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Editorial Results (free)

1. Harris Visits With Park Employees on State Outsourcing Plan -

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, met with Fall Creek Falls State Park employees Friday, Jan. 20, for a town hall discussion on the governor’s proposal to outsource state assets to private companies and potentially eliminate state jobs.

2. View From the Hill: Taxing Online Sales Not Such an Easy Fix -

Cumberland Transit owner Allen Doty isn’t sure if a rule requiring major out-of-state retailers to collect Tennessee sales taxes will create more equity for his shop.

But Doty, who has been selling everything from bicycles to kayaks and camping gear for 34 years in Nashville, is definitely tired of people shopping in his store for hours, snapping a picture of shoes they like, then going home and buying them online “just to avoid sales tax.”

3. Tennessee Lawmakers Could Raise, Lower Taxes This Session -

The 110th General Assembly is set to convene on Jan. 10 with unfinished business from previous sessions likely to dominate debate.

Here’s a look at some of the hottest topics expected to arise.

4. New Year, New Resolutions for Legislators -

Some Tennesseans recall the days when the state Legislature met every other year and wonder if it should revert to that schedule. Considering the General Assembly pushes most of its work into 3 1/2 months, it might be worth a try.

5. Outsourcing: Savings, But No Specifics -

The Haslam administration is forging ahead with plans to nab a statewide facilities services contractor after an outside analysis backed up a study showing estimated cost savings of more than $35 million a year at Tennessee universities.

6. Refugee Lawsuit Proceeds in Spite of Obstacles -

Tennessee is going “full speed ahead” in a challenge of the federal Refugee Resettlement Program despite threats by President-elect Donald Trump to dismantle it or, at the least, stop the flow of refugees from terrorist-linked countries.

7. BCBS Bombshell Leaves Insurance Seekers in Bind -

Nashville resident Jennifer Murray is caught in the snare of uncertainty looming over Tennessee health insurance coverage.

Self-employed as a health care consultant, the single 48-year-old bought individual coverage through BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee’s marketplace plans each year since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014. The company offered the widest range of physicians, and its insurance was accepted in most places.

8. State Rep. Feels Heat From Staffer’s Firing -

Like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of our Legislature’s lives.

When General Assembly candidates run for office, they talk of high ideals such as reforming education, creating jobs, saving tax dollars and stifling sexual offenders, even restricting abortion, adopting a state rifle or making the Holy Bible Tennessee’s state book.

9. Facing $60M Penalty, Tennessee Repeals Underage DUI Law -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday repealed an underage drunken driving law that threatened to cost the state $60 million in road money by running afoul of federal zero-tolerance standards.

10. No Quick Fix in State Health Insurance Issue -

State Rep. Ron Travis is perplexed.

On one hand, the Republican from Dayton is concerned with escalating premiums for Tennesseans participating in the insurance marketplace, worried costs are increasing to the point people simply can’t afford health insurance.

11. Democrats Seek Hearings Exchange Rate Increases -

The state’s Democratic Caucus has requested hearings in the House and Senate Commerce and Insurance committees to probe how insurance rates for the 2017 Tennessee Health Care Marketplace could rise so high year to year.

12. Democrats Seek Hearings On Large Exchange Rate Hikes -

The state’s Democratic Caucus has requested hearings in the House and Senate Commerce and Insurance committees to probe how insurance rates for the 2017 Tennessee Health Care Marketplace could rise so high year to year.

13. Matlock the ‘Truth,’ ‘Justice’ Candidate For Tennessee House Speaker -

Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock insists his quest for the House Speaker’s post is not a challenge of Beth Harwell’s leadership.

But it’s clear he sees a need for change.

14. Task Force’s New Health Plan Promising -

A 3-Star Healthy Task Force appointed to propose a method for catching Tennesseans in a health care coverage gap is taking a politically safe road to reach the same goal as Insure Tennessee.

Yet the route, a TennCare expansion with “triggers” and “circuit breakers,” holds so much uncertainty it’s hard to figure out if the panel will find its destination.

15. Outsourcing Savings Estimates Strain ‘Credulity’ -

Terry Cowles flashes a photo of ceiling lamp fixtures on the screen and tells state legislators a vendor’s state Capitol team used its electrical training to remove, repair and reinstall fixtures, saving taxpayers $15,500.

16. Insure Tennessee: In Like A Lion, Out With A Committee -

What started with a roar is ending with a whimper.

On the first day of the 2016 legislative session, dozens of Insure Tennessee supporters rallied, shouted and sang songs outside the House chamber.

17. Tennessee Bill Would Allow Counselors to Deny Services -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A bill that would allow mental health counselors to turn patients away based on the counselors' religious beliefs and personal principles has passed in the House in Tennessee, the latest state to introduce measures that opponents say legalize discrimination against gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

18. Bill to Allow Guns Bans in Ticketed Venues Fails in House -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A bill seeking to allow Tennessee cities to ban guns from being carried at ticketed events has failed in a House subcommittee.

The Republican-controlled Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 3-2 along party lines on Wednesday to kill the measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons and supported by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.

19. House Kills Bill Requiring Rear-Facing Car Seats Up to Age 2 -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The state House Transportation Committee on Tuesday voted to kill a bill seeking to raise the mandatory age for toddlers to ride in rear-facing car seats from 1 to 2.

