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Editorial Results (free)

1. Tennessee House sees big changes to committees -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee Republican lawmaker who has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women was tapped Thursday to lead a legislative education panel.

House Speaker Glen Casada picked Rep. David Byrd of Waynesboro to oversee the education administration subcommittee. The change was part of sweeping changes Casada unveiled Thursday to the House's committee system that expanded it to include more than 40 chairs of panels and subcommittees.

2. Tennessee Senate GOP renominates speaker, picks new leader -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Senate Republicans have renominated Randy McNally as speaker and have chosen Jack Johnson as the new majority leader.

3. If only legislators could focus on important issues -

A year-old law enabling Tennessee colleges and universities to keep secret the “proprietary” fees they pay money managers for handling risky investments is likely to be reviewed this year.

4. Jack Daniel's may no longer be scared cow -

When Van Halen front man David Lee Roth opened a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on stage back in the ’80s, the last thing he thought about was taxes and court appeals when he took a big swig of whiskey.

5. Jack Daniel’s squeezed between barrel tax, threat of trade war -

NASHVILLE – Jack Daniel’s is over a barrel – literally – regarding a tax assessment, an attorney general’s opinion and the potential impact of President Donald Trump’s trade tariff.

6. Report: 538 public records exemptions in Tennessee law -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A report has found that there are now 538 exemptions to Tennessee's public records law, about six times as many as there were three decades ago.

According to the state comptroller's office, the Tennessee Public Records Act only had two statutory exceptions when it was enacted in 1957. By 1988, a legislative committee reported there were 89 exceptions.

7. Black names leadership teams in all 95 Tennessee counties -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black has named leadership teams in all 95 Tennessee counties.

8. Yager withdraws from consideration for TVA board -

NASHVILLE (AP) — State Sen. Ken Yager is withdrawing from consideration for the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

9. Tennessee House OKs bill opening officer shooting records -

The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Monday requiring records about officer-involved shooting deaths be open to the public.

Sponsored by Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Sen. Lee Harris, both Memphis Democrats, the move opens the curtain on Tennessee Bureau of Investigation records, which are exempt from the Tennessee Open Records Act and confidential. Generally they are disclosed to the public only through a court order.

10. Senate supporter of more fundraising had to return donations -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A state lawmaker who supported doubling the amount of money that senators could raise during their four-year terms was required to return nearly $60,000 in donations that he over-collected in 2016.

11. Senate votes to double amount of money candidates can raise -

Legislation enabling state lawmakers to raise campaign funds during even-year session recesses evolved into a markedly different sort of bill this week: one allowing significant contribution increases for Senate candidates.

12. Senate panel moves to prohibit state park outsourcing -

A Senate panel approved legislation Monday prohibiting the outsourcing of jobs at state parks less than a week after the State Building Commission renewed plans for rebuilding and privatizing the inn at Fall Creek Falls.

13. Some in GOP chafe new building named after Cordell Hull -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are nearing a move into freshly overhauled offices at the state Capitol complex, but some Republicans are chafing at the building being named after Democrat Cordell Hull.

14. Can GOP keep grasp on success Ramsey built? -

As much as Tennessee Republicans want to put a happy face on the departure of Senate Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, holding it together in the wake of his departure will be an awesome task.

Even Ramsey says it will be hard for his successor – most likely longtime Sen. Randy McNally – to maintain the same control over the Republican Caucus and keep factions from fighting over direction and control of the Upper Chamber, where it holds a 28-5 advantage against Democrats.

15. Bipartisan skeptics doubt Haslam’s outsourcing plans -

Poor timing and questionable numbers: That’s how legislators are viewing a business justification plan for outsourcing facilities management across Tennessee.

The Office of Customer Focused Government tells state senators, if all departments opt in, the state could save $35.8 million by the second year of a contract under study for building operations and services – without laying off state workers or cutting pay and benefits.

16. Senate OKs extending temporary Tennessee tax into 4th decade -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee's "temporary" tax used to pay for roadside cleanup would extend into its fourth decade under a bill advancing in the state Legislature.

The tax on beer and soft drinks was first enacted in 1981, and has been reauthorized every six years since then.

17. 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.

18. Corker says Visa waivers a bigger risk than refugees -

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he believes the nation needs to stop admitting Syrian refugees until security problems are solved, but the nation’s “bigger risk” in letting terrorists slip into the country lies with the nation’s Visa Waiver Program.

