Local News Articles

Barrett Found with 57 Pills-Charged with Unlawful Possession of Drugs

May 21, 2010
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger arrested a 47 year old DeKalb County man Friday after finding him with 57 pills for which he had no prescription.

James Alton Barrett Jr. of 672 Blue Springs Road is charged with unlawful possession of a schedule III drug. Chief Caplinger was dispatched to 526 Miller Road to check out a suspicious vehicle. Upon arrival, he found a man in the vehicle who said his friend had gone to some nearby apartments. Chief Caplinger saw the man, Barrett, leave the apartments carrying a small bag. After being stopped, Barrett set the bag on the ground and told Chief Caplinger that it contained cookies and his prescription. After receiving consent to search, a plastic bag with 57 pills was recovered. Barrett could not produce a prescription bottle for the pills. His bond was set at $2,500 and his court date is June 17th.

Meanwhile, another man, 27 year old Bradley Shane Redmon of Estes Street, was also arrested as a result of the suspicious vehicle investigation. Redmon was charged by Officer Matt Farmer on Friday, May 21st for driving on a suspended license. The arrest was made while Officer Farmer was assisting Chief Randy Caplinger on the call at 526 Miller Road. Bond for Redmon is $1,000 and his court date is June 16th

35 year old Misty Dawn Shehane of 125 Highland Drive was cited by Detective Jerry Hutchins on Friday, May 14th for simple possession. Shehane went to PSI Probation and during a search, a probation officer found four pills. The pills were a schedule III drug.

63 year old Sharon Hindsley of 830 Short Mountain Highway was arrested on Saturday, May 15th. Corporal Travis Bryant responded to a call on West Bryant Street where a female was reported to be stumbling onto the roadway. Upon arrival, Corporal Bryant found Hindsley on the ground and she had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Her speech was slurred and she had to have assistance to walk. Her bond is $1,000 and her court date is May 27th.

39 year old Sheryl Ann Perkins of 1001 King Ridge Road, Dowelltown was cited by Officer Matt Holmes on Saturday, May 15th for shoplifting. Officer Holmes responded to a theft call and found Perkins inside the Dollar General Store where she had items inside her purse that had not been paid for. Ms. Perkins told Officer Holmes that she did not have the money to pay for the items and admitted to concealing them with intent to steal. Restitution was made on the scene.

22 year old John Lucas Williams of 181 Piney Woods Road, Dowelltown was arrested by Sergeant Joey Jones on Saturday, May 15th for simple possession of a schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sergeant Jones responded to a call concerning drug traffic in the McDonald's parking lot. He made contact with Williams and asked him to empty his pockets on the trunk of his car. Williams produced two small bags of marijuana and two pipes with residue in them. Bond for Williams is $2,000 and his court date is May 27th.

29 year old Virgina D Ayala of 104 Circle Drive, Dowelltown was arrested on Saturday, May 15th by Officer Scott Davis for failure to appear at a Cookeville court hearing.

35 year old Leslie Danette Yorke of 830 Luttrell Avenue was arrested and cited by Officer Scott Davis on Sunday, May 16th for failure to appear and simple possession. Officer Davis went to Yorke's home to serve an outstanding warrant on her from Overton County for failure to appear. During a search incident to arrest, a small bag of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana was found. Her court date is June 10th.

49 year old Larry Estil Lattimore and 45 year old Treva June Hartman, both of 102 East Market Street were arrested by Sergeant Joey Jones on Sunday, May 16th for domestic assault and disorderly conduct. Sergeant Jones was called to their residence on a domestic violence complaint and he arrested both of them after hearing each of them threatening the other. Both then became belligerent and refused to cooperate. Bond for each is $4,000 and they will appear in court on May 27th.

Hartman and Lattimore both got into trouble with the law again the very next day, Monday, May 17th. Hartman was arrested and Lattimore was cited by K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow for simple possession of a schedule III and IV controlled substance. Officer Tatrow responded to a possible domestic disturbance call at 102 East Market Street. Upon arrival he made contact with Hartman and Lattimore who were having a verbal argument. During the course of the investigation, Hartman gave verbal consent to search her purse. Officer Tatrow recovered two schedule III pills and six schedule IV pills in a prescription bottle for which neither of them had a prescription. Officer David Phillips also cited Lattimore for having a small amount of marijuana seeds. Bond for each is $3,000 and their court date is June 17th.

