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)

Feds open civil rights probe of Lee mask order

By: - August 30, 2021

The federal government opened a civil rights probe Monday of Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order on masks, threatening to take action against Tennessee if it finds a violation of U.S. law. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights informed Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn it opened a “directed investigation” into whether the state is […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers could look outside mask mandates

By: - August 20, 2021

Even before Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools balked at Gov. Bill Lee’s opt-out order on mask mandates, legislators were considering curtailing vaccine “passports” and possibly even contact tracing in schools. And with the state at loggerheads with both districts, things could get tough. House Speaker Cameron Sexton says everything is being considered […]

Gov. Bill Lee at a plant dedication Humboldt, Tennessee in March, pictured with plant workers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee lawmakers react to Biden slap at Lee

By: - August 19, 2021

President Joe Biden and his administration are challenging Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee’s order allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates and questioning its legality. In a tweet, Biden said, “We will not sit by as Governors try to block or intimidate educators protecting kids against COVID-19.” “This isn’t about politics. This is about […]

Lockeland Elementary School in Nashville. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a measure to allow private school vouchers in only Davidson and Shelby Counties don't violate the state's home rule law.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Lieutenant governor warns school districts to follow new mask opt-out order

By: - August 17, 2021

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally threatened Tuesday to take “remedial options” against school systems that refuse to follow the governor’s order allowing parents to opt students out of mask requirements. “I am extremely appalled and alarmed at the response to Gov. Lee’s executive order from Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools. This order was […]

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

Fiscus disputes report she had muzzle sent to her office before firing

By: - August 16, 2021

Fired state medical director or immunizations Dr. Michelle “Shelley” Fiscus shot back at a Department of Safety report showing she had a muzzle sent to her office days before she was terminated by the Department of Health. “They obviously set up a false account, a fake account with her name and her address,” Brad Fiscus, […]

Gov. Bill Lee at a July press conference. (Photo: John Partipilo))

Governor issues school mask opt-out edict

By: - August 16, 2021

Rather than call a special session to let the Legislature deal with school board actions, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Monday requiring school systems to let parents opt out of mask mandates. If a school system were to challenge the order, Lee said such a move would be against the law. He noted […]

COMMENTARY
Gov. Bill Lee ending his third State of the State address. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Governor defends no-bid contracts during state of emergency

By: - August 13, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee is standing behind his administration’s decision to sign hundreds of sole-source contracts over the last year and a half even though many of them didn’t have anything to do with the COVID-19 state of emergency. The governor’s Unified Command Group, made up of the Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and […]

House Republican Caucus leadership, from left: House Majority Leader William Lamberth, Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison, Assistant Majority Leader Ron Gant, and Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House Speaker requests special session on COVID-19 mandates, calling them “misdirected”

By: - August 12, 2021

House Speaker Cameron Sexton sent the governor a letter Wednesday seeking a special session to deal with “misdirected and mandated responses” to the COVID-19 pandemic by local entities and officials. “It is of the utmost urgency to move quickly due to the potential of significant harm to Tennesseans,” the letter says. The letter doesn’t call […]

Sexton crusade for special session clashes with physician requests

By: - August 10, 2021

House Speaker Cameron Sexton is asking the governor to call a special session to clamp down on school systems with mask mandates, even as Middle Tennessee physicians seek school district mask requirements. Sexton, a Crossville Republican, was working with House members Tuesday on a letter draft to Gov. Bill Lee requesting a special session. Members […]

Gov. Bill Lee at a July press conference. (Photo: John Partipilo))

Governor knocks Shelby Health Board for public/private schools mask mandate

By: - August 9, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee criticized the Shelby County Health Board on Monday for mandating masks in public and private schools, saying the decision should be up to parents, if not school boards. “I think Shelby County handled that the wrong way. I think school districts in this state are the ones that have been given the […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Questionable contracts could spur change in emergency powers

By: - August 9, 2021

Lawmakers are probing billions of dollars in no-bid state contracts and spending since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Tennessee, trying to rein in sole-source agreements that stuck the state with a raw deal. Sen. Todd Gardenhire, chairman of the Fiscal Review Committee, estimates the Department of Education alone entered more than 760 contracts totaling $1 billion […]

COMMENTARY
(Photo: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg)

Stockard on the Stump: Sen. Robinson finds support in Memphis billboards

By: - August 6, 2021

Dogged by federal fraud and theft charges, state Sen. Katrina Robinson is finding friends in unlikely places – Memphis billboards. The roadway signs contain a picture of the Memphis Democrat with the words, “I love me some Katrina Robinson www.lovekatrina.com,” where a Gofundme site is set up to raise money for her legal fight. Go […]