published Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Tennessee bill on Senate primaries likely dead for session

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    Rep. Harry Brooks

NASHVILLE - A bill putting the selection of U.S. Senate primary nominees into the hands of the 132 members of the Tennessee General Assembly appears dead for the year.

Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, today requested the controversial bill be moved to 2014.

Earlier today, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters he had a “major problem” with the bill, which sought to strip the power of nominating U.S. Senate candidates from hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans.

Haslam said he would “very strongly” consider vetoing the bill.

The brainchild of Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, the bill ran into trouble Monday night on the Senate floor. Niceley says the bill is intended to restore a better relationship between states and the federal government intended by the nation’s founding fathers.

Senators were originally appointed by state legislatures. But two thirds of states, including Tennessee, approved the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913, stripping legislatures of the right after years of scandals over railroads and burgeoning corporations buying off state lawmakers to get senators they liked.

Niceley’s bill applied only to deciding nominees because the 17th Amendment prohibits eliminating the general election.

He delayed consideration until the Senate’s last calendar of bills for the year.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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