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.

Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)

Sexton balks at masks, but Legislature to take other COVID-19 precautions

By: - January 6, 2021

House Speaker Cameron Sexton told lawmakers Tuesday masks won’t be required during 2021 sessions because their effectiveness is disputable, yet both the House and Senate are taking other steps to stem COVID-19 as the 112th General Assembly convenes. Among the new measures, an antibacterial mist will be sprayed in the Senate and House chambers in […]

Children participating in a Sunday rally at the office of the Metro Nashville Schools Board hold up placards spelling out 'January All Schools Open.' The rally was organized by Let Nashville Parents Choose, a group advocating to return all schools to in-person learning. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Legislature could push school districts to bring students back to school

By: - January 5, 2021

Set for a January special session to cure education ills, the Tennessee General Assembly could take steps to encourage districts to bring students back into classrooms despite pandemic precautions, likely using funding incentives. Tennessee is to receive $1.2 billion, with upwards of $900 million going to its 147 school districts, from the latest round of […]

Gov. Bill Lee addresses Tennesseans from the Governor's Residence. Lee issued an executive order limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people. (Photo: YouTube)

Governor orders limited Christmas gatherings

By: - December 20, 2020

A day after announcing his wife contracted COVID-19, Gov. Bill Lee declined to make a statewide mask mandate but asked Tennesseans not to hold indoor Christmas gatherings with anyone outside their household. “Family time and celebrations are important, and I understand deeply how much Tennessee families need each other. But we must do all we […]

Gov. Bill Lee addressing the surge in COVID-19 cases and the vaccine at his regular press briefing. (Photo: Sam Stockard)

Gov blasts Thanksgiving gatherings for causing COVID-19 surge as state rolls out vaccine

By: - December 17, 2020

Admitting Tennessee is seeing a “darkness before the dawn,” Gov. Bill Lee blamed a COVID-19 surge on “foolish decisions” over Thanksgiving while urging leery residents to take the COVID-19 vaccination as the state starts its first round. The governor joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center officials Thursday in kicking off the vaccine program, mainly with healthcare […]

Gov. Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee greet Vice President Mike Pence Dec. 4 in Memphis at an event to discuss distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Camper wants legislative focus on widespread vaccine distribution

By: - December 15, 2020

With COVID-19 surging across the state, the legislature should concentrate on controlling the virus and disseminating a vaccine when it convenes in January, House Minority Leader Karen Camper says. Gov. Bill Lee’s administration already has a draft plan on the Department of Health website, and the governor, who will not require residents to get vaccinations, […]

Members of the House Democratic Caucus following elections Monday. (Photo: Rep. London Lamar)

House Democrats select Dixie as Caucus chairman

By: - December 7, 2020

Hoping to put a dent in the Republican supermajority, the House Democratic Caucus elected second-term Rep. Vincent Dixie of Nashville as its chairman in a Monday vote. Dixie, the owner of a bail bonding company, will replace Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville, who is stepping down from the post after six years. He defeated Rep. […]

Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)

DeBerry “surprised” by appointment to governor’s cabinet

By: - December 7, 2020

Former Memphis state Rep. John DeBerry, fresh off losing a re-election bid as a first-time independent candidate, says he was planning retirement after 26 years in the Legislature when Gov. Bill Lee tabbed him for a senior cabinet position. “This is one of the most unexpected things I have had happen to me in my […]

Tennessee House of Representatives Chambers (iStock Editorial/Getty Images)

Legislators could undercut governor’s emergency orders

By: - December 1, 2020

Amid questions about Tennessee’s elongated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators are planning to cut drastically into a future governor’s ability to declare extended states of emergency. “If this state of emergency we’re in right now were a pregnancy, we would be diapering the baby,” state Rep. John Ragan said Tuesday, contending the virus is […]

Knox County Department of Health (Photo: Knox County)

COVID-19 decisions could shift to county mayors from public health boards

By: - November 20, 2020

Spurred by fears that appointed public health boards hold too much power in the COVID-19 pandemic, a state legislator is trying to change Tennessee law to put crucial decisions in the hands of county mayors in six large counties. State Rep. Jason Zachary, a Knoxville Republican, has filed House Bill 0007 in advance of the […]

U.S. Rep. Mark Green joins Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, top right, and Sen. Bill Powers, top left, in the Senate Chambers Jan. 22. (Photo: Facebook, Senate Republican Caucus)

Senate Republican Caucus backs Trump election challenge

By: - November 11, 2020

Senate Republicans joined a chorus of GOP leaders standing “absolutely and unequivocally” with President Donald Trump in his challenge of the 2020 election, saying it is “far from over,” even though most media outlets have “called” it in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden. Issued this week and signed by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Getty Images)

Mancini to step down as Tennessee Democratic Party chair

By: - November 7, 2020

Four days after Tennessee Democrats made slight progress in statehouse races, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Mary Mancini is set to leave the post, announcing Saturday she will not seek re-election in 2021. “It has been an honor of a lifetime to work with Democrats across the state and serve the Tennessee Democratic Party as chair […]

nthony Eubanks,68, and wife Anna Eubanks, 68, were going to vote by but decided to vote in person on the first day of early voting. The couple, who have been married for 46 years, said they didn’t trust the mail so decided to risk voting In person. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee’s vote-counting process is smooth in record-breaking year

By: - November 6, 2020

With key states in the presidential election holding up the outcome to count absentee ballots, Tennessee reported no such delays despite handling a record-breaking 3 million-plus votes, including more than 210,400 absentee ballots, after balking for months at legal challenges of the state’s mail-in voting laws. The state recorded 3,045,401 votes, a 68% turnout, topping […]