Tennessee

Danielle Atkins /Courtesy of Spring House Press

Nashville Hot Chicken is showing up everywhere lately, from fast-food marquees to trendy restaurant menus. But to find the real thing, you might start in a nondescript strip mall on the northeast side of Nashville, Tenn.

Here at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, people line up long before the doors open to get their fix.

"Need my hot chicken," says construction worker Jose Rodriquez as he approaches the kitchen window to place his order. "I'm going to get two hot of the breast quarters."

Old-fashioned wooden booths line the walls of the small dining room. When a clerk calls out your order number, you pick up your paper plate of chicken, served on a red cafeteria tray. Drinks come from a vending machine on the back wall.

"Prince's is the ground zero for hot chicken," says Timothy Davis, author of The Hot Chicken Cookbook – the Fiery History and Red Hot Recipes of Nashville's Beloved Bird.

Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation that allows mental health counselors and therapists to refuse to treat patients based on religious objections or personal beliefs.

Critics of the law say it could result in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As Nashville Public Radio reported earlier this month:

"A group representing gay and lesbian Tennesseans [asked Haslam] to veto the legislation. ...

"The Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT advocacy group, says the measure will make it harder for gays and lesbians to find counseling — particularly in rural parts of the state where religiously conservative therapists are common."

Haslam, however, said in a statement that he decided to sign the bill because it addressed two of his concerns. He said:

Creative Commons

The sponsor of bill seeking to designate the Bible as the official book of Tennessee has formally announced his bid to override Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's veto of the measure.

Haslam last week vetoed the bill over constitutional concerns of a government endorsement of religion and because he believes it "trivializes" the Bible. Supporters argue that measure seeks to honor the historic and economic significance of the Bible in Tennessee.

Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station filed notice of his intention to re-pass the bill during Monday night's House floor session, setting up a vote Wednesday.

The bill received 55 votes when it passed the House and 19 in the Senate. A veto override would require 50 votes in the 99-member House and 17 votes among 33 senators.

WKU Public Radio

Tennessee’s Attorney General is warning that the state could lose federal funding if a controversial bathroom bill clears in the General Assembly. 

The bill would require Tennessee students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.  Supporters say the legislation is necessary to protect the privacy of students.  Opponents argue the bill is discriminatory. 

State Attorney General Herbert Slattery issued an opinion Monday saying the bill would violate Title IX, which means the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding. 

The Tennessean reports that Governor Bill Haslam and the state Education Department have raised similar concerns, but the Governor has not said if he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.  The bill has so far cleared a House committee.

Trump, Clinton Win Tennessee Super Tuesday Primary

Mar 2, 2016
Creative Commons/Matt Johnson

Republican turnout in Tennessee outpaced Democrats by more than a 2-to-1 margin, a show of muscle that encouraged the state's GOP leaders even if they didn't back winner Donald Trump.

Trump took nearly 39 percent of the Tennessee primary vote. Ted Cruz was second, with 24. 7 percent, and Marco Rubio finished third, with 21.2 percent.

Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was in third place behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The governor said he was "encouraged" by the voting totals, but he hasn't yet said whether he would support Trump if he ends up the GOP nominee.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won in a landslide. She took 66 percent of primary vote, with Bernie Sanders a distant second, with 32 percent.

A debate over how to teach religion to public school students in Tennessee is rocking school districts around the state. Activists and concerned parents worry middle school students are being “indoctrinated” with a sanitized version of Islam.

The issue has made its way to the state legislature. One proposal would restrict discussion of religion until the end of high school. Chas Sisk of Here & Now contributor WPLN has the story.

Tens of thousands of Tennessee students steadied their clammy, test-day hands over a keyboard several days ago. And, for many, nothing happened.

It was the state's first time giving standardized exams on computers, but the rollout couldn't have gone much worse.

In lots of places, the testing platform slowed to a crawl or appeared to shut down entirely. Within hours, Tennessee scrapped online testing for the year.

The move comes after schools spent millions of dollars to buy additional PCs and to improve their wi-fi networks.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, via Facebook

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is adding confirmed cougar sightings to a new online map. The Cougar Action Team, or CAT, is a new agency working to organize evidence submitted by the public and developing a policy for dealing with this subspecies of cougar, which is not native to Tennessee. 

