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 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 […]

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 […]

Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton at Gov. Bill Lee's 2021 State of the State. (Photo: John Partipilo)

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 […]

(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,” where a Gofundme site is set up to raise money for her legal fight. Go […]

In December, a group of parents rallied in Nashville to get their kids back in the classroom. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Metro Public Schools director backs mask mandate despite House speaker’s threat

By: - August 4, 2021

Two days after the state House speaker threatened districts that require students to wear masks, Metro Nashville Public Schools’ director is backing a mask mandate for students indoors and on buses. Director Adrienne Battle said Wednesday she is making the push because of the “alarming rise” in COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant spread, as […]

"Your biological sex at birth is your identity. There will be legislation filed this session by many members to protect Tennesseans from this barbaric practice," said House Speaker Cameron Sexton on Wednesday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Davidson delegation mask request puts Metro on crash course with House speaker

By: - August 3, 2021

Hours before House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened to seek a special session targeting school districts over COVID-19 policies, the Davidson County delegation made a push for Metro Nashville Public Schools to mandate masks for students this year. The delegation sent a letter written by Rep. John Ray Clemmons to Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Adrienne […]

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

House Speaker would require in-school learning without masks

By: - August 2, 2021

With student test scores plummeting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened Monday to require school districts to conduct in-person learning without masks and vaccination segregation this year. Otherwise, he would call for the start of a new voucher program. In a press conference at the State Capitol, Sexton said he would seek […]

Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, exits the Tennessee House Chambers on a mortised scooter after being sworn in. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Byrd takes oath of office after long COVID battle, brush with death

By: - July 30, 2021

Emerging from a fight for his life against COVID-19, state Rep. David Byrd took the oath of office Friday, urging Tennesseans to take the disease seriously and strongly consider getting vaccinated. Sworn in to represent Hardin, Lewis, Wayne and part of Lawrence counties in House District 71, the former basketball coach and principal entered and […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Senator predicts Delta variant will spur vaccinations

By: - July 30, 2021

State Sen. Ferrell Haile, a pharmacist by trade, is not on the fence when it comes to vaccines. He was writing an opinion piece on the importance of vaccinations when other senators found out and wanted to join the push. Seventeen Republican senators signed the letter and sent it out this week hoping to bolster […]