By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
State Rep. Billy Spivey is drafting a bill to address issues arising from Cornersville Police patrol of Interstate 65 and its state safety department permit to do so.
"It would make some consequences automatic for bad actors, for lack of a better term, that are operating under a permit from the Department of Safety," Spivey said Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Cornersville Town Administrator Taylor Brandon said the town stopped running radar from the truck rest stop that's not in Cornersville. That patrol area was discontinued Dec. 14. Before that, town leaders interpreted their I-65 patrol permit to allow town enforcement on I-65 between Exits 22 and 27. Only one mile of I-65 at Exit 27 is in Cornersville.
Spivey's bill would address issues arising from the Tennessee Highway Patrol's issuance of interstate patrol permits. There are 11. They're issued to towns with populations of less than 10,000 people. Cornersville's new permit was issued with a clarification that enforcement could only be within town limits. Given Spivey's approach to past permits, it's clear there's a difference on how the permit should have been interpreted.
Under the Lewisburg Republican's proposed law, if a town patrolled beyond its town line, "there would be an automatic three-year revocation before the permitting process could be restarted," Spivey said. "There's also on-gong discussions about current rules within the Department of Safety and how they're applied."
Rules being examined by Spivey are "predominantly those that deal with discretion exercised by the department," he said. His bill would "better define what discretion they have."
What discretion does the department have on this?
"I don't know," Spivey said. "That's why we're talking about it. If it's determined that there's complete discretion by the department then there could be a revocation of the privilege at any time, not just during the time of the initial issuance and any subsequent request" for renewal of interstate patrol permits.
Cornersville's administrator reacted to that.
"They can revoke it at any time," Brandon said. "I was told that if THP felt that we were not operating as they want, then they could revoke the permit."
Spivey said towns like Cornersville - those including a small part of interstate - don't have to patrol those highways.
When it was noted that it appears that patrolling I-65 is optional for Cornersville, Brandon commented, "When we sought permission, we treated it like any other road and we did see it as legal to patrol all of the road between the exits.
"We did. We don't now," he said. "The new application changed the way we look at it now."
Spivey said he is "encouraged to see that Cornersville has stopped patrolling between 22 and 27."
The state legislator elected three months ago interprets Cornersville's past permits as not including I-65 patrols between Exits 22 and 27.
"That may be his contention, but that was not my understanding," Brandon said.
Spivey anticipates filing his bill this month.