Tennessee partially shuts down government offices; rest areas closed

| 7/8/2002

Many Tennessee state government offices will keep their doors closed this week as the legislature tries to come up with a budget for the fiscal year that began Monday. During the first day of the partial shutdown of state government, about 22,000 "nonessential" state workers did not report to work.

Offices of the Tennessee International Registration Plan and state license bureau were closed Monday after the General Assembly failed Sunday night to approve a new tax plan. In addition, state road projects have been put on hold, rest areas are closed and daily highway debris cleanup has been halted this week.

The IRP's national office said they are scrambling for answers for Tennessee truckers needing to register during the shutdown. "We are waiting to hear from the IRP in the state about what truckers should do," said IRP spokesperson Tom Papabematriou. "There is nothing in the plan for this."

OOIDA's Business Services department said Monday that when they contacted the governor's office to inquire what truckers needing to renew their license should do during the partial state shutdown, they were told only that licenses couldn't be renewed and drivers would receive no leniency from police. "They said it was 'too bad' and guys would have to shut down if their license expires," said OOIDA's Jerry Bartley.

As lawmakers continue to hammer away on the budget, the state will operate under an emergency services budget that shuts down much of government. The emergency budget, which the Senate sent to the governor Sunday, expires Friday.

--Keith Goble, staff writer