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Tennessee House Subcommittee Kills Bill Requiring English-Only Driving Tests

March 21, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- A Tennessee House subcommittee has killed legislation that would have required that state driver's license tests be given solely in English. The Tennessean newspaper reported that House Transportation Chairman Phillip Pinion urged members of the Public Safety and Rural Roads Subcommittee to vote against the bill. "Let's get rid of our redneck image and go back to saying we want people to come here," said Pinion (D-Union City).Rep. Tom DuBois (R-Columbia), who sponsored the bill, said he feared that drivers who didn't speak English wouldn't know how to read posted traffic signs.The measure went down on a 6-6 vote. House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh cast the deciding vote. Gov. Phil Bredesen had warned that he was considering a veto if the bill passed the Legislature.The committee also voted 6-5 to defeat a bill seeking to permit the Tennessee Highway Patrol to sign an agreement with the federal government to enforce immigration laws on state roads. Sponsored by Rep. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), the measure had unanimously passed in a full Senate vote a day earlier. This bill would have authorized the commissioner of the state Department of Safety to negotiate an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. After training and certification, the troopers would have been able to enforce federal immigration and customs laws in the normal course of their duties. The House killed a similar measure last year after it passed the Senate.
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