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.

Gov. Bill Lee addresses members of the 112th General Assembly at the opening of a special session dedicated to education. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor Lee won’t push for immediate teacher vaccinations

By: - February 4, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee says his office is not pushing legislation that would take funds from school districts that don’t resume in-classroom schedules for 70 days this year or 180 days in 2021-22,  amid questions about its legality.  The governor appears to be softening his stance on the matter after tough talk before the recent special […]

The controversial bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest perches in the Tennessee Capitol's second floor, between the chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate. (Photo: John Partipilo)

February Historical Commission decision might not solve Forrest question

By: - February 4, 2021

The Tennessee Historical Commission could decide in mid-February whether to move busts of Nathan Bedford Forrest and two Union admirals from the Capitol to the State Museum, but the outcome remains uncertain because of a pending dispute over state law. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton stand by an October letter contending […]

State Representative Barbara Cooper of Memphis was vaccinated against COVID-19 on February 2nd, 2021. The 91 year-old lawmaker received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Rep. Cooper said she is “excited” about the vaccination and added, “I am encouraging everyone, especially those in high-risk categories like myself, to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated when they are eligible and help fight this virus that has ravaged our community in Memphis and Shelby County.” Cooper has served Tennessee House District 86 in the State Legislature since 1996. © Karen Pulfer Focht

Memphis Rep. Cooper urges Black community to get COVID-19 vaccine

By: - February 3, 2021

State Rep. Barbara Cooper understands the trepidation among Black Tennesseans about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. But after a friend recently died from the virus, she is more determined than ever to set an example for her constituents to ward off the deadly illness. The 91-year-old Cooper, a Democrat representing District 86 in Memphis, received her […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

In General Assembly, bill to allow gun carry without a permit surfaces

By: - February 2, 2021

The “constitutional carry” or permitless gun carry legislation put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is rising again in the Tennessee Legislature, likely to set off a stirring debate as the session starts Feb. 8. Rep. Bruce Griffey, a Paris Republican, is sponsoring House Bill 18, which would exempt people from obtaining a […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

School textbook company sought legal action against Schwinn, Department of Education

By: - January 29, 2021

Tennessee lawmakers are keeping an eye on Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn after an international textbook publisher and Tennessee school district directors complained about the Department of Education in 2019, saying she interfered in book selection by playing favorites. Those complaints led the Legislature to pass Public Chapter 770 in 2020, removing the education commissioner as […]

Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republicans back new healthcare plan after Tennessee rejects Medicaid expansion

By: - January 27, 2021

Two Republican lawmakers are hoping to expand healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of working poor while Democrats are trying to turn back the state’s modified “block grant” program with the help of the new Biden Administration. Legislative Democrats sent a letter to President Joe Biden Monday asking him to rescind the “block grant” waiver […]

The Cordell Hull Legislative Building. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Lawmakers warn education commissioner about reading screener contract

By: - January 26, 2021

At least two state legislators are urging caution about an education contract that could push school districts to a specific vendor and, ultimately, mire the state in a money pit. The warnings came amid questions about whether the state is already talking to vendors about a “universal screener” contract. Education Commission Penny Schwinn denied any […]

Children participating in a Sunday rally at the office of the Metro Nashville Schools Board hold up placards spelling out 'January All Schools Open.' The rally was organized by Let Nashville Parents Choose, a group advocating to return all schools to in-person learning. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Legislature passes COVID education plan; penalties for Metro Nashville, Shelby on hold

By: - January 22, 2021

In two and a half days, the Tennessee General Assembly nearly wrapped up a special session on education in a pandemic world, passing a literacy plan and slight pay increases for teachers and school staff. Only legislation to fund the plan remains to be passed Friday morning. The Legislature passed bills Thursday providing pay raises, […]

A group of legislators file into the War Memorial Building for Gov. Bill Lee's address at the start of a special session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

One senator catches COVID-19, another under quarantine in special session

By: - January 21, 2021

State Sen. Ed Jackson confirmed Thursday he tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining at his Nashville home while another senator is isolating during a special session of the Legislature designed to reform education amid the pandemic. Jackson, a Republican from Jackson, said he underwent testing this week as soon as he started feeling symptoms […]

Legislators file into the War Memorial Building for Gov. Bill Lee's address at the start of a special session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

TN Republicans propose taking funds away from school districts that went virtual

By: and - January 20, 2021

Republican lawmakers filed legislation for the special session to take education funds away from school districts that don’t open for at least 70 days during the current school year and the full 180 days for next school year. The late-filed bill was sponsored by state Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, and state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. […]

The Tennessee State Capitol with gates locked.

Sen. Robinson faces second wave of federal charges

By: - January 20, 2021

State Sen. Katrina Robinson, already under federal indictment, is charged in a new case with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday. Robinson, 40, a Memphis Democrat, was accused in 2020 of stealing $600,000 from her federally-funded business to pay for a lavish lifestyle. In this […]

Gov. Bill Lee addresses members of the 112th General Assembly at the opening of a special session dedicated to education. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor touts COVID-19 “science” in push to send students back to schools

By: - January 20, 2021

Taking a shot at the state’s two largest school systems, Gov. Bill Lee accused Metro Nashville and Shelby County school systems of caving in to “scare tactics” when they opted to teach students virtually during a pandemic-affected school year. “Months ago, when critics were loud and the scare tactics were louder with all the reasons […]