Tuesday, May 14

Pair of events bring Gov. Lee to Memphis on Tuesday (WMC-TV) Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will be in Memphis on Tuesday and is expected to make a big announcement. The governor will start his morning in Downtown Memphis at an agriculture conference at Peabody Hotel. Davos on the Delta brings together a wide range of experts across the agriculture industry. Farmers, investors, entrepreneurs, and tech experts gather together to talk about the latest innovations and how to overcome common challenges. LINK

Forever a servant: THP Trooper Matthew Gatti laid to rest by family, friends, brothers in blue (Jackson Sun) Hundreds gathered Monday to celebrate and mourn for fallen Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Gatti, a public servant, loved one, friend, Christian and comedian. “This young man, who in our view, has gone way too soon, lived a life and lost his life in a way that very few have the honor of doing, and for that I am deeply grateful,” Governor Bill Lee said at Gatti’s funeral service in Jackson. Gatti was killed in the line of duty on May 6 while responding to a call for help on Interstate 40. LINK

Trooper Matthew Gatti honored at graveside service (WBBJ-TV) Trooper Matthew Gatti’s life impacted many as hundreds traveled from across the country to honor him. A flood of emotions at West Jackson Baptist Church as loved ones of Trooper Matthew Gatti said their final farewells. “And there’s no words that I can express or anyone in here can express that would stop that flood,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. Law enforcement agencies from across the country are showed their support, even Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “Deep sorrow because we have lost the life of Matthew Gatti,” said Governor Lee. LINK

Video: Gov. Bill Lee speaks at Matthew Gatti’s funeral (Jackson Sun) LINK

Tennessee State Trooper Matthew Gatti laid to rest Monday (WMC-TV) Friends and family are remembering the life of Trooper Matthew Gatti Monday. Gatti, 24, was a member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He died last week in a crash on I-40 just west of Jackson. He’d been with THP less than a year at the time of his death. “As governor it’s one of my highest responsibilities to provide for the protection and the security of every person in the state of Tennessee and that would be impossible to do without men like Matt Gatti,” Tennesse Governor Bill Lee said. LINK

Carter Lincoln Day Dinner has been rescheduled for May 30 (Johnson City Press) The date for the Carter County Lincoln Day Dinner has changed, but it is still going to be held at Milligan College and Gov. Bill Lee is still coming. “The dinner has been rescheduled from Thursday, May 16, to Thursday, May 30,” said Johnny Holder, president of the Carter County Republican Party. Holder said the tickets with the May 16 date on them can still be used for the May 30 event. The governor’s reception will still take place at 5:30 p.m. That event is sold out. LINK

Governor: New job training program coming to two Shelby County schools (WREG-TV) Governor Bill Lee is scheduled to appear at two events in Memphis Tuesday morning focused on addressing concerns about future jobs. The governor will start his day at the Peabody Hotel, speaking at Davos on the Delta, and agriculture, food and health conference that examines the “future of food system innovation.” During the summit, agricultural experts will talk about the challenges facing the global food system and ways to address them. LINK

$3.2M grant for ‘safe and reliable’ drinking water given to Oak Ridge (WVLT-TV) The city of Oak Ridge is getting a $3.2 million drinking water loan, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced on Monday. The grant is for “drinking water infrastructure improvements,” a release from the department said. “This loan will help Oak Ridge to meet one of the vital needs of its citizens,” Governor Bill Lee said. “I am pleased to support infrastructure upgrades that will help to provide safe and reliable drinking water for more Tennesseans.” LINK

Pressure increases to get Bluff City Law filmed in Memphis after NBC releases trailer (WMC-TV) The pressure is on now that NBC Universal has released the first trailer for the new show “Bluff City Law.” NBC Universal has asked for $10 million in incentives for them to set up production and film “Bluff City Law” here in Memphis with a commitment to spend approximately $55 million in return. That money will have to come from the state with a fast approaching deadline. Producers filmed the pilot in the Bluff City earlier this year, and now they’re deciding where to set up shop permanently. LINK

See where Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia end up on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of best states (Times Free Press) Tennessee boasts the best fiscal stability of any state, according to a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report. But as one of worst 10 states for crime and health care, Tennessee’s overall ranking in the magazine’s new list of the best states put the Volunteer State in the bottom third of all states. LINK

