Sen. Janice Bowling

Dr. Michelle Fiscus prepares for an interview in her Williamson County home. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers split over Fiscus firing

BY: - July 23, 2021

The group of anti-vax legislators whose complaints about the Department of Health vaccine campaign led to the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus won’t say much about her termination. But there is a clear break between that group and others who think the state made the wrong move. The topic is so sensitive that most lawmakers […]

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 […]

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 […]

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Lee signs bill sponsored by Casada that would make certain info confidential before a conviction

BY: - June 4, 2021

Late last month, Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Glen Casada into law which has raised concerns among transparency advocates. The bill makes cell phone numbers, most addresses and some other information confidential between an arrest and a conviction. While it’s not as restrictive as an original version, some say it could […]

Legislators in the Tennessee Capitol during a break in the final day of session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Lawmaker misreads Three-Fifths Compromise

BY: - May 6, 2021

Mercifully, the legislative session is over.  State Rep. Justin Lafferty challenged his House colleagues this week on their understanding of the Three-Fifths Compromise during debate on legislation designed to make teachers turn out widgets instead of students, at least as far as national discourse surrounding systemic racism. “By limiting the number of population in the […]

Tennessee State University. (Photo: TSU)

Report: State cost TSU tens of millions in land grant funding

BY: - April 5, 2021

The state of Tennessee shorted historically Black college Tennessee State University by $150 million to $544 million in land grant funds over more than 100 years, according to a state report released Monday. In light of the revelation, TSU President Glenda Glover said she expects the state to make up for that funding loss so […]

Slave trader, Confederate general: the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust sits atop a perch outside the Tennessee House of Representatives Chamber. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Akbari, Towns would stamp out “fake history” of slavery 

BY: - March 19, 2021

In 2022, Volunteer State voters could be deciding the fate of a constitutional amendment banning all vestiges of slavery from the state Constitution. First, though, they have to figure out whether it’s “fake history,” at least according to one Republican lawmaker. In one of the head-scratchers of the 112th General Assembly, Sen. Brian Kelsey of […]

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett testifies before the U.S. Senate Rules Committee on Absentee Voting. (Screenshot of Senate Rules Committee.)

Editor’s Column: Slatery and Hargett protest too much about voting rights act

BY: - March 12, 2021

Tuesday, reporter Sam Stockard reported Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Attorney General Herbert Slatery have both joined their peers in signing letters that announce their disapproval of the “For the People” Act, a voting rights package that passed in the U.S. House March 4.  The package, which passed along party lines — 220 […]

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)

Slatery, Hargett oppose federal voting rights bill

BY: - March 9, 2021

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and Secretary of State Tre Hargett have signed letters written by their Republican colleagues criticizing a Democrat-backed federal voting rights bill. One letter, obtained by the Tennessee Journal, shows Slatery is joining 19 Republican attorneys general in a letter written by the Indiana attorney general and others contending the act […]

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)

Stockard on the Stump: Holt sidesteps moral dilemma with state job handling booze industry

BY: - March 5, 2021

Retired Capitol Hill reporter Tom Humphrey for years wrote a column called “Humphrey on the Hill.” In his stead, Sam Stockard is 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. As a state representative, […]

Delta-8 on display at The Perfect Plant in Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Reefer madness: Delta-8 produces similar effects to marijuana while still legal

BY: - March 4, 2021

While Tennessee sits on the sidelines of marijuana legalization, Tennesseans are choosing Delta-8, a psychoactive cannabis product nearly identical to marijuana. The two are isomers—chemical compounds with the same formula but different atomic arrangements—that offer similar mental effects with medicinal and recreational applications.  Since legalizing CBD oil in 2015, the Tennessee state legislature has failed […]