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In Memoriam

Some state bills that died (again) this year.


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No, it ain't over in Nashville until the last gavel falls, but as the Republican-led Tennessee Legislature begins to wind down, let us remember some bills that have died this session.

The Bathroom Bill: Yes, this old bill came back this year, sponsored by Rep. Mark Pody, (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Mae Beavers, (R-Mt. Juliet), and it died not on any moral grounds but because of money.

If passed, the bill would have mandated that public school students use the bathroom that corresponded with the sex assigned them on their birth certificates. So, a boy who identifies as a girl would have to go to the boys' room at school (and vice versa).

New guidance from Washington on the issue led many legislators to believe that further state action was unnecessary. But the bill also got a big black eye from government financial analysts who said, if passed, the Bathroom Bill would have cost Tennessee about $1.2 billion in federal education funding.


The "Natural Marriage" Bill: Yes, this old bill came back this year, sponsored by Rep. Mark Pody, (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), and it died not on any moral grounds but because of money.

If the bill passed, marriages in Tennessee would have only been legally recognized if they were between a man and a woman. The proposal came after a 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

Beavers and Pody walked out of a news conference they called on the matter as the crowd was filled with protestors who got quickly vocal on the matter.

But the lawmakers pulled the bill after those same state finance analysts determined the move would have put in jeopardy nearly $9 billion in federal funding.

The Open Carry Freedom Act: This legislation would have allowed Tennesseans to carry handguns openly and without a permit. (Concealed carry would have still required a permit.)

East Tennessee Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) introduced the bill and has introduced other versions of it in the past. This year, he got Beavers to sign on as its Senate sponsor.

The measured died quietly in a House committee.

The Constitutional Carry Bill: Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) upped the ante on Van Huss' bill with stripped-down legislation that took gun laws back to their Constitutional roots.

The bill would have allowed anyone who is not otherwise prohibited from owning a gun to possess and carry that gun "either openly or concealed."

That bill also died in the committee system.

Pass the Bottle Bill: This zombie bill was raised from the dead once again this year and killed once again in what feels now like an annual ceremony.

For years, some well-meaning legislator has sought to stop passengers from drinking in the state's moving automobiles. Every year, for years now, that hope has been dashed.

This year, Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) brought the "pass the bottle" bill to his colleagues on Capitol Hill. The rule died in a sub-committee after its chairman, Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), said he did not want to "punish the person sitting in the back seat drinking a glass of wine."


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