Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

License plate reading technology. (Photo: Getty Images)

Stockard on the Stump: Lee Administration walking tightrope on license plate readers

By: - May 20, 2022

With questions about privacy and compelling public interest, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration appears to be treading lightly – if not reversing – on policy surrounding automated license plate readers and the state’s new blue license tags, which some cameras can’t read at night. The Tennessee Department of Transportation in late March turned down a request […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Getty Images)

Registry of Election Finance declines to investigate Rep. Sherrell’s fire-hall checks

By: - May 19, 2022

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance claimed Wednesday it had been “weaponized” in the state House District 43 race and refused to investigate a complaint that Rep. Paul Sherrell wrote checks to volunteer fire halls and asked for cash back. “What we’re being asked here is to assume that Mr. Sherrell is a crook, bottom […]

The Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville, Tennessee, is the historic building that houses the Tennessee Supreme Court offices and where the court meets when it is in session in Nashville. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. (Getty Images)

State Supreme Court overturns lower courts, approves governor’s education savings account program

By: - May 18, 2022

The Tennessee Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings and paved the way for Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account program to provide state funds for students to enroll in private schools. In a ruling released Wednesday, the high court found Lee’s voucher program, which will provide funds to low-income students in Davidson and Shelby County […]

Tennessee State Capitol. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro)

Battle over ethics reform bill rages as group calls for veto

By: - May 18, 2022

More than two weeks after the legislative session’s end, lawmakers continue warding off the efforts of advocacy groups to kill increased reporting requirements for “dark money” campaign spending. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally this week characterized those who oppose the legislation as either “wildly misinformed or willfully obtuse.” And state Rep. Sam Whitson, a Franklin Republican […]

(Anne-Marie Miller/Getty Images)

Federal judge rejects Tennessee’s transgender bathroom law

By: - May 17, 2022

A federal judge overturned a state law requiring businesses to post a government-prescribed sign if they allow transgender people to use their restrooms. In a ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger determined that transgender Tennesseans and the businesses that welcome them “are real,” in spite of the viewpoints of lawmakers and government […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Registry delves into fire-hall check-cashing complaint against state Rep. Paul Sherrell

By: - May 16, 2022

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance is looking into a complaint that state Rep. Paul Sherrell wrote checks from his campaign account to local fire halls and asked for cash back, potentially pocketing it while campaigning this year. Sparta resident Dale Walker, director of the Tennessee Pastors Network, filed the sworn complaint asking for an […]

Speaker of the Tennessee House Cameron Sexton, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, and Gov. Bill Lee.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate, House speakers respond to governor’s refusal to sign truth-in-sentencing

By: - May 6, 2022

A day after Gov. Bill Lee declined to sign strict truth-in-sentencing legislation, but allowed it to become law despite his disagreement, the bill’s sponsors fired back. “You can protect criminals, or you can protect victims. I stand with victims, as do members of law enforcement, our district attorneys, & criminal judges across Tennessee,” House Speaker […]

Morgan County Correctional Complex (Photo:

Stockard on the Stump: Vendor protests prison communications contract 

By: - May 6, 2022

A company beaten out of a Tennessee prisons communications contract is challenging the state’s decision, claiming it is awarding the deal to a competitor that will charge inmates and families about $7 million more. Securus Technologies LLC lost an initial protest after the state gave the contract for inmate communications and technology services to Global […]

Supporters of Planned Parenthood in the gallery of the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro))

Tennessee legislators react to leak from SCOTUS on Roe v. Wade

By: - May 3, 2022

Said state Rep. Jason Zachary, a Knoxville Republican, “If the leaked document truly represents the pending opinion of the judges, it will save millions of babies’ lives across our nation by pushing the decisions about abortion back to the states.” Asked whether women could put themselves in danger by seeking abortions from unlicensed clinics, Zachary […]

Gov. Bill Lee opposed a 'truth in sentencing' bill that conflicts with his criminal justice reform efforts. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor still reviewing truth-in-sentencing legislation

By: - May 3, 2022

Gov. Bill Lee would not say Monday whether he will sign a new truth-in-sentencing measure into law after his administration opposed the bill, but he believes “we found a way forward” with the bill’s sponsors. House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally transmitted House Bill 2656/Senate Bill 2248, which they sponsored, to the […]

The day before the Tennessee General Assembly ended business, members posed for a photo. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: So long, farewell

By: - April 29, 2022

Despite great grinding and gnashing of teeth, the Legislature adopted an ethics reform bill on the final day of the 112th session, one designed to shed more light on so-called dark money. Nonprofit groups that have been raising Cain about the bill, claiming it will require them to file reports for something as innocuous as […]

Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, at left with Rep. Chris Hurt. R-Halls, said he would burn books deemed inappropriate by the state school textbook commission. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Representative says he would burn books deemed inappropriate by state

By: - April 27, 2022

State Rep. Jerry Sexton said Wednesday he would “burn” books found obscene by an expanded state textbook commission charged with policing school library selections. In debate with Sexton over legislation requiring school districts to submit lists of library books to the commission, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, asked what the state would do with […]