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1. Court restores Tennessee 1st time voter limit on mail voting -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A panel of federal appellate judges on Tuesday reinstated a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters in the state to appear in person to vote, reasoning in part that the COVID-19 pandemic is "unlikely to pose a serious threat during the next election cycle."

2. Hemp’s shaky promise -

They are located more than 2,500 miles apart. But except for their polar-opposite population bases, there are many similarities between tiny Ketchum, Idaho (2,878 residents, the latest census figures show) and Knoxville (741,000).

3. Gibson offering $59K for pieces of history -

Gibson is launching a global search this summer for missing shipping ledgers from 1959-1960. The ledgers contain the shipping records of all the Gibson guitars created during that year, and documents the “Golden Era” of the company’s 126-year old history.

4. Lee appoints members to criminal justice task force -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee has appointed members to a task force dedicated to addressing and improving Tennessee's criminal justice system.

Lee announced Wednesday that Brandon Gibson will chair the committee. Gibson is one of Lee's senior advisers after previously working as Tennessee's only female Court of Appeals judge. Lee had previously created the task force in an executive order in March.

5. Gov. Haslam vows to stay on sidelines of race to succeed him -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam won't endorse any of the Republicans seeking the nomination to succeed him, but said he has spoken to several potential candidates about the emotionally taxing nature of a running a statewide campaign in Tennessee.

6. Crider named chair of Baker Donelson group -

The law firm of Baker Donelson has named Christy Tosh Crider chair of its Health Care Litigation Group.

Crider is a shareholder located in Baker Donelson’s Nashville office where she will continue to serve as chair of the Firm’s Long Term Care Group, as well as the Firm’s Women’s Initiative. She manages a successful practice concentrated in the long-term care and behavioral health industries, managing the litigation of numerous long term care facilities around the country as well as serving as outside general counsel.

7. Gov. Haslam names David Purkey as safety commissioner -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has named David Purkey as the new commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety.

The safety commissioner oversees law enforcement and homeland security issues in the state and is in charge of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

8. Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons to leave Haslam cabinet -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Bill Gibbons is stepping down as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety this summer, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday.

9. ‘I’m the steak’ Norris carries Haslam’s agenda, except ... -

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris refers to himself as a “meat and potatoes” legislator. The four-term Republican senator from Collierville, a self-described policy wonk, is considering a run for governor in 2018. But if the race boils down to charisma, he says the media will have to determine if he has enough to win the top office.

10. Retired teacher doesn’t mind going against GOP positions -

State Rep. Jim Coley considers himself an independent thinker in the General Assembly. He definitely doesn’t vote down the Republican Party line.

“I think there’s a place in politics for moderation or moderates, because at one time it was a classical virtue and a Christian virtue,” Coley says.

11. Officials warn against impaired driving on Sunday -

NASHVILLE (AP) — State officials are urging Tennesseans to be careful about driving impaired on Super Bowl Sunday. Many people will be driving to bars or to Super Bowl parties to watch football's biggest game.

12. Measure increasing seat belt fines among new Tennessee laws -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Motorists in Tennessee who don't buckle up could face stiffer fines under one of many new Tennessee laws taking effect Friday.

The tougher seat belt law increases the fine for first-time offenders from $10 to $25 and from $20 to $50 for repeat offenders.

13. Refugees, higher education, privatization on tap for new session -

State Sen. Ken Yager isn’t quite ready for the state of Tennessee to reclaim the Refugee Resettlement Program from Catholic Charities.

“I’m not advocating that. I am advocating a little bit more accountability and closer review of the funding,” says Yager, a Kingston Republican who chaired a December joint meeting of Senate and House State and Local Government committees.

14. New law will increase seat belt fines in Tennessee -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Motorists who don't buckle up in Tennessee will soon face a stiffer fine.

A new law passed by state lawmakers and signed by the governor takes effect on Jan. 1.

