Author

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.

Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, exits the Tennessee House Chambers on a mortised scooter after being sworn in. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Byrd takes oath of office after long COVID battle, brush with death

By: - July 30, 2021

Emerging from a fight for his life against COVID-19, state Rep. David Byrd took the oath of office Friday, urging Tennesseans to take the disease seriously and strongly consider getting vaccinated. Sworn in to represent Hardin, Lewis, Wayne and part of Lawrence counties in House District 71, the former basketball coach and principal entered and […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Senator predicts Delta variant will spur vaccinations

By: - July 30, 2021

State Sen. Ferrell Haile, a pharmacist by trade, is not on the fence when it comes to vaccines. He was writing an opinion piece on the importance of vaccinations when other senators found out and wanted to join the push. Seventeen Republican senators signed the letter and sent it out this week hoping to bolster […]

Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, has called Gov. Bill Lee's cancellation of unemployment benefits while giving money to businesses an "immoral double standard."(Photo: John Partipilo)

Senator renews questions about failed state COVID testing contract

By: - July 29, 2021

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is urging state auditors to complete an investigation into no-bid contracts awarded by Gov. Bill Lee’s administration since the COVID-19 pandemic started, pinpointing a botched contract with Nomi Health last year that cost the state nearly $6 million. A member of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, Campbell raised questions Wednesday about […]

Gov. Bill cut off federal COVID-19 era unemployment benefits early, saying Tennesseans need to get back to work. (Photo: John Partipilo))

Tennessee residents sue governor for ending federal unemployment

By: - July 28, 2021

A group of Tennesseans is suing Gov. Bill Lee for stopping federal unemployment benefits two months early, saying they need the money to survive. Represented by Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn, residents from Shelby, Carter, Knox, Davidson and Williamson counties filed the class action lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville against the governor and […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Griffey stance conflicts with Senate leadership

By: - July 27, 2021

Rep. Bruce Griffey says he’s not “anti-vax,” yet he is one of a growing number of legislators leery of masks and vaccination campaigns and gaining a bigger voice in the General Assembly. In fact, the Paris Republican believes only a small group of people should take the shots, those over 60 with co-morbidities. That outlook […]

The nearly 3,000-pound bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest loaded onto a flat-bed truck for transport to the Tennessee State Museum. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House Speaker wants more elected “voices” on monument decisions

By: - July 26, 2021

In the wake of the State Building Commission vote to relocate the busts of Nathan Bedford Forrest and two U.S. admirals, House Speaker Cameron Sexton is set to push for a change in state law, likely to involve more legislators in future decisions to move statues. Sexton issued a statement last week saying, “From the […]

Forrest carted out of Capitol in straps and chains

By: - July 23, 2021

Strapped and chained, the bust of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was lowered by a boom and unceremoniously rolled out of the second floor of the State Capitol Friday morning, more than 40 years after legislators voted to place him there. The Rev. Venita Lewis, a 40-year civil rights activist, cheered the removal as […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus prepares for an interview in her Williamson County home. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers split over Fiscus firing

By: - July 23, 2021

The group of anti-vax legislators whose complaints about the Department of Health vaccine campaign led to the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus won’t say much about her termination. But there is a clear break between that group and others who think the state made the wrong move. The topic is so sensitive that most lawmakers […]

State Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, stands with activist Justin Jones in front of the soon-to-be-gone bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Years in the making, Forrest busting out of State Capitol

By: - July 22, 2021

Black lawmakers have been fighting for years to relocate Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from the State Capitol. They were in reserved celebratory mood Thursday. Finally, after a 5-2 vote Thursday by the State Building Commission, including a rare one cast by Gov. Bill Lee, the bust is bound for the State Museum. […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State lawmakers urge against push to vaccinate children

By: - July 21, 2021

Two Tennessee lawmakers who chair the Joint Government Operations Committee warned schools Wednesday not to “bully,” “cajole” or “coerce” students to be vaccinated. In a rare crowded gathering for the panel, Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, co-chairman of the committee, sought to head off upheaval over the recent firing of the state’s chief immunization officer Dr. […]

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, center, has expressed suspicion about the suspension of the Baptiste Group. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Chattanooga center for immigrant children sues state over license suspension

By: - July 20, 2021

The Chattanooga organization that runs a short-term center for immigrant children sued the state Tuesday, seeking to have its license reinstated, after the Department of Children’s Services suspended it over allegations of sexual misconduct. Baptiste Group, which runs La Casa de Sidney, and holds a contract with the federal government to accept immigrant children until […]

Slave trader, Confederate general: the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust sits atop a perch outside the Tennessee House of Representatives Chamber. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Forrest bust removal question to go to State Building Commission

By: - July 19, 2021

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s days in the State Capitol could be numbered. The State Capitol Commission is set to request Thursday that the State Building Commission concur with its decision to relocate three busts, including one of Confederate Lt. Gen. Forrest, to the State Museum, moving them out of the State Capitol after years of upheaval. […]