politics and Government


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has filled vacancies on a Tennessee panel tasked with recommending whether to move or otherwise change the Capitol's bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.


The Republican announced Thursday he appointed Lane College President Logan Hampton to the Capitol Commission and named Finance Commissioner Butch Eley the panel's chairman.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court will not block a judge's order offering a by-mail voting option to all eligible voters during the coronavirus pandemic while the state appeals the expansion.


The state's high court on Wednesday agreed to fast-track the appeal without a lower appellate court considering it, but a majority of justices voted against a stay of the absentee voting expansion pending appeal.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Tennessee officials got a preview of what a universal vote-by-mail election might look like during Tuesday’s primary next door in Kentucky.

By court order, Tennessee will allow any registered voter who wishes to the option of voting by mail during the upcoming August 6 primary. The ruling by a Nashville judge June 4 came in response to voter concerns about contracting coronavirus while casting an in-person ballot.

Tennessee election officials have expressed concerns about being overwhelmed by a flood of absentee ballots.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  The group NoTax4Nash has followed through on its threat to start recall petitions for Mayor John Cooper and City Council members who voted for an dramatically increased property tax.

NoTax4Nash has placed recall petitions for Mayor Cooper and 32 council members who voted in favor of the property tax increase.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Amid nationwide unrest and a global pandemic that wrecked the state budget, Tennessee lawmakers wrapped up a legislative session early Friday by advancing an anti-abortion proposal that includes some of the strictest restrictions in the country.

The passage of the bill shocked Democratic lawmakers and reproductive rights activists who had been assured for weeks that the GOP-dominated Senate would not take up the measure.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  There has been strong reaction to the passage Wednesday of a new Nashville city budget that includes a 34 percent increase in the property tax.

The Beacon Center, a conservative Nashville advocacy group, calls passage of the plan “cowardly” and says council members should be “utterly ashamed.” The Center writes that the city missed an opportunity to “enact much-needed systemic reforms.”


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Lawmakers at the state and local level are struggling to balance budgets pushed deep into the red by the pandemic.

After a marathon session, the Nashville City Council early Tuesday morning approved a new Metro budget that includes a 34 percent property tax increase. The council debated four different budget proposals before settling on a plan by Councilman Bob Mendes.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Tennessee would become the latest state to provide health care providers, schools and businesses broad protections against coronavirus lawsuits under a proposal gaining traction inside the GOP-dominant Statehouse.

House Republicans approved such a measure Tuesday despite objections from Democrats that the bill was unnecessary.

A separate bill had already passed the Senate last week.

However, the House’s version tweaked the proposal, which means now the two chambers must negotiate on a final version.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Four competing city budget proposals face off Tuesday night in Metro Council, with the threat of a state takeover looming over the debate.

Mayor John Cooper is proposing what he’s called a “crisis budget” to address the city’s pandemic battered finances. The Mayor’s plan includes a 32 percent increase in property taxes.

A proposal by Councilman Bob Mendes includes an even larger tax increase while adding to appropriations for Metro schools.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials are seeking a fast-tracked decision by the state Supreme Court to block a judge's order to offer absentee voting to all eligible registered voters during the coronavirus pandemic.


The Tennessee attorney general's office filed the motion late Friday, saying it's crucial with the Aug. 6 election looming for the Supreme Court to take over the appeal and the state's request to stop the expansion before a lower appellate court considers it.




NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s House is seeking to significantly increase penalties against demonstrators who violate certain state laws.


The legislation is backed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a top Republican in the GOP-dominant Statehouse.


Sexton promised to bring the bill after a handful of protesters announced they would gather outside the state Capitol over the weekend and claim the area as an “autonomous zone.”



  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- The City of Nashville will no longer share the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients with police, EMTs and other first responders.


The Metro Board of Health voted Thursday to suspend the controversial practice immediately. The Tennessean says the vote was led by board Vice Chair Tene Franklin who cited the current national debate on racial disparities as inspiration for the policy change.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- The Tennessee State Senate has approved a paired down state budget that gives Gov. Bill Lee most of what he asked for to deal with the coronavirus crisis.


