Election overhaul bill fails after Senator calls House Speaker

Election overhaul bill fails after Senator calls House Speaker


NASHVILLE (WATE) - A bill to change the way Tennessee nominates U.S. Senate candidates was removed from a committee agenda Tuesday afternoon.

The bill was scheduled for a vote in the House State Government Committee, but the vote never happened after the sponsor, Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), had the bill taken off notice.

The legislation was aimed at changing the way U.S. Senators are nominated. Instead of voters from each party selecting their nominee through an election, the General Assembly would decide the party's nominee amongst themselves.

In a phone interview with 6 News, House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) said she approached Rep. Brooks about removing the bill from the committee agenda after she received a phone call from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

According to Harwell, Corker said he did not support the current legislation. "He agreed that improvements could be made," said Harwell. "[We] had a pleasant conversation and discussed ways to improve the dialogue [between Nashville and Washington, D.C.]"

Harwell said Sen. Corker had never contacted her before about a piece of legislation in Nashville, but she is glad this bill led to what she hopes to be improved dialogue in the future.

On Tuesday Sen. Corker was asked about the bill in Nashville and said: "This is up to the general assembly to decide, but my sense is that Tennesseans are a very involved citizenry who like their ability to vote and make those kinds of decisions."

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he has a "major problem" with the bill. He says he would "very strongly" consider a veto of the measure if it is passed by the General Assembly

The companion bill is scheduled for a vote in the State Senate later this month. It is sponsored by Sen. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains).


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