- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A state House member is seeking to delay votes on Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative proposals to insure against vetoes of embattled measures such as allowing people with handgun carry permits to be armed in city parks.

Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, who has twice had bills vetoed by Haslam, announced at the start of Monday’s floor session that he was seeking the delays to seek “affirmation” from the governor that he will sign controversial measures into law.

“It’s not to impugn the character of the bill sponsor or of the governor, but simply to allow for consideration on other bills,” Holt said.

Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga reminded the chamber that it is his role as Republican leader to negotiate with the governor on bills.

But McCormick later agreed to delay votes on two bills that are part of Haslam’s legislative agenda. He said they were rescheduled as a “show of faith” to Holt so he could seek an indication from Haslam on whether he plans to veto the guns-in-parks measure.

McCormick denied that the move was an effort to hold the governor’s legislation hostage over an unrelated bill, instead calling the move a “conversation starter.”

The House and Senate last week passed a bill that would strip local governments of the power to ban all guns in parks, playgrounds and ball fields.

The proposal states that if a school - or public college or university - is using a park then a permit holder “cannot be within the immediate vicinity of the school activity.” But the bill does not define exactly what “immediate vicinity” means.

Haslam has expressed reservations about the proposed legislation, and as Knoxville mayor supported a 2009 city council vote that kept in place a ban on handguns in some of the city’s parks.

The guns bill has yet to be transmitted to the governor, according to the Legislature’s website. Once the measure reaches his desk, he has 10 days to decide whether to sign, veto or allow the measure to become law without his signature.

Lawmakers are hoping to conclude their business this week, and supporters of the guns-in-parks measure fear the governor could wait until after the session ends before deciding on a veto.

Holt said he was collecting a list of other bills that sponsors worry could become the target of the governor’s veto pen. He noted that it takes just a majority in both chambers to override a veto - the same threshold of passing legislation in the first place.

“Obviously we don’t want to have to do that, because it’s just more comfortable for all of us when we can all get along in the executive and legislative branch,” Holt said. “And hopefully that will be the case.”

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