March 17, 2009
Senator Mae Beavers
Urges House Democrats to Reconsider Open Container
Nashville, TN – On St. Patrick’s Day, one of the most dangerous days of the year in terms of alcohol-related vehicular accidents, Senator Mae Beavers is urging House Democrats to reconsider their vote on SB291 – the bill to ban open containers from vehicles. This bill will remove Tennessee from a list of eleven notoriously dangerous states when it comes to alcohol-related incidents who do not comply with federal open-container guidelines.
Forbes magazine has recently rated Tennessee as the eleventh-worst state when it comes to safety on roads and alcohol-related incidents. Consequently, the other eleven non-compliant states also stack the Forbes list ahead of Tennessee.
“We must not continue to be a rogue state when it comes to drunk driving,” said Beavers. “Tennessee has notoriously been at the top of a list of states that seem to want to crumble to the demands of the liquor lobby and encourage drunk driving. It must end, and it must end today.”
In addition to the safety issues and statistics that support such legislation, passage of this bill would also free up approximately 16 million dollars to the state government to use for projects such as road and bridge construction. Currently, TDOT is penalized by the federal government and only allowed such funds to be used on safety issues such as DUI commercials. Those funds are also reduced every year by approximately one to two million dollars.
Last week, the House Local Subcommittee of the State and Local Committee voted in a deadlock, currently stalling the bill’s progress to the full standing committee. Representative Ben West, who has voted for the bill in previous years, decided to vote against the bill this year.
“I trust that Representative West, Representative Miller, and Representative Jones have the best interest of all Tennesseans in mind when they cast their votes,” assured Beavers. “I hope this was a temporary lapse of judgment, and I hope to work with them, ensuring them of the bill’s positive safety and financial benefits.”
The bill can be reconsidered in the House subcommittee if Representative West, Miller, or Jones requests it. Beavers has worked with West on numerous bills, including signing onto approximately 30 of West’s firearms bills as the Senate co-sponsor. “I urge all members of the House and Senate to attend tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary committee where we will debate the merits of open container legislation,” said Beavers. “I hope to be able to answer any further questions that Representatives West, Miller, or Jones have.”