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Editorial Results (free)

1. New bipartisan caucus looks to the future -

There’s a new caucus at the state Capitol: the Tennessee Future Caucus, a bipartisan group geared toward younger lawmakers and focused on finding common ground.

Co-chairs are Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, and Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson. The caucus is designed for lawmakers age 45 and younger. At least 29 lawmakers fit into that age group, including 14 new members, according to the General Assembly’s website.

2. Tennessee police oversight board subpoenas limited in bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee legislative panel has changed a bill to maintain, but limit, subpoena power for local community boards that investigate police misconduct.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the amended community oversight board bill Tuesday. It would require a board-hired special investigator, the police chief or head of police internal affairs to request subpoenas from a judge.

3. Anti-abortion group opposes Tennessee fetal heartbeat bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) — An anti-abortion group in Tennessee is opposing a bill that would ban most women from obtaining the procedure once a fetus' heartbeat is detected.

Tennessee Right to Life announced Tuesday they are against the bill because it raises too many legal concerns and could weaken the state's current abortion ban.

4. Tennessee bill to nix 1 death penalty court review advances -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee bill to eliminate one state court's review of death sentences is headed to the Senate floor.

The Judiciary Committee voted favorably Tuesday for Republican Sen. John Stevens' bill, despite a judge's testimony that his court takes less than a year of sometimes three decades of court action before executions.

5. Top Middle Tennessee commercial sales for January 2019 -

Top commercial real estate sales, January 2019, for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

6. Tennessee mulls 1 less court review before executions -

NASHVILLE (AP) — As Tennessee ramps up for another round of executions, the Republican-led Legislature is considering eliminating one level of state court review of death sentences.

A bill named for fallen Dickson County Sheriff's Sgt. Daniel Baker would provide for automatic reviews of death penalty cases by the state Supreme Court, skipping over Tennessee's Court of Criminal Appeals. The same concept failed two years ago. This year, it has the support of the Senate and House speakers.

7. GOP leaders seek to limit local community oversight panels -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation limiting the powers of community oversight boards just months after Democratic-leaning Nashville passed a referendum establishing such a group to investigate police misconduct claims.

8. Tennessee gov, top GOP lawmakers back heartbeat abortion ban -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee and the top two GOP state lawmakers say they support a push to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

9. Bill would require election officials to resign before running -

Democrats in the state legislature are pushing a bill that would force the secretary of state to vacate the office if that official decides to run for public office.

The move follows several recent contests in which secretaries of state have been accused of gaming the electoral systems they oversee while running for office. The most notable controversy was in the Georgia governor’s race, when Democrat Stacey Abrams lost her bid last year to become the state’s first African-American governor. She ran against then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

10. Lee: Legal to investigate if Shelby County breaking immigration law -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov.-elect Bill Lee says he will direct his legal team to investigate whether Tennessee's most populated county is following a new law that prohibits local authorities from requiring a warrant or probable cause before complying with federal immigration detainers.

11. 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.

12. Tennessee lawmakers sworn in, elect top leaders -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have officially voted in their top legislative leaders to oversee the House and Senate for the next two years.

On Tuesday, House Republicans and a small handful of Democrats elected Rep. Glen Casada as the chamber's next speaker. He replaces outgoing Speaker Beth Harwell.

13. Haslam grants clemency to woman convicted as teen -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A woman who says she was a 16-year-old sex trafficking victim when she killed a man in 2004 was granted clemency Monday by Tennessee's governor and soon will be released from prison.

14. Tennessee GOP leaders: Shelby Co. skirting new immigration law -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's top Republican lawmakers say the state's biggest county, which includes Memphis, isn't following a new law that prohibits local authorities from requiring a warrant or probable cause before complying with federal immigration detainers.

15. Public pressure pushes health care to top priority -

Bill Lee waltzes into the governorship later this month with more goodwill on his side than most politicians have the right to expect.

The Republican, who takes the reigns Jan. 19, is inheriting a state with an unemployment rate under 4 percent, an improving education system, companies such as Amazon bringing in thousands of jobs and an approval rating of 57 percent, a Vanderbilt poll taken in December shows.

