VOL. 124 | NO. 92 | Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Speaker Wary of GOP Bid to Resurrect Voting Bills
ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Republican lawmaker's attempt to resurrect three voting bills is raising concerns about delaying the conclusion of the legislative session.
The bills Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga wants to bring up would require a photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register, and would allow deployed troops to fax or e-mail their absentee ballots.
"I'm not real happy with that," said House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton. "Hopefully it won't set a precedent, with everybody starting to pull up bills."
McCormick would need 10 votes Tuesday in the House State and Local Government Committee to bring the bills to a new vote, said Chief Clerk Burney Durham. The panel is tied 9-9 between Republicans and Democrats.
Durham said he couldn't remember any previous successful attempt to pull a failed bill from a subcommittee to a full committee vote.
McCormick did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said Democrats on the elections subcommittee voted against the voter ID and citizenship bills over concerns about disenfranchising voters.
Turner, of Old Hickory, vowed that none of his Democratic colleagues on the committee would support McCormick's proposal, but added there would be consequences if the effort succeeded.
"If it does pass, we'll probably bring back every bill that's failed. Minimum wage, equal pay, we'll bring them all up," he said. "We'll be here until July."
"If they want to play, we'll open up the sandbox and everybody gets their toys out," Turner said. "Those bills have already been heard."
Williams' in January assigned equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to most House committees and subcommittees. As speaker, Williams has the power to vote on any panel.
But McCormick probably shouldn't count on Williams breaking a tie on the three voting bills.
"I'm not going to go in and vote," Williams said.
The photo ID bill has already passed the Senate, while the proof of citizenship measure is awaiting a vote by the full chamber. The absentee balloting proposal was withdrawn from consideration in a Senate committee in March.
Read HB0639, HB0779 and HB1838 at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.