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VOL. 36 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 23, 2012




Anti-crime bills headed for governor's signature

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NASHVILLE (AP) - The House on Monday approved two key pieces of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's anti-crime package and sent the bills for the governor's signature.

The chamber voted 91-0 to increase penalties for violent crimes committed by groups of three or more people. A bill to enhance penalties for gun possession by people with previous felony convictions was approved on a 95-0 vote with no debate.

The companion bills were approved earlier by the Senate. Haslam included the estimated $6 million cost of the enhanced penalties in his budget proposal, but did not include funding for other parts of his crime package.

As a consequence, some of those measures have faced a bumpier road in the Legislature. They include bills seeking to create a prescription drug database and to require mandatory jail time for people receiving repeat domestic violence convictions.

The domestic violence bill has been further complicated by charges file d against Rep. David Hawk last week after his wife said he assaulted her. Hawk has denied the charges and alleged that his wife threatened him with a gun.

The governor's plan was produced over the course of a year by representatives of 11 state agencies to reduce drug abuse and trafficking, lower violent crime and cut the rate of repeat offenders.

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