Blake Farmer (Nashville Public Radio)

Capitol Hill Reporter and Assistant News Director at WPLN in Nashville

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2013 TN General Assembly
7:36 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Tennessee Animal Cruelty Bill May Not Be What It Seems

Credit nhandler, Wikimedia Commons

The Tennessee legislature is wrapping up its session. Most of the high-profile issues have been settled for the year, but minor skirmishes remain -- one dealing with animal cruelty.

A bill would require that activists go to the police immediately if they uncover evidence of abuse. But those activists say it’s a sham.

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2013 TN General Assembly
4:16 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Nashville Clergy Ask Lawmakers WWJD on Medicaid Expansion

Credit A.Davey Wikimedia Commons

Would Jesus expand Tennessee’s Medicaid program? That’s the question a left-leaning clergy group is asking the General Assembly, and they believe the answer is yes.

Pastors and priests delivered baskets of bread loaves and paper fish to each legislator. The attempted biblical parallel is to the miracle of feeding the 5,000.

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2013 TN General Assembly
6:30 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Some Tennessee Teachers Could Go Armed Under Advancing Bill

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A proposal meant to put more armed guards in Tennessee schools has begun moving forward in the General Assembly. It offers money for schools to hire retired police officers and allows teachers with law enforcement backgrounds to carry a gun to class.

Whether a retired officer hired part-time as a security guard or a teacher already on the payroll, both would have to go through at least 40 hours of special training.

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Politics
6:25 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Haslam Sacrifices Tennessee School Vouchers

Credit mspmentor.net

Republican lawmakers who’ve tried for years to divert public education money to pay private school tuition say they won’t give up. Wednesday Gov. Bill Haslam yanked his proposal from consideration because legislators wanted to expand it.

The governor’s bill would have started small, limiting school vouchers to poor students in failing schools. Others have been looking at something many times larger for middle class families. Sen. Brian Kelsey has led the voucher push. 

“This was definitely a minor set back and disappointing that the governor pulled his support, but I am fully committed to helping these low income children get the quality education that they deserve. There are other vehicles out there that are available,” he said.

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Education
4:36 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

NIMBY Complaints Cured with Narrower TN State Charter Authorizer

A proposed TN state panel for approving charter schools initially rejected by local boards is again limited to just a handful of districts.  The charter authorizer was going nowhere when it applied statewide.

Republican lawmakers were pulling their support when there was a possibility state-approved charters could pop up in their backyard.

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Politics
4:49 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

TN House Keeps Primary Picks in Hands of Voters

Credit Wikimedia Commons

While the state Senate flirted with the idea of giving itself authority to pick nominees for U.S. Senate, the House has dumped the plan. A bill that would end primary elections made it to the floor of the state senate this week. But it was scuttled by the House before it even came to a committee vote.

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Politics
4:04 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Haslam Changing Tune On Expanding Medicaid

Governor Bill Haslam is saying there’s still a chance to expand TennCare and cover more of the state’s uninsured. Last week, Haslam effectively turned down billions of dollars in federal money to expand Tennessee’s Medicaid program. But after talking with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the weekend, he says the federal agency is sounding more receptive to his demands.

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Politics
6:49 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Tennessee Dems Want No Part of Ending US Senate Primaries

The Tennessee General Assembly has delayed consideration of ending primary elections for the U.S. Senate. Several lawmakers say voters need time to weigh-in on possibly losing their power to pick party nominees.

A few top-ranking Republicans have gotten on board with Frank Niceley’s proposal for the state legislature to again pick Senate candidates. Niceley said Tennessee should lead what he calls a band of “small red states” to help send more conservative lawmakers to Washington and “save America.”

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2013 TN General Assembly
6:31 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Tennessee Workers Comp Sails Through Senate

Credit wikimedia.org

All that stands in the way of an overhaul of the Tennessee workers compensation system are a few votes in the state House. The Senate passed one of the governor’s biggest priorities of the year last night.

People who get hurt on the job would no longer get the benefit of the doubt under the proposed law. It would also create an entirely new state agency to mediate disputes over workers comp claims, instead of requiring both sides to go to court.

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Politics
4:51 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Some TN Republicans Want To End Primaries For U.S. Senate

Credit wikimedia.org

Democrats in Tennessee say they oppose allowing the General Assembly to pick nominees to the U.S. Senate.

The bill would end primary elections for selecting senate candidates, giving sole authority to the 132 members of the state legislature.

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