Administration Cautions Lawmakers About Possible Repercussions

Nashville (AP) -- Governor Bredesen and the state's top industrial recruiter are cautioning lawmakers an English-only bill could hurt efforts to bring new businesses to Tennessee.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber says he's concerned how the bill is being perceived in other countries. Kisber's comments came in the wake of Japanese carmaker Toyota's decision to build a new assembly plant in Mississippi.

Bredesen says he met with legislative leaders Wednesday and expressed that he termed "grave concerns" about the bill.

The Senate sponsor of the measure is Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, who made illegal immigration part of his election campaign.

The bill passed the Transportation Committee 7-to-1 last week. It would have required anyone taking a driver's license exam in any language except English to first get a "written security clearance" from federal Homeland Security officials.

It was amended earlier this week to allow such applicants to simply show papers from the homeland security department stating they are authorized to be in the US.

Kisber says there are about 350 European companies, 160 Japanese companies and about a dozen South American companies with operations in Tennessee.

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