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A bill filed on January 6 in the state House aims to eliminate a step in death penalty appeals, sending cases directly to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, filed the bill that, if passed, could expedite death sentence appeals. Lamberth said Tennessee is one of fewer than five states in the country that requires midlevel or intermediate state appellate courts to hear death penalty cases.
With lawmakers having returned to Nashville and officially convened the 110th General Assembly, the session is expected to cover a multitude of issues ranging from a potential gas tax increase to how to spend the state's budget surplus.
As the state legislature reconvenes in Nashville this week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, juvenile court officials, judges, district attorneys and academics are pushing for a major overhaul in Tennessee's approach to kids who get in trouble with the law.
A new California law that took effect Jan. 1 bars state-funded travel to Tennessee and three other states for enacting statutes that critics charge discriminate against members of the LGBT community. Golden State lawmakers last year passed the law in response to actions taken by Republican lawmakers in Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kansas on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to The Advocate, a national publication covering LGBT issues.
Tennessee lawmakers will consider a measure to make it easier to openly carry a handgun. A bill that would allow Tennesseans to do so without first obtaining a permit was introduced in January by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough. Those interested in carrying a handgun in a concealed manner would still be required to obtain a permit, according to the recently filed bill.
The state’s four biggest chambers of commerce collectively hope the Tennessee legislature will continue to support a tax on internet sales during the legislative session as a measure of fairness to in-state businesses. A joint legislative agenda from the chambers in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga lists the internet sales tax among top priorities for the 2017 legislative session, which many expect to be a touchy issue in the same year lawmakers are expected to discuss a hike in a gas tax and potentially tax reductions in other areas.
Nashvillian James Thomas can't drive to see his doctor or get to his volunteer work each week because he owes $290 for a trespassing conviction, a crime the formerly homeless man faced for sheltering under a bridge. Thomas and more than 146,000 Tennesseans have had their driver's licenses revoked since 2012 because of a state law that says court fines that go unpaid for a year result in automatic revocation, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Nashville on January 4.