21 year old Travis E Patterson of 225 East Bryant Street was arrested by Corporal Travis Bryant on Monday, May 17th for public intoxication and burglary. Corporal Bryant responded to Fiddler's Manor on Walker Drive in regard to a man who was chasing one of the elderly workers outside. While on the scene Corporal Bryant saw the man, Patterson, going through a car next door that didn't belong to him. He was taking items out and placing them on the ground. Corporal Bryant began speaking to Patterson but couldn't understand him due to his intoxicated state. Bond for Patterson is $3,500 and his court date is May 27th.

40 year old Dona Sue Overall of 4671 West Greenhill Road, McMinnville was cited by Sergeant Randy King on Wednesday, May 19th for possession of drug paraphernalia. Overall was stopped at the Kwik N Ezy parking lot. She had drug paraphernalia consisting of five needles and one broken bulb used for smoking meth. Her court date is June 17th.

21 year old Christina Beth Murphy and 28 year old Christina Love Johnson both of 530 Miller Road were cited by Officer Scott Davis for shoplifting on Thursday, May 20th. Murphy and Johnson were seen leaving Wal-Mart with several items in their personal bags. Officer Davis had spoken with both women approximately 30 minutes prior to the incident and he had inspected the bags but they did not have any merchandise inside them at the time. When the two women exited the store, the bags were full and larger than when checked earlier. Their court date is May 27th.

44 year old Vickie Dorens Marsh of 2195 Pea Ridge Road was arrested by Officer Jerry Hutchins for public intoxication on Friday, May 21st. Detective Hutchins was dispatched to the DeKalb County Court House after receiving a call of someone being intoxicated outside the criminal court room. Upon arrival, he found Marsh to be in an intoxicated state. She had slurred speech, couldn't contain her balance and she had trouble following directions. She admitted to taking medication earlier in the day. Bond for Marsh is $1,000 and her court date is May 27th.

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

On Monday, May 17th, Corporal Travis Bryant took a report of a theft and vandalism at 223 East Bryant Street. According to the victim, Andrew Cramer, someone busted the rear window of his pickup truck and made entry, removing his Kenwood flip face CD player & Cobra CB radio. The last time he saw his truck intact was Sunday, May 16th at approximately 2:00 pm.

On Friday, May 21st Officer Jerry Hutchins took a report that unknown persons painted graffiti on a mix tank at IMI Concrete Company. This occurred sometime on Wednesday, May 19th around 5:00 pm.

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

PFC Anderson Killed by Insurgents Using Improvised Explosive Devices

May 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
PFC Billy Anderson

The U.S. Department of Defense has now issued a brief press release on the death of PFC Billy Anderson.

According to the DOD, PFC Anderson, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, died May 17, in Badghis province Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices.

He was assigned to the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Meanwhile, PFC Anderson's body is expected to be returned home on Sunday.

Gordon Outlines Tax Credits for Eligible DeKalb County Small Businesses

May 19, 2010
Congressman Bart Gordon

The IRS issued new guidance on the tax credits available to small businesses that offer health coverage for their employees, which Congressman Bart Gordon hailed as good news for roughly 200 DeKalb County small businesses that may be eligible.

“These tax credits will make it easier for small businesses to provide health care coverage and retain good employees at a time when budgets are tight,” Gordon said. “The new guidelines will help small businesses get the maximum benefit from these credits.”

Tax credits are available for the 2010 tax year to small businesses with 25 or fewer employees and an average wage of $50,000 or less that provide health insurance for their employees. Companies with 10 or fewer employees and an average wage of $25,000 or less are eligible for the maximum credit—35 percent of what the employer is paying for employee insurance coverage. The maximum credit rises to 50 percent in 2014.