Julie McPeak is stepping down as Tennessee’s insurance commissioner, replacement announced (Times Free Press) Tennessee’s insurance commissioner for the past eight years announced today she will be leaving state government next month and be succeeded by her top deputy. Julie Mix McPeak, who was appointed as commissioner of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance by former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011, said today she will step down from her gubernatorial cabinet role on June 14. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has named TDCI Deputy Commissioner Carter Lawrence to serve as the Department’s Interim Commissioner until a permanent commissioner is selected. LINK

McPeak to leave Lee administration (TN Journal) Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak has become the first member of Gov. Bill Lee’s Cabinet to step down. McPeak, a holdover from Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, is seeking unspecified “career opportunities in the private sector,” according to a release from the Lee administration. McPeak is the past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance. LINK

Insurance commissioner leaving for private sector (Nashville Post) Tennessee Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak is leaving state government next month to pursue private-sector opportunities. According to a release, her last day will be June 14, and Deputy Commissioner Carter Lawrence will succeed her in an interim capacity. McPeak has served in the role since 2011, when then-Gov. Bill Haslam appointed her. LINK

Ex-gubernatorial nominee joins TDEC (Nashville Post) Jim Bryson, a former candidate for Tennessee governor and a veteran local businessman, has been named deputy commissioner of parks and conservation at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Bryson is founder and president of 20/20 Research Inc., a market research consulting, project management and technology firm based in downtown Nashville. LINK

Former Republican gubernatorial nominee joins Lee administration (TN Journal) Jim Bryson, a onetime Republican gubernatorial nominee, is joining Gov. Bill Lee’s administration. Bryson was a state senator when he lost to then-Gov. Phil Bredesen in the 2006 governor’s race. He has been appointed deputy commissioner of parks and conservation at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Bryson joins a fellow former state lawmaker Joe Carr as a deputy commissioner at the agency. LINK

Jim Bryson tapped as TDEC’s new deputy commissioner over parks and conservation (Times Free Press) Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers today announced the appointment of Jim Bryson as deputy commissioner of Parks and Conservation at the agency. Bryson, a former state senator and unsuccessful 2006 Republican gubernatorial nominee, replaces former deputy commissioner Brock Hill who was fired in February following an investigation into complaints of “workplace misconduct.” LINK

Former senator appointed TDEC Parks and Conservation deputy commissioner (Williamson Herald) Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers announced on Monday the appointment of Jim Bryson as deputy commissioner of Parks and Conservation at TDEC. “Jim’s experience in business, state government and community involvement, coupled with his passion for the outdoors, makes him uniquely qualified for this position,” Salyers said. “I look forward to working with Jim to make Tennessee State Parks the best-run state park system in the nation.” LINK

Groundbreaking set for Pellissippi’s science building (KnoxTNToday) Pellissippi State Community College will break ground for its new center for math and science at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 15. The new center is an 82,000-square-foot building that will include 18 classrooms, six computer labs and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center. Pellissippi State expects to open the $27 million building for classes in fall 2021. Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. will welcome guests including Flora Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents; Jim Haslam and former Gov. Bill Haslam; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally; Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs; and others. LINK

State approves design plans for new health, science building at Cleveland State Community College (WRCB-TV) Students at Cleveland State Community College will get a brand new classroom building for the first time in more than 40 years. Tennessee officials approved design plans for a new health and science building as well as renovation plans for the Mary T. Barker Humanities Building. President Dr. Bill Seymour said the new building will be 51,000 square feet with multi-function space for classes and activities. LINK

Groundbreaking for TCAT Memphis’ new Bartlett campus set for May 15 (Daily Memphian)Groundbreaking for Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Memphis’ new Bartlett campus, located at the corner of Appling Road and Brother Boulevard, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. The project will launch with construction of the $16.9 million, 48,792-square-foot Haas CNC Technology Center, named after the Gene Haas Foundation, which contributed $1 million toward the project, according to a release. LINK

Real ID comes to Tennessee: New standards for driver’s licenses (News Sentinel) You don’t have to get a Real ID this summer. But without one, after Oct. 1, 2020, it’ll be harder to fly on a commercial airliner, enter a federal office or get into a nuclear plant. “The state of Tennessee will be issuing Real IDs July 1,” said Michael Hogan, director of driver services for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. LINK

