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Editorial Results (free)

1. If only legislators could focus on important issues -

A year-old law enabling Tennessee colleges and universities to keep secret the “proprietary” fees they pay money managers for handling risky investments is likely to be reviewed this year.

2. Sex Week seems tame compared to Legislature's antics -

Why should UT Knoxville be limited to its annual Sex Week when Tennessee legislators are celebrating year-round?

Based on the scurrilous reports published in these parts over the last couple of years, state legislators are doing more than collecting per diems in Nashville, and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it.

3. Senate committee nixes 4 UT Board appointees -

One of Gov. Bill Haslam’s main legislative pushes has run afoul of a Legislature angry about everything from Sex Week at the University of Tennessee to the handling of the football coach hiring at the Knoxville campus.

4. Bill pushes prosecution for improper transcript changes -

With a grade-changing scandal at Trezevant High rocking Shelby County Schools, Rep. Antonio Parkinson is pushing legislation designed to put a harsh “deterrent” on illicit transcript changes: criminal prosecution.

5. Discipline lax for Tennessee teachers accused of misconduct -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee hasn't done enough to prevent teachers accused of sexual misconduct from getting education jobs in other districts, state auditors say.

Local news outlets report the Tennessee Comptroller's office issued a series concerns and recommendations to officials Wednesday after a 2016 USA Today investigation prompted an audit.

6. Black names leadership teams in all 95 Tennessee counties -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black has named leadership teams in all 95 Tennessee counties.

7. IMPROVE Act fight an insight into testy election ahead -

In case anyone’s keeping stats, Senate leadership soundly defeated House leadership this session in the gas tax/tax cut battle.

Whether this is a forerunner to a Republican gubernatorial primary remains to be seen as Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and House Speaker Beth Harwell weigh decisions. It’s not as if they’d be facing off against each other, though, since businessman Bill Lee and former Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd are definitely in the race and not hurting for money.

8. Bill exempting churches from some campaign reports withdrawn -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Republican bill in Tennessee that would exempt churches from having to report campaign spending on "public or private morality" has been withdrawn.

On Tuesday, Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville withdrew the bill from consideration for the rest of the year.

9. Bill excludes churches from campaign spending disclosures -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Republican state senator wants to change Tennessee election finance law to exempt churches from having to report campaign spending on "public or private morality."

The bill sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville says those issues would include measures related to alcohol, drugs, abortion, marriage or gambling.

10. Durham loses GOP primary after sexual harassment allegations -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The subject of a scathing attorney general's report on sexual harassment allegations lost his Republican primary for the Tennessee House on Thursday.

Rep. Jeremy Durham had suspended his campaign after the report outlined allegations of improper sexual contact with 22 women but had denied any wrongdoing and did not drop out of the race. Durham was defeated by former Army Col. Sam Whitson.

11. Durham's halted bid not only GOP campaign drawing attention -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The subject of a state attorney general's sexual harassment investigation isn't the only Republican candidate facing uncertain prospects in Tennessee's Aug. 4 primary.

Rep. Jeremy Durham suspended his re-election campaign despite his claims that most of the allegations that the Franklin Republican had improper sexual interactions with 22 women were false or taken out of context.

12. Haslam happy to 'help our friends' facing GOP primaries -

NASHVILLE (AP) - For Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, it's a happy coincidence that he can give a boost to embattled legislative incumbents while traveling the state to hand out community grant checks.

13. UT’s legislative spanking could have been worse -

In a state where many people bleed orange, the University of Tennessee found itself in an unusual position during the 2016 legislative session: fighting for its life.

The folks representing Rocky Top, typically a sacred cow, had to battle for respect after emails surfaced from UT-Knoxville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion urging teachers to use gender neutral pronouns for transgender students and to downplay Christmas during holiday parties.

14. Dem lawmaker's White House trip rejected by GOP officials -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee state senators have been reimbursed for out-of-state travel for meetings from Florida to Alaska, and on topics ranging from school vouchers to the dangers of radical Islam. But GOP leaders say a Democrat's trip to the White House doesn't qualify.

15. Bills to freeze tuition at colleges, universities defeated -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Bills that would have frozen tuition rates at Tennessee's public colleges and universities have been defeated.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said at the beginning of the session Wednesday that he was in favor of the idea. The University of Tennessee in particular was a vocal opponent, complaining that steep tuition hikes were the result of dramatic decreases in state funding and increasing education costs.

16. Letter grades for Tennessee schools headed to Haslam's desk -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A bill to assign letter grades to public schools in Tennessee is headed to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk.

