published Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Tennessee House in Nashville caps at 15 number of bills members can introduce in a session

  • photo
    The Tennessee State Capitol stands apart from newer buildings in Nashville, Tenn.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Despite the objections of some lawmakers, the House this morning capped the number of bills members can introduce during the session at 15.

Deputy Speaker Steve McDaniel, R-Lexington, said the move will help streamline the legislative process and save money.

But Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, likened the move by the Republican majority to measures imposed by Russia or communist governments.

“I see more censorship and draconian tactics ... to stop the members from discussing what they want to talk about,” he said.

Republican critics this week charged the caps would benefit Gov. Bill Haslam.

Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, sought to counter that, saying, “Moses did a really good job with just 10 laws and we’re getting 15 apiece.”

The rules package, including the cap, passed on a voice vote. Members then voted down a minority report from House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh that would have given each party’s two top leaders an additional 15 bills per session.

The cap does not apply to private acts affecting a locality or a general bill with local application. Nor does it apply to honorary resolutions.

The governor’s legislative package would be restricted to no more than 75 bills. But the legislation doesn’t affect administration or members’ legislation dealing with the budget or bonding authority.

According to House figures, Tennessee is the second-highest among Southern states for the number of bills introduced. State senators have not imposed caps.

Finished with their organizational session, the 108th General Assembly will stand adjourned until Jan. 28, when Haslam will deliver his annual State of the State address.

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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