- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Monday that this session is the last chance for Tennessee lawmakers to approve funding for a new building for the State Library and Archives.

If the long-planned facility doesn’t get the OK this year, Hargett said he will have to pursue other options, for space and other reasons. Those would include placing historical materials in long-term storage where it wouldn’t be easily accessible to researchers.

“We are at the crossroads, where we are making alternative plans,” Hargett said. “Access is going to be tremendously reduced to the wonderful records and archives that are treasures to this great state if we don’t do something this year.”

The Library and Achives’ current facility is 65 years old and has faced moisture issues and space limitations. The new $98 million facility would be built across from the new state museum that is under construction near the state Capitol in Nashville.

“If it’s not done this year, I’m not coming back and asking for it next year,” Hargett said.

While the Senate has long championed a new building for the Library and Archives, the House has had other priorities in recent years. But several members of the House Finance Committee on Monday voiced support for funding the project. The money to build the facility was not included in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s annual spending proposal.

“It is embarrassing that there is not money currently being allocated for this building,” said Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.

House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, noted that about 10 Republicans spoke in favor of the new facility. He joked that he might be able to find land and funding in his home county if the state doesn’t come through.

“I could probably cut a deal with Williamson County,” he said.

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