The first confirmed sighting in more than 100 years was in Obion County last September

Tennessee Wildlife Biologist Joy Sweaney says cougars are secretive animals and aren't typically a threat to humans. If you do encounter one, she recommends acting like 'the hardest prey to kill' and they will leave you alone.

DNA samples from hair found in the Carroll County location identified the animal as a western cougar subspecies similar to those found in South Dakota. She says there is possibly more than one cougar in Tennessee, expanding out from their home range. Western cougars have a range of 150 square miles and while it's rare to spot one, they are more commonly found in the Midwestern states.

Teachers, parents and politicians have long wrestled with the question:

How important is preschool?

A new answer comes in the form of a study — out of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. — that is as clear as it is controversial.

iStockPhoto

A business research magazine has released its annual list of the Best and Worst states as favored by business executives, ranking Tennessee at number 4.  

“Chief Executive” surveyed over 500 leading CEOs across the country making measuring in three categories: tax and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment. That last category includes education, cost of living, affordable housing and crime rates. 

Texas took the top spot, followed by Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, which was in the number 3 spot last year. 

CEOs say they picked the Volunteer state for its low taxes and Right-to-Work status calling it a hotbed for automotive manufacturers. 

Kentucky ranked in at 28 with CEOs noting a high-value living environment, but concern about tax and strong regulatory policies. 

Illinois maintained its rank amongst the worst states at number 48.  

See a full-listing of Chief Executive rankings here

Flickr/Creative Commons/Lee Royal

Tennesseans will soon be able to have alcoholic beverages delivered straight to their doors.

A law signed by Governor Bill Haslam that goes into effect July 1 allows third-party restaurant delivery services to buy alcohol from retailers and deliver it to consumers. The Tennessean reports that the owner of a Nashville-area food delivery service predicts his sales will increase 50-to-100 percent once he’s able to deliver alcohol to consumers.

Companies will be allowed to deliver up to a gallon of alcohol per customer, per delivery.

Consumers must show a valid form of ID, and all delivery drivers must be at least 21 years of age and pass a criminal background check. Any business delivering alcohol must get at least half of its gross sales from food delivery.

Schools don't like to use the V-word anymore — "vocational," as in "vocational education." Administrators say the word is outdated, along with the idea of offering job-training courses only to students who are going straight into the workforce.

Nashville, Tenn., is trying a new approach. The public school system there is encouraging every high school student, regardless of college plans, to take three career-training classes before they graduate.

Haslam Convenes Special Session on ACA

Feb 3, 2015

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans is needed to improve lives.

Haslam told lawmakers Monday night it's also needed to fix what Haslam calls a "broken health care system."

Haslam's plan calls on state hospitals to pay the $74 million state share to draw down $2.8 billion dollars in federal Medicaid money to offer coverage to more uninsured Tennesseans.

Haslam Now Country's Richest Elected Official

Jan 22, 2015

Forbes Magazine says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is now the country's richest elected official, citing a rush to the pumps at the family-owned Pilot Flying J truck stop chain due to tumbling fuel prices.

According to Forbes, Haslam's net worth has more than doubled since August from $980 million to $2 billion.

Haslam has steadfastly refused to publicly disclose his earnings from Pilot, arguing that it would divulge the income of family members who aren't in public office. But the wealth of the Haslam family was illustrated when the governor's brother, Jimmy, bought the NFL's Cleveland Browns for $1 billion in 2012.

Gov. Haslam said Wednesday that he has no idea where Forbes gets its information. He said he has made a practice of not commenting on personal financial information.

Gov. Haslam Reaches Medicaid Deal in Tennessee

Dec 15, 2014

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that he has reached a deal with federal officials to expand Medicaid in Tennessee after months of discussions.

The Republican's administration is touting it as an alternative deal with federal officials. The program, dubbed Insure Tennessee, would provide coverage for the state's uninsured without creating new taxes for Tennesseans.

Haslam announced at a news conference at the state Capitol that the state would offer a voucher to purchase insurance in the private market, according to statement from the governor's office and a news conference.

Health care advocates had heavily criticized the Republican governor for refusing last year to agree to $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover about 180,000 uninsured Tennesseans under the terms the money was offered.

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