The guidelines issued this week clarify that small businesses can receive the credit for add-on dental and vision coverage, as well as traditional health coverage. The tax credit will not be reduced if the business also receives a health care subsidy from the state, such as CoverTN. Businesses with a mix of full-time and part-time employees will also have options to maximize their eligibility for credits.

Gordon noted that, while new health insurance reforms do not require small businesses of less than 50 employees to offer health care coverage, the widely-available credits will provide a broader economic boost.

“Small businesses employ more than 95 percent of Tennessee’s private workforce, so these credits are good news for our local economy,” Gordon said. “DeKalb County depends on its small businesses, and I encourage all business owners to stay informed about these and other available tax credits.”

The small business health insurance tax credits went into effect this year as part of the health insurance reform bill. In addition to creating tax credits, the bill aims to bring costs down for small businesses by allowing individuals to buy policies across state lines and providing access to large purchasing pools. For more information about what the bill means for small businesses, visit www.house.gov/bart.

Corps Hosts “Inflatable Life Jacket World Record Day"

May 18, 2010

Park Rangers with the US Army Corps of Engineers and members of the boating public at Center Hill Lake will participate in “Inflatable Life Jacket World Record Day!” The event will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 20 at the Buffalo Valley Recreation Area. Throughout North America, participants will simultaneously inflate their life jackets to set an unprecedented world record.

The public is invited to bring life jackets to help set the world record for inflating life jackets. Everyone wearing any type of life jacket will be included. This is a great kickoff to Safe Boating Week May 22-28 2010.

New innovations and developments in life jackets have produced a smaller, sleeker, and much more comfortable version of a life jacket.

“Inflatable life jackets are cool and comfortable,” said Acting Resource Manager Gregg Nivens. “We’re drawing attention to the importance of wearing a life jacket and to practice safety, courtesy and common sense on the lake.”

This World Record Day will help to usher in National Safe Boating Week, this year May 22 – 28, 2010. The day is being held in cooperation with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the National Safe Boating Council. More information is available at www.readysetinflate.com.

The goal of National Safe Boating Week is to educate and inform the boating public about boating safety, specifically life jackets. During National Safe Boating Week and throughout the boating season:

·Expect the unexpected. Wear your life jacket.
·Stay alert and aware. Avoid drinking and operating a boat.
.Keep a proper lookout – watch out for the “other guy.”
·Use courtesy and common sense.
·Learn to swim. Swim with a buddy.
·Swim in designated areas close to shore. Distances on the water are farther than they look.
·If your boat capsizes, stay with the boat. It will usually partially float, making rescue easier.
·Take a safe boating course

Booster Seat Safety Programs Held at Three Local Schools

May 17, 2010
Donna B. Emmons
Elicia and Ollie at DeKalb West
Spell Ollie at Smithville Elementary
Ollie and Girls at Northside Elementary

Right before spring break in late March, students at the three county-area elementary schools received a visit from a very special guest. Ollie Otter, Tennessee’s booster seat and seat belt safety mascot, visited the school to promote the use of booster seats. Ollie’s program also encourages students to wear their seat belts and to raise awareness about roadway construction site safety. Ollie’s slogan for the students is, “Under 4’9”- it’s Booster Time!” The 30-minute broadcast will air on MyDTC3-Channel 3, on Tues., May 18, 7 pm; Thurs., May 20, 1 pm; and Sat., May 22, 1 pm.

Ollie was joined by volunteers from the DCHS journalism staff to help increase booster seat and seat belt usage among Tennessee’s elementary school children. Presenting the program to second, third and fourth grade students at Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary and DeKalb West schools were high school staff members: Elicia Cantrell, Marissa Garmer, Sabrina Griffin, Nick Hale and Lucas LaPrad (actors), Chelsea Holden, Brittany Malone, Raul Narvaez, Kelly Cubbins, Haley Snyder and Katie Stutts (press, photos and video). Donna Emmons, journalism teacher/adviser, helped coordinate the safety education events in the county elementary schools.