Tennessee substance abuse treatment program expands (WATE-TV) More people in East Tennessee struggling with substance abuse will soon be able to get help after they’ve recently overdosed and were taken to an emergency room. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services expanded the Tennessee Recovery Navigator program less than a year after it started. According to TNDMHSAS, the program employs ‘navigators,’ or people in long-term recovery, who connect recently overdosed patients to treatment and recovery resources. LINK

TBI Crime in Tennessee: Murder and serious crime down, meth crimes up in 2018 (WBIR-TV) The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says serious crimes fell overall in the state from 2017 to 2018. The TBI released its 2018 Crime in Tennessee report, which showed murder and rape have decreased in the past year. Overall, the number of serious crimes decreased by 3.6% from 2017. The number of murder cases decreased by 8% from 2017 to 2018. Rape cases fell by 4.7% in the same period. LINK

Tennessee women face hurdles to economic security, new study says (Tennessean) Women in Tennessee financially responsible for their families’ economic well-being face several obstacles to gaining economic security that often start with hurdles during pregnancy, according to a study by ThinkTennessee and A Better Balance. The “State of Our State:Women in the Workforce” report emphasized the need for paid leave, workplace pregnancy accommodations, access to affordable and quality child care and other policies to retain mothers in the workforce. LINK

Gov. Bill Lee Faces Decision About First Execution Under His Watch (WPLN Radio) A West Tennessee man is scheduled to be executed on Thursday for the murder of his wife — possibly becoming the first person to be executed under Gov. Bill Lee. The Republican has not said yet whether he’ll grant clemency to Donnie Johnson, who was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie. Johnson’s supporters hope Lee will be persuaded by his embrace of Christianity in the three decades he’s been behind bars, as well as the trauma Johnson suffered from childhood abuse. LINK

Death row inmate Donnie Johnson will die by lethal injection unless Gov. Lee intervenes (Tennessean) If death row inmate Donnie Edward Johnson is executed as scheduled Thursday, it will be by lethal injection. Johnson’s attorney Kelley Henry announced the decision Monday, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a challenge to Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. Johnson, 68, will not launch any more legal challenges. His execution will go forward unless Gov. Bill Lee stops it. LINK

Concerns over lethal injection drugs ahead of execution of Memphis man (WATN-TV) The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to step in and consider how a Memphis minister will be executed. Don Johnson is set to die by lethal injection Thursday in Nashville. Johnson was part of a lawsuit challenging the drugs used for lethal injection in Tennessee. The State of Tennessee uses a combination of three drugs to execute someone by lethal injection. It’s a method that’s been at the center of lawsuits here in Tennessee and across the country. LINK

Don Johnson execution: Top leaders in Seventh-day Adventist Church call for mercy (Tennessean) Two of the highest leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are pleading with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to spare the life of a convicted murderer. Donnie Edward Johnson, who now goes by Don, was on death row when he became a member of the denomination, which has over 21 million members in more than 200 countries. Convicted of killing his wife in 1984 in Memphis, Johnson now is an elder in a Seventh-day Adventist church in Nashville. LINK

Death row inmate to die by lethal injection Thursday unless Gov. Lee intervenes (WMC-TV) The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a challenge from Tennessee death row inmates who say lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. It means that Don Johnson will die by lethal injection if Governor Bill Lee does not commute his sentence. Johnson said he will not file any more legal challenges on Monday. Instead he is hoping for mercy from the Governor. Attorney Robert Hutton has extensive experience with death penalty cases. “The Governor always has power to commute any particular sentence has very broad clemency powers,” Hutton said. LINK

U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear appeal from Tennessee’s death row inmates (Tennessean) The United States Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to Tennessee’s lethal injection method, officially ending a battle over the controversial drugs used to kill death row inmates here. That decision came days before death row inmate Donnie Edward Johnson, 68, is scheduled to die. Had the high court agreed to hear the case, it might have delayed his execution. The challenge, brought by Johnson and 22 other death row inmates, argued that the state’s three-drug protocol, led by the sedative midazolam, does not keep inmates from feeling excruciating pain as they die. The pain is so severe, they say, that it is unconstitutional. LINK

