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.

Empty cell in traditional prison. Photo by Andy Sacks/Getty Images.

Governor appoints new correction commissioner in wake of lethal injection debacle

By: - January 4, 2023

A week after unveiling a report displaying incompetence in the state’s lethal injection program, Gov. Bill Lee appointed an Arizona prison official who oversaw a renewal of executions there to lead Tennessee’s prison system. Frank Strada, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, will replace interim Commissioner Lisa Helton this week as the governor […]

Gov. Bill Lee (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Governor sends mixed message on clemency, asylum seekers

By: - December 23, 2022

Three days before Christmas, Gov. Bill Lee gave clemency to 16 people and granted parole eligibility to a host of folks who committed offenses in drug-free school zones. The governor pardoned 13 people, commuted the sentences of three people and expedited the parole eligibility for 30 people using a change in state law. It was […]

Middle Tennessee has the greatest number of road miles and highest population of the state's four quadrants, yet will get the least amount of funding in a proposed transportation plan.

Public-private partnerships work their way into state government

By: - December 22, 2022

Not long after the Tennessee Department of Transportation proposed public-private partnerships to build express lanes and cut congestion on highways, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville sought permission for a joint venture to build dorms and an indoor athletic facility. The State Building Commission authorized the university’s plan to take bids for a public-private partnership for three […]

(Photo: Darrin Klimek/Getty Images)

State holds release of independent report on executions

By: - December 16, 2022

The state has received an independent review of its lethal injection protocol on executions but is refusing to release it to the public until the Governor’s Office assesses it. Gov. Bill Lee put a hold on executions in May aftering finding out the state failed to follow guidelines on the testing of lethal injection drugs, […]

Outgoing Democratic House Caucus Chair Vincent Dixie says House Speaker Cameron Sexton interfered in his recent defeat.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Former Democratic Caucus chair claims House Speaker pushed him out

By: - December 16, 2022

Two weeks after narrowly losing a bid for re-election as House Democratic Caucus chairman, Rep. Vincent Dixie says House Speaker Cameron Sexton leaned on colleagues to stop his re-election. As a result, Dixie, a Nashville Democrat, holds no leadership position. He was defeated by Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, in the 24-member caucus race by […]

Lockeland Elementary School in Nashville. Metro Nashville Public Schools will get Title 1 funds for low-income students slashed, but got boosts from other funding sources. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee school districts lose Title I money amid shifts stemming from federal audit

By: - December 16, 2022

Polk County Schools Director James Jones was “left in the dark completely” this week when the school district in southeast Tennessee lost $36,000 in federal funds without an explanation from the state. It appears to be part of a roughly 5% reduction statewide in money that goes toward low-income students, though some districts are reporting […]

Sen. John Lundberg, R-Bristol, chair of the Senate Education Committee, supports the current law to hold back 3rd graders who don't meet state reading standards. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Third-grade retention law could pit Republicans against each other

By: - December 15, 2022

Amid statewide complaints about Tennessee’s third-grade retention law, legislative Republicans are likely to butt heads over efforts to tweak the measure in 2023. House Education Administration Committee Chairman Mark White, an East Memphis Republican, said this week he hopes to find middle ground between the new state law and school districts, which are complaining about […]

Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, addressing the House of Representatives in April 2022. Chair of the House Education Administration Committee, White said plans for Hillsdale College to operate charter schools in Tennessee are "shattered." (Photo: John Partipilo)

Critics fear voucher expansion could hit multiple counties

By: - December 13, 2022

Two key House members confirmed they will bring legislation in 2023 to spread the state’s Education Savings Account program to Hamilton County, a move that could launch expansion into two other counties as well. House Education Administration Committee Chairman Mark White told the Tennessee Lookout this week he plans to sponsor the House version of […]

U.S. Rep.Andy Ogles voted for Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan rather than frontrunner Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for House Speaker. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Ogles draws warnings from Federal Election Commission

By: - December 9, 2022

The Federal Election Commission is threatening U.S. Rep.-elect Andy Ogles with an audit or other enforcement if he fails to fix discrepancies in his campaign finance report. The agency sent Ogles’ treasurer, Thomas Datwyler, letters Dec. 6 listing a litany of problems within the campaign’s report. Those include incorrect totals and information that deflates his […]

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, is questioning Gov. Bill Lee's no-bid contracts. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Chattanooga senator wants private school vouchers expanded to Hamilton County

By: - December 8, 2022

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, assured that the state’s education savings account program cleared legal hurdles, has filed legislation to expand private school vouchers to the Hamilton County school district. Senate Bill 12 would enable the state program to include qualifying students in districts with at least five schools in the bottom 10% of the state […]

Middle Tennessee has the greatest number of road miles and highest population of the state's four quadrants, yet will get the least amount of funding in a proposed transportation plan.

Governor’s transportation proposals draw wide reactions

By: - December 6, 2022

Facing tens of billions of dollars in transportation project backlog, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is proposing a patchwork of proposals designed to expedite work and raise more revenue, the most notable of which would institute toll roads or “choice lanes” built and maintained by the private sector through a state partnership. The thinking is that […]

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin (Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate majority leader sponsors bill to close public records in non-criminal death investigations

By: - December 5, 2022

Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson would close public records in death investigations such as those surrounding the suicide of country music legend Naomi Judd, a move drawing opposition from open records advocates. Johnson, a Franklin Republican, filed Senate Bill 9 in advance of the 113th General Assembly, a measure that would conceal […]