Haslam calls special session in effort to save $60M in highway funds

Gov. Bill Haslam is calling a special legislative session in order to resolve an issue that could cost the state $60 million in federal highway funds that were in jeopardy after the state passed a law that made changes to Tennessee's DUI law.

Federal authorities say the state’s law is not in compliance with a federal zero tolerance law, which forces states to set 0.02 as the allowable blood-alcohol level for drivers under 21.

In an effort to bolster the penalties for those found drinking and driving while under the legal age, state lawmakers changed the law to make the allowable blood-alcohol level to 0.08.

After weeks of discussion with federal authorities, Haslam announced the need for a special session Friday afternoon.

The Governor issued a proclamation calling for a special session to be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12. 

"Though we disagree with the United States Department of Transportation's determination in this respect, I am asking that we address this issue with an extraordinary session because it is in the best interest of our state to ensure that we receive our full share of federal-aid highway funding in federal fiscal year 2017," Haslam said in a letter to the General Assembly.

The special session would be the second in two years and the 59th overall.


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