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 and Best Single Feature from the Tennessee Press Association.

Republican lawmakers, led by, from left, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Majority Leader William Lamberth, pushed massive bills through committees during Thursday's special session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republicans ram spate of bills through COVID-19 special session

By: - October 28, 2021

Giving only a few minutes to digest massive bills, Republicans pushed legislation through committees Thursday, thumbing their nose at the business community and, in one instance, seeking to nullify President Joe Biden’s executive order on vaccinations. “This is a history-making resolution,” Rep. John Ragan told one committee as he introduced a nullification bill sponsored by […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

Fines for school board members, limits on the governor: Thursday’s special session bills

By: and - October 28, 2021

A slew of far-reaching measures designed to curb local dissent over state COVID policies, and to check the governor’s emergency powers, sailed easily through Republican-dominated committee hearings during Thursday’s specially called legislative session.  They include harsh new penalties for locally elected school board members who defy executive orders and a mechanism for the Attorney General […]

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, stands next to Sen. Richard Briggs of Knoxville in the Senate Chambers on Wednesday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Under indictment, Kelsey resigns Education post, claims lead witness was given federal immunity

By: - October 28, 2021

Facing a five-count federal indictment, Sen. Brian Kelsey resigned his Education Committee chairmanship Wednesday, proclaiming his innocence while saying the federal government’s lead witness received immunity. On the first day of a special session to deal mainly with COVID-19 issues, Kelsey said on the Senate floor, for the second time in three days, “I’m totally […]

Murfreesboro Republican Tim Rudd is targeting Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, who has said he will not prosecute offenders with small amounts of marijuana or enforce the state's new "bathroom bill." (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republicans take aim at rogue DAs as bills pile up in COVID-19 special session

By: - October 27, 2021

House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Republican legislators are firing another salvo at Metro Nashville, this time targeting Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk for refusing to prosecute certain state laws. Sexton, R-Crossville, and Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, both sponsored separate legislation for this week’s special session – designed mainly to deal with COVID-19 issues – that […]

Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, during a meeting of the Joint Government Operations Committee on Wednesday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Partisan school board elections could be debated in COVID-19 special session

By: - October 27, 2021

Requiring partisan school board elections in counties statewide could become a fringe topic this week as the General Assembly tries to assert its authority over local entities and even business in a COVID-19 special session. Rep. Scott Cepicky, a Culleoka Republican, filed legislation enabling the state to permit partisan school board elections. The topic is […]

The Tennessee State Capitol with locked gates. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Sen. Kelsey indicted for allegedly violating federal campaign finance laws

By: - October 25, 2021

Sen. Brian Kelsey has been indicted for allegedly funneling more than $90,000 from his state account to his failed 2016 congressional campaign, a violation of federal law. A Nashville grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Kelsey, 43, a Germantown Republican, on Friday charging him and Joshua Smith, 44, owner of The Standard Club, with […]

Lawmakers weigh in to oppose TWRA clearcutting

By: and - October 25, 2021

Elected officials who occupy positions on hunting-oriented caucuses are weighing in on a controversial plan to clear hardwood trees in order to  create a grassy habitat for quail — a game bird — on popular wilderness area in White County. U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, and state Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville — members, respectively, of […]

Senator Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, working during the Ford special session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Robinson hoping to avoid expulsion from Senate

By: - October 22, 2021

Despite her conviction on felony fraud charges, Sen. Katrina Robinson showed up – in colorful garb no less – for this week’s special session on the $5.6 billion Ford plant targeted for the Memphis Regional Megasite. The Memphis Democrat will come back again next week for what is expected to be a more contentious special […]

Gov. Bill Lee with Republican legislative leadership after a recent press conference. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Legislature approves Ford’s Blue Oval City, largest investment in state history

By: - October 20, 2021

With some members calling it a “metamorphic moment” for West Tennessee, the Legislature approved a $900 million incentive package for Ford Motor Co. and, despite criticism, created a board with broad powers to oversee the project. Wrapping up a special session, the Senate and House passed funding Wednesday for the campus dubbed Blue Oval City […]

Ford plant squeaking through legislative committees

By: - October 20, 2021

Tennessee lawmakers treated a proposed $5.6 billion Ford electric truck plant as if it were too big to fail, passing legislation Tuesday in committees through gritted teeth before one piece stalled in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. That move came shortly after Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton called yet […]

from left: Rep.Ron Gant, assistant majority leader; Rep. William Lamberth, majority leader; Rep. Cameron Sexton, speaker of the House; Rep. Jeremy Faison, Republican House Caucus Leader. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Legislature takes first look at $884M Ford package

By: - October 18, 2021

The Legislature is dissecting an $884 million package for the Ford electric truck plant to be constructed at the Memphis Regional Megasite. Most concerns, though, focus on creation of the West Tennessee Megasite Authority, which gives a new board broad authority to contract with third-party vendors, control water and wastewater and sign contracts without public […]

Gov. Bill Lee, third from right, with Ford Motor Co. CEO, to his right, and Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe, to Ford's right, at Monday's announcement of the Ford Blue Oval Campus. (Photo: Gov. Bill Lee official Facebook page)

Union jobs, Ford plant deal hover Legislature’s special session

By: - October 18, 2021

Tennessee lawmakers are hours away from considering $883 million worth of incentives to land a Ford electric truck and battery plant, and questions about unionization and deal making are clouding the debate. State Rep. Robin Smith, a Hamilton County Republican, sent a letter to Gov. Bill Lee late last week questioning the specifics of the […]