16. Closed primaries are actually a pretty good idea -

Generally speaking, I can sum up my political leanings by pointing to Republicans and saying I’m against what they’re for, and for what they’re against. But, the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee recently called on the Legislature to require party registration for voters who want to participate in primaries.

17. 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.

18. Tennessee House GOP elects Casada as next speaker -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee House Republicans on Tuesday elected Majority Leader Glen Casada as the chamber's next speaker, reconfiguring another level of state government leadership as GOP Gov.-elect Bill Lee prepares to take office.

19. Tennessee Dems trounced by GOP, despite high midterm hopes -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Democrats began their Tuesday feeling like they had their best chance in years to regain some political clout in their conservative state.

Those aspirations quickly disappeared, as voters turned out in droves largely to give President Donald Trump a stamp of approval and echo much of what Republicans touted on the campaign trail.

20. Out of power for years, Tennessee Democrats see some hope -

MEMPHIS (AP) — Tennessee Democrats know something about disappointment. The last time voters chose a governor, the party pinned its hopes on a longshot punchline named Charlie Brown, who was trounced by 30 percentage points.

21. Top Middle Tennessee commercial sales for August 2018 -

Top commercial real estate sales, August 2018, for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

22. State Sen. Tate goes a step too far in dance with GOP -

Sen. Reginald Tate ran a campaign ad in the waning days of the Democratic primary race bragging about his service to the city of Memphis.

But voters, apparently tired of Tate’s shenanigans, finally decided he was more concerned about serving himself and opted for political newcomer Katrina Robinson instead.

23. Collecting online sales taxes no cure-all for state budget -

Tennessee’s political officials are lauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision enabling states to effectively collect sales taxes from out-of-state online retailers.

But don’t expect the result of South Dakota v. Wayfair to be a watershed moment for the state budget. If you’re looking for a windfall to bolster education or house the homeless, close your eyes and dream on, because this likely isn’t about mo’ money, mo’ money.

24. Tennessee officials praise online sales tax ruling -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee officials are praising a U.S. Supreme Court decision that lets states force online shoppers to pay sales tax.

Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday's ruling will help local businesses compete on an even tax playing field with out-of-state companies. He said the administration is reviewing the decision and considering next steps.

25. Blue wave? State Democrats more likely up a creek -

Tennessee Democrats are hoping a “blue wave” will wash across the Volunteer State this fall and help them regain a number of seats lost over the last decade. Republicans are banking on red voters to crush any wave by capitalizing on the popularity of President Donald Trump when November arrives.

26. 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.

27. Look ahead to 2019 session: New faces, unfinished business -

The Tennessee Legislature took steps toward combating opioid abuse and reforming juvenile justice in the 2018 session but fell short of what many lawmakers hoped to achieve, setting the stage for renewed action in 2019 when a new General Assembly will convene.

28. Tennessee lawmakers agree to shield teachers from test problems -

The House and Senate broke gridlock Wednesday night on problems stemming from the results of troubled TNReady testing by passing legislation saying no “adverse action” would be taken against teachers, students or schools for poor test scores.

29. Sex Week seems tame compared to Legislature's antics -

Why should UT Knoxville be limited to its annual Sex Week when Tennessee legislators are celebrating year-round?

Based on the scurrilous reports published in these parts over the last couple of years, state legislators are doing more than collecting per diems in Nashville, and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it.

30. Senate committee nixes 4 UT Board appointees -

One of Gov. Bill Haslam’s main legislative pushes has run afoul of a Legislature angry about everything from Sex Week at the University of Tennessee to the handling of the football coach hiring at the Knoxville campus.

31. Lots of noise but few results in Legislature -

Just when you think the Tennessee Legislature is going off the deep end, someone will throw them a bungee cord. Maybe a rope made out of hemp would work better because a bungee cord leaves people bouncing, never quite reeling them in.

32. Harper leaving Senate after nearly 40 years of public service -

After nearly 40 years of public service, state Sen. Thelma Harper has announced she would is not seeking re-election to the 19th Senatorial District.