19. Legislators not moved by hymns, prayer or reason -

The words of “We Shall Overcome” and “Wade in the Water” resonate through the halls as Insure Tennessee supporters descend on the Legislative Plaza for a key vote on the plan to provide coverage to 280,000 working Tennesseans.

20. Effort to repeal 'Tennessee Whiskey' law up for key votes -

NASHVILLE (AP) — An effort to repeal the state's bill determining which spirits can be sold as "Tennessee Whiskey" faces key votes in the state House and Senate committees on Tuesday.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton and Sen. Ed Jackson of Jackson. Both are Republicans.

21. Eliminating Hall income tax raises new problems -

Republican lawmakers are lining up legislation to reduce or phase out Tennessee’s Hall income tax on investments, even though Gov. Bill Haslam is concerned about losing revenue amid the state’s economic ups and downs.

22. Tennessee office that defends death row inmates comes under fire -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A state agency that defends death row inmates is being criticized for using taxpayer dollars to pay for a legal battle that seeks information on the drugs and people involved in executions while also challenging a law that says electrocution can be used as an alternative to lethal injection.

23. TPA awards 2 lawmakers Open Government Award -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two lawmakers from eastern Tennessee have received the 2014 Open Government Award from state newspapers for opposing efforts to weaken the state's open records and public meetings law.

24. Parole board chairman to retire this week -

NASHVILLE (AP) - When Parole Board Chairman Charles Traughber steps down this week after working with offenders for more than 40 years, he says his fondest memories will be of those he helped work their way back into society.

25. Governor signs public notices bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill to require public notices to be published on newspaper websites.

The measure maintains a requirement for public notices to be published in the print editions of newspapers. It would also create a statewide online clearinghouse for all notices.

26. War hero's school still set to lose state funds -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Alvin C. York Institute is still scheduled to lose direct state funding in the summer of 2014.

The high school, which was a gift of war hero York to his home county of Fentress, has about twice as many students as the county system's high school, Clarkrange.

27. Renewed bid would dilute Tennessee open meetings law -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A renewed push is under way to get Tennessee lawmakers to allow local official to hold more closed-door meetings.

Williamson County Commissioner Bob Barnwell, who also spearheaded a similar attempt last year, has written to local government colleagues around the state urging them to encourage state lawmakers to pass a bill to allow private meetings among officials as long as a quorum isn't present.

28. Supermarket wine bill clears panel by single vote -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets and convenience stores scored its first legislative victory on Tuesday after years of frustration.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 5-4 to advance the bill that would allow cities and counties to hold referendums next year to decide whether to expand wine sales beyond the state's nearly 600 licensed liquor stores.

29. Tennessee lawmakers to decide fate of supermarket wine -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are poised to decide this week whether a proposal to allow supermarket wine sales moves ahead or withers on the vine.

The bill to overhaul the current system that prevents shoppers from buying wine alongside groceries faces votes in both House and Senate committees this week, where as little as a single vote could decide the bill's fate after months of lobbying.

30. Bid to clamp down on lawmaker allowances delayed -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to eliminate hotel allowances for some Tennessee lawmakers was put on hold Tuesday after a state Senate committee member said the reimbursement rules should be tightened for the entire Legislature.

31. Guns in parking lots measure sent for Senate vote -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A measure to eliminate the rights of businesses, schools and universities to bar employees from storing firearms in parked vehicles is headed for a full Senate vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 on Tuesday to advance the bill after Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, refused a request to hear from representatives of FedEx Corp. or other large employers that oppose the bill.

32. Bill to close grant records stalls in Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republicans have backed off - at least temporarily - of Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to seal off information about companies seeking economic development grants after an impassioned debate between supporters and Democratic Sen. Roy Herron, who demanded to know why ownership records would not be made available to the public.

33. Bills to change pension plans stall in Legislature -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Proposals to change the retirement system for public employees in Tennessee stalled Monday in the Legislature when a joint panel of lawmakers decided they need more study of the issue.

34. Harwell opposes changes to Tenn. open meetings law -

NASHVILLE (AP) - House Speaker Beth Harwell has voiced opposition to efforts to water down Tennessee's open meetings law and has called on a Republican colleague to drop a bill seeking to make changes to the current rules.

35. Senate chairman opposes changes to sunshine law -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The chairman of a Senate committee says he's against changes to the state's Open Meetings Act he believes would prevent transparency and undermine the public's trust in government.