20. ‘Fearless’ Stewart Embraces Battles With Supermajority -

Democratic state Rep. Mike Stewart lives on the front lines of the Tennessee General Assembly. As chairman of the House Democratic Caucus with 26 members, Stewart could employ a bunker mentality, but instead has chosen to take the fight to the other side of the aisle.

21. Proposed Update to Car Seat Rules Pulled Back for Debate -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – An effort to update Tennessee's car seat rules that had been headed for Gov. Bill Haslam's signature has been pulled back for renewed debate in the House over questions about whether it would increase the age that children would be required to ride in booster seats.

22. Tennessee Lawmakers OK Longer Car Seat Requirements -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Toddlers would have to ride in rear-facing car seats for an additional year under a bill passed by both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons of Nashville said the measure brings the state's car seat laws up to date with the recommendations of physicians and auto manufacturers.

23. Rare Wins for Democrats on Guns, Outsourcing -

Legislative Democrats got a chance to beat their chests a little bit after a proposal to allow guns in the state Capitol and Legislative Plaza failed, and they hope to do the same with outsourcing.

24. Haslam’s Outsourcing Plan To Get Outside Review -

Gov. Bill Haslam's administration announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that it has agreed with higher education leaders to have an outside group review the Republican's privatization plan for building maintenance at Tennessee's public colleges and universities.

25. Haslam, Colleges Agree to Outside Review of Outsourcing Plan -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Gov. Bill Haslam's administration announced Wednesday that it has agreed with higher education leaders to have an outside group review the Republican's privatization plan for building maintenance at Tennessee's public colleges and universities.

26. Minority Leader Harris Confident Even on Wrong Side of Supermajority -

Lee Harris says he ran for state Senate because he felt Memphis could do better on Capitol Hill, defeating Ophelia Ford in 2014.

27. Impatient Clemmons Anxious for Minority Voice to Be Heard -

Democratic state Rep. John Ray Clemmons is only halfway through his first two-year term representing District 55 in Nashville. But he’s not willing to wait years to speak out or push for change.

28. Memphis Legislators Sound Off On State-Run School District -

Armed with a Vanderbilt University study showing Shelby County schools that were taken over by the state’s Achievement School District are showing little to no improvement, Memphis legislators are nearly ready to kill the experiment.

29. Refugees, Regents, Privatization On Tap for New Session -

State Sen. Ken Yager isn’t quite ready for the state of Tennessee to reclaim the Refugee Resettlement Program from Catholic Charities.

30. Legislature Not Playing Santa With Insure Tennessee -

It’s going to take a Christmas miracle for Insure Tennessee to make it into anyone’s stocking this year.

As the 2016 session of the General Assembly approaches in early January, Republicans are showing no support for the plan Gov. Bill Haslam offered for a special session in early 2015.

31. Tennessee to Spend Millions on New DUI Campaign -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After nixing an anti-DUI ad campaign that garnered criticism, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is paying millions on another attempt to educate the public about highway safety.

32. If Fear Is Goal, Terrorists Have Won in Tennessee -

The terrorists who struck Paris three weeks ago succeeded in more than killing and wounding hundreds of people. Their attack is pitting Americans against each other in how to respond, and Tennessee politicians are no exception.

33. Bipartisan Brakes for Governor Haslam’s Privatization Push -

Plans to put Tennessee’s real estate and government operations in the hands of private business are much further along than Gov. Bill Haslam would like people to think.

A master of downplaying big issues, Haslam says he’s simply looking for ways to make government run more efficiently and save money.

34. Is State’s Role to Provide a Service or Turn a Profit? -

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appears to be on the brink of privatizing state government. But he won’t be able to do it without a battle, especially from university unions and Democratic lawmakers.

35. Tennessee Dems Introduce Bill to Allow Gun Ban at Sports, Music Venues -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two Democrats are introducing legislation to allow all firearms to be banned at major sports and music venues.

Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis and state Rep. John Ray Clemmons of Nashville say their bill would create an exemption to the new state law that bans local governments from prohibiting people with handgun carry permits to be armed in parks.

36. Tennessee’s ‘Fighting 26’ Democrats Work to Stay Relevant -

Sometimes Tennessee Democrats must feel like a tree that falls in the forest: Does anyone hear them?

When Democratic legislative leaders called for a special session this summer on Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam’s market-based plan to use federal dollars to catch 280,000 working people in a health care coverage gap, they found themselves alone.

37. Will Tennessee Republicans Ever Be Truly Happy? -

Why aren’t Tennessee Republicans happier?

With the GOP so dominate in the Tennessee General Assembly and losses so rare – on the Hill or in elections – the party’s lawmakers should be jubilant with this year’s session. But it’s never enough.

38. Restrictions for Tennessee's 7 Abortion Clinics Head to Governor -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Legislation that would place licensing restrictions on all seven of Tennessee's abortion clinics was overwhelmingly approved by state lawmakers Tuesday and sent to the governor, who's expected to sign them into law.

39. Anti-Abortion Legislation Finds Little Resistance -

Buoyed by passage of Amendment 1 last fall, legislation restricting abortions is starting to roll – with relative ease – through the General Assembly.

Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, and Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, began the push recently with measures backed by Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and the Republican ranks. Their bills couldn’t even draw enough resistance to require a roll-call vote.

40. Black Keys Manager Denies Pressuring Adversary -

NASHVILLE (AP) – As Tennessee lawmakers consider a proposal to crack down on ticket scalping, a Nashville lawyer who opposes the bill alleges that a manager of The Black Keys tried to persuade him to change his position in exchange for tickets to a performance by the band.