The program is sponsored by several organizations, including the Tennessee Transportation Development Foundation (TTDF) - a non-profit group established by the Tennessee Road Builders Association- and the TRBA Ladies Auxiliary. The statewide safety education program has made presentations in all 95 counties in Tennessee and is now crossing state borders.
“Our goal is to try to educate children through the Ollie Otter program about Tennessee’s child restraint law,” said Carol Coleman, chairperson of the TTDF. “Hopefully, children will encourage their caregivers, or whoever is driving them around, to make better safety decisions. Ollie needs help from everyone to make a difference to save children’s lives on our Tennessee highways. It is up to us all.”

DeKalb elementary school principals, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Northside, Dr. Bill Tanner, Smithville Elementary and Danny Parkerson, DeKalb West, agree. “I learned something new today,” Redmon said. “Almost all our students in second and third grade at Northside will need to ride in a booster seat to really be safe.”

The Ollie Otter program communicates that Tennessee state law requires the use of a booster seat until a child is 4-feet-9 inches tall or nine years old. An orange and white construction barrel, representing Ollie’s home, is on display to teach the children the importance of roadway safety near construction work zones. The children were told to ask their parents to “Please slow down!” when they see construction barrels or road builders on the roads.

With the help of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement, the children were also taught about “Belts to Bones”, and what parts of the body the seat belt should hit when properly buckled up- the collarbone, the sternum, and the hipbone. The fully costumed Ollie Otter character encourages children to wear their seat belts and educates them about Tennessee’s booster seat law. Volunteers from the crowd were also measured to show the students the height differences between those who need to be in a booster seat and those who don’t.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 13,250 lives. The use of booster seats compared to the use of adult seat belts alone lowers the risk of injury to children in crashes by fifty-nine percent.
The Ollie Otter program is implemented by a network of statewide volunteers who work through the Tennessee Technological University BusinessMedia Center in Cookeville to coordinate the presentations. The unprecedented educational safety campaign was launched in December of 2006, and continues to grow daily.

“The program is growing strong and we are all very excited about its expansion. Moving into the other states, such as Mississippi, creates more opportunities for Ollie to spread his message about booster seat and seat belt safety. Statistics show that booster seat usage is improving, which is what our goal is,” said Julie Brewer, program coordinator with the TTU Business Media Center. “The familiarity of the program has grown so that children and the community recognize Ollie and his message when he goes to a school or community event.”

To prepare volunteers to conduct the in-school presentations and perform as the costumed Ollie Otter, an online training course has been developed by the TTU Business Media Center through the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Continuing Education program. ROCE hosts the user-friendly online course and certifies the completion of the class.

The Ollie Otter program uses educational materials, such as measuring posters, bookmarks, and an interactive Web site, to inform children and their caregivers nationwide about seat belt and booster seat safety.

To sign up as a volunteer, to schedule a visit from Ollie, or to learn more about Tennessee’s booster seat and seat belt safety campaign, visit www.seatbeltvolunteer.org.

(Top Photo: Under 4-foot 9, It’s Booster Time: Students at DeKalb West School line up to be measured to use either a booster seat or a seat belt by Ollie the Otter and DCHS journalism student volunteer Elicia Cantrell)

(Center Photo: Smithville Elementary students help Ollie lead the Ollie Cheer during the “Under 4-foot 9, It’s Booster Time” presentation by volunteers from the DCHS journalism staff)

(Bottom Photo: Northside students learn about car and road safety from Ollie the Otter and DCHS journalism student volunteers Marissa Garmer, Elicia Cantrell and Sabrina Griffin)

Sheriff's Department Makes Two DUI Arrests

May 17, 2010
Dwayne Page
Gary Ashford
Tony J Reeder

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department charged two men last week with driving under the influence.

33 year old Gary Ashford of Goodner Lane, Alexandria was arrested Monday, May 10th for a second offense of driving under the influence and simple possession.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a deputy found Ashford in his vehicle parked in the roadway on Snow Hill Road Dowelltown. While speaking with him, the officer noticed that Ashford had a smell of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Ashford also had red blood shot eyes and he was very unsteady on his feet. Ashford submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. At times, the officer had to assist Ashford in keeping his balance while walking. Ashford admitted to drinking alcohol and taking prescription drugs together. Upon an inventory of Ashford's vehicle, a marijuana cigarette was found in the console. Bond for Ashford was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on June 16th.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, May 11th a detective spotted a vehicle on Midway Road Smithville driving erraticly. After stopping the vehicle, the detective found the driver, 44 year old, Tony J. Reeder to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Reeder had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. Reeder submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Reeder was arrested and charged with a seventh offense of driving under the influence.

