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For Immediate Release

John@TFAOnline.org
July 15, 2014


Fiscal Note Scandal Uncovered By Open
Records Request


Documents Show Haslam Administration Manipulated Fiscal Note Process In Order
To Kill Pro-Gun Legislation



Nashville, TN After a series of Open Records Requests the Tennessee Firearms
Association has uncovered documented evidence of misleading statements and the
falsifying of a contrived fiscal note. These questionable actions were carried out by
members of the Haslam Administration during the 2014 legislative session in an attempt
to kill a pro-gun bill.

This was apparently a deliberate ploy to kill legislation that the Haslam Administration
opposed by misrepresenting the effect of the bill to the legislators, noted John Harris,
Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. Underhanded tactics such
as this are unacceptable and Governor Haslam owes the citizens of Tennessee an
explanation.

The fiscal note fiasco started earlier this year when Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Micah
Van Huss sponsored legislation to allow the open carry of handguns without a permit.
The bill passed the Senate 25-2 (SB2424), despite behind the scenes opposition from
the Haslam Administration. As the open carry bill moved through the House after
passing in the Senate, it was delayed and then voted down in a Finance Sub-
Committee after having a false fiscal note attached. The full House of Representative
never considered the bill because of the shenanigans involving the false fiscal note in
House Finance.

The fiscal note, added by the Administration, claimed that the open carry bill would cost
the state government $100,000 by requiring that the word concealed be added to
every valid handgun permit in Tennessee. However, the bill itself contained no such
requirement. When pressed, the Department of Safety responded that departmental
policy required adding the word concealed to the permits.

However, when a request was made for the specific policy, the Department of Safety
admitted that no such policy actually existed.

Almost 3,000 pages of state documents obtained by the Tennessee Firearms
Association through the Open Records Requests reveal that a Haslam administration
official, Bill Hedge, citing the non-existent departmental policy on behalf of the
Tennessee Department of Safety, estimated that it would cost the State $100,000 to
add the word concealed when handgun permits are printed. The Administrations
estimate caused a fiscal note to be placed on the legislation and forced it to be
rerouted to the House Finance Committee which is under the control of Rep. Charles
Sargent.

After an amendment (HA1127) on the bill explicitly removed the requirement of the
addition of the word 'concealed', Bill Hedge, in direct defiance of the clear legislative
intent declared in an April 8 email that:

Even though the amendment removed the requirement, the department by policy
will in fact continue the designation of Concealed on the Handgun Carry
Permit.I am certifying that the department will in fact incur the (costs) to reflect
the concealed provision.

Further, when pressed concerning which department policy required such a change, the
Department of Safety admitted that it had misrepresented that there was an existing
departmental policy as reflecting in an e-mail from Bill Hedge dated April 14, 2014:

Currently, a written policy concerning information contained on the permit,
including the title of the document, does not exist.

More significantly, the Open Records Requests revealed that the Department of Safety
is under a multi-million dollar contract with a third party, L-1 Credentialing, Inc., to
design and print the handgun permits along with other similar official state documents.
That contract requires the third party to make changes in the design and format of the
permits at no additional charge to state government. Department of Safety documents
do not reference this contract in discussing the $100,000 estimate by Hedge nor do they
detail why it would cost $100,000 to print the word concealed on the handgun permits
even after the proposed legislation it was made clear by the sponsors that the
legislation did not alter the handgun permits or convert them into concealed carry
permits.

The documents also reveal that the Haslam Administration was actively fighting the bill,
that Department of Safety officials were working to stop the bill by creating estimates of
printing costs, and that certain legislators were involved to create a fiscal note ensuring
that the bill was rerouted to the House Finance Committee.

After the false Administration estimate was attached to the bill as a fiscal note, House
rules required that the bill be considered by Charles Sargents Finance Committee
because it had a (falsely) estimated cost to state government. Bill Gibbons,
Commissioner of the Department of Safety, testified under oath that the legislation
would add a concealment requirement to Tennessees handgun permits and that it
would cost approximately $100,000 to start printing the word concealed on the
handgun permits. The documents obtained in response to the Open Records
Requests suggest that Commissioner Gibbons sworn testimony to the House
Finance subcommittee was false in both respects. Mr. Gibbons testimony can be
viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_jeeCqS-VU

Legislative records indicate that the House Finance subcommittee knew that Gibbons
testimony was false or misleading because the chairman announced just prior to the
committee vote that they would assume a zero fiscal impact to the state for purposes of
their votes on the legislation. Then, 10 members of the House Finance committee
refused to allow the legislation to be moved forward thus prohibiting it from
consideration by all members of the House of Representatives.

A complete and detailed write up, including source documents, is available on the
TFA website: http://www.tennesseefirearms.org/news/item/10-fiscal-note-fiasco

The Tennessee Firearms Association was founded in 1995 and formed to defend the
right to keep and bear arms in Tennessee. The TFA is Tennessee's only no-
compromise gun group.

Questions can be directed to John@TFAOnline.org

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