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Despite Republicans’ overwhelming majority in the state legislature, Rep. Sheila Butt feels like her party could be vulnerable. The potential culprit, she says, could come from Democrats infiltrating Republican primaries. She says this scenario recently played out in a local mayor’s race in Maury County, and she wants to know if it’s more widespread.

“In our family, at home, our family made our decisions,” she said. “I think it might be time in the state of Tennessee for our Republican family and Democratic family to make those decisions.”

Bobby Allyn / WPLN

Governor Bill Haslam says there’s no way around hiking the state’s gas tax some time in the future. The tax, which hasn’t increased since 1989, is not keeping up with the rising cost of building and maintaining Tennessee’s roads and bridges.

Improved fuel efficiency standards and the rise of hybrid and electric cars are a boon to the environment, but the governor says they hurt gas taxes. What’s more, Haslam says federal transportation funding is always uncertain, noting that Congress’ temporary fixes on the federal highway fund make it tricky to plan long-term projects.

Tajhiee Cockerham has a small frame, big brown eyes and a baby face. Clad in the standard-issue orange jumpsuit, the 18-year-old joined me in a tiny, bare room where inmates usually conference with attorneys. I wrote letters to Cockerham and the other eight teens who escaped from Woodland Hills in September and have since been placed in Nashville’s Criminal Justice Center, an adult jail. Though most of the them ignored my request, Cockerham agreed to sit down for a conversation. Jail officials gave us 20 minutes.

Tajhiee Cockerham has a small frame, big brown eyes and a baby face. Clad in the standard-issue orange jumpsuit, the 18-year-old joined me in a tiny, bare room where inmates usually conference with attorneys. I wrote letters to Cockerham and the other eight teens who escaped from Woodland Hills in September and have since been placed in Nashville’s Criminal Justice Center, an adult jail. Though most of the them ignored my request, Cockerham agreed to sit down for a conversation. Jail officials gave us 20 minutes.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

The monthly Bill Goodman Gun & Knife Show at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds has just about everything a weapons collector could want: Handguns and high-powered rifles, tomahawks and tasers – in colors that range from survivalist camo to hot pink.

But perhaps the most surprising find is at the table of dealer Eva Simmons: a 1970s-era switchblade, the kind with a black-and-silver handle and a curlicue guard. These were illegal in Tennessee until recently.

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