Tough times do not halt Tennessee bill filing bonanza
Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011 9:13 pm
By ERIK SCHELZIG
NASHVILLE (AP) — Campaign commitments to less government that helped big Republican electoral gains and a tight budget situation had set the stage for fewer bills to be filed this session.
Evidently lawmakers couldn’t help themselves.
More than 2,000 bills were filed in both chambers through Thursday’s filing deadline. And while some bills deal with high-profile issues like changing the state’s education and judicial systems, many are far more limited in scope.
The multitude of bills range from efforts to change the legal definition of a rickshaw and exempting cow owners from legal liability for “bovine activities” to banning unrestrained dogs from riding in the front seat of cars.
“If you have dog, it should be restrained or on the passenger side,” said Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville and sponsor of the dog restraint bill.
“Say a little kid runs out in the street, you and Marmaduke are fighting over who’s driving the car,” he said. “It’s really not a safe situation.”
A red light would no longer necessarily mean “stop” under another measure sponsored by Campfield. Under his proposal, drivers turning right on red would no longer have to come to a complete stop if there were no pedestrians or oncoming traffic.
Under a bill introduced by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, people engaged in “bovine activities” such as riding, training or milking could not sue the beasts’ owners who properly maintain their fences and post warning signs.
The legislation notes the “propensity of a bovine to behave in ways that may result in injury, loss, damage or death to persons on or around the bovine.”
Children younger than 5 years old would be banned from riding on motorcycles under a proposal sponsored by Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, and a bill introduced by Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, would rewrite the legal definition of a “rickshaw” to exclude bicycles built for more than three people and motorized scooters for the disabled.
Democratic Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis wants to pass a bill to raise the minimum age of strippers from 18 to 21, while Republican Sen. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge would make drug paraphernalia a crime, even if it was unused and did not contain an illegal substance.
Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, has a bill to end an annual report on the weight of school textbooks to be submitted to the state board of education.
Meanwhile, fellow Re-publican Sen. Rusty Crowe of Johnson City wants to make the educational requirements for constables more rigorous. Instead of simply having to show they could read and write, Crowe’s proposal would make constables have the equivalent of a high school degree.
Crowe also wants to make it illegal for trains to block intersections for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, would create more difficult standards for drive-thru beer sales, but not impose a similar outright ban as was imposed on Tennessee liquor stores decades ago.
Published in The Messenger 2.21.11