Rep. Scott Cepicky

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: The curious case of Dr. Fiscus

BY: - July 16, 2021

We began the week in the soap opera that is Tennessee with the firing of the Tennessee Department of Health’s chief immunization director.  Dr. Michelle “Shelley” Fiscus, a pediatrician by training, was unceremoniously sacked on Monday after four years of service with the state. Fiscus said her termination letter gave no reason for her firing […]

Members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Jeff Yarbro, left, and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, next to him, slammed Gov. Bill Lee for the political firing of a leading health official. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Democrats slam governor over firing of immunology chief

BY: - July 14, 2021

Two days after Tennessee’s chief immunologist was fired under pressure from anti-vax lawmakers, Democratic leaders blasted the governor for failing to take responsibility for the state’s vaccination policy. “I think it’s an abdication of leadership,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said during an online press conference. Democrats expressed shock that the Department of Health and Lee […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor’s administration made state medical director scapegoat for anti-vaxxers

BY: - July 13, 2021

One of Tennessee’s leading medical experts was fired this week, taking the fall for Gov. Bill Lee, when his administration caved in to ultra-conservative lawmakers upset with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine messaging toward teens. The department fired Dr. Shelley Fiscus, state director for vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases, even though she had been working at the […]

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly on the floor of the House of Representatives. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republican lawmakers threaten to dissolve Health Department over child vaccines

BY: - June 17, 2021

GOP legislators came close Wednesday to dumping the Tennessee Department of Health after accusing it of targeting minors for mass vaccinations without parental consent. Instead, the Government Operations Committee ordered Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey to soften the state’s efforts to vaccinate children, mainly by bringing parents into the fold, and report back in July. Republican […]

(Anne-Marie Miller/Getty Images)

Tennessee’s anti-LGBTQ bills supported by national conservative groups

BY: - May 20, 2021

With dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this legislative season around the U.S., human rights groups and nonprofits have been busy fighting discrimination—perhaps only surpassed in productivity by the vast and well-funded networks of nonprofits that lobbied for, and helped write, discriminatory bills in the first place. Three of the heaviest hitters have been the Heritage […]

'Bills have consequences,' says a sign held by a Tennessee resident sitting in a Tennessee Senate hearing Tuesday. The hearing focused on a bill giving immunity to drivers hitting protestors and was one of several racially-charged hearings on what could be the final day of the legislative session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House, Senate at odds over bill withholding funds from school districts that teach systemic racism

BY: - May 4, 2021

After a far-flung debate that touched on everything from the Three-Fifths Compromise to the Holocaust, the House passed legislation Tuesday that would allow the state to punish school districts if a teacher delves into systemic racism in America. But the bill is tied up in a disagreement between the House and Senate. In the final […]

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

Bill empowering education commissioner to take over school districts advances

BY: - March 30, 2021

A state bill granting broad powers for the commissioner of education to assume control over a local school district if certain benchmarks are not met regarding improving priority schools and spending federal grant dollars cleared a House subcommittee on Tuesday. Nashville Democrats bashed the proposal in a press conference shortly before the education instruction subcommittee […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: Tennessee Republicans’ words cannot be taken at face value

BY: - February 25, 2021

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the age of Trump, it’s that Republicans cannot be taken at face value on anything.  So when GOP lawmakers in Tennessee claim they are pushing anti-transgender legislation to “protect” girls’ high school athletics, we need only to look at their political records, personal behavior and the predators in […]

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 […]

(Getty Images)

State house races in Districts 38-99 show at least one flip

BY: - November 2, 2020

In the final installment of our review of Tennessee House and Senate races, we preview the finances and the odds in House Districts 38-99, ranging from Middle Tennessee through West Tennessee. There are few competitive districts with at least one notable exception: In House District 49, Republicans are expressing unease about Rep. Mike Sparks’ reelection. […]