Tennessee

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.

For the second time in less than a month, Tennessee's GOP state lawmakers have declined to proceed on legislation condemning white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. On Monday, roughly three weeks after a Democratic-sponsored resolution died in committee, GOP state Rep. Ryan Williams quietly requested that the Republican version of the measure be withdrawn.

Melody Cashion rattles off the list of drugs she once needed just to function.

Lyrica, Gabapentin, methadone, oxycodone, valium.

There were more. But those were the every day ones.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

The campaign for the leading Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, said in a letter to the FBI Thursday that it feared it had been hacked.

The potential breach comes as state and federal officials are increasingly worried that enough hasn't been done to improve election security since 2016.

Suicides have been surging in Tennessee, and state health officials don’t know why — in part — because they haven't been studying them closely. The legislature is considering a proposal to review each suicide, case by case.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

A bill that would allow a select number of Tennessee teachers to carry guns in school is advancing in that state’s legislature.

The measure passed a Tennessee House subcommittee Wednesday at a time when the nation is debating gun control measures following the killings in Parkland, Florida.

The Tennessean reports the bill would empower school boards and school directors to create policies that allow select staff members to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will not run for re-election this year — for real, this time.

Corker had been waffling in recent weeks over his decision in September to retire and admitted he was considering jumping back into the race. Running would have set up a bruising primary fight with Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the front-runner in the Republican primary, who announced her candidacy after Corker said he wasn't going to run.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has been uncharacteristically mum this week when asked to comment on reports that he may change his mind about retiring this year.

"I don't really have anything to say," Corker told NPR Monday evening. But on Tuesday evening a spokeswoman suggested Corker could be rethinking his decision to retire.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has admitted that she had an extramarital affair with the former head of her security detail.

"I'm embarrassed, and I am sad, and I am so sorry for all the pain that I have caused my family and his family," she said at a news conference Wednesday. "I know that God will forgive me, but that Nashville doesn't have to. ... I hope that I can earn your trust back and that you will forgive me."

Judge Won't Order Tennessee to Give More Money to Schools

Sep 26, 2016
Creative Commons

A judge has denied a request from Metro Nashville Public Schools that she order the state to provide more money for education.

The school district's petition said lawmakers did not provide enough money for Nashville to hire the legally required number of teachers and translators for its English language learners.

The state has said the funding formula is just a goal.

The Tennessean reports Chancery Court Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle on Thursday declined to issue an order to the state, saying the issue needs to be adjudicated first.

Nashville school board Chair Anna Shepherd said the response was disappointing. She has asked Metro Legal to prepare a list of options.

Shelby County and a cluster of seven counties that includes Hamilton are suing the state over education funding.

Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

Jack Daniel's is a historic brand built on stories and legend. To this day, all of the whiskey is made in the hills of little Lynchburg, Tenn. And as part of its 150th anniversary, the company is highlighting a lesser-known part of its story: how a former slave played a key role in its founding.

The story of Nearis Green first got national attention earlier this summer, when The New York Times ran an article about his role in Jack Daniel's history based on a pitch from the company.

Until now, the story usually told about the firm's founding was this: Jack Daniel left home as a young teen, went to work for Dan Call — ironically, a pastor — and ended up helping with Call's whiskey. That's where he learned his trade — perhaps under the tutelage of Green, who was then a slave belonging to Call.

It's not clear exactly what parts of the process Daniel's picked up from Green. "There's a lot of mystery there," says Jack Daniel's company historian Nelson Eddy. "We don't know exactly what he taught Jack. But we do know that Jack had a great deal of respect for that family. Because I think the best part of this story is the photograph."

The photograph he refers to is one that shows Jack Daniel, with a gray goatee, around 1895, surrounded by his crew, including two African-American men believed to be the sons of Nearis Green.

Creative Commons

Facing a $60 million penalty from the federal government, Tennessee lawmakers have repealed an underage drunken driving law that ran afoul of zero-tolerance standards.

The Senate passed the measure 31-1 on Wednesday and the House later followed suit on an 85-2 vote.

The state law that went into effect in July had raised the penalties for driving under the influence by 18- through 20-year-olds. But by also raising the maximum allowable blood alcohol content from 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent for those drivers, the state stood to lose 8 percent of its federal road funding money on Oct. 1

Gov. Bill Haslam called lawmakers into a special session this week to return the 0.02 percent rule along with the more lenient penalties for drivers below the legal drinking age.

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Forty seven Republicans were joined by 23 Democrats to vote to oust GOP Rep. Jeremey Durham from the Tennessee state Legislature.

The 70 votes Tuesday were four more than the minimum needed to meet the constitutional threshold of two-thirds of the members needed for the House to eject a sitting member.

Two Republicans voted against the ouster. Fourteen GOP members abstained, along with two Democrats. Ten members were absent.

Durham faced allegations of sexual harassment detailed in a state attorney general's report. He denied most of them.

The ouster marks the first time the Tennessee Legislature has ejected a sitting member since 1980. The only previous expulsions came when six members refused attend a special session to ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1866.

Creative Commons

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he'll call a special session of the General Assembly to try to fix the state's drunken driving law and save $60 million in federal highway funds.

The move Friday comes after the U.S. Transportation Department determined state law doesn't comply with a federal "zero tolerance" drunken driving statute. The governor's office said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated Tennessee would permanently lose $60 million if it remained out of compliance as of Oct. 1.

Under federal rules the maximum allowable blood alcohol content for drivers under 21 is 0.02 percent. The new Tennessee law raised that limit to 0.08 percent for 18-to 20-year-olds but added tougher penalties for violators. The 0.02 standard remained in place for drivers through age 17.

Tennessee Voter Guide for Thursday Primaries

Aug 3, 2016
Creative Commons

Tennessee voters go to the polls Thursday to decide the Republican and Democratic nominees for Congress and the state Legislature.

With the GOP holding wide majorities in both the congressional delegation and the Tennessee General Assembly, many of the most spirited primary contests are among Republican candidates.

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OPEN CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

Three-term U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher's decision to retire from his 8th Congressional District seat this spring set off a frenzy of activity to succeed him in the heavily Republican district ranging from suburban Memphis through rural northwestern Tennessee.

The most active candidates have been radio station owner George Flinn of Memphis, state Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown, former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff of Germantown and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell of Memphis.

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