State law enforcement officials held a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol this week to discuss the measure.

15. Bid to end Tennessee carry permit requirement fails in House -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to eliminate Tennessee's requirement to obtain a state-issued permit to openly carry handguns was defeated in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss Jonesborough said he introduced the measure because he believes that "current laws here in Tennessee infringe on the Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution."

16. Group examines Tennessee sentencing laws, recidivism -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A task force formed by Gov. Bill Haslam met Wednesday to examine Tennessee's sentencing structure and look at ways to reduce the state's high recidivism rate.

The group held its second meeting since being formed by Haslam earlier this year.

17. Appeals court rules against Occupy Nashville -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two top Tennessee officials are protected from claims that they violated the rights of Occupy Nashville protesters who were arrested on a plaza outside the state Capitol in October 2011, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

18. Panel hears discussion on criminal justice reform -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Attorneys and law enforcement officials speaking before a legislative panel examining criminal justice reform in Tennessee say the state's sentencing laws need to be reviewed.

That was part of the discussion during Monday's Senate Judiciary Study Committee hearing.

19. Open gun carry bill defeated in Tennessee House panel -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A bill seeking to allow Tennesseans to openly carry firearms in public without permits was overwhelmingly defeated a House subcommittee on Monday night.

The House Finance Subcommittee voted 10-1 against the measure sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss. The Jonesborough Republican later told reporters that he will abandon an effort to bypass committees and call the bill for a full floor vote.

20. Traffic deaths in Tennessee down in 2013 to 988 -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Preliminary figures from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security show the state had 988 traffic fatalities in 2013. That's only the fourth time in 50 years the number has dipped under 1,000.

21. Wait time at driver services centers decreases -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says the average wait time at state driver services centers has decreased so far this year compared to last year.

Officials say the average wait time from Jan. 1 through June 30 at centers statewide, excluding reinstatement centers, fell from 34 minutes in 2012 to 31.5 minutes in 2013.

22. State warns of driver license phone scam -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is warning residents about a phone scam involving driver licenses.

Several citizens in west Tennessee have reported receiving phone calls regarding an issue with their 2012-2013 driver license renewals, and then the caller requests the person's Social Security number.

23. Judge rules in favor of Occupy Nashville members -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of members of the Occupy Nashville movement who claimed their free speech rights were violated when they were arrested while protesting in 2011 on War Memorial Plaza.

24. Downtown driver service centers to close for renovations -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The state Department of Safety is closing driver services centers in Columbia and downtown Nashville for renovation.

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said in a release Tuesday that the renovations are part of efforts to improve customer service.

25. Drivers can renew Tennessee licenses at kiosks -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The state is opening self-service kiosks that will allow drivers to renew or replace their driver licenses and state identification cards that will hopefully reduce lines and wait times.

26. Commissioner not surprised at more traffic deaths -

NASHVILLE (AP) — State safety officials say they aren't surprised that traffic fatalities were up statewide in 2012.

Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons noted that 2011 had the lowest number of Tennessee traffic deaths in nearly a half-century and officials knew it would be difficult to replicate.

27. Governor hearing department budget requests -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam's state budget hearings continue in Nashville with presentations by officials for transportation, children's services and other departments.

As the hearings opened Tuesday, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said he wasn't asking for funds to expand pre-kindergarten classes. However, Huffman said expanding enrollment in schools and inflation will require an additional $2 million in routine cost increases.

28. Tennessee opens new unit to investigate identity theft -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee's safety department is creating a new unit to investigate identity theft crimes that local law enforcement agencies don't have the resources to target.

Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security Bill Gibbons announced on Tuesday that the 14-member unit would be made up of personnel from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the state Office of Homeland Security and the Driver Services division.

29. State gets tech award for iPads at driver centers -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The use of iPads to improve wait times at Tennessee driver service centers has brought the state a technology award.

