- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015
House votes to take Tennessee Capitol complex off guns bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The House voted Monday to remove the Tennessee Capitol from a bill to expand the areas where people with handgun carry permits can be armed, a move supported by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The chamber voted 72-14 against the amendment inserted by the Senate last week. The original bill would strip local governments of the power to ban all firearms in parks, playgrounds and ball fields.

The measure now heads back to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said it’s unlikely the chamber will agree to the change. If that happens, the bill would go to a conference committee to try to hammer out differences.

“There are other improvements that could be made to the original bill,” Norris said.

Haslam earlier Monday expressed serious reservations about including the Capitol in the bill and said he supports stripping it from the legislation.

The governor said the Capitol’s safety and security officials have major concerns about the provision, “in terms of both the practical realities … as well as the process.”

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Gloves coming off in fight over ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The gloves are coming off in a legislative fight over efforts to repeal state guidelines about which spirits can be labeled as “Tennessee Whiskey.”

Opponents are calling on key House and Senate committees to vote Tuesday to repeal the law enacted at the behest of Jack Daniel’s in 2013. Key sticking points include requirements for sprits to be filtered through charcoal and aged in unused barrels to be called Tennessee whiskey.

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett is urging state lawmakers not to water down the law that he calls key to maintaining minimum quality standards, and argues that critics of the rules have misplaced priorities.

“There’s a reason they want to come to Tennessee,” he said. “They want the reputation without the work.”

Arnett also denied that Jack Daniel’s was supplying small distillers with new barrels as a way to cement their support during the legislative debate.

“Have we helped some people get barrels for a short-term window? Absolutely,” Arnett said. “When they’ve reached out and said, ‘Can you help me, I need 25 barrels?’ That’s not a lot of barrels to us, but it means a lot to them.”

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Priscilla Presley: No Elvis imitators at new Vegas chapel

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The King will not appear at Elvis Presley’s Graceland Wedding Chapel that is coming soon to Las Vegas - exactly how Priscilla Presley wants it.

The woman who wed Elvis in Sin City in 1967 made one thing clear before unveiling the latest wedding chapel to bear his name: No Elvis impersonators.

Priscilla Presley knows some might prefer a jumpsuit-wearing, sideburn-donning wedding official with a bit of swivel to his hips. But she says such a move would only cheapen the place.

“This is all first-class,” she told the Associated Press recently. “This is not a joke. The wedding chapel is not a joke.”

That means no red velvet, Presley said. Nothing gaudy.

She has been involved in the look and feel of the chapel that officials say is part of the first permanent exhibit of Elvis artifacts outside Graceland, the singer’s iconic Memphis, Tennessee, home.

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Volkswagen seeks to increase planned expansion by 25 percent

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Volkswagen is seeking to add to a planned expansion announced last year to produce a new sport utility vehicle in Tennessee.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (https://bit.ly/1Ggptwe) reports documents show the automaker wants to add an additional 130,153 square feet to the original expansion, 25 percent more than first planned. The additional expansion will add about $18 million to the $900 million project.

VW plant spokesman Scott Wilson said the company has decided to increase the size of the body shop to accommodate future production needs. He said that doing that now will save money and give VW flexibility as it makes changes to the way it assembles vehicles.

VW is scheduled to go before a local industrial development board on Tuesday to seek permission for the new expansion proposal.

In addition to expanding the factory and adding about 2,000 new jobs, the German automaker has said it will set up a new research center that will employ about 200 engineers. The research facility will coordinate products for North America to quickly include customer feedback into planned and existing models, the company has said.

Production of the new SUV is scheduled to start at the end of 2016, giving VW an entry into an important segment of the U.S. market. With the new product, the German automaker hopes to reverse flagging VW sales in the United States, which are down about 9 percent for the year through March compared to 2014.

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