Blake Farmer (Nashville Public Radio)

Capitol Hill Reporter and Assistant News Director at WPLN in Nashville

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2013 TN General Assembly
6:31 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Senators Vote for Judicial Selection Amendment Hoping for Failure

Credit wikipedia.org

Some state senators held their noses and voted Thursday for a constitutional amendment regarding how judges are chosen in Tennessee. The measure largely keeps the current system in tact with appointments by the governor and retention elections every eight years.  Blake Farmer reports.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet would prefer direct elections of judges, but she signed off. She believes Tennesseans will ultimately reject the constitutional amendment that would be on the ballot next year.

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Politics
2:09 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

TN Governor Unsure About Medicaid Expansion

Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

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Education
7:49 am
Thu February 21, 2013

UT Knoxville Says Anti Preference Bill Would Be 'Lawyer's Dream'

Credit twitter.com

Tennessee’s institutions of higher education are still trying to scuttle legislative tweaks to their admissions and hiring processes. A proposed law intended to make sure no preference is shown on the basis of race or gender was again delayed in a state Senate committee.

Universities are worried about the possibly broad interpretation of what “preference” could mean.

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2013 TN General Assembly
1:06 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Challenges to Federal Gun Laws Could Find Tough Time in Key Committee

A key legislative committee has put off a bill taking aim at federal gun laws. The measure would make it a crime for officers to enforce any national gun restrictions in Tennessee, but there are constitutional questions.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet says the way she sees it, states have a choice about whether federal laws infringe on the right to bear arms.

She argued her point before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chaired just last year.

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2013 TN General Assembly
7:34 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Tennessee Charter Authorizer Sponsor ‘Listening’ to Input

A bill to create a state charter authorizer has been delayed. The sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis.

As written, the bill would give charter schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA.  Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.

“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application,” White says.

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2013 TN General Assembly
7:31 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Legislator Concerned Per Diem Restrictions Favor Wealthy

Credit wikimedia commons

An effort to lower daily expense accounts for some state lawmakers is running into more resistance, even as it advances in the General Assembly. Those who live within 50 miles of the state capitol would no longer be eligible for the $173 a day meant for hotels and meals. One legislator says the restrictions favor the wealthy.

In a House committee, Democrat Johnny Shaw of West Tennessee told the sponsor he was making it nearly impossible for a working person to hold office.

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2013 TN General Assembly
6:11 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Tennessee Universities Defend Diversity Programs

College presidents in Tennessee are defending their programs meant to diversify their student bodies. They worry about an effort to outlaw any preferences on the basis of race or gender.

Universities are already barred by federal law from giving minorities a leg up in the admittance or hiring process. But there are efforts to attract certain under-represented groups.

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2013 TN General Assembly
3:36 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Tennessee "Guns in Trunks" Legislation Seems Likely to Pass House

Tennessee’s so-called “guns in trunks” legislation is up for a vote of the full Senate Monday night, and it now appears set for smooth sailing in the state House. Speaker Beth Harwell says it will likely pass.

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2013 TN General Assembly
4:09 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Hospitals Say Blocking Medicaid Expansion Would Cost 90,000 TN Jobs

Credit iStockPhoto

The state’s hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.

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Politics
3:40 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Tennessee Interim DCS Head Faces Legislators

The temporary head Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services says he will turn things around, even with the title of “interim.” Jim Henry replaces former DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day who resigned yesterday just 24 hours before she was to testify in front of the legislature about unreported child deaths. Commissioner O’Day was criticized for not being accessible, but Henry says he plans to meet with child advocacy groups immediately. 

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