politics and Government


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct decades ago has reversed course and says he will seek reelection after all.

In announcing his reelection bid Tuesday, Republican Rep. David Byrd did not mention the accusations of sexual misconduct by three women when he was their high school basketball coach and a teacher, before being elected.

He stressed the importance of having an experienced lawmaker during the coronavirus pandemic.


Nashville, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Pandemic related orders halting abortions, similar to a mandate issued by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, have been blocked by federal judges in three states.

Governors in Texas, Alabama and Ohio issued executive orders halting elective medical procedures in an effort to free up medical supplies for the fight against teh coronavirus.

Abortions were among the proceedures listed in the now blocked orders. Gov. Lee last week issued a similar executive order.

City of Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Metro Nashville is preparing for a serious hit to its city budget thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.


In a letter Thursday to all city departments, city finance officials ordered an immediate freeze on “hiring, promotions, travel and some capital spending.”


The letter notes what it calls the city’s “thin cash position in recent years” and says officials are anticipating reduced tax receipts.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Gov. Bill Lee’s revised budget is now in the hands of state lawmakers as Tennessee responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor outlined his emergency budget yesterday during a press briefing. Top items include shifting $150 million into covid-19 related healthcare. Lee is also asking the legislature to deposit an additional $350 million into the state’s rainy day fund, bringing the fund total to $1.5 billion.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers acknowledged they were shirking federal health recommendations on the coronavirus by sitting in close quarters as they conducted business Tuesday.

They also drew questions about whether they were staying focused on only the most necessary legislation, as promised, during sprint toward a recess by the end of the week.

Mayor John Cooper (twitter)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- The State of Tennessee is offering March 3 tornado survivors food and cash assistance beginning Monday.


The aid is available to residents living in specific area codes for unreimbursed expenses, damage to homes or work, loss of income, and other disaster related costs.


The process begins by filling out online forms on the state website. Approved applicants can get one time cash grants of up to a thousand dollars depending on family size.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he will make an appointment in the coming months to a panel considering an initial vote on what to do with the bust of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader in the Capitol.

The Republican said other priorities have arisen since the Capitol Commission slot opened last month before the group met to take public comment on the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Tennessee is recovering from deadly tornadoes and is responding to the coronavirus.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Donald Trump will visit disaster areas in Tennessee on Friday just days after storms that whipped across the state left 24 dead and many more injured.

Trump will be joined by Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and other top officials during his visit.

The White House says Trump approved a disaster declaration Thursday, making federal funding available to those affected by the tornadoes.

The White House hasn't specified exactly where Trump will visit.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Tennessee is one of nine states voting decisively on Super Tuesday for former Vice President Joe Biden. 


Statewide, Biden pulled down roughly 41 percent of the ballots cast in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders picked up about 25 percent of the votes cast. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren a distant third and fourth.



 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers once again showed their displeasure with Gov. Bill Lee's decision to keep accepting refugees by advancing a resolution Tuesday that criticized the Republican's actions as violating the separation of powers.

The GOP-dominant Statehouse is currently leading a lawsuit claiming the federal refugee resettlement program improperly forces the state to spend money on additional services for the newcomers, including health care and education.


  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General William Barr is speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Tennesseeon Wednesday.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is also on the schedule. So is Jay Sekulow, one of the attorneys who defended President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial.

According to the convention schedule, Barr's presentation is part of a forum exploring the First Amendment and religious liberty. DeVos and Sekulow are on a panel discussing public policy.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee panel is pausing consideration of a push to remove or add context to a Confederate bust in the state Capitol until a vacancy on the board is filled.

Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter is the chairman of the Capitol Commission considering options for the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

He said after a meeting Thursday that it's unclear when the recently vacated slot on the commission will be filled.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Five Republican-led states are seeking to block an effort by three Democratic-led states to see the Equal Rights Amendment adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the five GOP-led states rescinded their approvals of the ERA amendment before a congressionally mandated ratification deadline more than 40 years ago.

The Democratic-led state attorneys general argue that the 1982 deadline set by Congress was non-binding.  


