeples of Vickers Ridge Road, Baxter is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and he has been issued citations for violation of the implied consent law and for not changing his address on his driver's license. His bond is set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on May 6th. Sheriff Ray says on Thursday, April 15th, an officer received a call of an accident on Austin Bottom Road in the Rock Castle area of the county. Upon arrival, the deputy found Teeples to be the driver of the vehicle. Teeples appeared to be intoxicated having a smell of alcohol on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Teeples also failed field sobriety tasks

33 year old Tiffany Hendrixson of Hurricane Ridge, Smithville is charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and driving on a suspended license. She has also been issued a written citation for driving a motor vehicle with no insurance. Her bond is set at $3,500 and she will appear in court on April 29th. Sheriff Ray says on Thursday, April 15th, a deputy was dispatched to a hit and run accident at a business on Tiger Drive in Smithville. The officer was told that a woman had pulled up to the outside teller window and struck the tellers roll out drawer, as she left, causing damage to it. The woman then left the scene. Thirty to forty five minutes after the deputy left the business, he was called back there again and was told that the
woman had returned with another person in a different vehicle. This time, she came inside trying to do business.

27 year old Jessica French Hale of Walker Drive, Smithville was charged Friday, April 16th with seven counts of forgery. Detectives allege that Hale took checks from another woman and passed them at several businesses in Smithville. The checks totaled $502.59. Bond for Hale was set at $35,000 and she will appear in court on April 29th.

20 year old Cassidy Rianna Hazzard of Lucky Lane, Sparta is charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. Her bond is set at $2,000 and she will appear in court on May 6th. Sheriff Ray says on Saturday, April 17th, an officer responded to a motor vehicle accident on Pine Grove Road where a vehicle had struck a mailbox, left the scene, and then struck a road sign at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Pine Grove Road. After investigating, Hazzard was charged in the case..

44 year old Tony lee Petty of Cainsville Road, Watertown is charged with driving on a suspended license. Petty has also been issued written citations for no vehicle insurance and violation of the registration law. Bond for Petty was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on April 29th. Sheriff Ray says on Saturday, April 17th, an officer stopped a vehicle on Highway 70 for a traffic violation. Petty, the driver of the vehicle, was charged in the case.

Smithville Police Receive Tip that Results in Drug Arrests

April 18, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police received a tip Friday, April 16th that led to drug charges against two people.

27 year old Karrie Chandra Hale of 920 South Mountain Highway was charged with simple possession with intent to sell and 26 year old Eric Brandon Kern of 800 Dixie Lee Highway, Monteagle was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Matt Holmes met with an employee of the Department of Children Services who informed him that there had been a complaint made to DCS of illegal drug use and possible manufacture of drugs at 920 South Mountain Street and that there were children living in the home.

Officer Holmes, the DCS employee and Corporal Travis Bryant went to the residence and found Hale and Kern sitting on the couch. The officers informed Hale and Kern of the allegations and asked for and received consent to search the residence for illegal drugs. Kern reached in his pocket and removed a black and chrome pipe. Kern said he used the pipe to smoke marijuana. Hale admitted that she had illegal drugs in her front pocket and produced four small round yellow pills believed to be Valium. A search of Hale's bedroom revealed .7 ounces of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in a metal container on her dresser. Bond for Hale was set at $5,000. The court date for both is May 13th.

Meanwhile, in another case, 39 year old Johnny Darrell Murphy of 620 Andrews Street was arrested on Friday, April 9th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Scott Davis made the arrest. Murphy was stopped for a seat belt violation and a check of records revealed that his license was suspended for failure to satisfy a citation in DeKalb County. His bond is set at $1,000.

21 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchins of 904 Young Ridge Road was arrested on Monday, April 12th for driving on a revoked license. Corporal Travis Bryant stopped Hutchins' vehicle for speeding. A computer check revealed that Hutchins had a prior conviction for a second offense of driving under the influence but his license were reinstated with the restriction for an interlock device to be installed on the vehicle he owned and operated. At the time of the traffic stop on Monday, Hutchin's vehicle had no interlock device. The vehicle was seized. Bond for Hutchins was set at $1,000 and his court date is April 29th.

