Todd steps down as state House committee chairman after arrest


11:00 PM, Oct. 17, 2011
FRANKLIN Republican Rep. Curry Todd is stepping down as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee following his arrest on drunken driving and gun charges last week.

Todd, a lead sponsor of a controversial new Tennessee law that allows handgun carry permit holders to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, said in a news release that he informed Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of his decision on Monday.

The committee handles a wide range of legislative proposals, including alcohol bills.

"I told Speaker Harwell that I would step aside as Chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee until this matter is resolved, and she has accepted it," he said. "The committee's work is an important aspect of the General Assembly, and I do not want my actions to distract from that."

Harwell said in a statement that she welcomed Todd's resignation.

"I appreciate his willingness to step aside so that we may focus on legislative business," she said.

Todd, a Collierville Republican, was arrested in a Nashville traffic stop Oct. 11 after failing a roadside sobriety test and refusing to take a breath test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver's seat and center console.

Todd, who holds a state handgun carry permit, was charged with possession of a gun while under the influence and drunken driving. It is unclear where he was coming from when his SUV was pulled over for traveling 60 mph in a 40 mph zone near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities.

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that Todd has acknowledged and apologized for a "bad mistake."

Haslam told reporters after a speech in Franklin that he had spoken with Todd at a charity golf tournament hosted by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell and Democratic Rep. Gary Odom earlier in the day.

"I just asked him how he was doing ... He said, 'I realize I made a bad mistake, and I'm sorry,"' Haslam said.

"It was a big mistake from Rep. Todd that could have had dangerous consequences, and I think he's aware of that as well," Haslam said.

"Drinking and driving is wrong under any circumstances," he said. "Now obviously having a weapon in the car makes it worse."