The Associated Press June 10, 2010, 5:32PM ET

Governor decries 'posturing' in Tenn. Legislature

Tennessee gun owners and immigration foes again emerged as big winners from the legislative session that wrapped up early Thursday.

But a tea party-supported effort to allow Tennesseans to opt out of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul fell six votes short of passing on the last night of session.

Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen told reporters Thursday afternoon that he's disappointed to see increasing attention paid to issues he doesn't consider central to the Legislature's mission.

"I've never had a lot of tolerance for what I consider posturing issues (like) this whole thing about how we don't have to obey Obamacare," Bredesen said.

The governor noted that several issues such as gun rights have support among members of both parties.

"It's a piece of politics I don't like, whether it's done by Democrats or Republicans," he said.

But the governor praised lawmakers for overwhelmingly approving the state's nearly $30 billion annual spending plan that includes more than $450 million in cuts to state agencies.

It was deja vu for a bill to allow the state's 300,000 handgun carry permit holders to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Just as last year, both chambers easily overrode a veto by Bredesen.

The previous law was deemed "unconstitutionally vague" by a Nashville judge. Bredesen in his veto message called this year's measure even more "expansive and dangerous."

Gun rights advocates also passed a measure to limit the governor's authority to limit the sale of firearms or ammunitions during a state of emergency. But they fell short in their latest efforts to seal access to the state's database of the names and addresses of handgun carry permit holders.

A resolution to commend Arizona's governor and lawmakers on that state's tough new immigration law was passed by both chambers -- though only by the minimum 17 votes needed in the Senate.

Last-minute changes to a bill addressing when employers can require their workers to speak English has upset immigrant and refugee rights advocates after the final version was stripped of language that clarified when workers can and cannot be compelled to speak English.

Another measure passed this year would require all jailers to share information about suspected illegal immigrants with federal officials.

The session was marked by its slow pace, even though lawmakers eager to hit the campaign trail had tried to adjourn the session by the end of April.

However, it wasn't all about social issues or political statements. Early on, lawmakers agreed to allow barber shops to display fish tanks or bird cages.

Efforts to curb red light traffic cameras failed, as did an effort clear the way for horses to be slaughtered in Tennessee.

While lawmakers agreed to memorialize Isaac Hayes by naming a stretch of Interstate 40 in Shelby County after the late soul singer, they rejected a resolution to honor the late pop superstar Michael Jackson, who was once married to Elvis Presley's daughter.

And in the final days of the session, lawmakers approved "Smoky Mountain Rain" as Tennessee's eighth state song. The song popularized by Ronnie Milsap won out over another proposal called "So I'll Just Shine in Tennessee (I'm a Jackson, Tennessee Nugget)," co-written by a former city councilwoman from Jackson.


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