NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers say they continue to get calls from their constituents expressing concern about the vetting process for allowing Syrian refugees in the state.

A joint legislative committee heard testimony yesterday from security officials and refugee advocates.

A highlight of the testimony came from David Shedd, former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, who acknowledged there are some weaknesses in the federal vetting process.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Skilled trades workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga have given the United Auto Workers Union its first inroads into a foreign auto plant in the American south.

This past week the skilled workers who maintain the plant’s equipment and robots at VW's lone U.S. plant voted to have the UAW negotiate their collective bargaining agreements. The workers approved unionization by a vote of 108-44 over two days of voting that ended Friday.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Members of a panel appointed to offer a recommendation about a Middle Tennessee State University building named after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest will hold the first of two open forums on the topic today.

MTSU President Sidney McPhee announced in June he would engage the university community about the building's name. That followed a mass shooting at a historically black church in South Carolina that sparked debate about Confederate symbols.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Thousands of Tennesseans will have to find new doctors or pay higher fees following a decision by the Vanderbilt Medical system to opt out of a BlueCross BlueShield healthcare plan.

WSMV says Vanderbilt University Medical Center and affiliated practitioners are leaving the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medicare Advantage program.

BlueCross says about 20,000 policy holders, mostly senior citizens, will be affected. A spokesperson for BlueCross tells the station Vanderbilt has simply gotten too expensive.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Attorney General Herbert Slatery says in a legal opinion that federal law prevents Tennessee from refusing entry to Syrian refugees.

In the opinion released Monday, Slatery notes that through the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal law pre-empts any rules the state may put into place regarding refugees.

But Slatery also says the state has every right to communicate to the federal government its preferences and concerns about the refugee resettlement program.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A two day unionization vote begins Thursday at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

Last year an election pushed by the United Auto Workers Union to gain bargaining rights for the plant’s entire workforce was narrowly defeated. This time around the union is trying to unionize just 165 skilled trades workers, not the entire 1250 blue-collar workforce.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio now has a full slate of Tennessee delegates lined up for next year’s Republican National Convention.

Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp is Rubio’s state chairman. Wamp presided over a press conference in Nashville Monday to announce that the campaign has assembled a full slate of 82 delegates to represent Rubio at the convention.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It was a down to the wire kind of weekend for Tennessee football.

The Tennessee Titans blocked a New Orleans Saints field goal attempt and then scored in overtime to snap their six game losing streak with a 34-28 victory Sunday.

Rookie Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards and four touchdowns, including the winning 5-yard scoring pass to Anthony Fasano in overtime.

In Knoxville on Saturday, Jalen Reeves-Maybin recovered a fumble deep in Tennessee territory with 32 seconds remaining to preserve the Volunteers' 27-24 triumph over South Carolina.


NEW YORK (AP) — You may soon see changes to your Comcast bill.  The cable company is expanding the use of data caps in select markets in 5 Southern states, including Tennessee.

The cable company is rolling out more data limits as the Internet becomes an increasingly popular way to watch TV. Streaming video eats up more data than surfing the Internet and reading email.

Public-interest groups criticize the caps, saying they hurt innovation and make it more difficult for people to go online.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the NAACP State Conference will host a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss mass incarceration and its impact on the community.

Tennessee Black Caucus chairwoman Brenda Gilmore says the symposium will focus on the results of mass incarceration in overall society, particularly in the African-American community.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Tennessee’s U.S. Senators have voted in favor of a cybersecurity bill that has some tech companies and privacy advocates concerned.

The Senate yesterday passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act 74-21. The bill seeks to improve cybersecurity by encouraging companies and the government to share information about hacking threats.

Some senators and technology companies, such as Apple and Yelp, are opposed to the measure, but Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted in favor.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A national report shows that Tennessee has seen little to no change in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading scores over the last two years.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation's report card, is given to a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students every two years in all 50 states.

Gov. Bill Haslam says the news is still positive, because many states saw their scores decline while Tennessee remained roughly the same.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Schools in Cumberland County, Kentucky, have been canceled as police continue a massive manhunt for a man authorities say shot a Tennessee deputy.

Police raided a home in Burkesville, Kentucky, overnight looking Floyd Ray Cook, but the shooting suspect wasn’t there.

