In rapid moves Thursday, the Tennessee state legislature:
*Passed in the Senate a bill to impose a half-cent sales tax. Several senators said it was simply a vehicle to get a budget conference committee started.
*Approved on third reading in the Senate a resolution to allow a referendum on state funding of abortions in 2006. The Senate beat back an amendment to allow such funding in cases of rape and incest, or those that threaten the life of the mother.
*Published two reports in the House on possible tax enhancements and proposed budget cuts. Both were to be studied over the weekend and taken up by the House Monday.
Passage of the half-cent sales tax does not mean the Senate is sold on the idea, several senators claimed. One way to pass a budget is to have the two Houses pass different versions of the same bill and work out the details in a conference committee of about a dozen members from each house.
The House, by contrast, was looking at four major new tax plans