The $39.4 billion dollar plan eliminates raises previously approved for teachers and some other public employees. It adds $50 million to fund state worker buyouts and $200 million to ease the pandemic burden on county and city governments..




NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has told state officials “shame on you” for not following her order on a vote-by mail-option for all Tennessee voters during the coronavirus pandemic.


Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle said Thursday that she was seeking “to clean up confusion” by ordering changes to how the state decided to reword its absentee voting applications.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  A new Vanderbilt poll suggests Tennesseans are reacting to coronavirus along strongly partisan and racial lines.

The survey of a thousand registered voters finds 82 percent of Democrats are concerned about contracting COVID-19, while only 37 percent of Republicans share that concern.

In addition, 76 percent of Tennesseans of color say they’re concerned about the virus, while only 55 percent of whites are equally worried.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Attorneys for voting rights groups want Tennessee officials held in contempt of court over their response to an order allowing all Tennessee voters to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state says the groups are citing outdated information.

In a Davidson County Chancery Court filing Monday night, plaintiffs attorneys wrote that the state created a new COVID-19 option on the absentee application that the judge didn't order and told local election officials Friday not to distribute applications for coronavirus-related requests yet.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials are seeking an appeal and an immediate pause to a court's ruling this week that makes all of the state's 4.1 million registered voters eligible to vote by mail during to the coronavirus pandemic.

Late Friday, the state attorney general's office filed a request in Davidson County Chancery Court to appeal and stay that court's decision and temporary injunction Thursday.

The state questions what will happen if a voter applies for an absentee ballot, then the expansion is later reversed on appeal.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  The Metro Nashville Council will hold a public hearing next week that will include both virtual and in-person comments by city residents.

The council will take comments Tuesday evening on Mayor John Cooper’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The mayor’s proposal includes a 32 percent property tax increase he says is needed to put Metro’s pandemic battered finances back in the black.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — A Nashville judge says she expects to make a ruling next Thursday on whether to order a temporary injunction to let all voters cast ballots by mail in the August primary due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle set that goal Thursday as she reset a hearing in the case for next Wednesday.


The lawsuit argues universal vote by mail eliminates risk of catching COVID-19 at the polls or unknowingly spreading it.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville’s Public Health Director said Thursday Metro will continue to alert first responders as they are dispatched to the presence of COVID-19 positive residents, even as the state moves to end the practice.

In a strongly worded statement, Dr. Michael Caldwell said alerting police, EMS and other frontline workers to the presence of coronavirus is within his authority and is helping to contain infection. Dr. Caldwell said he was, “puzzled by why the state reversed course.”


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee will soon stop providing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to first responders, after initially arguing doing so would protect those on the front line.


Gov. Bill Lee’s administration made the decision this week, conceding that the data may have created a false sense of security to those responding to emergency calls.


The data sharing will stop at the end of the month.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Another Congressman’s stock trades are under scrutiny, and this time it's a member of the Tennessee delegation.

The Tennessean reports that Republican Rep. Dr. Phil Roe made hundreds of stock trades ahead of the pandemic-driven market selloff earlier this year. The East Tennessee Congressman sold stock in companies such as Disney and cruise lines while buying stock in Zoom and vaccine makers.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers marked their return to the Capitol Tuesday by advancing two controversial bills before the pandemic stalled legislative session even gets officially underway.

The House and Senate paused the General Assembly session in March as the health crisis worsened. Both chambers will gavel floor sessions open on Monday, but the House began committee hearings Tuesday.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials say they “cannot feasibly implement” a quick shift to let all voters cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 elections, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a response Friday to one of three lawsuit seeking the expansion, Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that the change to vote-by-mail for all could lead to the “functional disenfranchisement of thousands of voters,” lost confidence in the upcoming elections and immense strain on state and county resources.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Controversial measures are on the agenda as the State Assembly begins a partial restart of its 2020 legislative session Tuesday.

State lawmakers paused the 111th General Assembly on March 19 as the coronavirus crisis gathered steam.

The House and Senate officially gavel their sessions open again next week, but the House has committee hearing scheduled each day through Friday.