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.

Gov. Bill Lee, surrounded by Republican lawmakers during an April 3 press conference at which Lee announced he would direct funding towards school safety measures. (Photo:John Partipilo)

Governor’s order of protection plan faces tough road in special session

By: - June 1, 2023

The governor’s proposal enabling law enforcement to confiscate weapons from unstable people is likely to go down in flames during a special session. Tennessee’s House and Senate speakers forecast a harsh reception for Gov. Bill Lee’s plan Wednesday in an interview with reporters. House Speaker Cameron Sexton termed the governor’s idea floated at the end […]

State set to extend CoreCivic contract despite prison deaths

By: - May 31, 2023

Tennessee plans to extend a private prison company’s contract with an $8 million raise annually to run a state penitentiary in spite of lawsuits alleging it caused inmate deaths. The pay increase also could come in spite of $17.74 million in state fines levied against CoreCivic since September 2020 for operation shortcomings. The State Building […]

Cade Cothren, former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Glen Casada, leaving the federal courthouse in Nashville following his arraignment on conspiracy charges. (John Partipilo)

Cade Cothren claims he helped Cameron Sexton win TN speaker’s race before indictment

By: - May 26, 2023

A former House speaker’s chief of staff — under federal indictment on bribery and kickback charges — claims he helped Cameron Sexton win the speakership in 2019 before being paid tens of thousands of dollars through a shadowy campaign vendor. Cade Cothren, who left his post early that year amid a racist and sexist texting […]

The campus of Tennessee State University in Nashville, the state's largest historically Black university. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Critics call $2M TSU audit an attack on President Glover

By: - May 26, 2023

Tennessee State University officials narrowly escaped the wrath of the Legislature this year after a rough comptroller’s audit. But lawmakers peeved at President Glenda Glover managed to put $2 million in the budget for yet another audit, this one a forensic investigation that could be used to file criminal charges. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Senate […]

Tennessee committee extends and increases Pearson testing contract by $40 million

By: - May 25, 2023

Amid uproar over third-grade reading scores and the prospect of thousands of failing students, Tennessee lawmakers extended the testing vendor’s contract and bumped up the total payout by nearly $40 million. The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Review Committee voted Wednesday to tack on another year for British-based NCS Pearson to administer TNReady and increase the total […]

Main gates at Tennessee State University in Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State committee approves extra housing for TSU and UT-Knoxville

By: - May 23, 2023

State lawmakers blasted Tennessee State University for last-minute moves to house student overflow during the past year, but the University of Tennessee-Knoxville also put students in hotel rooms and needed approval Monday for a bigger apartment lease. The State Building Commission’s Executive Committee approved a $6.78 million lease deal for more than 500 apartments at […]

Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, with a future voter on April 13, the day Pearson returned to the legislature after a short-lived expulsion. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Pearson projects student protests despite special session timing

By: - May 12, 2023

A chorus of boos is following Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to call a special session Aug. 21 — after public school students return to class — to “do something” in response to the March 27 Covenant School mass shooting. But Rep. Justin J. Pearson, fresh off a House expulsion and reinstatement after leading a floor […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

Lawmakers push updated psychiatric bed registry to cut emergency room burden

By: - May 11, 2023

Amid the debate over mental health care versus gun control, two Rutherford County lawmakers are hoping to improve the flow of mentally unstable patients to psychiatric hospitals from emergency rooms. House Bill 827 sponsored by Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, and Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, would require psychiatric hospitals to make daily updates to the state’s […]

Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (Photo: John Partipilo)

House speaker indicates staff, subcommittee spent money in harassment case

By: - May 9, 2023

House Speaker Cameron Sexton is pointing at the Office of Legislative Administration and a House ethics subcommittee in the expense of nearly $9,000 in the case of a 19-year-old intern harassed by former Rep. Scotty Campbell. Yet an anonymous member of the bipartisan panel wasn’t aware the subcommittee had the authority to spend money or […]

Gov. Bill Lee, surrounded by Republican lawmakers during an April 3 press conference at which Lee announced he would direct funding towards school safety measures. (Photo:John Partipilo)

Gov. Lee sets special session for late August in response to school shooting

By: - May 8, 2023

Five months after a shooter killed six people at The Covenant School in Nashville, Gov. Bill Lee will bring lawmakers back to Nashville to cobble together a solution to the mass murder. Lee announced Monday he will call the General Assembly into a special session on Aug. 21 to bolster public safety and “preserve” constitutional […]

Tennessee State Capitol. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: House duo urges governor hold special session ASAP

By: - May 5, 2023

Four days before The Covenant School mass shooting, Reps. Sam Whitson and Darren Jernigan wrote a letter asking Gov. Bill Lee to form an extreme risk task force to “temporarily separate” high-risk people from their guns. They’d started working on a plan in late 2022 for an extreme risk protection order bill and debated the […]

Tennessee State Capitol. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro)

Attorney General beefs up office to take on feds, cities

By: - May 4, 2023

Facing a spate of legal battles with Tennessee cities and the federal government, the Attorney General’s Office enters this year with a new “strategic litigation unit” and heftier budget. As part of a $56.2 billion budget for fiscal 2023-24, the Legislature approved 10 more positions at a cost of $2.25 million for Attorney General Jonathan […]