New law ends ‘Occupy Nashville’ movement

Two weeks ago, the Tennessee General Assembly sent Gov. Bill Haslam a bill that would authorize the removal of the “Occupy Nashville” movement from the legislative plaza. Haslam signed the bill. House bill 2638, entitled “Equal Access of Public Property Act of 2012” was passed by a 68-21 vote that outlaws unauthorized camping on public grounds. The Senate had put on an amendment that would protect the bill from a court challenge.

If a person is convicted, the punishment may be as extensive as 11 months and 29 days in jail or a fine of $2,500, or both. According to the Department of General Services Commissioner Steve Cates, notices are being placed all across the state and enforcement will begin in seven days.

Public contracts bill

In other House action last week, members voted on an amendment by House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh, (D-Ripley) to House Bill 2356 concerning public contracts. The amendment specified that for any procurement of more than $50,000, state departments, institutions and agencies must actively solicit bids and proposals from minority-owned, woman-owned, Tennessee service-disabled veteran owned and small businesses in accordance with the Tennessee Minority-Owned, Women-Owned and Small Business Procurement and Contracting Act.

Haslam’s hiring system revamp

During the House State and Local Committee meeting two weeks ago, discussion continued on Haslam’s revamping of the state’s hiring system. Democrats are focused on many aspects of the bill, but a critical point was the hiring aspect of veterans. After discussion with the governor and his staff, the Democrats reinstated support of veterans that required, with all other aspects being equal, a veteran’s service be the deciding hiring factor when interviewing for open civil service positions. The amendment also ensures that veterans will continue to receive five years’ worth of work experience credit for their military service when layoffs are considered.

I hope that you will contact me at (615) 741-3513 to let me know how you feel about the issues facing our community.

— Rep. David Shepard represents House District 69, which includes Dickson County.

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