Equal Access to Public Property Act Passes House17-Feb-2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A bill designed to allow for equal access to all publicly-owned property for all Tennesseans is on its way to the Tennessee Senate.
House Bill 2638, authored by Representative Eric Watson (R—Cleveland), easily passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 70-26. The legislation prevents people from living on publicly-owned property not designated for residential use. Additionally, it prohibits individuals using publicly-owned property from posing a health hazard or threat to the safety and welfare of others. The bill now awaits consideration in the Senate which is expected as early as next week.
Upon passage of the bill, Watson remarked, “This bill is important because it restores the entire public’s right to utilize all public property around the State—not just a single group. It ensures the property paid for by all Tennesseans is able to be utilized by all Tennesseans.”
Some critics contend the bill targets only one group and does not affect all Tennesseans. Watson, who serves as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is quick to counter those assertions.
“On the contrary, I’d say this bill relates to the rights of every Tennessean. Every parcel of State property belongs to every Tennessean, not just a select group who want to commandeer it for themselves,” he said. “I believe, with the passage of this legislation, public property will be fully restored for the use of every member of the public.”
Watson concluded, “Simply put, this bill restores the free speech and assembly rights of all Tennesseans and it is my job to protect those precious constitutional rights.”
The text of the legislation can be accessed by clicking here.