63 year old Jack Evans Tubb of 673 Tranquility Way was arrested on Monday, April 12th for a first offense of driving on a revoked license. Corporal Travis Bryant was traveling north on North Congress Boulevard when he saw a red car traveling south at 41 mph in a 30 mph speed zone. Corporal Bryant stopped the vehicle and Tubb, the driver, admitted that he did not have a license. A computer check revealed his driver's license was revoked for a DUI in 1992. Tubb was cited for speeding and failure to provide proof of insurance. His vehicle was seized. Bond for Tubb was set at $1,000 and his court date is April 29th.

23 year old Rebecca Marie Biggs of 733 Dry Creek Road was arrested on Tuesday, April 13th for public intoxication. Officer Matt Holmes was called to the area of West Broad Street to check out a white Taurus that was leaving the parking lot of Amoco. The caller gave the tag number and said the driver had gone into the store and was unsteady on her feet. She spilled cappuccino numerous times by pushing the button over and over causing the cup to overflow. The caller said the woman's pants were falling down and she appeared to be too intoxicated to notice. The caller added that she told the woman that she was in no shape to drive and that if she tried to leave she would call the police. Officer Holmes and Corporal Travis Bryant searched the area and did not see the vehicle but a short time later central dispatch received a call from someone at the UCHRA who reported that a woman had entered their building, that she was unsteady on her feet, and appeared to be intoxicated. Officer Holmes responded to the call and made contact with Ms Biggs. Her speech was slurred and she almost fell numerous times. An inventory of her purse revealed an empty bottle of Opana belonging to someone else. Bond for Biggs was set at $1,000 and her court date is April 29th.

Meanwhile, anyone having information on any criminal offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential

DeKalb Middle Students Awarded at Tennessee History Day

April 18, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students from DeKalb Middle School won a third place award at the recent Tennessee History Day competition.

In the category of "Junior Group Performance" a third place award went to Lauren Craig, Josh Davidson, Laura Reed, and Ashley Barnes of DeKalb Middle School in Smithville for their project on "Advancements in Telecommunication." Teacher: Tonya Sullivan.

First place winners are eligible to represent Tennessee at the National History Day competition, which will be held in College Park, Maryland June 13-17.

Tennessee History Day, which was held at the Legislative Plaza, the Tennessee State Museum and the Nashville Public Library, attracted more than 200 students from across the state. The participants were all award winners from district competitions held in Memphis, Murfreesboro, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

The competition was coordinated by the Tennessee Historical Society with sponsorship provided by Humanities Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of State. Additional support is provided by The Memorial Foundation, National History Day, the History Channel and the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation.

"Congratulations to all of our winners and their fellow competitors," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I know Tennesseans will join me in applauding their accomplishments and cheering the winners to even greater success in the National History Day contest."

In the competition, students in grades six through 12 presented history-themed projects in a variety of formats – including museum-style exhibits, research papers, web sites, documentaries and even live performances. This year's theme was Innovation in History: Impact and Change. Students were asked to examine how different innovations have shaped the course of history.

The judges – who included university professors, graduate students, high school teachers, archivists and other public historians – picked the winners from the 118 projects submitted.

Nationwide, more than half a million students participated in some level of History Day competition this year, including about 6,000 from Tennessee.

Since 1974, National History Day has grown from a Cleveland, Ohio competition with about 100 students to a national academic program that engages 2 million people annually.

THP To Conduct Sobriety Roadside Safety Checkpoints

April 17, 2010

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting sobriety roadside safety
checkpoints during the week of April 30 on State Highway 56 in DeKalb County

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures
305,000 others every year in the United States. Troopers will evaluate drivers for
signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Troopers will target those who operate a
vehicle while impaired and take corrective actions for other violations observed
while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recognizes that sobriety checkpoints are highly
visible and effective tools in the battle against impaired driving.

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

April 17, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Greetings, Folks of the Fortieth! We were successful in moving forward with the “Health Freedom Act” this week, as the bill moved out of the House Commerce Committee by a 19 to 11 vote. The panel approved the measure in a bipartisan manner, which is aimed at protecting the right of an individual to purchase—and the right of doctors to provide—lawful medical services without penalty. The bill would also require the state Attorney General to take the necessary steps to defend these rights.