Lee, McNally could give more Republicans cover to call for House Speaker Glen Casada’s resignation (Tennessean) After days of speaking in vague terms, Gov. Bill Lee and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally made plain late last week their feelings on House Speaker Glen Casada: They believed it was time for him to go. Now, those comments from the state’s top two Republicans may open the door for more GOP members to call on Casada to resign his leadership position, lawmakers and political experts say. “This will definitely lead to more rank-and-file legislators speaking out,” said Michael Sances, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Memphis. LINK

Speaker Casada used tax dollars for attack on Rep. Byrd accusers (WTVF-TV) Would you spend your hard-earned money to attack women who say they were sexually assaulted by a man who’s now a state lawmaker? Now, a NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that that’s exactly what Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada did with your tax dollars. On Friday, NewsChannel 5 Investigates first revealed how Casada put one of his key political operatives, Michael Lotfi, on the state payroll. Now, Lotfi admits that part of his job was helping the Speaker figure out how to attack the women who had accused Rep. David Byrd of sexually assaulting them when they were in their teens. LINK

New texts show Speaker asking aide if women were legal age (WTVF-TV) A new text message exchange obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates shows House Speaker Glen Casada joking with an aide about whether two young women were of legal age for sexual relations. That exchange occurred on August 21, 2016, when Cade Cothren, then the press secretary for the Tennessee House Republican Caucus, sent Casada a video of two young women dancing in his apartment. At the time, Casada was the caucus chairman. “R they 21?” Casada asked.. “It only takes 18,” the aide responded, adding a smile emoji. LINK

House ethics committee meeting on Glen Casada canceled for lack of public notice (Tennessean) A House ethics committee meeting set to take place Monday in response to Speaker Glen Casada’s request for an advisory opinion has been canceled due to a lack of public notice. The committee had planned to meet after Casada on Friday requested an opinion on “actions taken relative to the resignation” of Cade Cothren, who stepped down as the speaker’s chief of staff May 6 amid a scandal involving lewd text messages and Cothren’s admission of using cocaine in the legislative office building. LINK

Rep. Weaver calls for Casada’s resignation as speaker (TN Journal) Add Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) to the list of lawmakers calling for Glen Casada to step down as House speaker. “The choices made by these people – including the Speaker – should have consequences,” The Hartsville Vidette quoted her as saying. “That teaches a lesson to everyone.” “If one’s going to step up to a place of authority – mayor, county commissioner – there is a level of representation you’ve got to bring to the table,” she said. “Bad choices bring bad consequences and bad consequences have victims. Good choices make good things happen.” LINK

Yet another Tennessee Republican House member calls on Glen Casada to resign (Times Free Press) A seventh state Republican representative is calling on Tennessee Republican House Speaker Glen Casada to step down amid a scandal over lewd text messages, eavesdropping allegations and reports of a FBI investigation into the school vouchers bill vote. “Yes, I do,” Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster told the Hartsville Vidette publication on Friday. “The choices made by these people – including the Speaker – should have consequences. That teaches a lesson to everyone.” LINK

Rep. Faison weighs in on House Speaker controversy (WJHL-TV) A Tennessee House Ethics Committee meeting scheduled for today at the request of House Speaker Glen Casada was canceled. Casada wanted an advisory opinion on his chief of staff Cade Cothren’s resignation amid explicit text messages exchanged between the two. Committee chair and local State Representative Matthew Hill issued the following statement to News Channel 11: “This morning, I met individually with members of the House Ethics Committee and our attorneys to begin conversations about formulating an advisory opinion at the Speaker’s request. The goal was for the entire committee to reconvene later this afternoon for additional discussions about this matter … LINK

Tennessee House Speaker: ‘Base’ texts aren’t disqualifying (AP) Tennessee’s Republican House speaker pushed back Monday against calls for him to resign, arguing that if a handful of “base” text messages can run someone out of office, then no one is qualified. Speaker Glen Casada made the comments as he faces mounting scandals, including one involving recently revealed texts he exchanged years ago with his former chief of staff containing lewd remarks about women. Seven Republican House members have called for Casada’s speakership resignation publicly so far. Casada also has said he welcomes an ongoing push to hold a House GOP caucus meeting, which could involve a vote of confidence in whether he should remain the House’s top leader. LINK

Black Caucus calls for House Speaker to resign (WTVF-TV) It’s time for Glen Casada to go! That’s what the legislature’s Black Caucus is now saying. That call for the House Speaker to step down came late Monday just hours after Casada tried to smooth over the text message scandal with African-American leaders. In texts obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, Casada’s chief of staff Cade Cothren had texted “black people are idiots” and used the n-word. LINK

