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.

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Privacy Protection Act criticized as conduit for “dark money”

By: - April 1, 2021

Sponsors call it a method to protect the identity of donors to nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity. Critics say it could open the pathway for out-of-state “dark money” to flow into political campaigns. Gaining momentum in the General Assembly, the Personal Privacy Protection Act would prohibit the release of information for all 501(c) organizations, […]

Surface coal mine. (Photo: Environmental Protection Agency)

Tennessee could wind up subsidizing coal mining, environmental group claims

By: - March 30, 2021

Innocuous legislation enabling the state to take over regulation of the coal mining industry would cost Tennessee more money and could create environmental problems, according to the Sierra Club. House Bill 90 carried by Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, and Senate Bill 742, co-sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, is designed to clean up legislation passed […]

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

Governor renews $250M for K-12 mental health trust fund

By: - March 30, 2021

A year after putting the program on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic started, Gov. Bill Lee injected $250 million into his fiscal 2022 spending plan for a K-12 mental health trust fund. Lee and other state officials cited increased pressure on young people and the difficulty of the pandemic in renewing the program for a […]

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House approves Bible resolution, but lieutenant governor opposes making it state book

By: - March 29, 2021

The General Assembly is replaying a decision on making the Bible Tennessee’s official state book, and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally intends to maintain the opposition he held five years ago. The House passed the resolution 55-28 Monday evening as Rep. Jerry Sexton, a minister from Bean Station in East Tennessee, said he wants to elevate […]

Members of the Tennessee House of Representatives mill about in House Chambers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Schwinn-anigans abound

By: - March 26, 2021

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn does not disappoint when it comes to getting a tad off track, incidents increasingly becoming known as Schwinn-anigans, in the halls of power. Not only did the General Assembly change its textbook approval process in 2020 to keep her out of the loop because of concerns about favoritism, legislators put an […]

Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton backed addition of Centene Corp. to TennCare through a no-bid contract. (Photo: John Partipilo)

McNally, Sexton part ways on Medicaid expansion 

By: - March 25, 2021

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said Thursday the state’s modified block grant should stay in place before he would support a move to accept the Biden Administration’s Medicaid expansion funds. But regardless, the measure doesn’t appear to have any hope in the House, based on Speaker Cameron Sexton’s comments Thursday when he said, “I’m not willing […]

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, photographed at the Tennessee Capitol on March 18, 2020 by John Partipilo.

Lieutenant governor willing to consider Biden’s Medicaid expansion

By: - March 24, 2021

Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally is opening the door to President Joe Biden’s plan to offer states more money for coverage of the working uninsured. A McNally spokesman said Tuesday the lieutenant governor believes the proposal within the American Recovery Act, which would increase Medicaid payments by 5 percentage points and bring $1.2 billion extra […]

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his third State of the State on Feb. 8, 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Lee shifts stance away from China economic recruiting, education

By: - March 24, 2021

Just months after actively seeking Asian investment in Tennessee, including China, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is taking a hard stand against the communist country, forcing closure of already-defunct Confucius Institutes at Tennessee universities and shutting down the state’s investment office there. Lee recently introduced legislation to require more transparency on foreign investments in the state’s […]

(Photo: John Partipilo)

Education commissioner runs into possible conflict with $8M contract

By: - March 22, 2021

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn signed a multimillion-dollar deal in March with a New York-based company as part of the state’s reading initiative, a move lawmakers say creates a potential conflict of interest because her husband works for the vendor. As part of the state’s plan to help students rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Schwinn […]

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

Stockard on the Stump: Akbari, Towns would stamp out “fake history” of slavery 

By: - March 19, 2021

In 2022, Volunteer State voters could be deciding the fate of a constitutional amendment banning all vestiges of slavery from the state Constitution. First, though, they have to figure out whether it’s “fake history,” at least according to one Republican lawmaker. In one of the head-scratchers of the 112th General Assembly, Sen. Brian Kelsey of […]

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Permit-less handgun carry rolls through Senate

By: - March 18, 2021

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved a permit-less handgun carry bill Thursday, setting the stage for law-abiding Tennesseans to go armed without a background check or basic weapon training. Senators voted 23-9 to pass the bill, sending the measure to the House of Representatives to consider, despite opposition from law enforcement across the state. The Tennessee […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

For-profit charter schools could take hold in Tennessee

By: - March 18, 2021

Nearly 20 years after nonprofit charter schools started in Tennessee, legislation enabling for-profit charter school managers to operate is moving through the Legislature despite concerns they could benefit from state funds while keeping financial aspects secret. This proposal is being pushed by National Heritage Academies, a for-profit company owned by entrepreneur J.C. Huizenga, which has […]