“Even though there is no greater honor than being able to serve and be your voice on the hill, I truly feel the time is right for me to pass the baton to the next generation of future leaders,” Sen. Harper said. “Even though I will no longer be an elected public servant, I will continue to serve and work in the community to help those in need.”

33. Tennessee lawmaker questions motives of female accusers -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee lawmaker on Wednesday questioned the motives of three women who accused him of sexual misconduct as their high school basketball coach decades ago, but he didn't outright deny the accusations.

34. Senate leader: Sexual misconduct-accused rep should resign -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Senate Speaker Randy McNally is echoing House Speaker Beth Harwell's call for a lawmaker's resignation after three women have accused him in a report of sexual misconduct as their high school basketball coach decades ago.

35. Democrats need viable candidates to catch blue wave -

Republicans called it the “kickoff” to what they hope will be a great election season. Democrats are downplaying a lopsided loss in the 14th Senate District special election, saying it won’t represent results later this year in President Donald Trump’s midterm.

36. Tennessee declines to cover legislative California trip -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's Republican House and Senate leaders say the state isn't paying lawmakers or staffers to attend a California legislative summit.

In a letter Thursday, Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell said the state won't cover the National Conference of State Legislatures conference trip in Los Angeles because of California's ban on state-paid trips to Tennessee.

37. Florida’s epiphany on guns means little in Tennessee -

Memphis resident Stevie Moore has been waging a war to take illegal guns off the streets since someone shot his son in the head with an AK-47 15 years ago.

“It’s my mission to fight these guns whatever way I can,” says Moore, who founded the organization Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives in an effort to steer youth away from violence.

38. Republican Reeves wins special election to Tennessee Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Shane Reeves has won a special election to fill a vacant seat in the Tennessee Senate.

In unofficial results from the Tennessee secretary of state, Reeves had 13,139 votes to 5,179 for Democrat Gayle Jordan in Tuesday's election.

39. Castañeda appointed to oversight commission -

Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally recently appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Rebecca McKelvey Castañeda to the Tennessee Post-Conviction Defender Oversight Commission. She will serve a one-year term.

40. GOP averts ugly battle with Corker opting out of race -

It’s not often Tennessee’s Republican legislative leaders have to endorse a congressional candidate against a vacillating opponent. But the General Assembly’s GOP must have been worried about losing to a Democrat as they consolidated forces behind U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in an effort to maintain a hold on the U.S. Senate seat Bob Corker might or might not be vacating.

41. Civil War re-enactor outflanked on statues, Medicaid expansion -

When state Rep. Steve McDaniel was a youngster he often read the historical marker at the intersection of Highway 22 and Wildersville Road detailing Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s first West Tennessee raid in the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads.

42. Some Tennessee GOP leaders back Trump's gun control push -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Some Tennessee Senate leaders say they support President Donald Trump's push to ban bump stocks and bar those under 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles, and they want similar proposals discussed at the state level. But support from House Republican leadership was more tepid.

43. State Senate speaker, 18 other senators endorse Blackburn -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's Senate leader and 18 other Republican state senators have endorsed U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in her U.S. Senate bid.

44. State Senate speaker, 18 other senators endorse Blackburn -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's Senate leader and 18 other Republican state senators have endorsed U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in her U.S. Senate bid.

45. Consensus on gun legislation? Not on your life -

That burning smell emanating from the General Assembly isn’t coming from the flame of bipartisanship. More likely it’s the result of scorched-earth politics.

Even though a weapons measure called the “carry-like-a-cop” bill died recently in a House committee, the gap between Republicans and Democrats on gun legislation is, for the most part, about as wide as the range of a Barrett .50-caliber rifle, more than 2.5 miles.

46. Details slow plan to shrink UT’s Board of Trustees -

Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to restructure the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees appears to be a work in progress.

Timing is critical, too, with the 2018 session of the General Assembly moving at a snail’s pace and UT President Joe DiPietro’s contract set to run out in mid-2019.

47. Customer-focused government not always a pleaser -

Gov. Bill Haslam is fond of saying government should run more like a business, and during his eighth and final State of the State address he invoked the term “customer-focused” at least twice in a victory lap.