The bill, which has been debated at length throughout the committee process, hit a snag Thursday morning in the House Calendar and Rules Committee. The committee is responsible for setting the House floor calendars and scheduling legislation for consideration on the House floor. On Thursday morning, opponents attempted to stall the legislation once again, using parliamentary tactics to hold the legislation in the committee indefinitely. Eventually, the bill was referred back to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee despite having an insignificant price tag. The legislation will appear in the Budget Subcommittee next week.

Other states have passed similar legislation, and many are already in the process of filing a lawsuit against the federal government regarding the healthcare overhaul.

Expanding government programs are rarely effective solutions to complex issues. The federal government takeover of healthcare will only prove to balloon the cost of healthcare services to the states.

The bill has been debated at length by both the Industrial Impact Subcommittee and the full House Commerce Committee. Because there is no price tag of significance on the legislation, it is expected to make one more stop in the House Calendar and Rules Committee before a vote on the House floor.

Similar to House Bill 3433 in context, House Joint Resolution 745 cleared another hurdle this week by moving out of the Commerce Committee, but faces Tennessee’s lengthy constitutional amendment approval process, which can take up to four years.

A constitutional amendment must be approved by one General Assembly by a majority, and a subsequent General Assembly by a two-thirds vote. Following its passage by the legislature, the amendment goes on the ballot in the next gubernatorial election, and must receive approval from a majority of those voting in the gubernatorial race.

A related measure also achieved passage this week. House Bill 2681, which aims to keep tax dollars from funding abortions, was passed by us Monday night after a contentious debate by a vote of 70 to 23. The legislation will now move through the State Senate.

The specific language in the legislation states that, “No health care plan required to be established in this state through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress shall offer coverage for abortion services.”

It was necessary to clarify this point because tax dollars are sometimes used to indirectly pay for abortions. The final vote was a bi-partisan one.

The same night, the House considered and passed a resolution that expresses opposition to the federal takeover of healthcare with a vote of 66-29. After nearly two hours of contentious debate, House Joint Resolution 704 also won bipartisan approval. The joint resolution must now make its way through the Senate for approval.

The Transportation Committee moved forward a proposal on Tuesday that places tough restrictions on the controversial traffic surveillance cameras utilized by cities across the state. House Bill 3024 will, among other things, require a law enforcement officer review the video evidence and prohibits the company operating the cameras from sending notices of violations.

The bill also requires cities to determine the crash rate based on the last three years of crash history, to review signal timing, and to calculate the violation rate for motor vehicles running intersection red lights. Certain standards—in addition to those listed above—must be met in order for a city to either keep or install the traffic cameras. The legislation will be heard in the Budget Subcommittee next week.

Numerous bills were filed this year to either ban or lessen the impact of traffic cameras in Tennessee, after public outcry reached a fever pitch. Cities and counties in Tennessee have increasingly turned to the automated systems for surveillance of intersections and roadways. We have studied the use of traffic cameras over the summer and fall. Also, we echoed criticisms from constituents that in addition to a violation of rights, the motivation behind the cameras is money, not safety. Proponents of the cameras argue that safety is the priority in using the cameras. The committee determined if safety is the primary concern, the restrictions in House Bill 3024 are reasonable.

In brief...
House Bill 2349 would require any member of the General Assembly convicted of a felony related to public office to forfeit their state health benefits. The measure would allow family members who may be covered under the plan to continue utilizing it provided they continue paying the premiums. The bill advanced from the Finance, Ways and Means this week and will next face a vote by the full House.

House Bill 2665 will next be heard in the Budget Subcommittee. This is a bill that requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to establish a veterans’ honor medal program moved out of the State and Local Government Committee.

2010 U.S. Census can still be turned in. Tennesseans are being given a second chance to return their surveys due to a low return rate. Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau mailed a second form to one of every three households, and even more in certain areas where the return rate was especially low. The U.S. Census Bureau asks that if a household receives a second survey but has already completed the first, to destroy the copy.

In closing, it is always an honor and pleasure to serve you. Please do not hesitate to call my office at 615.741.2192 if you would like to visit, express your opinion, or need assistance. I am always happy to hear from my constituents.

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