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VOL. 35 | NO. 18 | Friday, May 6, 2011




Guns on campus bill sparks Republican infighting

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The demise of a bill seeking to allow faculty and staff to carry guns on the campuses of public colleges has led to a flare-up between Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee House.

Freshman Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden sent an email close to midnight Tuesday to Rep. Jim Coley of Bartlett that criticizes his fellow Republican for "acts of retaliation" in sending the measure to a study committee after the Legislature adjourns.

"I hope you're still proud of your cowardly actions," Holt wrote in the email.

Holt said in the email that last week's move made the House GOP caucus look "dysfunctional and incompetent."

Coley said he circulated the letter among fellow lawmakers Wednesday.

"In light of the language in the letter, my colleagues needed to see the letter," he said. "Since then Rep. Holt and I have talked about this and I think we've come to an agreement to try to work together in a more productive way."

When the bill was before a subcommittee several weeks ago, Coley had hoped to add enhanced training requirements for faculty and staff who wish to carry guns on campus. But the measure was called up out of order when Coley was out of the room.

Coley last week cut off Holt's bill before any discussion in the full Judiciary Committee.

"In light of the way this got to this committee I'm going to move that this bill be moved to summer study," he said, and the motion was approved without objection.

House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville said she hadn't yet read the email, but said it's normal for tempers to flare over the course of a legislative session.

"This is just a disagreement between members," she said. "When you have people you're always going to have conflict, that's just how human nature is."

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she disapproved of Holt's approach.

"I think there's a more appropriate way to deal with each other as colleagues," said Harwell, R-Nashville.

"I understand that Rep. Holt feels strongly on that issue, and we've all at times felt passionate about the bills we promote," she said. "But we are colleagues and we work well together."

Holt said he was surprised to see the email circulate so quickly among fellow lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters.

"I just wrote him a short email that really just said i wasn't happy with what happened in the Judiciary Committee," he said. "I wish we could have just kept this between us."

Holt said he had a productive discussion with Coley on Wednesday.

"We're all on the same team for the same reasons, and that's pretty well the end of the story," he said.

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