Blake Farmer (Nashville Public Radio)

Capitol Hill Reporter and Assistant News Director at WPLN in Nashville


8:19 am
Wed February 6, 2013

TN Guns in Trunks Passes Over Business Objection

Neither businesses nor firearms groups are pleased with a bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee late yesterday. The “guns-in-trunks” legislation is headed to a vote of the full state Senate.

The head of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce – Bill Ozier – told the panel that corporations see no need to expand the rights of gun owners. He also admitted businesses realize guns are already being stored in cars on their property.

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7:59 am
Wed February 6, 2013

TN DCS Commissioner Resigns Ahead of Hearing on Child Deaths

Credit TN Department of Children's Services

The commissioner of an embattled state agency has resigned. Kate O’Day steps down as head of the Department of Children Services one day before she was to testify about child deaths.

A statement from Governor Bill Haslam’s office says O’Day “felt the time was right” to leave. She entered the job two years ago and has been under intense scrutiny in recent months for undocumented fatalities and a computer system plagued with glitches. Just this week, her office told newspapers they’d have to pay $55,000 to get copies of case files in question.

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6:35 am
Tue February 5, 2013

TEA OK with Arming Teachers as Last Resort

The largest teachers union in the state is quietly on board with allowing educators to carry a weapon to class, at least as a last resort. The Tennessee Education Association is supporting a bill under consideration by the state legislature. 

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7:35 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Repealing TN Precious Metal Sales Tax Could Create New Industry

Credit Wikimedia Commons

More gold bars could be headed to Tennessee if one Republican lawmaker from Rutherford County has his way. A bill introduced last week would repeal the state’s sales tax on precious metals. 

Gold investors range from savvy stockbrokers to seniors convinced by infomercials that precious metals will keep them safe from economic calamity. If they just receive a certificate and keep the physical gold in a tax-free state, they can avoid the sales tax in Tennessee. 

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3:47 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Governor Bill Haslam's State Of The State: Tennessee Is Different

In his third State of the State address last night, Governor Bill Haslam laid out a plan to cut taxes, pay state employees more, and still save money for a rainy day.

“Tennessee is different,” Haslam told members of the Tennessee General Assembly, his cabinet, and the public gathered on the floor of the state Legislature. The governor said that Tennessee is different from other states because of its low cost of living and relatively low unemployment, and different from Washington D.C. because Tennessee has made cuts instead of raising taxes.

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3:38 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Haslam: TN Won't Set Up State Health Exchange

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam won't create a state-run health insurance exchange, leaving the operation to the federal government. Haslam announced his decision during a speech today.

The Republican governor had until Friday to decide. He says the federal government has not provided enough information.

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5:26 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Army Aims To Use Words, Not Weapons, With Afghans

U.S. Army soldiers learn to play khosai, Afghanistan's full-contact national pastime, at Fort Campbell.
Blake Farmer for NPR

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 5:53 pm

The U.S. Army has been ramping up instruction in the languages of Afghanistan, even as troop levels in the country decrease in preparation for the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

This year, key installations have added several hundred speakers of Pashto and Dari to their ranks, more than doubling the number of soldiers trained in the Afghan languages.

But it's not just the country's languages that are foreign to U.S. soldiers — it's the culture, as well.

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