politics and Government


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  -- Mayor David Briley wants to reduce the criminal court fees and fines that can trap Nashville’s poorest residents in escalating debt and jail time.

Briley recently announced the formation of a committee tasked with studying how the city can reduce court fees and fines. He also wants to reduce the city’s dependence on court revenue to fund a portion of the city budget.

Thomas R Machnitzki, Commons, used with permission

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Osborne) -- The City of Memphis did not violate state law in 2017 when it used a novel scheme to remove Confederate statues from city parks, according to the Nashville based state Court of Appeals.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal says the court released its ruling Tuesday.

The Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act, passed by the Republican dominated state legislature in 2016, makes it extremely difficult to remove Civil War themed memorials located on state property.


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMOT/AP) -- One of Tennessee’s largest companies has been caught up in the trade and technology dispute raging between the United States and China.

The Chinese government has launched an investigation into the Memphis based shipping company. The move follows charges by Chinese tech giant Huawei that FedEx intentionally diverted some of its packages, a claim FedEx denies.


WASHINGTON, DC (OSBORNE) -- Collaboration isn't something the nation's capitol is known for these days, but Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Washington State Democrat Patty Murray are the exception.

Murray is the minority leader on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that Alexander chairs. The two have worked closely to advance a number of legislative initiatives in recent years.


WASHINGTON, DC (OSBORNE) -- West Tennessee Congressional Rep. Steve Cohen was one of 24 Democrats voting Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in Contempt of Congress.

Cohen sits on the House Judiciary Committee that’s asking Barr to provide it with an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report.

Cohen said Barr’s failure to hand over the report, or appear before the committee, sets a frightening precedent.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Embattled House Speaker Glen Casada says he's asking for multiple probes of the scandals surrounding his office, saying he takes "complete ownership" of exchanging sexually explicit text messages with a former top aide about women.

In a letter Wednesday, Casada said he wrote the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorneys General Conference asking them to investigate an email by his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren. He also apologized for his own conduct.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have struck a deal that would limit community oversight boards that investigate police misconduct but maintain limited subpoena power.

A House-Senate panel voted Monday for legislation that would allow subpoenas only if an oversight board receives its city council's approval. The bill still requires full House and Senate votes.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Mayor David Briley has launched a new $750 million affordable housing initiative for Nashville with great fanfare, but some City Council members expressing reservations about the plan.

Briley is calling his proposal “Under One Roof 2029,” a decade-long effort to increase housing for low-income residents. The mayor began by his remarks last week by acknowledging that many Nashvillians can no longer afford to live in the city where they work.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --   State lawmakers have this week stripped language from a House bill that would have required development officials to disclose the size of offers they make to entice companies to land in Tennessee.

The proposal comes in the wake of public unease over the $102 million in grants and tax incentives the state recently offered to Amazon. Failed development deals with Electrolux and Hemlock Semiconductor also raised concern.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The number of Tennessee farmers seeking a license to grow hemp is exploding.

The state Department of Agriculture reports it’s  ssued nearly 2800 hemp production permits this year, with still more applications in the pipeline. That’s ten times the number of licenses issued in 2018.

Hemp’s introduction hasn’t been without complications. There have been persistent reports of police mistaking hemp products for marijuana. There have also been reports of hemp supplement users failing workplace drug tests.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Republican state lawmakers are divided over a proposal to limit the authority of police oversight boards like the one approved last fall by Nashville voters.

Earlier this month, the Tennessee House passed a measure stripping such boards of subpoena power. During committee debate, Republican Majority Leader William Lamberth insisted giving such boards the ability to compel witness testimony would put police officers at risk.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  An abortion bill that sailed through the Tennessee House in less than three weeks appears stalled in the State Senate.

House bill 77 would outlaw all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That’s typically at about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many woman even know they're expecting.

During House committee debate Memphis Democrat Barbara Cooper questioned Republican bill sponsor Micah Van Huss about the measure.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will this week hear oral arguments in Tennessee’s lawsuit against federal immigration policy.

Two years ago this month state lawmakers filed suit challenging the fed’s right to resettle refugees in Tennessee without state consent. When the state’s Attorney General declined to file the suit, lawmakers found a faith-based Michigan law firm to represent them.


NASHVILLE, Tenn (OSBORNE)  --  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is offering some hard numbers to go along with his policy proposals for the year.

During his first State of the State speech to lawmakers Monday night, Lee proposed an 11 percent increase in spending for the budget year that begins in July.