48. Tennessee areas get AT&T internet expansion -

AT&T has expanded internet access in communities throughout Tennessee.

As part of the FCC Connect America Fund commitment, AT&T has deployed internet service to rural and underserved locations in parts of 51 counties serving more than 37,000 Tennessee locations.

49. A long-shot solution for guns in Cordell Hull -

State Rep. Joe Towns was like a lot of other legislators when he arrived at the renovated Cordell Hull Building for the start of the 2018 legislative session.

The Memphis Democrat knew the Legislature’s top leaders had set policy allowing carry-permit holders to bring weapons into the renovated building, but he wasn’t enthused by any stretch of the imagination. Towns wasn’t happy, either, when he saw Tennessee Highway Patrol security at the new building being supplemented by a private company, Allied Universal.

50. Rotating Forrest bust out of Capitol gains momentum -

Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s days in the State Capitol could be numbered.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, says he could support a move to rotate Forrest’s bust out of the Capitol and make sure Capitol displays are “more reflective of the entire history of Tennessee.”

51. 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.

52. Reeves wins GOP special election primary in Tennessee Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Small business owner Shane Reeves has topped former state Rep. Joe Carr in the Republican primary of a Tennessee Senate special election.

According to the Tennessee secretary of state's unofficial results, Reeves tallied 64.9 percent of Thursday's vote, or 4,720 votes, compared to Carr's 35.1 percent, or 2,556 votes.

53. Haslam touts $30m plan to fight opioid epidemic -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam is touting a $30 million plan that focuses on prevention, treatment and law enforcement to attack an opioid epidemic that kills three Tennesseans a day.

The Republican released details in a news conference Monday alongside Senate Speaker Randy McNally, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins and others.

54. Haslam to unveil opioid plan today -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is slated to unveil a plan to combat the state's opioid epidemic.

The Republican governor plans to release the details in a news conference Monday alongside Senate Speaker Randy McNally, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins.

55. Haile named Tennessee Senate speaker pro tempore -

NASHVILLE (AP) — State Sen. Ferrell Haile will take over duties as Tennessee Senate speaker pro tempore.

Republican Senate Speaker Randy McNally of Oak Ridge announced the appointment during a Thursday session.

56. 2 Tennessee Republicans introduce medical marijuana bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to make medical marijuana legal in Tennessee, but only in oil-based products.

Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville and Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby announced the bill's filing Thursday amid wide support for medical marijuana in state polls.

57. Despite need, expanding health care not in cards -

Springfield resident Felicity Palma struggled mightily when she moved to Tennessee from Florida two years ago after suffering health problems and losing her job.

The 47-year-old former social worker became homeless for a period when she came here, and now she finds herself in a health insurance coverage gap as she tries to get treatment for ulcers, sciatica, fibroids and thyroid disease. Debt is piling up on her, too, for the care she does receive.

58. UT president agrees with Haslam on trimming Board of Trustees -

University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro favors trimming the system’s Board of Trustees and altering the executive selection process, agreeing with Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts to streamline the governing body.

59. Shot fired from Memphis ignites Civil War rematch -

Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest died in 1877, but 140 years later some people just can’t let their hero or the Old South go away.

In fact, the state Legislature is set to reignite the Civil War – to some degree – in 2018. We hope no gunshots are fired.

60. McNally announces committee changes -

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today announced state Senate committee assignment changes for the second annual session of the 110th General Assembly.

The changes come as a result of the resignation of three Senate members since the legislature adjourned in May. Two of the resigning senators, Doug Overbey and Jim Tracy, accepted presidential appointments.

61. Opioid crisis and juvenile justice -

With the state’s budget projected to be tight and lawmakers lining up to run for re-election in 2018, the coming legislative session isn’t expected to yield many surprises.

But the 110th General Assembly still has a long row to hoe as the session starts Jan. 9 with new legislative offices and committee rooms in the renovated Cordell Hull Building in downtown Nashville.

