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.

A pickup truck emblazoned with the Jack Daniel's Distillery logo parked in front of the Cordell Hull Legislative Office Building Wednesday. Inside the building, officials with company gave one-fith bottles of Jack to legislators. (Photo: Sam Stockard)

From the Hill: Lawmakers enjoy a bottle of Jack at virtual reception

By: - February 24, 2021

COVID-19 rules remain partially in effect at the Legislature, including a ban on most fundraising receptions. But that didn’t stop Jack Daniel’s from handing out bottles of the state’s top Tennessee sipping whiskey to lawmakers Wednesday. Brown-Forman, the Kentucky-based owner of Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, was to hold a virtual legislative reception from 7-9 […]

Tennessee Senate Chambers (Photo: Tennessee Secretary of State)

Constitutional amendment would give legislature a hand in attorney general selection

By: - February 24, 2021

A move for “transparency” and legislative control is butting heads with the concept of separation of powers in an effort to change the way Tennessee selects its top law enforcement officer. With a key vote Tuesday, state Sen. Ken Yager, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus, is gaining momentum for passage of a constitutional amendment […]

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

Senate takes school openings out of health officials’ hands, gives school boards, governor authority

By: - February 23, 2021

Local school boards instead of public health boards would make decisions governing the return of students to in-classroom learning under legislation that passed the Senate in a 27-5 vote Monday. In addition, the legislation would give the governor free rein to order school districts to bring students back to classrooms, a shot at Shelby County […]

Throughout the pandemic, families have turned to food banks for help. In this picture, food is distributed in North Nashville in fall 2020. (Photo by John Partipilo

Tennessee GOP leaders won’t tap reserve funds

By: - February 22, 2021

Tennessee’s rainy day fund and total reserves are hitting record highs, but Republican leaders are loath to use them, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also could take months to form a new plan for increasing cash assistance to needy families, even though lawmakers recognize they let the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families reserve grow […]

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

Stockard on the Stump: Ketron audit presents ‘convoluted’ financial web for Registry board

By: - February 19, 2021

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron’s hearing before the Registry of Election Finance will pose new questions because it is “so convoluted,” a board member tells Tennessee Lookout, dealing with three entities tied up with each other. The Registry board is to hold a show-cause hearing with Ketron in April when he’ll be given a chance […]

The Cordell Hull Legislative Building. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee won’t bite Biden’s Medicaid carrot

By: - February 18, 2021

Tennessee is likely to reject hundreds of millions of dollars President Joe Biden is offering states to expand Medicaid as part of his $1.3 trillion COVID-19 relief package, even though hundreds of thousands of people remain without healthcare coverage. Democrats have been urging the state’s top Republican leaders for years to accept the federal government’s […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Getty Images)

Registry of Election Finance changes unlikely amid FBI probe

By: - February 17, 2021

With an FBI investigation hanging over the Legislature, changes are improbable in the makeup of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. An idea to merge the Registry of Election Finance and Ethics Commission into one eight-member body is being floated in the Legislature, as reported by the Tennessee Journal.  But it will meet resistance […]

The Cordell Hull Legislative Building. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Bad weather shuts down Legislature for the week

By: - February 16, 2021

With ice and snow covering highways and streets into Nashville, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally announced Tuesday the Legislature will be closed this week. “Due to continuing severe weather and adverse road conditions, all @tnsenate meetings are cancelled for the remainder of the week. Members do not need to travel to Nashville. Staff is advised to […]

A.B. Hill Elementary (Photo: Shelby County Schools)

Senator lauds Shelby Schools plan to return to classrooms

By: - February 16, 2021

State Sen. Raumesh Akbari praised Shelby County Schools’ plan to bring students back to classrooms amid pressure from state leaders and a steady decline in COVID-19 cases. “The Return Stronger plan to phase in classroom learning is a plan to safely reopen schools – and keep schools open,” Akbari, a Memphis Democrat, said in a […]

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

Governor budgets $15M for Memphis Mega-site

By: - February 16, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee has put $15 million in his fiscal 2021-22 spending plan for construction of a wastewater utility line from the Memphis Mega-site in West Tennessee to the Mississippi River. If approved by the state Legislature, the funds would bring Tennessee’s total investment to $189 million in the 4,100-acre mega-site in Haywood County, some […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Getty Images)

Stockard on the stump: Kelsey throws down challenge to Shelby County Schools

By: - February 12, 2021

Retired Capitol Hill reporter Tom Humphrey for years wrote a column called “Humphrey on the Hill.” In his stead, I am taking up the mantle with a new report called “Stockard on the Stump,” a collection of briefs, anecdotes and quotes from the latest week in the Tennessee General Assembly.–SS Pouring gas on an argument […]

(Photo: John Partipilo)

Legislature’s legal costs raise questions as transgender athlete bill starts rolling

By: - February 12, 2021

The state attorney general is seeking $700,000 to hire new attorneys to fight for new state laws, and the governor is requesting $7 million more for court costs, raising questions about whether the state is spending too much money on litigation it could avoid. Despite those planned expenses, the state could find itself in yet […]