Black Caucus calls for Casada to resign amid email, texting scandal (Daily Memphian) The Tennessee Black Caucus voted Monday to urge House Speaker Glen Casada to resign his post for involvement in racist and sexist text messages and an email allegedly designed to frame a political activist. After hours of talks and investigation, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, chairman of the group, said the Black Caucus’ 17 members, including House and Senate members, decided “overwhelmingly” that Casada needs to leave his leadership position. The Black Caucus believes more information about Casada will come out, he added. LINK

Tennessee black caucus calls on House Speaker Glen Casada to resign (Tennessean) The Tennessee black caucus on Monday called for the resignation of House Speaker Glen Casada, a decision that came after a six-hour meeting and the speaker himself conceding there may be a problem with racism in the House of Representatives. Casada, facing scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle after a scandal involving a series of racist and misogynistic text messages sent by his former chief of staff — some of which Casada was included on — met privately with black lawmakers for nearly two hours. LINK

Black Caucus asks Speaker Casada to resign after Monday morning meeting (WKRN-TV) Embattled House Speaker Glen Casada met with members of the Legislative Black Caucus Monday and the caucus announced Monday evening they want him to resign from the leadership position. At issue with the black caucus are the racist texts allegedly sent three years ago by Speaker Casada’s former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren. “We have a culture of racism inside the Tennessee Legislature. That is a fact,” said Rep. Antonio Parkinson, who is also a member of the Black Caucus. Casada apologized for sending two offensive texts. LINK

Tennessee Black Caucus Asks House Speaker Glen Casada To Resign (WPLN Radio) The Tennessee Black Caucus has asked Glen Casada to step down as Speaker of the state House of Representatives. The decision comes after messages leaked to the media show Casada receiving a racist text message from his former chief of staff Cade Cothren, as well as engaging in sexist conversations. The Black Caucus met on Monday for two hours with Casada, who has denied participating in racist behavior. But Memphis Rep. G. A. Hardaway, the caucus’s chairman, said the group wasn’t convinced. LINK

Tennessee legislative Black Caucus calls on Speaker Glen Casada to resign over racial texts, other issues (Times Free Press) The Tennessee Black Caucus called early Monday evening for Republican House Speaker Glen Casada to resign, citing a lack of “satisfactory” responses from the speaker on issues that have angered black lawmakers. It’s the latest blow to Casada who already faces public calls to step down from seven Republican representatives, including Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, in the wake of controversies including sexist and racist text messages that Casada received in a group text from then-aide Cade Cothren some 2 1/2 to four years ago. LINK

Tennessee Black Caucus calls for House Speaker Glen Casada to resign (WATN-TV) The Tennessee Black Caucus is formally asking for House Speaker Glen Casada to step down. The announcement comes after new and very off-putting text messages between Casada and his now former chief of staff Cade Cothren went public. LINK

Tennessee Black Caucus joins wave of calls for House Speaker Glen Casada’s resignation (WZTV-TV) The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators voted Monday night to support calls for House Speaker Glen Casada’s resignation. The group’s announcement comes after meetings between the caucus, Speaker Casada and members of his staff. Black Caucus Chairman G.A. Hardaway said the caucus must adhere to its “moral compass to fight for the respect and dignity of everyone who enters the House of the People.” Following the meetings that were on the speaker’s action plan issued after lewd and racist texts were exposed, the caucus announced they will stand by requests for independent investigations into the Speaker’s office. LINK

TN Black Caucus calls for House Speaker to resign (WSMV-TV) Following a lengthy meeting Monday afternoon, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators called for the resignation of House Speaker Glen Casada. “We’re of the mind that the legislature can’t begin to heal and can’t begin to move forward until we have a new speaker,” said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. The controversy involves emails and text messages. Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, is accused of sending racist and vulgar text messages. Casada admits he exchanged inappropriate messages about women with Cothren. LINK

Tennessee legislature: What two scandals three years apart have in common (Tennessean) Three years ago, the Tennessee legislature was rocked by a sex scandal involving a since-expelled lawmaker that exposed a culture of sexual harassment involving interns, lobbyists and other women at the state capitol. A Tennessean investigation revealed former state Rep. Jeremy Durham sent lewd late-night texts to multiple women. A subsequent special investigation by the attorney general found at least 22 women were subject to unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact by the Williamson County Republican. LINK