62. Haslam considering changes to UT Board of Trustees -

Gov. Bill Haslam is considering reducing the number University of Tennessee Board of Trustees members and trimming the number of finalists presented for top leadership positions in the UT system, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has confirmed.

63. Top Middle Tennessee commercial sales for November 2017 -

Top commercial real estate sales, November 2017, for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

64. Officials to break ground on new Tennessee State Museum -

NASHVILLE (AP) — State officials are planning a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Tennessee State Museum.

According to a news release from the Tennessee secretary of state, the event will take place Monday afternoon at the future site of the museum in Nashville.

65. Black: State, Congress should release sex harassment claims -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Congresswoman Diane Black wants the Tennessee General Assembly and Congress to release information about sexual harassment claims and settlements involving lawmakers and staffers.

66. Flap over botched ACT test leads state to consider SAT -

KNOXVILLE (AP) — A disagreement over ACT scores withheld from students at a Tennessee high school could lead state officials to consider moving to a rival assessment test.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and state Senate Speaker Randy McNally were among officials who met with ACT officials Tuesday in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to validate the scores of 409 Bearden High School students who took the test last month.

67. Flap over botched ACT test leads Tennessee to consider SAT -

KNOXVILLE (AP) — A disagreement over ACT scores withheld from students at a Tennessee high school could lead state officials to consider moving to a rival assessment test.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and state Senate Speaker Randy McNally were among officials who met with ACT officials Tuesday in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to validate the scores of 409 Bearden High School students who took the test last month.

68. Is there room for common-sense gun legislation? -

The Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action picks its battles judiciously. Once labeled as a bunch of anti-gun extremists, the group is anything but, spokeswoman Kat McRitchie says.

“We seek common ground. We work with legislators on both sides of the aisle. We’re nonpartisan,” McRitchie explains. “We’re simply looking for common-sense gun solutions, which the majority of Americans support.”

69. Tennessee Sen. Overbey confirmed as US attorney -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm state Sen. Doug Overbey as the U.S. attorney for Tennessee's eastern district.

On Thursday, senators confirmed the lawmaker as lead federal prosecutor in the Knoxville-centric district during a voice vote. President Donald Trump nominated Overbey for the post in July.

70. Grab a gun, go see your state representative -

When legislative leaders started to allow guns in the Legislative Plaza nearly two years ago, the Sierra Club’s Scott Banbury had his daughter take pictures of him wearing his holstered Ruger and lobbyist ID card to put on lawmakers’ desks with the question: “Is this what you want?”

71. Tracy resigns Senate seat to accept Trump appointment -

SHELBYVILLE – State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) today announced he has resigned his 14th District seat and speaker pro tempore of the Senate post effective immediately.

President Donald Trump appointed Tracy to the position of Tennessee State Director for Rural Development late Friday. Tracy has accepted the appointment and under the Tennessee Constitution is required to relinquish his Senate seat.

72. Guns to be allowed at new Tennessee legislative complex -

NASHVILLE (AP) — People with state-issued handgun carry permits will be allowed to be armed within Tennessee's new legislative office complex.

Lawmakers and staff are beginning their move into the renovated Cordell Hull office building near the state Capitol this week. The facility is scheduled to open to the public this month.

73. Tennessee officials react to Corker retirement announcement -

Elected officials in Tennessee react to Republican Bob Corker's announcement Tuesday that he won't seek a third term in the U.S. Senate:

"Bob has been a close friend for over 40 years. His leadership and wisdom in the Senate will be missed, but I have complete faith in his judgment and respect his decision. I look forward to seeing what he does next." — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

74. Special panel to weigh medical marijuana in Tennessee -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Legislative leaders are setting up a special committee to examine whether medical marijuana should be legalized in Tennessee.

WKRN-TV reports that the panel appointed by House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and Senate Speaker Randy McNally of Oak Ridge includes eight Republicans and two Democrats. The panel is co-chaired by Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby and Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville, two Republicans who this year sponsored unsuccessful medical marijuana legislation.

75. McLeary, North appointed to Trial Court Vacancy Commission -

Lt. Governor Randy McNally today announced the appointment of Howard Donald “Don” McLeary and Harold L. "Hal" North, Jr. to the Trial Court Vacancy Commission.

