Protestor tosses fake checks at Tenn. legislators - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Protestor tosses fake checks at Tenn. legislators

(AP) - Tennessee lawmakers went back to work Tuesday, opening their session for the second year of 107th General Assembly.

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey called the two chambers into order shortly after noon.

Top issues facing lawmakers this year are redistricting, grappling with a proposal to change lottery scholarship requirements to halt a drain on the program's cash reserves and passing a balanced spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1.

"We're looking forward to getting back to work," said Rep. Linda Elam, R-Mt. Juliet. "We're going to delve right into the legislative agenda, have a good session, get our business done and get back out to our districts."

The Republican proposal for redistricting is expected to be come up soon, possibly as early as Thursday. The GOP seems likely to pass the plan, despite complaints from Democrats' that it is likely to reduce the number of African-Americans serving in the legislature.

Members of Occupy Nashville, an anti-Wall Street protest that has been encamped in tents on the plaza across the street from Capitol since October, lined the hallway outside both chambers, calling for an end to the sales tax on food as members filed in.

After the playing of the National Anthem, someone in the House gallery threw pieces of green paper resembling checks that were titled "The People's Bribe" and were made out the Tennessee General Assembly for $99.99.

Gov. Bill Haslam was scheduled to present his legislative package later in the day.

Haslam has already exerted control over two controversial matters - creating school vouchers and changing teacher evaluation standards - by calling for formal studies that will essentially push off decisions until next year. He also has said that because of budget pressures he doesn't think this will be the year to make cuts in the estate tax or the Hall tax on income from stocks and bonds.

Many Republican lawmakers are still hoping they can take the action that allows them to run for re-election this on a tax-cutting record. Ramsey has said the Senate wants to take aim at the Hall tax this year, while Harwell and House Republicans have targeted a reduction in the estate tax.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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