Education dominated Lee’s presentation. The governor prop  osed $25 million new dollars for vocational education, $35 million for higher education, $12 million for student financial aid, $30 million for school safety and $71 million to fund a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Several controversial bills are moving steadily through the Tennessee General Assembly.


On Tuesday Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss presented a bill to the House Health Committee that would ban all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.


Amid gasps, jeers and applause Van Huss defended the measure during questioning by Democratic lawmakers, including Memphis Rep. Barbara Cooper. 


Cooper asked "Are you stating that even in the case of rape, (or) incest, that you are banning or prohibiting an abortion?” 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee lawmaker says his bill to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected does not include exceptions for situations involving incest or rape because he does not believe it's appropriate.

Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss told a House subcommittee on Wednesday he considers killing any child, including a fetus, as "evil." The panel — made up of all men — agreed to advance the bill to be heard by the full House Health Committee.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Nashville Mayor David Briley is asking Metro residents to take seriously the threat of flooding this week ahead of expected heavy rains.

In a press statement released over the weekend, Briley says residents should stay updated and take precautions in light of weather service forecasts calling for up to 8 inches of additional rain this week.

Nashville Weather Service Office Meteorologist Sam Shamberger notes that the mid-state typically gets three to four inches of rain during the entire month of February.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  New Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is getting some strong pushback after asking state departments to plan for two-percent budget cuts in the coming fiscal year.

In preparation for budget hearings at the capitol, Lee asked commissioners to submit plans for budget reductions, but told reporters he hadn’t yet decided whether to make those cuts.

On Friday, Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker told Lee to expect his department to ask for more funding to cover much-needed raises.

It's tax season, so beware of scammers

Jan 29, 2019

NASVHILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Tax season is officially underway. The IRS began accepting returns this week and e-filing is now available.

Don’t expect the recent government shutdown to save you from Uncle Sam. Your tax return is still due on April 15.

If you need a little help with your return, but can’t afford a paid tax prep service, you do have options. Several mid-state groups are offering free help, including AARP Tennessee. Pam Holcomb is their spokesperson.


NASHVILE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Nashville has it’s new Police Oversight Board.

Metro Council chose the eleven-member panel Tuesday night in a five-hour, marathon session. Several rounds of voting slowly whittled down the original list of more than 150 applicants.

The Council last week approved two board members nominated by Mayor David Briley. Last night they approved two more panelists nominated by council members. Most of the evening was devoted to selecting the remaining seven board members.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Gov. Bill Lee is settling into his new job this week on Capitol Hill after taking the oath of office on Saturday.

During his inaugural speech, Lee stressed many of the same policy priorities he campaigned on: Criminal justice reform, a new emphasis on vocational education, and building on the state’s strong economy.

But Lee noted that while the state as a whole may be prospering, many Tennesseans are struggling.

2018 another bad year for pedestrians in Music City

Jan 18, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Music City pedestrians may have another tough year ahead if early January is any indication. Two people have already been struck and killed on the city’s streets in 2019.

A man was struck by a bus on Jan. 1 on Fourth Ave. A woman was struck and killed by an SUV on Old Hickory Jan. 9.

Nora Kern with Walk Bike Nashville notes that 2018 again set a grim record for pedestrian deaths with 22 people killed citywide (see cout note below). She says the same number of pedestrians died in 2017.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Second Harvest Food Bank will on Wednesday distribute charity food boxes to security screeners at Nashville International Airport.


Second Harvest tells WMOT the federal Transportation Security Administration office in Nashville requested aid for its employees. TSA agents have now been working 25 days without pay due to partial government shutdown. 


Ally Parsons is a Second Harvest spokesperson.



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Tennessee lawmakers are sharing their legislative priorities as the 2019 session gets underway.

Jeff Yarbro is the State Senate Minority Leader. The Nashville Democrat says Medicaid expansion continues to be one of his party’s biggest legislative priorities.

“We’re one of about ten states, eleven states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid at this point, which is putting a lot of pressure on small town hospitals and lots of families unnecessarily.”

National Park Service

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WMOT/TNS)  --  Tennessee’s tourism industry is happy that The Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains at least partially open during the government shutdown, but some are questioning that decision.

The park is one of Tennessee’s most important economic engines. Federal data shows the Smokies attract some 11 million visitors a year who spend in excess of $800 million annually.

Park officials are using camping and other visitor fees to keep the Smokies partially staffed. but there have been reports of trash, overflowing toilets and damaged property.