Beth Harwell

Harwell joins push to stop vehicle emissions testing in TN

House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is running for governor, Thursday threw her support behind legislation that would end vehicle emissions testing in the six counties where it’s now required, reports the Times Free Press.

The bill (HB1782) is sponsored by two Hamilton County legislators, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. Besides Hamilton and Davidson County, which Harwell represents, the bill would also apply to Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

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Abortion legislation update: ‘Heartbeat bill’ dies, monument to ‘unborn’ and defunding bills arise

The so-called “heartbeat bill,” perhaps the most controversial measure on abortions pending in the Legislature this year, fell by the wayside last week in a House subcommittee. But anti-abortion legislators came up with some new bills.

-Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown) and Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) propose commissioning of a “Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children” that would be placed on state capitol grounds. (HB2381).

-Sen. Mike Bell (R-Athens) and Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) introduced HB2251 with the declared goal of defunding Planned Parenthood in Tennessee, though the filed bill does not do so directly.

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Harwell has $5M cash on hand for gubernatorial race

Press release from Beth Harwell campaign

In her first gubernatorial finance report, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell will
show more than $5 million cash-on- hand, with more than 1,000 individual
Tennesseans contributing to her bid for governor since July, the campaign
announced today.

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Slideshow of Haslam’s final State of the State

A collection of photos from Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address:

Gov. Bill Haslam prepares to give his final State of the State speech on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam prepares to give his final State of the State speech on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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McCormick drops ‘bathroom bill’ after talk with AG and Harwell

State Rep. Gerald McCormick says he is withdrawing his controversial school “bathroom bill” after assurances from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that he already can and will step in with legal aid to smaller systems facing lawsuits over LGBT access policies, reports the Times Free Press.

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Speakers quietly drop hand-held sign ban at Cordell Hull

The Tennessee Legislature has quietly revised its “Facility Use Policies” to remove a ban on all signs within the Cordell Hull building. Moving forward, “small letter sized signs that do not obstruct the view of visitors are acceptable,” according to the policy.

Under the previous set of rules, all signs were banned, regardless of whether they were hand-held or mounted to sticks or poles. The fact that this was done in the name of preventing “a serious safety hazard to visors and tenants” was the cause of much mockery because it was imposed alongside a new policy allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed within the building.

House Democrats announced Wednesday that Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) had requested a legal opinion from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery about whether ban on “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” violates the First Amendment. Jones’ letter is dated Jan. 11.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) signed the revised policy on Jan. 3.

Note: This post comes via Erik Schelzig, editor of the Tennessee Journal. Previous post on the policy, HERE.

Trump traveling to TN with Corker, Black, Blackburn and Roe

U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, both campaigning for statewide office, and retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will join President Trump in flying to Nashville for a Monday afternoon speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, reports The Tennessean. So will U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who hasn’t officially said whether he’ll run for another term.

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Leslie Hafner leaves Harwell’s office

Press release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell today announced that Leslie Hafner, Senior Advisor to the Speaker, will be leaving the House of Representatives to return to the private sector.

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Speakers ban protest signs, animals from legislative quarters — guns permitted

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell have approved a new policy that prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the Legislature because they “represent a serious safety hazard,” reports The Tennessean. The speakers had earlier approved a policy change to allow handgun permit holders to bring their weapons to legislative hearings and offices.

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Comptroller finds fault with TennCare paperwork pile

The state Comptroller’s Office says TennCare’s 98-page renewal form is making it harder than necessary for low-income Tennesseans to maintain their subsidized government health coverage, reports WPLN.

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