Supporters say the current system of rating schools on a scale of one to five can confuse parents who may not know that the lower numbers are worse scores. Under the bill sponsored by Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and fellow Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville, schools would receive grades A through F.

17. Universities or Legislature: Who's to blame for rising higher-ed costs -

When figures are presented detailing a 456 percent increase in tuition and fees at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville over the last 20 years, the result is usually some serious sticker shock.

That’s what happened recently when state Sen. Dolores Gresham presented the Tennessee Tuition Stability Act, a measure designed to rein in tuition growth and make it easier for students and parents to pay for a four-year degree.

18. Tuition freeze for public colleges advances in Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A bid to freeze tuition at public colleges and universities and colleges in Tennessee is advancing in the state Senate.

The Senate Education Committee voted 9-0 in favor of the measure sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville on Wednesday.

19. Lawmakers to give school voucher bill another shot -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The co-sponsor of a Senate proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee said Monday that lawmakers will try again to pass the measure in the next legislative session — despite failures in the last three.

20. Tennessee’s most powerful politician -

Senate Speaker and Lieutenant Gov. Ron Ramsey laughs at the notion he’s changed since being elected to the Legislature 23 years ago, that he’s lost touch with the common man or become “arrogant” as lieutenant governor of Tennessee.

21. Haslam signs bill overhauling special education funding -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that overhauls how severely disabled children are educated in Tennessee. The Individualized Education Act will turn over roughly $6,600 in education funds to parents to help their children.

22. Last-ditch legislative effort fails to save virtual school -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A last-minute legislative maneuver to allow a troubled virtual school to remain open has failed.

The Tennessee Virtual Academy has been ordered closed because of failing scores. Republican Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains asked the full Senate floor to consider an amendment to an unrelated bill that would allow the school to stay open if it showed enough improvement.

23. Legislators not moved by hymns, prayer or reason -

The words of “We Shall Overcome” and “Wade in the Water” resonate through the halls as Insure Tennessee supporters descend on the Legislative Plaza for a key vote on the plan to provide coverage to 280,000 working Tennesseans.

24. Resolution calls for end to fed ‘imposition’ -

Saying the feds are guilty of intruding in local schools, state Sen. Bill Ketron is seeking passage of a resolution designed to end what he calls overreach by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We don’t need the federal government telling us how to do it,” Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said during a recent meeting with teachers in the Rutherford Education Association.

25. Common Core is working – so let's kill it -

Common Core determines what Tennessee’s K-12 students should know and when they should learn it, yet like many other issues it has become a political pariah, especially for the state’s Republican leaders.

26. Tennessee lawmakers asking Congress to keep feds out of schools -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are turning to the federal government for help with a task that might seem self-contradictory - keeping the federal government at bay.

In one of several efforts to push back against what they see as federal overreach, Republican state lawmakers are pushing a resolution asking Congress, with its new Republican majority in the Senate as well as the House, to help put the brakes on Common Core education standards.

27. Tennessee lawmakers asking Congress to keep feds out of schools -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee lawmakers are turning to the federal government for help with a task that might seem self-contradictory - keeping the federal government at bay.

In one of several efforts to push back against what they see as federal overreach, Republican state lawmakers are pushing a resolution asking Congress, with its new Republican majority in the Senate as well as the House, to help put the brakes on Common Core education standards.

28. Co-sponsor changes stance on bill to repeal Common Core -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A co-sponsor of legislation to repeal Tennessee's Common Core standards said Thursday the measure is likely to change after discussions with teachers and other educators who say the higher benchmarks in English and math are helping students.

29. Bill would repeal Common Core in Tennessee -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two Republican state senators filed legislation Monday to repeal the state's Common Core standards even though Gov. Bill Haslam has called for a public review of the higher benchmarks in English and math.

30. Lawmakers call for hearing on new history course -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The heads of two state legislative committees have asked the State Board of Education to hold a hearing to address alleged concerns about a new advanced placement U.S. history course.

31. Panel makes Common Core compromise proposal -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A special committee of lawmakers on Tuesday recommended that the testing component of Tennessee's Common Core education standards be delayed for one year.

The House and Senate will now vote whether to accept the conference committee report before it heads to the desk of the governor, who has said he'd rather not delay the testing.

32. Senate approves bill stripping local control of charter schools -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The state Senate has approved legislation that changes the way certain charter schools are authorized.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville was approved 20-12 on Thursday. The House version was approved 62-30 last year. It must now approve technical changes made by the Senate before heading to the governor for his consideration.

