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.

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Stockard on the Stump: Criminal Court judge balks at state’s supervision plan

By: - January 27, 2023

A Sumner County Criminal Court judge is refusing to follow the Department of Correction’s new supervision levels for felons, arguing they’re too weak to help people stay out of trouble. Judge Dee David Gay issued an order in early January requiring the Sumner County Community Corrections Office to maintain the same standards of supervision that […]

Justice A.A. Birch Building in Nashville, in which a Community Corrections program has operated. (Photo: Brad Freeman, Metropolitan Nashville General Sessions Court)

GOP senators sent message to interim correction commissioner on Community Corrections

By: - January 26, 2023

Republican senators upset about the phasing out of Tennessee’s Community Corrections program met last fall with the state’s interim correction prisoner and other officials to make a last-ditch effort at salvaging the intensive effort to keep felons out of prison. The handful of senators didn’t raise the roof but sent a strong message. They were […]

Gov. Bill Lee swears in Dr. Ralph Alvarado, pictured with his wife and Lee, as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health on Jan. 17. (Photo:

Health commissioner declines to answer reporters’ questions on HIV funds

By: - January 25, 2023

Health Commissioner Ralph Alvarado got a hall pass in his first appearance before the Senate health committee, then dodged reporters Wednesday inquiring about the state’s new policy to end federal funding to nonprofits for HIV services. Alvarado, who came to Tennessee in December after serving in the Kentucky legislature and running for lieutenant governor there, […]

A Nurse performs a rapid test for AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis. The Tennessee Department of Health will no longer take federal funds for the prevention and treatment of HIV. (Photo: Getty Images)

Lawmakers look for motive in HIV funding shift

By: - January 25, 2023

Two Memphis lawmakers are raising concerns about the state’s decision to cut federal HIV funding from nonprofit agencies and direct it through metro health departments, saying such a move could endanger lives. State Rep. Antonio Parkinson is asking the Tennessee Department of Health why it is cutting HIV funds received through multi-million dollar grants from […]

Gov. Bill Lee, Jan. 21, 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor broaches paid family medical leave – again

By: - January 24, 2023

Three years after shelving a family medical leave plan, Gov. Bill Lee appears ready to dust off the proposal in an effort to recruit and keep state employees. A day before his second inauguration, the Republican governor told reporters he is interested in looking at methods to improve the state’s “attractiveness” as an employer. “We […]

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl.(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Stockard on the Stump: Pending bill could invoke death penalty for fentanyl homicide

By: - January 20, 2023

Tennessee might be struggling with its execution protocol, but state Rep. Mike Sparks is ready to put more heads on the chopping block. The Smyrna Republican is preparing to sponsor legislation that could make fentanyl a “weapon of mass destruction” and lead to the death penalty for dealers who cause someone’s death. “What I really […]

Former Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey exits the federal courthouse in Nashville after pleading guilty on two federal counts on Nov. 22. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Supreme Court suspends Kelsey’s law license after conviction

By: - January 19, 2023

Barely two weeks after former state Sen. Brian Kelsey pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended his law license. The court took action Dec. 8, 2022 after receiving a notice from the Board of Professional Responsibility about Kelsey’s Nov. 22 plea in U.S. District Court to two of five […]

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court's decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erases a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Tennessee attorney general opposes federal abortion services for veterans

By: - January 19, 2023

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has joined a coalition of chief law officers in opposing an interim rule allowing taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling for veterans and beneficiaries. Skrmetti and 17 other attorneys general filed their amicus brief in the Western District of Texas in the case of Carter v. McDonough in support of the […]

A bill seeks to regulate the arrests of juveniles after former Rutherford County Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport, in green judicial robes, came under fire in 2022 for the detention of more than a thousand children. (Photo:

Legislation aims at averting excessive jailing of juveniles

By: - January 18, 2023

Still stinging from a $6 million settlement against Rutherford County over child arrests, state Rep. Mike Sparks is pushing legislation he believes would have stopped the aggressive lockup of children. Sparks, a Smyrna Republican, is preparing legislation prohibiting interviews or interrogations of children without the presence of legal counsel, parent, guardian or custodian. In addition, […]

House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, is sponsoring a bill to move local elections from August to November, a move election administrators say could confuse voters. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House leader pushes resolution to move county elections to November

By: - January 17, 2023

A move is afoot for a constitutional amendment shifting Tennessee’s judicial and county elections to November from August, a situation that some fear is an effort to further consolidate power and could confuse voters. House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, is sponsoring the resolution that would change the state’s Constitution and shift elections for judicial […]

Historic Metro Nashville Courthouse. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Metro Council, ‘Get thee to a nunnery’

By: - January 13, 2023

It’s on. House Majority Leader William Lamberth is trying to sell legislation that cuts the Metro Council to 20 members, claiming it would be better for efficiency and the economy. He might be right about efficiency. In fact, some Nashvillians say this is no punishment for the people. There’s a reason the late Mayor Beverly […]

Sen. Todd Gardnehire, R-Chattanooga, is sponsoring a bill to expand the use of charter school funds in Hamilton County. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Hamilton County Schools voucher bill likely to hit stumbling block

By: - January 12, 2023

Legislation enabling the state’s private school vouchers to spread to Hamilton County Schools could run into trouble this session, at least in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Cameron Sexton isn’t expected to be a strong supporter of the legislation after voting against the education savings account program twice in 2019 when it barely passed […]