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.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron speaks to residents in a March address on COVID-19. (Photo:

Audit finds Rutherford County mayor failed to report tens of thousands in campaign contributions

By: - February 10, 2021

A third state audit of former Sen. Bill Ketron, now the mayor of Rutherford County, found his Senate campaign account violated state law or disclosure regulations 13 times, in part by failing to report nearly $44,500 in campaign contributions and documenting nearly $13,000 in campaign funds. Without comment in a teleconference meeting allowed by pandemic […]

Senate Judiciary expedites Right to Work resolution

By: - February 10, 2021

The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed an effort Tuesday to enshrine Tennessee’s Right to Work Law in the state Constitution, continuing the process to put it on the 2022 ballot for a voter referendum. With a 7-2 vote, the committee gave a positive recommendation to Sen. Brian Kelsey’s Senate Joint Resolution 2, which would amend the […]

A site plan of the Memphis Megasite. (Photo: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development)

Senator: Memphis Mega-site tweaked to create economic development corridor

By: - February 9, 2021

Momentum is building for a redesign of the Memphis Megasite wastewater line that would allow for an economic development corridor all the way from the 4,100-acre site in Haywood County to eastern Shelby County, a state senator said. The West Tennessee legislative delegation is working with House and Senate leadership to move the plan forward, […]

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

In State of State, Lee lauds his pandemic response and talks economic recovery plans

By: - February 8, 2021

Coming off one of the most difficult years in state history, Gov. Bill Lee delivered his plan Monday to boost Tennessee’s economy and jumpstart K-12 education with a $41.8 billion budget plan as the COVID-19 crisis continues, while praising the state’s pandemic response as effective. The governor, though, is not renewing a call for family […]

Tennessee State Capitol. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro)

Supreme Court to hear appeal on governor’s school voucher law

By: - February 5, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed Thursday to take up the state’s appeal on the education savings account program (ESA)  after two lower courts found it unconstitutional. The decision came nine months after Davidson County Chancellor Anne Martin ruled the voucher law would violate the state Constitution’s home rule provision by targeting only Metro Nashville Public […]

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 […]