According to Sheriff Ray, Reeder had been convicted here in DeKalb County for driving under the influence on the dates of March 21st, 1984, April 11th, 1984, December 14th, 1994, and August 25th, 2006. He was also convicted of driving under the influence on August 28th, 1990 in Haywood County and on October 13th, 1997 in the state of Kentucky.

Bond for Reeder was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on the charges May 27th.

Fire Destroys Smithville Home

May 17, 2010
Dwayne Page
Firefighters Battle Blaze at Home Belonging to Ray Underwood(Photo by Callie Matthews)

A fire Friday afternoon destroyed a home on Carter Street in Smithville belonging to Ray and Joan Underwood.

The Underwoods, who had been living at this residence, had temporarily relocated while they were having the home renovated. They had planned to move back in once the renovation was completed.

A family member says that Mr. Underwood had begun mowing the yard on Thursday but had not finished. When he returned on Friday, Mr. Underwood opened the door to the garage and discovered that the riding mower had a fuel leak. Shortly after he entered the garage, a gas water heater inside the garage apparently ignited the fumes, causing an explosion and subsequent fire.

Underwood reportedly received minor burns and was checked out at the scene by DeKalb EMS.

Members of the Main Station, Cookeville Highway Station, and the Short Mountain Highway Station responded along with the department's tanker truck.

(Photo provided by Callie Matthews)

Two House Boats Destroyed by Fire

May 17, 2010
Dwayne Page
One of the Houseboats Destroyed by Fire
Houseboats on Fire at Center Hill Marina (Photo by Donnie Elkins)

A fire destroyed two houseboats and damaged another Sunday night at Center Hill Marina at Cove Hollow on Center Hill Lake. The marina itself was not damaged.

Central dispatch received the call at 7:29 p.m.

The fire apparently started on one of the houseboats which was docked at the "B" pier of the marina. The owner of the boat, who had been on board, left a pan of grease heating up on the stove while he went fishing off the pier. When the man returned to the boat, he found it mostly engulfed in flames. The fire also spread to boats on either side of the burning houseboat, destroying one and causing minor damage to the other. A dog on one of the boats also perished in the blaze.

The marina's maintenance manager cut loose other boats in danger that were tied to the dock along the pier and he made sure persons on board those boats were alerted so they could safely evacuate.

Among those responding to the fire were members of the DeKalb County Fire Department's Main station and the Liberty and Temperance Hall Stations. The department used it's fire boat to gain better access. Officers of the TWRA were also on the scene along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS.

One of the firefighters became overheated while fighting the fire requiring treatment on site. The marina's maintenance manager also suffered a minor shoulder injury.

DCHS Graduation Set for Friday Night

May 15, 2010
Dwayne Page
Hunter Tramel

A total of 170 students at DeKalb County High School will receive their diplomas during graduation exercises Friday, May 21st at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

The program will feature remarks by the Valedictorian, Hunter Tramel, the Class President, Amanda Ours and Guest speaker Michael Burt, a championship coach, motivational speaker, leadership expert, author, and culture builder.

The prestigious White Rose and Citizenship Awards will also be presented to three outstanding members of the class. Diplomas will be presented to each graduate by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. The DCHS Chorus is also expected to perform.

The honor students will be recognized including the 2010 Valedictorian Hunter Tramel and the Salutatorian Wesley Blair.

Students among the top twenty five senior academic ranking from numbers one to twenty five are as follows: Hunter Tramel, Wesley Blair, Grant James, Caleb Spencer, Meagan Sullivan, Hunter Poteete, Seth Willoughby, Amanda Ours, Reddy Munagala, Cynthia Woodward, Tyler Harbaugh, Tiffany Young, Haley Snyder, Erica Neely, Jared Adams, Dakota Dexter, Payne Denman, Nicholas Goff, Caroline Carter, Kendra Foutch, Kyle Hogue, Jessica Fox, Lindsey Harden, Austin Garrett, and Gabrielle Byford.

