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In this Dec. 6, 2014, file photo, state Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney speaks to the party's executive committee meeting in the state House chamber in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Senate on Monday confirmed Gov. Bill Lee's appointment of Chris Devaney of Lookout Mountain, a Republican political consultant and Lee's 2018 campaign manager, to serve on the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Senators approved Devaney's confirmation as one of a raft of resolutions and bills. The resolution must pass the House before he would be placed on the panel to serve until Feb. 27, 2027.

Also confirmed by senators to the Fish and Wildlife Commission was Stan Butt, a Columbia businessman and farmer, as well as Wally Childress of Bogota, former Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew and William Wiley Cox Sr. of Collierville.

Concerns previously were raised about Devaney's outdoors background by Sens. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who pointed out that Devaney's Tennessee hunting licenses only go back to 2017.

Devaney said he has been an avid hunter and fisherman since childhood in Texas, showing the Times Free Press multiple licenses he has held in past years there and in Alabama. He also provided a copy of his hunting education certification as a Texas teenager.

As for Butt, he was cited by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers in 2008 for having a firearm during deer bow-and-arrow hunting season. Butt told the Times Free Press he was hunting wild boar, not deer, and wasn't aware he was committing an infraction.

Neither Bell nor Gardenhire raised objections during Monday's vote. All the confirmations as well as a number of other bills considered noncontroversial passed in one batch of legislative action. Bell and Gardenhire both abstained from voting on the measures. The calendar passed 29-0.

All five commission appointments are still pending in the House and must be approved before the new members can be seated and actively participate.

The commission through its actions and oversight of TWRA sets Tennessee hunting and fishing rules. TWRA manages more than 215,000 acres of forested land for public hunting and conducts wildlife research.

In other action: the Senate read for the first time a proposed change to the Tennessee Constitution, Senate Joint Resolution 55. Should it win final approval, the resolution would remove the state constitution's 18th century Article IX Section 1 ban on "ministers of the gospel" from serving in the General Assembly.

The prohibition has not been in effect for decades as a result of a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held the 18th century ban was unconstitutional.

Monday night's proposed amendment, which passed the previous 111th General Assembly, must be read two more times before it is voted on. It requires two-thirds of the Senate before it would go to the House for similar votes.

If it wins approval, as many expect, the proposal would be placed on the 2022 ballot and require a majority of votes from people casting ballots in the governor's race before the prohibition could be deleted from the state constitution.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

 

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