Haslam Plans Special Session To Deal With DUI Law, But Not Durham | Nashville Public Radio

Haslam Plans Special Session To Deal With DUI Law, But Not Durham

Sep 2, 2016

Tennessee lawmakers will have to return to Nashville to solve a $60 million error in the state's new DUI law, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Friday.

But he's not asking legislators to tackle calls to expel disgraced state Rep. Jeremy Durham while they're in town.

Haslam issued a formal call to fix a mistake in a law meant to raise the penalties for underage drunken driving. State lawmakers had meant to align the punishments for underage DUIs with those of other adults, but in doing so, they also raised the blood alcohol content limit for 18-year-olds to 21-year-olds to .08.

The federal government requires the limit for young adults to be set at .02, the same as for minors under 18. Authorities have threatened to withhold some of the state's highway funding if it's not fixed by Oct. 1.

But the call did not include language allowing them to debate the fate of Durham. The Franklin Republican faces calls for expulsion after being accused of sexual harassment and misusing campaign funds.

Haslam says it's not his role as governor to deal with Durham, but legislative leaders are welcome to if they choose.

"I'll let other people decide that," he says.

The special session will take place on Sept. 12. It's unclear how much bringing lawmakers to town will cost taxpayers.

Durham will leave office in November, but not before qualifying for a state pension. Expulsion would deny him those payments.

Lawmakers have shown little appetite for punishing him, however. Expulsion petitions came up far short of the signatures needed.

The special session call also does not include language to discuss expulsion of Knoxville Democrat Joe Armstrong. He was convicted last month of one federal count related to tax evasion.