33. Sex sells as politicians use UT to fire up base -

With the budget debate looming in the General Assembly, and many other serious issues on tap as the Tennessee Legislature hits the home stretch, Republican leaders of the supermajority turned their attention to higher education.

34. Common Core data bill passes Senate 31-2 -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Legislation that would require any data collected under Tennessee's Common Core standards only be used to track the academic progress and needs of students was approved by the Senate on Monday.

35. UT president says school can't ban Sex Week event -

NASHVILLE (AP) - University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro is urging lawmakers not to pursue legislation that would penalize the school over its student-run Sex Week.

In a letter this week to Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham and Senate Government Operations Chairman Mike Bell, DiPietro argued that First Amendment protections prevent the school from ending the event that has raised the hackles of GOP leaders in the Legislature.

36. Senate leaders threaten UT funding over Sex Week -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican leaders in the state Senate are warning that new funding for the University of Tennessee could be threatened over the use of student fees for a weeklong program about sex.

37. Ex-marine Gresham long past ‘cheerleading days’ in Senate -

As chair of the Tennessee Senate Education Committee, Sen. Dolores Gresham has plenty of hot-button issues crossing her desk these days.

From a compromise bill aimed at opportunity scholarships – or vouchers, to opponents – for low-income children to ongoing issues with Common Core standards, teacher evaluations and more, hers is one of the most-watched committees in state government.

38. Senate school voucher bill delayed -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Senate version of a bill to create a school voucher program in Tennessee has been delayed to allow sponsors of the measure and a competing version to try to work out differences.

39. Republicans discuss new voucher bill with governor -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican state lawmakers have proposed a school voucher bill they hope will be acceptable to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has repeatedly said he favors a more limited version of the program that gives parents another option for educating their children.

40. Republicans discuss new voucher bill with governor -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican state lawmakers have proposed a school voucher bill they hope will be acceptable to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has repeatedly said he favors a more limited version of the program that gives parents another option for educating their children.

41. Lawmakers request review of book selection process -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The heads of two legislative committees say the process for selecting books for state schools is flawed and needs to be fixed.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell have sent a letter to the State Board of Education asking the panel to re-examine the list of books recommended to it by the Tennessee Textbook Commission.

42. Lawmakers review role of State Textbook Commission -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Parents claiming that some textbooks being used in state schools are biased say they're open to a stronger public review process, which state education officials acknowledge is needed to improve the current process for choosing books.

43. Panel to review state's textbook selection process -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The state Senate Education Committee plans a hearing in October to review Tennessee's textbook selection process for K-12 schools.

Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville is the committee's chairwoman. She announced this week that the panel will review the role and work of the state's Textbook Commission and Tennessee laws governing textbook selection to help ensure an accurate and unbiased approach.

44. Panel to explore new common core standards -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The chairwoman of the state Senate Education Committee says the panel will hold meetings during the summer or fall to discuss a new set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading.

The common core state standards are being adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

45. Haslam vetoes bill aimed at animal abuse stings -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday vetoed a bill that would require images that document animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours, saying his main concern is its constitutionality.

46. Haslam unswayed by celebrities opposing 'ag-gag' -

SMYRNA (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he was not swayed by celebrities opposing a bill that would make it a crime to video record animal abuse if it isn't turned over to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours.

47. Charter school authorizer bill dead this session -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A measure that seeks to change the approval process for charter schools in Tennessee has failed this session.

The proposal seemed poised for a vote on the Senate floor on Friday, the last day of the session. But Republican Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham of Somerville withdrew it after she concluded she didn't have the votes to pass it.

48. House barely approves animal abuse reporting bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.

49. Charter school authorizer bill advances -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The sponsor of a proposal that seeks to change the way certain charter schools are authorized said Wednesday the measure is needed to continue education reform in Tennessee.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville passed the Senate Finance Committee 7-3 and was sent to the full Senate.

50. Virtual school cap passes; charter schools delayed -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee House has approved a proposal that caps enrollment in virtual schools.

The House voted 66-29 Tuesday to pass the administration bill that allows beginning online schools an enrollment of 1,500 with the ability to expand as long as they meet performance requirements. If they fail to do so for three consecutive years, then the state education commissioner could chose to cap enrollment or direct the local school board to close the school.