Putnam County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Beth Nelson says a deputy pulled Cook over near Allgood, Tennessee, on Saturday. When he asked Cook to show his hands, the suspect shot him. Nelson says the deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest, which saved his life.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT)  -- A speaker at this week’s Holocaust Conference in Murfreesboro is calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion that a Palestinian convinced Hitler to exterminate Europe’s Jews, “nonsense.”

World War II scholar Gerhard Weinberg was a guest lecturer at Middle Tennessee State’s 12th biennial Holocaust Studies Conference. He told MTSU’s Gina Logue the holocaust was already well underway when the Palestinian leader in question visited Hitler.

Metro Schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A report card that tracks the achievement and growth of Tennessee schools shows the state's graduation rate improved to 88 percent, the third consecutive year it's increased.

The graduation rate is up 1 percent from last year’s 87 percent score.

Looking at Metro Nashville and the six surrounding counties, Metro was the only system to fall below the state average, with a graduation rate of 81.6 percent. Williamson, Wilson and Robertson counties all had graduation rates above 95 percent.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — If you’re in need of a lawyer but just can’t afford one here’s a heads up.

Lawyers across Tennessee are providing free legal services to qualified resident during the balance of October.

The Tennessee Bar Association says the initiative is in its seventh year and brings attorneys together with people who can't afford one.

Allan Ramsaur directs the Tennessee Bar Association. He says Tennesseans earning 150 percent of the poverty level qualify for free assistance. He calls the number of hours donated last year to this effort astounding.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Several hundred Christian conservatives held a rally on Legislative Plaza in Nashville Thursday morning.

The rally was sponsored by the Tennessee Pastors Network.

Topics addressed included what the association calls “a lax immigration system, weak terrorism laws, education, healthcare, religious liberty protections and traditional marriage.

A number of Tennessee state lawmakers were on hand for the rally. They told the crowd that a bill entitled the Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act had just been introduced to the legislature.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The husband of Kim Davis — the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for her refusal to issue marriage licenses — will be part of a Thursday rally at the capitol in Nashville organized by the Tennessee Pastors Network.

Network President Dale Walker of Whitleyville, Tennessee, lists some of the issues to be address as the rally.

“Traditional marriage, family, lax immigration system, weak terrorism laws, education, healthcare and religious liberty protection and religious freedom.”


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The chairman of the state Senate transportation committee has come out against raising Tennessee's gas tax next year.

Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville heads the transportation panel in the upper chamber. He says there isn't enough time to put together a comprehensive road funding proposal for the upcoming legislative session.

Tennessee hasn’t increased its tax on gasoline since 1989.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency are getting a lot of pushback following Monday’s announcement of new, stricter power plant emission standards.

But the Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies electricity to Tennessee and six other states, seems to be taking the announcement in stride.


WASHINGTON, D.C.  (AP/WMOT)  --  Tennessee Senator Bob Corker tangled Thursday in a congressional hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry over the nuclear arms deal Kerry struck earlier this month with Iran.

Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recently championed legislation that gives Congress the opportunity to review the deal made with Iran.

Opening that review process yesterday, Corker was scathing in his assessment of the agreementl Kerry negotiated.


NEW YORK (AP/WMOT) — Tennesseans score dead last when it comes to eating enough fruit and residents are skimping on vegetables as well.

A just released study suggests only 13 percent of Americans are eating the recommended amount of fruit each day, while in Tennessee only 7.5 percent eat the recommended amount.

The findings come from a large, national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — Tennessee U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander scored a major legislative victory yesterday, as the Senate approved an education law re-write.

The Senate bill would roll back significant parts of the much-criticized federal No Child Left Behind regulations. Alexander has been working on the legislation for seven years.

The overhaul was approved by a 81-17 vote. The stage is now set for what could be contentious negotiations with the House over the federal government's influence over education policy.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Members of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus are considering a special legislative session to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding same-sex marriage.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin says that a special session "is on the table" to discuss a proposal that would protect ministers who choose not to perform a gay wedding.


COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved only small tuition hikes for the 2015-2016 school year.

A unanimous vote at the Regents' Friday meeting in Columbia raises tuition 3.4 percent at Tennessee's community colleges and 4 percent at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

At the six Board of Regents universities, tuition increases vary as follows:

—Austin Peay State University: 2.4 percent

—East Tennessee State University: 3 percent

—Middle Tennessee State University: 3.1 percent