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former national security adviser John Bolton says the House's impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump were “grossly partisan” and said his testimony would not have changed Trump's acquittal in the Senate.

At a Vanderbilt University speaking engagement Wednesday, Bolton also continued to stay quiet on the details of a yet-to-be-released book, as he did during a Monday event.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- One of the committee’s Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman convened last year to look at the city’s most pressing problems has released its findings.

It comes as no surprise that the committee asked to take a look at city worker pay is recommending significant salary increases. The panel consists of five council members and six citizens.

Tenn. Dept. of Education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee is defending the rollout of his much-debated school voucher program and downplayed recent anger from lawmakers upset with how the state has prepared to give parents tax dollars to pay for private tuition.

Lee told reporters Thursday that he cared more about kids than “detractors” trying to hamper the voucher implementation.

The program would allow a family to use up to $7,400 in public tax dollars from an education savings account on private school tuition and other approved expenses.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State lawmakers have approved a resolution officially designating Tennessee as “The Volunteer State.”  

The resolution received unanimous approval from the GOP-controlled House on Monday after receiving the same approval in the GOP-controlled Senate the week before.

Tennessee first became known as “The Volunteer State” during the War of 1812 due to its prominent role of sending 1,500 volunteer soldiers.

However, despite the popularity of  the nickname, the resolution's sponsors say it was never officially adopted into Tennessee's statutes.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Tricia Watt) -- A Tennessee lawmaker is dedicating proposed legislation to a fallen mid-state police officer, but the measure is facing some opposition.

Hendersonville Officer Spencer Bristol was struck and killed crossing I-65 in December while chasing a suspect police say was evading arrest.

In reaction, Republican Rep. William Lamberth of Portland introduced a measure stiffening penalties for fleeing suspects if a pursuing officer suffers "serious bodily injury" during the incident.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christina Gilbert) -- A bill is up for consideration in the Tennessee legislature that would allow students to carry guns on college campuses.

Republican Senator Janice Bowling and State Rep. Rush Bricken are sponsoring a bill that would allow college students to carry concealed guns on campus as long as they hold a concealed carry permit.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Legislation to end so-called lunch shaming of public school students advanced in the Tennessee House yesterday, but not before changes were made the sponsor says changed the intent of his bill.


Nashville Democrat John Ray Clemmens wants to end the practice of punishing students who run up an unpaid lunch tab. Democrats and some Republicans supported the bill as written.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Associated Press)  --  Disgraced former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada has confirmed he will run for reelection this year.

Casada made the announcement Tuesday on a social media post.

The 60-year-old Casada, a Republican from Franklin, has been a state lawmaker since 2003. He won nearly 70% of the vote against his Democratic opponent in 2018.

Casada resigned from the top leadership post in August after revelations he exchanged sexually explicit text messages about women with his former chief of staff years ago. 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- WMOT continues to explore the legislative priorities of constituencies from across the political spectrum as the State Assembly begins its third week in session.

Next we hear from the American Civil Liberties Union. Tennessee chapter Director Hedy Weinberg says the session will be both challenging and exciting. 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- With Gov. Bill Lee's annual State of the State speech behind them, lawmakers now begin the steady slog toward adjournment in late April or early May.

WMOT is wrapping up it's annual examination of the legislative priorities of constituencies from across the political spectrum. We hear next from Beacon Impact, associated with a conservative, Nashville-based think tank.

Tenn. Medicaid block grant proposal 'wasted time'

Jan 31, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Tennessee officials and advocates for the poor had radically different reactions to yesterday’s release of the Trump Administration’s Medicaid block grant plan.

President Trump’s plan bears little resemblance to the proposal Gov. Bill Lee and his administration spent a year developing. But state officials say they’re encouraged, arguing that Tennessee is on the right track for federal approval.

United States Senate

WASHINGTON, DC (Associated Press) -- Democrats hopes of prolonging the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and hearing from witnesses dimmed after a late decision from Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

He says he will oppose calling more witnesses in the impeachment trial.

The Senate likely will vote soon to acquit Trump. 

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she would support a vote for witnesses, but that now appears to be too little for the Democratic accusers.