Two Chattanooga-focused bills move forward in Legislature

Two Chattanooga-focused bills move forward in Legislature

April 30th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - One of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's anti-gang bills cleared the House Budget Subcommittee this morning.

So did another measure that could be used to facilitate the sale of the Chattanooga Lookouts AA baseball team.

The panel approved both measures, sponsored by Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, on voice votes as lawmakers work to conclude what they hope is the last day of their annual legislation session.

The gang measure includes criminal street gangs under the definition of the state's anti-rackeetering statute, which could lead to longer sentences on those convicted of gang activity. It next goes to the full Finance Committee, then to the Calendar and Rules Committee before going to the House floor.

The Senate version of the bill is awaiting floor action and city officials are optimistic the bill will pass.

But the outlook on the Lookouts bill appears less certain. It remains in the Senate Tax Subcommittee, which is closed, and the panel would have to reopen to consider the measure.

The legislation would let the city keep an estimated $250,000 annually in sales tax revenues from ticket and concession sales to help fund bonds to purchase the Lookouts' AT&T Field, if necessary.

That purchase could be used should a buyer of the Lookouts have no interest in purchasing the stadium from current owners.