Students earning "Highest Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.8 to 4.0 include
Hunter Tramel-Valedictorian 4.0, Wesley Blair- Salutatorian 4.0, Grant James 4.0, Erica Neely 4.0, Hunter Poteete 4.0, Caleb Spencer 4.0, Meagan Sullivan 4.0, Seth Willoughby 4.0, Cynthia Woodward 4.0, Jared Adams, Caroline Carter, Payne Denman, Dakota Dexter, Kendra Foutch, Jessica Fox, Austin Garrett, Nicholas Goff, Tyler Harbaugh, Kyle Hogue, Reddy Munagala, Amanda Ours, Haley Snyder, and Tiffany Young

Students earning "High Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.6 to 3.79 include Gabrielle Byford, Axyl Chalfant, Tyler Dunaway, Kayla Ellis, Sabrina Griffin, Lindsey Harden, Katie Nixon, and Katelyn Stutts.

Those earning "Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.2 to 3.59 include Paulina Alfaro, Matthew Antoniak, Reeves Beller, Elicia Cantrell, Samantha Coe, Rachel Cunningham, Brandon Dyer, Abram Edwards, Whitney Gann, Jaylen Garrett, Jessica Goldstein, April Hale, Ethan Hale, Stephanie Hobbs, Conner Jones, Sasha Knowles, Abigail Laprad, Layne Mathis, Tyler McCloud, Brad Michaels, Travis Neal, Zachary Odom, Morgan Page, Micah Prichard, Kristian Puckett, Myra Tramel, and Joseph Vickers.

Members of the DCHS Class of 2010 are as follows:

Jared Adams, Angela Alfaro, Paulina Alfaro, Schuylar Allen, Taylor Allen, Matthew Antoniak, Nathan Armour, Brandon Atnip, and Corey Atnip,

Autumn Banks, Reeves Beller, Lance Bennett, Wesley Blair, Hillary Bowman, Michael Briley, Brittany Brown, Natasha Burrage, Gabrielle Byford,

Jade Cade, Ashly Caldwell, Elicia Cantrell, Macey Cantrell, Caroline Carter, Axyl Chalfant, Mindy Chrisman, Holly Cikalo, Dakota Clark, Samantha Coe, Britany Collier, Matthew Collier, John D. Crutcher, Jordan Crutcher, Rachel Cunningham, Jodi Curtis,

Kandi Davenport, Michael Davenport, Ethan Davis, Payne Denman, Dakota Dexter, Ryan Dodd, Tyler Dunaway, Brandon Dyer,

Abram Edwards, Kayla Ellis,

Allen Faux, Kendra Foutch, Jessica Fox, Cody Fults,

Whitney Gann, Austin Garrett, Jaylen Garrett, Juan Godinez, Nicholas Goff, Jessica Goldstein, Sabrina Griffin,

Brandon Haas, Megan Hackett, Travis Hagan, April Hale, Ethan Hale, Tavisha Hall, Tyler William Harbaugh, Lindsey JoAnn Harden, Kirsten Nichole Hardison, Rebecca Lee Haynes, Ashley Breanna Hendrixson, Mizael Hernandez, Michael Austen Highers, Aaron E. Hines, Stephanie Hobbs, Daryl Lindsay Hobby, Kyle Patrick Hogue, Christopher Garrett Hoke, Chelsea Lee Holden, Kayla Dawn Hubbard,

Grant James, Bethany Nichol Johnson, Cody A. Johnson, Travon Aki Johnson, Conner Jones,

Colby Mason Kelnhofer, Tyler Kemp, Sasha Suzanne Knowles, Daniel Kosirog,

Kimberly Ann Lanier, Abigail Laprad, Heather Nicole Lee, John W. Licht, Chelsye Janae Linder,