76. Legislature losing some powerful, familiar members -

A shakeup in leadership is looming for the state Legislature, though it may portend more of a change in personalities than party strength.

In the House, longtime Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, the affable Democrat from Ripley in West Tennessee, is preparing for a 2018 gubernatorial run, a move that would knock him out of his House seat, at least temporarily, and the position as Democratic Caucus leader.

77. McNally joins executive panel of lieutenant governors' group -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Senate Speaker Randy McNally has been named to the executive committee of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association.

78. Harwell, Norris lead review of juvenile justice in state -

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is set to oversee a comprehensive review of Tennessee’s juvenile justice system in an effort to reshape the lives of offenders.

Norris, a Collierville Republican, will join House Speaker Beth Harwell in co-chairing the blue-ribbon task force, a 19-member panel charged with recommending policy based on state data to form legislation as the 2018 session of the General Assembly nears. The group will focus on protecting the public, holding offenders accountable and containing costs while improving the outcomes of juveniles, according to release.

79. Haslam credits GOP ‘experiment’ for Tennessee’s success -

If you ask Gov. Bill Haslam, Republican government is the best thing since sliced bread.

Not only is GOP leadership responsible for a myriad of tax cuts leading to record surpluses and a $37 billion budget funding better K-12 and higher education, shoring up the rainy day and TennCare funds, shrinking state debt and building an economic environment for job creation, Haslam says. It’s even bringing us the cleanest air since before the industrial revolution.

80. Haslam credits GOP control for successful legislative session -

With the legislative session finished, Gov. Bill Haslam is touting budget accomplishments and a strong economy as the result of Republican leadership.

In a Capitol Hill press conference shortly after the General Assembly adjourned for the year, the governor called passage of a $37 billion budget, the second consecutive one with no new debt, as the Legislature’s most important act.

81. Tennessee Senate passes $37B spending plan for next year -

The state Senate approved a $37 billion budget Monday complete with the governor’s IMPROVE Act package of fuel tax increases and tax reductions.

Senators passed the measure 28-2 and sent it to the governor despite opposition led by Democratic Sen. Lee Harris of Memphis who argued the body would be breaking the Copeland cap, a law prohibiting the spending of revenue that exceeds the state’s economy’s growth rate.

82. Most legislators urging slowdown in outsourcing state jobs -

A majority of Tennessee’s legislators are asking the state to hold up on a facilities management outsourcing contract with Jones Lang LaSalle.

Seventy-five of the General Assembly’s 132 members, 17 in the Senate and 58 in the House, have signed a letter to Terry Cowles, director of the Office of Customer Focused Government, asking the office to slow down on outsourcing so it can “study and understand the effect” on public services, the economy and state employees.

83. IMPROVE Act fight an insight into testy election ahead -

In case anyone’s keeping stats, Senate leadership soundly defeated House leadership this session in the gas tax/tax cut battle.

Whether this is a forerunner to a Republican gubernatorial primary remains to be seen as Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and House Speaker Beth Harwell weigh decisions. It’s not as if they’d be facing off against each other, though, since businessman Bill Lee and former Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd are definitely in the race and not hurting for money.

84. Governor’s supplemental budget a ‘jumpstart’ for road projects -

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris calls the governor’s $125 million supplemental budget a “strong foundation” for completing work on the IMPROVE Act.

Amendments presented Tuesday by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration include $55 million for the transportation fund, which already is set to receive an infusion of funds in fiscal 2018 from fuel-tax increases and higher fees stemming from the governor’s transportation funding initiative.

85. Tennessee lawmakers give final approval to Haslam's roads bill -

Wrapping up wide-ranging legislation that dominated the opening year of the 110th General Assembly, the House concurred Monday with the Senate’s IMPROVE Act, inserting a $7 million measure to increase property tax breaks for veterans.

86. Tennessee House, Senate pass Haslam's gas tax proposal -

The House and Senate are nearly ready to send the IMPROVE Act to Gov. Bill Haslam, passing it with relatively wide voting margins after months of debate.

