published Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Full Tennessee Senate to vote on AG proposal

NASHVILLE — The state Senate is taking another run at changing the way Tennessee's attorney general gains office.

Under a proposed constitutional amendment advanced to a full Senate vote Tuesday, the attorney general would stand for popular election rather than being appointed by the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, questioned why the panel was taking up the resolution when the full chamber voted 22-9 last year in favor of his proposal to have the attorney general appointed by a joint convention of the General Assembly.

"This body voted last year to do it completely differently," he said. "That makes little to no sense."

The panel voted 6-2 to advance the measure to a full Senate vote.

The rival measures are still at the earliest steps of a lengthy process for constitutional amendments. In order to be placed on the ballot in 2018, they must pass both chambers during the General Assembly that ends this year, and again by a two-thirds vote during the next two-year session.

Green and fellow Republican Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville cast the only votes against the measure. They argued that making the attorney general an elected position would require them to seek heavy campaign contributions and threaten the nonpartisan and independent nature of the office.

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