Ryan Macy, Mark Mason, Jessica Lauren Matthews, Layne Thomas Mathis, Talisha Mathis, Ethan Matthews, Tyler McCloud, Shaun McGinnis, Heather Melton, Brad Michaels, Lyndsey Miller, Joseph Miller, Ross Moore, Kane Morgan, Frank Morris, Veronica Mullins, Tejaswi Munagala,

Jesus Narvaez, Kayla Neal, Travis Neal, Zachary Neal, Erica Neely, Katie Nixon, Jenna Norris,

William Odom, Zachary Odom, Lizabeth Oliva, Andrea Ottinger, Amanda Ours, Ashley Owen,

Brian Pack, Morgan Page, Piyush Patel, Carlos Perez, Jonathan Plattenburg, Hunter Poteete, Sarah Price, Micah Prichard, Brandon Puckett, Kristian Puckett, Salvador Puentes, Brandon Pyles,

Raul Ramirez, Chandler Robinson, Casey Rowland,

Joi Satterfield, Anthony Schellingburger, Tiffani Scott, Jason Singleton, Eddie Lee Smith, Haley Snyder, Hilda Soto, Caleb Spencer, Kristina Stephens, Britta Strayn, John Strayn, Andrea Stringer, Katelyn Stutts, Meagan Sullivan, Dustin Summers, Jesse Sutton,

Corey Tate, Nicole Taylor, Vanessa Taylor, Kyle Thomas, Nathaniel Tippens, Jaime Torres, Hunter Tramel, Myra Tramel, Joshua Tyree,

Justin Vandergriff, Katelyn Vanwinkle, Joseph Vickers,

Ashley Waggoner, Jessica Walden, Daniel Watts, Tyler Weatherby, Tiffany Wheeler, Seth Willoughby, Cynthia Woodward,

Tiffany Young

Legislative Update from State Senator Mae Beavers

May 15, 2010
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Mae Beavers

The State Senate passed several key immigration and crime bills this week; however, the budget still remained the top priority. After the Governor presented his budget changes, Republicans presented an alternative proposal designed to offset the governor’s tax increases, including tax increases that would impact small businesses by raising the single article cap on sales tax, increase taxes on cable television customers, and raise the fee for Tennessee driver’s licenses. The Republican plan addresses those tax hikes by cutting state government spending by $133 million instead.

Both budget plans acknowledge $78 million less in revenues from the revision presented earlier this year for the current fiscal year and $76 million less than the 2010-2011 budget year which will go into effect on July 1, for a shortfall of about $150 million in the governor’s original budget proposal. The new budget amendment comes after the State Funding Board adjusted downward its previous estimates for total state taxes due to a more dramatic decline in revenue collections than previously anticipated.

The budget is typically among the last bills passed by the legislature before adjournment. The General Assembly will carefully review language in both amendments in the Senate Finance Committee next week and make any needed changes before the bill goes to the full body for final consideration.

Disaster Relief / Property taxes – Disaster relief legislation was also approved in the Tennessee Senate this week to authorize local governing bodies, by a two-thirds vote, to prorate a homeowner’s or business owner’s property tax assessment when the structure cannot be occupied for more than 30 days as a result of a disaster certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The proposal was added as an amendment to Senate Bill 3687 to provide tax relief on properties that are not inhabitable during the time it takes to rebuild. Those severely impacted by the recent storms would need to apply for property tax relief prior to September 1, 2010 under the bill.

Lawmakers continue to work with state and federal officials in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in the state’s history.

Revenues improving – In good news this week regarding the state’s finances, Tennessee’s revenue collections improved in April with a net positive growth of 2.23 percent over April collections one year ago. April revenues were $1.243 billion, which is $43.4 million more than the state budgeted for the month, representing the first positive sales tax growth month in almost two years. Sales tax collections started their downward spiral starting in January 2008 and have continued to decline for an unprecedented 22 consecutive months.

State Senate debates immigration, voter registration, and driver’s license bills

ICE / Prisoners – In action on immigration legislation, the Senate debated a measure calling for Tennessee jails to send information to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) regarding prisoners who do not have documentation that they are in the U.S. legally. The bill, Senate Bill 1141, requires the jail keeper to fax, email or send a copy of the booking information within three business days of the person’s arrest.

