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Tennessee lawmakers have advanced a proposal to eliminate jail time for carrying a gun in public without a state-issued permit.
Under the measure sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby, a violation would still be a misdemeanor but would only be punishable by a fine of $100 on the first offense and $200 for the second.
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee advanced the measure on a voice vote on Wednesday.
The panel rejected legislation to require background checks for private gun sales. The bill was sponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville, who said he had bought an AK-47-style rifle without a background check the night before.
Meanwhile, a proposal to allow part-time faculty and staff to be armed on the campuses of public colleges was withdrawn.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has launched a new safety campaign, asking motorists to move over and slow down for highway workers. TDOT is spreading that message statewide during National Work Zone Awareness Week, following the deaths of three employees in 2016.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer is urging motorists to work with the department by moving over and slowing down when you see TDOT workers or first responders working alongside our interstates and state roads.
Work zone safety messages are being displayed on TDOT's overhead message signs on interstates. There are also special displays across the state to honor the 112 TDOT workers lost in the line of duty since 1948.
A plan by Democrats to expand the Medicaid program in Tennessee has died after the sponsor of the measure pulled the bill for the year.
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, a Democrat from Ripley, told the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on Wednesday that he was withdrawing his bill.
A legislative analysis said that nearly 294,000 Tennesseans would be eligible for health care in the first year. The analysis said the federal government was expected to pay the state $697 million the first year and the state would have to kick in $69 million for the expansion. The state's cost would increase each year.
Gov. Bill Haslam has backed an expansion of the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled but ran into opposition from members of his own party.
Gov. Bill Haslam's road funding proposal that would include the state's first gas tax hike since 1989 is advancing to its final standing committee in the House before a full floor vote.
The House Finance Subcommittee approved the measure on a voice vote on Wednesday after spinning off a tax relief measure for the elderly and veterans into a separate bill.
Opponents of the gas tax hike have complained bitterly about what they perceive as procedural tricks to get the bill through the committee system.
Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga, who presided over Wednesday morning's meeting, stressed that members could take as long as they wanted on the bill. But his offer to return later in the day for further debate wasn't taken up before the vote.
The Tennessee Department of Health has created a web-based resource to use rabies vaccination tags to help reunite lost pets with their owners. Those who find stray pets wearing TDH rabies tags can now use this tool on the TDH website to search for and identify the veterinarians who vaccinated the animals, who can then help with information to find the owners.
The TDH website lists rabies tag numbers in sequential order to make it easier to find the appropriate veterinarian. The list is available at http://tn.gov/health/article/rabies-tags.
If a rabies tag was not issued by the Tennessee Department of Health, pet finders can call the telephone number on the tag to contact the agency that issued it. Some larger cities in Tennessee have their own licensing systems for rabies tags separate from TDH.
In addition to rabies tags, many pets have microchips embedded beneath their skin which can provide another means for identification. If the pet has a microchip, many veterinarians, humane societies and animal shelters now have microchip readers that can be used to provide contact information for the owner.
TDH reminds pet owners that Tennessee law requires rabies vaccination for both dogs and cats. The vaccination is safe and effective. Many communities offer low-cost rabies vaccination clinics for dogs and cats during spring months. Vaccinating pets against rabies not only protects pets from the fatal disease, but also protects people who may be exposed to rabies by contact with unvaccinated pets who have been infected. For more information about rabies, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/.