published Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Reporter's notebook: Harwell sides with Ramsey on guns-parking lots bill

House Speaker Beth Harwell presides over a floor session in Nashville in this file photo.
House Speaker Beth Harwell presides over a floor session in Nashville in this file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Weary over the "guns-in-parking lots" controversy, House Speaker Beth Harwell indicated this week she could support a bill sponsored by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey that gives gun-rights advocates much of what they want.

"My prediction is this bill's going to pass," Harwell said this week at a forum sponsored by the Tennessee Press Association and The Associated Press.

The issue "is not a priority of this General Assembly, or it's not a priority of the Republican Caucus," Harwell said. "So I think as soon as we get this out of the way the better we're going to be. We can focus on some important issues."

While businesses including Volkswagen oppose the measure, Ramsey's bill zipped through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and is scheduled for consideration Monday night on the Senate floor.

The House companion bill is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

It would allow handgun-carry permit holders to keep firearms locked in their vehicles parked on most public and private lots in Tennessee. College campuses, K-12 schools and churches are included.

Alexander re-election boosted

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said this week that 13 former Tennessee Republican Party chairmen are serving as honorary co-chairmen of his statewide re-election committee.

Alexander said in a news release he "is grateful for the support from men and women who have helped the Tennessee Republican Party grow from a minority of voters to our state's dominant political party."

The senator and his supporters are working hard to avoid a primary or at least a challenge from any tea party-style candidate with enough stature or money to gain traction.

The list of former chairmen includes two hard-right conservatives -- Robin Smith of Chattanooga (2008-09) and Tommy Hopper of Jackson (1990-92).

Taylor speaking to Chattanooga Democrats

Bill Taylor, who ran in last year's 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary, will speak Tuesday at the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club.

Taylor, who owns and manages Physician Resource Services, will discuss the impact if Tennessee doesn't expand its Medicaid program, known as TennCare, under the federal health care law.

The club meets at 6 p.m. at the IBEW headquarters, 3922 Volunteer Drive. For more information call Rita Fehring at 423-870-1848.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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