The bill does not apply to any county or municipality that enters into a memorandum of understanding with the United States Department of Homeland Security concerning enforcement of federal immigration laws. Davidson and Shelby Counties already have programs which share information. Knox County is also currently negotiating with federal authorities regarding a memorandum of understanding.

Debate will continue on the bill in the next floor session of the Senate scheduled for May 24.

Drivers License / English – Similarly, the full Senate gave approval to legislation to require that Tennessee drivers’ license exams are given in English. The bill, however, was defeated in the House Budget Subcommittee on the following day. The measure sought to make sure that immigrants know how to read the road signs and can drive safely in Tennessee. Senate Bill 63 would not have applied to persons whose presence in the United States has been authorized by Homeland Security for work in companies located in Tennessee through the efforts of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development in order to accommodate those nationalities with manufacturing facilities in the state.

A similar measure has passed the Senate for the last two years, but did not gain passage in the House of Representatives. Nine other states have “English only” laws.

State Senate continues efforts to wage war on crime

Armed Robbers – The legislature approved numerous anti-crime bills this week, including a measure approved by the Senate Finance Committee to strengthen penalties against armed robbers. The legislation would more than double the minimum amount of time served for aggravated robbery.

Presently, armed robbers convicted on a first offense can receive up to eight years in prison, but the 30 percent requirement places the actual sentence at less than three years. This legislation would increase the percentage of prison time for these armed offenders from 30 percent to 74 percent.

To ensure there is prison space, the bill would sentence non-violent property to community corrections, with more intensive supervision, instead of incarceration. The legislation, Senate Bill 3431, now goes to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Crime / Domestic Violence / Orders of Protection – The Senate acted on two separate measures to address domestic violence this week. One proposal, which was approved on final consideration, prohibits a respondent of an order of protection from telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating directly or indirectly with the petitioner. The bill makes it clear that the person to whom the order is directed cannot contact the victim “for any purpose.” The action would prevent excuses from being used in violation of the order. The measure, Senate Bill 2708, now goes to the governor for his signature.

Crime / Domestic Violence / Counseling – The second domestic violence proposal acted on this week would allow the court to order domestic abuse perpetrators to attend counseling programs. The bill, which was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, prescribes a list of counseling programs the judges can order if they choose, including, intervention programs that are certified by Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council. Senate Bill 2709 increases the maximum penalty for those convicted of the crime from $200 to $225, with the proceeds going to grants for domestic violence shelter programs.

Terrorism / Resolution – Finally, the State Senate voted to approve Senate Joint Resolution 860, which encourages the President and the U.S. Attorney General to take steps necessary to try foreign terrorists by a military commission. The resolution states the sense of the General Assembly is that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and all other enemy combatants or “alien unprivileged belligerents” should be tried by a military commission. The measure directs copies of the resolution to be transmitted to the President, Attorney General, and each member of the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

Issues In Brief

Highways / federal funds – Legislation that calls for Tennessee to keep its own road money rather than participate in the Federal-Aid Highway Program was approved by the full Senate this week. Senate Bill 3678 provides for Tennessee to opt out of the federal program subject to enabling action by Congress. The state could then choose to retain the state’s contributions to the federal Highway Trust Fund for transportation purposes. Tennessee is a donor state as far as the Federal-Aid Highway Program is concerned, meaning that it pays in more money than it receives back from the federal government. The legislature’s financial analyst reported passage of the bill would result in an increase in the state’s highway fund of over $67 million upon implementation.

Citizen’s constitutional rights in foreign judgments / Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act – Legislation addressing how Tennessee courts should be required to deal with foreign judgments was approved on final consideration this week. The bill deals with the application of foreign laws, if and when they violate a citizen’s protections under the state and federal Constitutions. Senate Bill 3740 calls on Tennessee courts to consider that the primary factor in decisions regarding whether to enforce decisions from foreign countries should be the protection of constitutional liberties and protections afforded to individuals under the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions.


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