Only one adjustment is needed in a measure providing property tax relief for veterans, the disabled and elderly before the measure can be sent to Haslam.

87. Tearful end for non-citizen tuition relief bill -

State Rep. Raumesh Akbari grew so emotional she couldn’t speak. On the verge of tears, the Memphis Democrat started to talk about a high school from her Shelby County district with a large number of undocumented immigrant students.

88. Legislators renew push for veterans’ property tax relief -

Members of the Legislature’s Veterans Caucus are renewing a call to increase property tax relief statewide for veterans and the elderly in a measure separate from the governor’s IMPROVE Act.

The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee voted last week to remove a property tax relief measure from the gas tax/tax cut bill, which is slated to be considered on the House floor Wednesday morning. The decision was followed a Veterans Caucus move endorsing it.

89. House short of votes to needed to pass Haslam's gas tax/tax cut -

Votes aren’t adding up in the House of Representatives for passage of the governor’s gas tax/tax cut legislation.

With floor debate scheduled Wednesday morning, not only is a Republican head count showing lack of support, Democrats aren’t exactly lining up behind the measure. The minority party says it wants concessions on other items from the governor before it can vote for the IMPROVE Act, and some Democrats say they won’t go for a combination of tax cuts for wealthy investors tied to a higher gas tax.

90. Mistreated GOP legislators only want to be heard -

Word has it extra tissue will be placed on the desks of some House members in the coming weeks so they can dry their tears of pain.

It seems a faction of the Republican supermajority just hasn’t gotten a fair hearing – from their own party – on opposition to Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, which contains a dreaded gas and diesel tax increase to rebuild the state’s roads and bridges. It’s the gas tax versus the surplus, which is pretty big at $1 billion in one-time money and another billion in extra recurring money.

91. Norris turns to safety to rally GOP support for IMPROVE Act -

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris gets revved up when he talks about the IMPROVE Act as a tax-cutting and bridge-safety measure. It’s a message he’s been sending for weeks, yet other lawmakers aren’t catching on.

92. House speaker working on 11th-hour bid to halt gas tax hike -

NASHVILLE (AP) — House Speaker Beth Harwell is working on an 11th-hour effort to make sweeping changes to the funding mechanism of Gov. Bill Haslam's transportation plan in order to eliminate any increases in Tennessee's tax on gasoline.

93. GOP happy to ‘wait and see’ on Medicaid expansion -

Republicans say ho, Democrats say go. In the wake of Trumpcare’s congressional crash, states such as Kansas and North Carolina are joining the majority of the nation in expanding Medicaid rolls.

94. 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.

95. Immigrant tuition break gaining support in Tennessee -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A push to offer in-state college tuition rates to students whose parents brought them into the country illegally is picking up unlikely momentum from some Republicans in Tennessee, a deeply conservative state that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump and his tough stance on immigration.

96. Democrats looking for GOP help to derail outsourcing efforts -

Legislative Democrats are calling on Republicans to join them in passing a slate of bills to combat Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing plans for everything from state parks to facilities management at universities.

97. A disjointed stash of marijuana bills -

This year’s marijuana bills are a mixed bag. Rep. Jeremy Faison is sending his medical marijuana legislation to a task force, as opposed to “summer study,” typically considered the trash heap for unwanted bills.

98. Tennessee legislative leaders pursue open records law review -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee legislative leaders are moving forward with a review of exemptions to the state's open records laws.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2n0EMFh) that Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell sent a letter Monday to the Office of Open Records Counsel. They requested a thorough and comprehensive review of exemptions to the Tennessee Public Records Act.

99. Singing along with tone-deaf legislators -

Often dull, but never boring. They might even make you break out into song. Halfway through the 2017 session, the General Assembly could be accused of lacking sharpness or sensibility, but what it lacks in luster it makes up for with lots of political song and dance.

100. Norris sweetens deal for increased fuel tax -

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris pushed a revised fuel-tax bill through the Transportation Committee today, making a sharper cut in the grocery tax to offset phased-in increases at the gas pump.