A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the convictions of three men on sex-trafficking charges in an alleged widespread conspiracy that prosecutors said spanned three states. The other six defendants tried in the case had been acquitted previously.
U.S. District Judge William Haynes said his decision to overrule the jury was based on the government’s failure to prove the men were part of a single, overarching conspiracy. The men had been convicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children.
The mass-killings last week in Newtown, Connecticut have begun a national dialogue about America’s gun laws. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam says the killings will likely have an impact on proposed gun legislation set to be taken up next year in the Volunteer State.
Gov. Haslam says he believes schools and universities in Tennessee should be allowed to legally ban their workers from bringing guns to work. The Tennessean reports it’s a position that puts Haslam at odds with some fellow Republicans in the Tennessee legislature. Some lawmakers in the state are proposing legislation that would force employers to allow workers to have guns in workplace parking lots, as long as owners keep those firearms in their vehicles.
A poll taken for Vanderbilt University before Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown showed 53% of Tennesseans surveyed supported the so-called “guns in trunks” legislation.
Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator is speaking out against proposed changes to the filibuster. Republican Lamar Alexander says efforts to limit filibusters would cost the Senate its historic function as a brake on legislation that otherwise might be rushed through the chamber.
The 72-year-old Alexander tells The Tennessean says without the filibuster the Senate would become “just like the House”, where a simple majority vote would win each time. When a Senator engages in a filibuster, it takes 60 votes to bring it to an end, so that the legislation in question can be considered for a vote.
Some Democrats are talking openly about changing Senate rules in January that would allow a simple majority vote to change the filibuster policy, as opposed to the 67 votes that have been the standard.
A new Vanderbilt University poll shows a strong preference among Tennesseans for a state-run health insurance exchange over one run by the federal government.
The poll of 829 registered voters released Wednesday showed 53 percent favor the state-run exchange, while 33 percent prefer the federal approach.
The results contrast with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's decision earlier this week not to pursue a state-run exchange. Vanderbilt officials said the governor was not aware of the poll results before Wednesday's release.