Investigation: Dangerous And Persistent Chemicals Discovered At A Middle Tennessee Military Base (WPLN Radio) A family of man-made chemicals known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, is starting to gain national attention after studies have linked it to health issues, possibly including cancer. It’s prevalent at military installations around the country — including at Arnold Air Force Base in Middle Tennessee, where it’s found at high levels in some water. And there are concerns that it could be spread. LINK

‘I’ll be the last one:’ Tennessee communities brace for times with no doctors (WZTV-TV) Tennessee trails only Texas in the number of rural hospital closures, and the state government seems to have few answers to curb that trend. Dr. Lee Copeland works alone a lot now at his medical clinic in Celina. He can look out his front door and see the closed hospital he used to work at. By the end of the day, there are no patients left in Celina’s last medical clinic. The nearest hospital to Celina in Clay County is Livingston. That hospital sits 18 miles from the closed one in Celina. Dr. Copeland’s forecast is not sunny for medicine in Clay County where the population is now below 8,000. LINK

Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary tours: Historic ‘hell on Earth’ prison surprisingly fascinating (Tennessean) Being imprisoned with violent criminals in a remote, hard-knocks prison like the infamous Brushy Mountain Tennessee State Penitentiary is not something I would ever want to experience. But it was fascinating to get a glimpse of incarceration at the castle-like Brushy Mountain that has come back to life as a tourist attraction, complete with a restaurant, distillery and outdoor venue for concerts and events — and it was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken. The prison tour allows visitors to talk with a former guard, explore the cell blocks and walk the prison yard as we tried to imagine this “hell on Earth” slammer that operated from 1896 until 2009 in Petros, Tenn. LINK

OPINION

Guest column: Lee sends promising signal by dropping fee to clear criminal records (Daily Memphian) Bill Lee spoke frequently on the campaign trail about how we need to rethink the ways we treat people with criminal records. After he was elected governor, he put his words into action with some incremental but meaningful reforms this past legislative session – one being the complete elimination of the fee to clear the records on some criminal convictions. For years, Tennesseans who had earned a second chance not only had to run the narrow gauntlet of expungement eligibility, they also had to come up with a hefty $450 fee. LINK

Frank Cagle: Casada’s leadership: Fear and loathing (KnoxTNToday) Some weeks back I told you that House Speaker Glen Casada had a reputation for being mean and vindictive. In the wake of recent scandals House members are telling Tennessean reporters that they fear their offices have been bugged. They describe the atmosphere in the state legislature as one of paranoia. They call extra staffers Casada hired “hall monitors” and they believe the aides walk the halls and report to Casada what they hear. LINK

Jackson Baker: A Salute to the Echoes (Nashville Scene) It has now been more than a week since the adjournment of the first session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly, and, if anything, interest in the key personalities of state government and the internal machinations of the legislature is at its apex. This is mainly due to the scandal that has enveloped the office of the speaker of the House since the last pounding of the gavel by current Speaker Glen Casada on May 2. LINK

Video: Local 24 anchor Richard Ransom on the growing scandal with TN House Speaker Glen Casada (WATN-TV) In Monday’s Ransom Note, Local 24 anchor Richard Ranson discusses the “Casada Conundrum,” as more Republican lawmakers won’t back Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada. LINK

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe: Broken promises: ‘Medicare for All’ (Elizabethton Star) As a physician, my entire career has been dedicated to caring for patients. I came to Congress because I believed we needed — and still believe we need — health care reform that improves quality and lowers cost. Instead, I watched Democrats ram through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), making promises they could not keep. They promised “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it — which ended up being branded the “Lie of the Year” by Politifact. They also promised you can keep your doctor, but that ended up being a lie as well. LINK

Guest column: Legislature focused on improving Tennesseans’ lives (Tennessean) Our state is lucky to have leaders who get to work for those who put them into office. The work of the Tennessee General Assembly is more than what makes the 6 p.m. news or statements and clips that get blown up on Twitter and Facebook. Our elected officials actually work and listen to the needs of their constituents. That is an aspect of being a Tennessean that we should not take for granted. LINK

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