Tennessee

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

Gov. Bill Lee is defending his decision to declare Oct. 10 a "day of prayer, humility and fasting."

The announcement of the declaration has been received with mixed emotions, and some groups are pushing back on it.

Lee says the idea of a day of prayer is to create unity across the state. 

 


Brian Latimer/WPLN

The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to move decades of coal ash sitting near the Cumberland River in Gallatin, after a settlement with environmental groups.

And before the relocation process begins, TVA says it's hoping for more public involvement.

The utility is forming a new community action group that it says will be made up of Sumner County residents who can bring concerns to TVA. Spokesman Scott Brooks says TVA’s approach will be hands-off.

 


Blake Farmer | WPLN

Tennessee’s two-day waiting period to get an abortion is on trial this week in Nashville's federal court, and abortion rights supporters say the stakes are much higher than when the law took effect four years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled waiting periods of one day are constitutional, even they require two trips to the abortion clinic. But the abortion providers challenging Tennessee's law argue in a pre-trial brief that each previous case challenging a waiting period has depended on the circumstances in that state.


Tennessee Abortion Clinics Hope to Defeat Waiting Period

Sep 23, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

The former medical director of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi testified on Monday that Tennessee's 48-hour waiting period for abortions actually delays the procedure by up to a month.

Dr. Sarah Wallet was testifying in the federal trial challenging Tennessee's 2015 law. Tennessee is one of 14 states with laws requiring women to make two trips to an abortion clinic, first for mandatory counseling and then for the abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Alex Rieger of the state attorney general's office said in opening statements that Tennessee's law is similar to laws in other states that have been upheld by the courts. He said the waiting period "offers women a chance to make a different choice."

Blake Farmer WPLN

Vanderbilt cardiologists are finding some benefits in keeping things simple to reduce the risk of heart disease. Their study of a four-in-one pill was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Vanderbilt researchers had to make their own "polypill," as they’re known. They put three kinds of low-dose blood pressure medication and a cholesterol drug in a purple capsule.

And participants, like Lula Williams, 65, of Gautier, Miss., found it much easier to take as prescribed than her current cocktail of medication.


TN photo services

States have been divided over whether Purdue Pharma should be allowed to use Chapter 11 protection as part of a $10 billion settlement. But Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the state needs that money now to address effects of the opioid crisis, like funding addiction treatment and buying overdose reversal drugs.

"It’s not just the traditional dollar settlement on a claim that could sit out there forever and ever," he tells WPLN. "This has some real, public health urgency to it."


TN photo services

Tennessee’s Medicaid program is preparing to finalize the country’s first block grant application within days. The plan would reimagine the way the federal government funds health care for low-income Tennesseans, and according to TennCare officials, it envisions expansion of service rather than cuts.

The block grant proposal is not just a request for a lump sum, as critics feared. TennCare has come up with a formula that gives the state even more incentive and flexibility to keep medical costs down. That’s something TennCare has already done better than most state Medicaid programs.


Blake Farmer WPLN

Tennessee’s largest recipient of opioids from 2006 to 2012 wants a recount. A federal database found a pharmacy in Murfreesboro owned by state Sen. Shane Reeves sold 46 million pills over six years. But the company now believes that figure is way off.

TwelveStone Health Partners, which was known during the period as Reeves-Sain Extended Care, has done its own audit for the period covered by the database. The count came up with 2.5 million opioid pills — which is a fraction of the reported total.


Sergio Martínez-Beltrán/WPLN

Tennessee state representatives elected a new House speaker Friday, following months of chaos inside the GOP-dominated chamber as the former leader became engulfed in multiple scandals involving sexually explicit text messages.

House members met for a special legislative session with the sole purpose of naming Rep. Cameron Sexton to lead the chamber. There were no opposing votes, though two Democratic members abstained.

"In this chamber, I will always encourage robust but respectful debate," Sexton said during his acceptance speech. "Debate and conversation make us stronger."

Stephen Jerkins WPLN

Tennessee lawmakers will come back to Nashville later this week to pick a new House speaker.

The election will take place during Friday’s special session, which was called with specific guidelines on what can and cannot take place.

Gov. Bill Lee announced the special session in June, and according to the Tennessee Constitution, he has established what can be discussed during the meeting. The main purpose is for the House to elect its new speaker.  


Blake Farmer WPLN

State Senator Shane Reeves of Murfreesboro says he wasn’t surprised to see his pharmacy as the top recipient of opioids in Tennessee — more than double the next highest pharmacy in the state according to a Washington Post database.

Over a six year period, more than 45 million pain pills passed through what is now named Twelve Stone Health Partners. But Reeves also rejects that his business contributed to the opioid epidemic.

Asked to explain how the company became such an outlier on opioids, Reeves insists on giving a tour of the company's new facility.


In modern medicine, the mind and body often stay on two separate tracks in terms of treatment and health insurance reimbursement. But it's hard to maintain physical health while suffering from a psychological disorder.

Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Lee, is facing public backlash after he declared Saturday "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day," continuing a decades-old tradition honoring the Confederate general, slave trader and onetime leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

TN Photo Services

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday he is not running for the U.S. Senate.

Haslam, who was openly contemplating a senate bid, had been quiet about his aspirations to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander after leaving the governor's office this year.

But, in a statement released Thursday morning, Haslam said running for U.S. Senate was not his “calling.”

 


This article was produced in partnership with nonprofit news organization MLK50, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

This year, a hospital housekeeper left her job just three hours into her shift and caught a bus to Shelby County General Sessions Court in Memphis, Tenn.

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