Articles by: Blake Farmer

On Thursday, Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores. Credit: TN Photo Services

Year’s First Public Bill Signing For Haslam: Wine In Supermarkets

by / on March 20, 2014

A proposal allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores got special treatment at the state capitol Thursday. Governor Bill Haslam held his first public bill signing of the year.

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Failed Proposal To Elect Tennessee School Board Reveals Broader Motivations

Failed Proposal To Elect Tennessee School Board Reveals Broader Motivations

by / on March 19, 2014

It looks like Governor Bill Haslam will keep appointing members of the state school board. But a failed proposal to take that power away reveals the motivations behind a legislative power grab.

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Recent events held by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have attracted hecklers. Credit: GovChristie via Flickr

Tennessee GOP Nabs Governor Chris Christie For Annual Fundraiser

by / on March 19, 2014

The Tennessee Republican Party has recruited a GOP lightning rod to keynote its annual fundraiser. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will speak at the Statesmen’s Dinner in May.

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Beyond Russian Sanctions, Corker Calls For ‘Security Assistance’ In Ukraine

Beyond Russian Sanctions, Corker Calls For ‘Security Assistance’ In Ukraine

by / on March 19, 2014

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker says the U.S. should do what it can to “crush” Russia economically and help rebuild Ukraine’s military.

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Governor Bill Haslam's voucher proposal would be restricted to low-income students in low-performing schools, which are mostly in Memphis and Nashville. Haslam has not made vouchers a priority, instead moving forward reluctantly. Several conservative groups - including the Beacon Center - have made vouchers a core issue. Credit: Elizabeth Albert via Flickr

Is Governor Haslam’s Voucher Proposal Being Pulled For Good?

by / on March 18, 2014

The fate of school vouchers in Tennessee was thrown into doubt Tuesday as the governor’s proposal was effectively withdrawn from consideration in the state House. The sponsoring lawmaker says it’s just a scheduling issue.

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Haslam Leans On Teachers To Sway Public Over Common Core

Haslam Leans On Teachers To Sway Public Over Common Core

by / on March 18, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam is trying to show public opinion is on his side when it comes to Common Core, even if the legislature is turning against him.

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Impending Insurance Mandate Drives More Than Expected To TennCare

Impending Insurance Mandate Drives More Than Expected To TennCare

by / on March 18, 2014

People are flooding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare. They’re trying to get coverage to avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. State officials were expecting people who were already eligible for government-funded health care to sign up – just not this many.

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Every lawmaker in the chamber stood and applauded as Gov. Bill Haslam described his plan to pay community college tuition for anyone who needs it during his State of the State address in February. Credit: Stephen Jerkins

To Sell Free Community College Plan, Tennessee Governor Meets Universities In The Middle

by / on March 18, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam is starting to compromise on his administration’s proposal to pay the full tuition for anyone going to community college.

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Conservative activists around the country have attacked Common Core for not including cursive instruction. However, Tennessee education officials say state standards have never mandated cursive. Credit: Josh Hallet via Flickr

Meet The Mom Pushing To Require Tennessee Students To Know Cursive

by / on March 17, 2014

Tennessee school children may soon be required to learn cursive, which has never been mandated. A family from Columbia is responsible for making handwriting a legislative issue.

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Anti-Union VW Workers Go To Court To Keep Company ‘Neutral’ Next Time

Anti-Union VW Workers Go To Court To Keep Company ‘Neutral’ Next Time

by / on March 13, 2014

Three workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant have sued the automaker in federal court. They accuse the company of aiding the United Auto Workers in a failed unionization effort, and they hope to keep the company from doing it again.

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In Final Minutes Of Marathon Meeting, State Senators Pass For-Profit Charter Schools

In Final Minutes Of Marathon Meeting, State Senators Pass For-Profit Charter Schools

by / on March 13, 2014

A bill paving the way for investor-owned companies to run charter schools in Tennessee passed at the end of a nearly six-hour committee meeting Wednesday night. Weary members of the Senate Education panel voted six to three, sending the proposal on to the full Senate.

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Federally-trained Certified Application Counselors and Obamacare Navigators helped uninsured Nashvillians sign up for coverage on Monday. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

For Its Size, Tennessee Obamacare Enrollment Stands Out

by / on March 11, 2014

Roughly 18,000 Tennesseans signed up for plans on the new health insurance exchange in February. That’s a drop from the prior month – reflecting a national trend – even as the enrollment deadline is just a few weeks out.

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Many of those at Tuesday's rally complained of an increasing reliance on temporary workers, including universities who refuse to bring adjunct faculty into full time roles. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Unions Rally At Tennessee Capitol, Say Living Wage Isn’t Lost Cause

by / on March 11, 2014

Unions from around the state rallied at the Tennessee capitol Tuesday in support of raising the minimum wage, despite the defeat of a minimum wage proposal last month.

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In August of 2013, the Tennessee Education Association tried to keep the state board of education from giving final approval to a plan linking license renewal to student achievement data. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Tennessee Teachers File First Lawsuit Over Use Of Test Data In Pay Decisions

by / on March 10, 2014

An algebra teacher in Knoxville has filed a lawsuit against the use of student improvement data in pay decisions. The Tennessee Education Association says it’s just the first of many legal challenges in the works.

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Kentucky Southern Baptists Draw Crowds With Gun Giveaways

Kentucky Southern Baptists Draw Crowds With Gun Giveaways

by / on March 10, 2014

The Kentucky Baptist Convention has found a surefire way for getting people through church doors: free guns. The church raffle events combine dinner, sermons and a Second Amendment message.

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Kevin Huffman Was Wrong; Test Results Didn’t Get People Off His Back

Kevin Huffman Was Wrong; Test Results Didn’t Get People Off His Back

by / on March 10, 2014

Tennessee’s high-profile education commissioner has a new stump speech. Within it, he says he figured critics would quiet down after results of a national test showed Tennessee making bigger gains than any other state. They haven’t.

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Metro Transit Officials Dismiss ‘Plan B’ Unveiled By Amp Opponents

Metro Transit Officials Dismiss ‘Plan B’ Unveiled By Amp Opponents

by / on March 7, 2014

Critics of Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed bus rapid transit line from East Nashville to West End have released the rough outlines of what they call a “plan B.” The Amp’s opponents have maintained that they support mass transit, just not Dean’s $175 million project.

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Holly Bobo was a nursing student at UT Martin. Her brother says she saw her being led into the woods by someone wearing camouflage nearly three years ago. Credit: Bring Holly Bobo Home Safe via Flickr

Man Charged With Murder In Holly Bobo Missing Person Case

by / on March 5, 2014

Nearly three years after nursing student Holly Bobo went missing, a grand jury has handed down indictments of kidnapping and murder.

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The proposed route for the Amp would run from White Bridge Road on the west side of Nashville (above) through downtown to Five Points in East Nashville. (Image via Metro Transit Authority)

Move To Outlaw Nashville’s Transit Line Met With Silence From Lawmakers

by / on March 5, 2014

Critics of the planned high-speed bus line from East Nashville to West End have taken their opposition to a new level. They’re now trying to outlaw the Amp by banning bus rapid transit projects at the state level.

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Supporters of the Amp BRT line held signs behind Mayor Karl Dean at the Metro Courthouse as he thanked President Obama for federal funding. Credit: Dean Administration

Nashville Mayor Calls Federal Funding For Amp Transit Line A ‘Validator’

by / on March 4, 2014

The push to build a high-speed bus route connecting East Nashville and West End got a boost from the White House Tuesday. The Obama Administration’s budget designated $27 million in funding for the Amp.

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