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License, disaster relief bills introduced to legislature

Xavier Smith • Jan 14, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Two bills introduced into the Tennessee Legislature on Tuesday will look to make changes to state-issued license plates and natural disaster relief efforts.

House Bill 0026, sponsored by Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, would require all registration plates issued or renewed to bear “In God We Trust” in the design. The plate redesign would only be enforced once existing inventory is used by the state.

The introduction comes less than a year after Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the legislature’s attempt to make the Bible the official state book. The attempt to override Haslam’s veto failed on a 43-50 vote. The move needed 50 votes in favor of an override.

“My personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance. If we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book,” Haslam said.

House Bill 0032, sponsored by Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, would create the Tennessee “Natural Disaster Relief Program.”

Under the introduced language, a county may request a grant from the program to help offset costs incurred by the county in responding to a natural disaster if a natural disaster occurred within the county, county leaders declare a state of emergency and damages do not exceed the threshold for federal disaster relief.

If a county received the funds, they could be used to repair public roads, buildings, utilities and other infrastructures, for emergency measures to save lives, public health and safety protection and debris removal from public or private-owned land and waterways.

A county could receive the funds once per year and the awarded grant would not exceed $250,000. Grants would be contingent on the availability of funds that have been allocated. 

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