The Center for Digital Government cited the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security's use of iPads at several centers and gave the state an award in the government-to-citizen state government category.

30. New rules to quickly clear crashes announced -

NASHVILLE (AP) - State safety and transportation officials have unveiled new protocols aimed at getting major highways reopened more quickly after crashes.

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Tennessee Safety Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons announced the new rules on Thursday in Nashville.

31. Some Occupy Nashville protesters remove tents -

NASHVILLE (AP) - About half of the Occupy Nashville protesters that were encamped on the Capitol complex for nearly five months have removed their tents.

Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the protesters informed a state trooper patrolling the area that they planned to leave sometime Tuesday night.

32. Bill targeting Occupy protesters advances -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that seeks to prevent Occupy Nashville protesters from staying overnight on the plaza next to the state Capitol advanced in the House on Wednesday.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland was approved on a voice vote in the House Judiciary Subcommittee. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

33. Haslam airs plan to fight drugs, gangs, violence -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday announced a coordinated plan to fight drug abuse, gangs and domestic violence in Tennessee.

The plan was produced over the course of a year by representatives of 11 state agencies to reduce drug abuse and trafficking, lower violent crime and cut the rate of repeat offenders.

34. Governor seeks to drop Occupy Nashville charges -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will ask prosecutors to drop charges against dozens of Occupy Nashville protesters arrested last month for trespassing, his office said Thursday.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the decision to dismiss the charges against 55 protesters was made in light of a federal judge's ruling that the state couldn't enforce the new curfew on the grounds around the state Capitol.

35. Governor seeks to drop Occupy Nashville charges -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will ask prosecutors to drop charges against dozens of Occupy Nashville protesters arrested last month for trespassing, his office said Thursday.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the decision to dismiss the charges against 55 protesters was made in light of a federal judge's ruling that the state couldn't enforce the new curfew on the grounds around the state Capitol.

36. THP email: Top official concerned 'Occupy' raids hurt road safety efforts -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Emails obtained by WTVF-TV show a top official at the Tennessee Highway Patrol was worried that the cost of raids against Occupy Nashville protesters would hurt troopers' efforts to prevent traffic fatalities this holiday season.

37. Protesters take steps to make area safe -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Occupy Nashville protesters said Tuesday they're taking steps to maintain order and safety on the grounds near the state Capitol where they're camped, and anyone who doesn't adhere to the rules is removed from the group.

38. State official: Police can't 'baby-sit' protesters -

NASHVILLE (AP) -- Tennessee state troopers cleared out Wall Street protesters from the state Capitol grounds early Friday because they didn't have the resources to "babysit" the overnight encampment, the state's safety commissioner said.

39. Long wait at license centers gets longer -

NASHVILLE (AP) - As thousands of older Tennessee residents prepare to visit driver service centers to get the photo IDs required by a new state voting law, they should be ready to stand in line a long time.

40. Driver's license offices seek to cut wait times -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A new requirement that Tennessee voters must have photo identification is putting more pressure on driver's license examining stations to cut wait times.

The administration of Gov. Bill Haslam is moving to improve the efficiency of the Driver Services Division of the Tennessee Department of Safety. A pilot program is under way in Davidson County and the aim is to reduce the time people wait to receive service from an average of 50 minutes to 30 minutes.

41. A look at Haslam administration salaries -

Here is a list of Gov. Bill Haslam's department heads' new salaries and how much they have increased over their counterparts in former Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration:

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman: $200,004, 11 percent.

42. Haslam boosts commissioners' salaries -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has increased how much his agency heads earn compared with what their counterparts made in the administration of his Democratic predecessor, an Associated Press analysis of public records has found.

43. Tenn. troopers want to drop 'highway' from name -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State troopers want to drop the word 'highway' from their agency's name and become known as the Tennessee State Patrol.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday unanimously advanced a measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Southerland of Morristown to a full floor vote after receiving assurances that the change would not be a step toward creating a state police force.