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VOL. 132 | NO. 82 | Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Game Day In San Antonio, Gas Tax Compromise and Democrats Talk

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford is out on bond after being charged Monday with domestic violence assault and false imprisonment. And the Shelby County Commission does not appear to have a precedent for taking any kind of action until the charges are resolved one way or another although commission chairman Melvin Burgess is exploring that with attorneys.

The gas tax bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature after the state House Monday evening accepted the Senate version of the bill. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reports this all came down to whether to include property tax relief for veterans in the package of gas tax hikes and cuts in other taxes for a net reduction in state taxes overall. The House version had the veterans tax relief separate and the Senate version had it in the package.

The House accepted the Senate plan after Senate leaders talked the governor into upping the ceiling for the veterans tax relief. Not everyone was happy including in the Shelby County delegation where there were some no votes and also where there were some calls to do the deal.

Lots more reading of the fine print to come on this bill with Haslam likely to sign this bill in several places across the state. This is a big win for the administration that watched its Medicaid expansion “Insure Tennessee” compromise with the Feds get crushed not that long ago.

Legislators aren’t ready to call it a year just yet. There are some other matters that will probably move pretty quickly now that the centerpiece of the session is out of the way.

Memphis Democrat Antonio Parkinson in the House is calling again for an end to the state-run Achievement School District and ASD leaders say they’ve heard this before.

More on Franklin businessman Bill Lee kicking off his bid for the Republican nomination for Governor Monday.

It’s budget day at City Hall where Mayor Jim Stricklands budget proposal remained under wraps until his 3:30 p.m. appearance Tuesday before the city council. But it is safe to assume he will continue to preach the gospel of the basics that got him elected to the top job at City Hall. Here’s are a few points in that regard, some comments from the council budget committee chairman and the rest of the council agenda for Tuesday, which is fairly busy.

Grizz vs Spurs: Don Wade setting the stage for Game 5 Tuesday evening in San Antonio and tickets for Game 6 back here went on sale Monday. Still waiting for tipoff time and similar details on that.

Germantown Village Square sold by Boyle to a Boca Raton private equity fund for $29.3 million.

In our Law Week Emphasis:

Recapping the University of Memphis Law Review Symposium that brought in a great panel of legal experts to talk about a timely topic – judicial criticism and judicial independence. They included former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on whether the judiciary is sacrificing its own independence by its actions. Federal appeals court judge Bernice Donald also commenting on the decision by judges to dissent.

Lots of discussion in the legal community around the practice of litigation finance – the practice of a third party financing a civil lawsuit as an investment with a return not guaranteed but also possibly good for the balance sheet in some cases. One of the financial advisors we talked with calls this “the biggest trend in the market lately." And critics liken it to casino gambling.

For law students who make it to the third year, there is a financial hump associated with paying tuition and the added costs of taking the bar exam. A new law scholarship by Nahon, Saharovich and Trotz PLC is aimed at those third year students and the first of the scholarships was recently awarded. This is an endowment given to the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

When last we looked in on the Shelby County Democratic Party this summer, it wasn’t a party. It has been abolished by the state. This weekend, a group of local Democrats appointed by the state party begin the job of reorganizing the local party with a series of town hall meetings. The goal is to have the Shelby County Democratic Party up and running again with different rules in July. And speaking of the rules, there is a bill in the Legislature that would bar all of those on the local party’s executive committee when it was abolished from serving on the new committee unless the state party chairman grants an exception.

A new study at UT Health Science Center matches diabetes education and prevention with texting. The study targets a group of 1,000 African-American men and women with diabetes for text messages offering encouragement and specific advice tailored to that particular patient. The advice will depend on what each patient tells a participating doctor they want to work on improving as they try to manage their diabetes. Six local clinics are participating in the study.

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