TN Lawmakers Recall Update to Child Car Seat Law


Nashville Public Radio, March 10, 2016

By: Chas Sisk

Tennessee lawmakers are taking the unusual step of calling back a bill they've already passed.

The measure would lengthen how long children are in car seats, but lawmakers say they're facing an outcry that it goes too far.

The state House of Representatives voted Thursday to recall House Bill 1468. The proposal had cleared the legislature earlier this week and was on its way to the governor's desk.

It requires children under 5 to be in car seats and children under age 2 to be in seats that face backwards. That's longer than before.

But the most controversial part of the proposal deals with booster seats. It says children have to be in them until they reach age 12 or 4 feet 9 inches.

Since word of that provision got out, lawmakers have received dozens of calls, says House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin.

"And just like other things, sometimes you have something called buyer's remorse," he says. "We passed it. I voted for it. But the more I got to thinking about it and most members got to thinking about it, it's like, 'You know, maybe we should not have.' So we're going to pull it back to reexamine. That's all."

Democrats objected to the recall. The proposal's sponsor, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, says hospitals and pediatricians recommend keeping children in car seats longer.

And, Clemmons says, the booster seat requirement is the only part of his proposal that isn't new. Though he concedes the state's car seat law is vague, Clemmons says it has long required children under 4 feet 9 to remain in boosters until they're 12.

He says rewriting the proposal will put children in danger.

"That bill was intended and designed to increase children's safety and reflect national safety standards," he says. "The only explanation that was given on the House floor today was that people didn't understand the bill. Or that they didn't read the bill. That's unacceptable."