Tennessee

Chas Sisk-WPLN

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada said on Tuesday he plans to step down from his position. 

Casada's decision comes hours after the House Republican Caucus cast an unprecedented 45-24 no-confidence vote in Casada, after racist and lewd text messages between him and his former chief of staff were leaked to the media. 

"When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as Speaker," Casada said.

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Officials say the seven people killed in two homes in rural Tennessee included the parents of the suspect and other relatives.

Law enforcement officials arrested 25-year-old Michael Cummins on Saturday about a mile away from one of the Sumner County crime scenes. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch called the scenes "horrific" and "gruesome."

SHALINA CHATLANI / WPLN

Proposals that would target criminal justice, health care and education took center stage at Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s first State of the State address Monday night.

The governor also presented his first budget, which consists of $38.5 billion.

That budget includes $25 million for a school voucher program called  Tennessee Education Savings Accounts. The pilot program is meant to target low-income students in school districts with schools in the bottom 10 percent. These school districts are Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Jackson-Madison and Shelby. It also includes the Achievement School District, which oversees schools taken over by the state.

Abortion: Tennessee Lawmakers Advance Fetal Heartbeat Bill

Feb 26, 2019
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A bill that would ban most Tennessee women from obtaining abortions once a fetus' heartbeat is detected cleared a key hurdle Tuesday, advancing for a full House vote in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

The move comes amid a national movement from anti-abortion legislators and activists who hope that President Donald Trump's appointments to the Supreme Court will increase their chances of undermining abortion rights.

Stephen Jerkins/WPLN

A measure in the Tennessee House of Representatives that would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected has gained the support of Gov. Bill Lee.

The new governor said he’ll back any legislation that reduces the number of abortions, even if it takes the state to court.

The bill, carried by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, would ban abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen around six weeks into a pregnancy.

STEPHEN JERKINS / WPLN

Gov. Bill Haslam wraps up eight years in office at the end of this week. His tenure has been marked by some nationally recognized successes — like boosting college enrollment — and one big defeat: the failure of his Medicaid expansion plan, Insure Tennessee.

But in his final days, Haslam told WPLN senior editor Chas Sisk he wants Tennesseans to remember him for one main idea: his pragmatism.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has granted executive clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who has been serving a life sentence for a murder she committed when she was 16 years old. Brown's cause was championed by a number of celebrities, including Rihanna.

Brown's supporters have said she acted in self-defense when she killed a man who had paid to have sex with her, describing her as a victim of human trafficking who was preyed upon when she was homeless. They also say Brown has remade herself while in prison — and on Monday, Haslam agreed.

Tennessee Governor Unveils Upgrades to Student Assessments

Oct 24, 2018
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has unveiled new changes to improve the state's problem-plagued elementary and secondary school online testing process.

Haslam announced Wednesday that TNReady will now produce faster test results, provide teachers with more resources to prepare their students for the test and offer schools more affordable technology devices.

The changes come at a time when Haslam is preparing to leave office and hand off the troubled test administration to a new governor — where both Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee vying for the office have advocated for a total reset of the system.

Tennessee Inmate Asks for Electrocution After Court Ruling

Oct 9, 2018
istock photos

A Tennessee inmate set to be executed this week is asking the state to die by electric chair over lethal injection, calling the move the "lesser of two evils."

Attorney Kelley Henry confirmed Monday that Edmund Zagorski made the request roughly two hours before the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol is constitutional. The decision paved the way for the execution of Zagorski on Thursday.

Claims Fly in Ads in Competitive Tennessee Senate Race

Oct 4, 2018
Facebook

As more attention is focused on Tennessee's increasingly competitive Senate race, a flood of attack ads continues to hit people's screens.

Influential political groups bought a handful of ads this week that cover a wide range of issues circling the race.

One ad, paid for by the Republican National Committee, claims sexual misconduct cases "skyrocketed" when Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen was governor.

Mixed Success for Candidates Favoring Trump in Tennessee

Aug 3, 2018
TN Photo Services

Basking in the afterglow of an emphatic Republican primary victory in her bid for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn proclaimed it a win for the agenda of President Donald Trump, a statement from Tennessee voters that they want to give him their full support.

"We know that what Tennesseans say that they want to see in their next senator is somebody who is going to stand with President Trump to finish the agenda that they voted for when they elected him," she said Thursday.

But the Republican primary for governor tested the limits of her theory.

Rough Governor's Race Highlights Thursday's Tennessee Primary Election

Aug 2, 2018
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Four candidates who have spent tens of millions of dollars of their own wealth fighting over who is more devoted to President Donald Trump face off Thursday in the Republican primary for Tennessee governor.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn face only nominal primary opposition in their high-profile race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker, one of several contests that could decide control of the Senate.

In an election year shaping up to be a good one for Democratic women candidates, Republican women could see their numbers drop after November. But one state where GOP women might find success is in Tennessee.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn will go up against former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in one of the year's most critical and competitive Senate races. Rep. Diane Black is running for governor, though she first has to win a very competitive primary next week.

WKU Public Radio

The number of Tennesseans casting ballots during the state’s early voting period continues to increase.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett told The Tennessean that early voting is up about 2 percent compared to the same time period during the 2014 election cycle.

The early voting period in the Volunteer State began July 13 and ends July 28. A little more than 273,000 ballots had been cast by July 20.

How the Trade War is Changing Minds In a Senate Battleground

Jul 11, 2018
Tosh Farms

Jimmy Tosh's sprawling hog farm in rural Tennessee is an unlikely battleground in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.

Yet his 15,000 acres two hours west of Nashville showcase the practical risks of President Donald Trump's trade policies and the political threat to red-state Republican Senate candidates such as Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn.

Tosh, a third-generation farmer who almost always votes Republican, said he's voting this fall for Blackburn's Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, in part because Trump's trade wars are hurting his family business — a sizable one with some 400 employees and 30,000 pigs.

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