51. Senate OKs Tennessee animal abuse reporting bill -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would require anyone recording images of animal abuse to submit unedited footage or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours has passed the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville was approved 22-9 on Tuesday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

52. Bill to create charter schools panel delayed -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to create a state panel to authorize charter schools for five counties is having a hard time getting out of a key Senate committee.

The measure was put off in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday for at least the second time in about two weeks. The first time was because lawmakers said the panel lacked oversight. An amendment was proposed Tuesday to address that concern by making the panel a part of the state Department of Education administratively.

53. Tennessee animal abuse reporting bill hits Senate snag -

NASHVILLE (AP) - An effort to require animal abuse whistleblowers to quickly submit damning evidence to law enforcement has hit a snag in the state Senate over questions about the true intentions of the bill.

54. Charter panel bill stalls in Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Lawmakers questioned a proposal to create a special panel to authorize charter schools in several Tennessee counties during debate at the state Legislature Tuesday, while a nonprofit group criticized the governor's decision to withdraw his school voucher program.

55. Haslam voucher bill dead this session -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Republican leader carrying Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to create school vouchers in Tennessee said he's decided to let it die this session because he's tired of the "gamesmanship."

56. Humane Society hires former state Rep. Swafford -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Former state Rep. Eric Swafford has been hired by the Humane Society of the United States as an outreach director.

57. Competing voucher bill withdrawn -

NASHVILLE (AP) — The sponsor of legislation that was competing with Gov. Bill Haslam's to create a school voucher program withdrew her bill on Wednesday after proponents of a broader program decided they want to focus on the governor's plan.

58. Competing voucher bills gearing up in Legislature -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Republican sponsor of a measure competing with Gov. Bill Haslam's to create a school voucher program in Tennessee says she's convinced the initiative should be broader than what the governor is proposing.

59. Senator's traffic stop part of VU police debate -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The effort to strip Vanderbilt University of its police force over a nondiscrimination policy for student groups has brought up a traffic stop involving the chairwoman of the Senate committee handling the bill, but the lawmaker says she doesn't know why the incident has become part of the debate.

60. Dems call for diversity training for lawmakers -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Democratic leaders point to insulting comments made by two Republican lawmakers to the Legislature's black caucus in calling for legislators to undergo diversity and sensitivity training.

61. Summerville steps down from education committee -

NASHVILLE (AP) - State Sen. Jim Summerville on Friday resigned from the Senate Education Committee after being stripped of his subcommittee chairmanship over an email that insulted the Legislature's black caucus.

62. Senator loses post over expletive to black caucus -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A state senator who headed a panel investigating allegations of grade fixing at Tennessee State University has lost his chairmanship for using an expletive to dismiss concerns from the caucus of black lawmakers.

63. Senate to hold hearings on TSU grade changes -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The state Senate plans to hold hearings to investigate allegations that officials at Tennessee State University changed more than 100 students' grades without instructors' permission.

64. Bill would allow students to opt out of activities -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee parents would be able to opt their children out of extracurricular school activities under a proposal that has passed the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville was approved 30-0 on Wednesday. The companion bill passed the House 75-14 last month.

65. Lottery scholarship bill passes Senate 20-10 -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would make cutting some students' lottery scholarships in half contingent on lottery revenues passed the Senate 20-10 Monday evening, despite criticism that the increase in revenues may not be consistent.

66. Lottery scholarship bill headed to Senate floor -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would make cutting some students' lottery scholarships in half contingent on lottery revenues is headed for a floor vote in the Senate after a legislative committee approved the measure 9-2 on Tuesday.

67. Bill to remove disruptive students passes Senate -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would allow teachers to remove disruptive students from Tennessee classrooms has passed the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville was unanimously approved 31-0 on Monday evening.

68. Revised lottery scholarship bill advances -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Democratic leaders say a revised proposal that would make cutting some students' lottery scholarships in half contingent on lottery revenues is unnecessary because the measure wouldn't be effective for at least another three years.

69. Bill gives teachers more power against threats -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A bill that has passed the state Senate gives teachers and other school personnel more authority to act against students who pose a safety threat to themselves or others.

Senate Bill 3116 is set for review in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/w10cOd).

70. Lawmakers question need to half scholarships -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A report from state lottery officials showing record sales is reason to table legislation that would cut some students' lottery scholarships in half, Democratic leaders said Wednesday

71. Occupy Nashville bill headed to governor -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to evict Occupy Nashville protesters is headed to the governor for his consideration, despite concerns that it could adversely affect the homeless.

The "Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012" passed the House 68-21 on Monday evening after lawmakers agreed to changes by the Senate, which approved the bill 20-10 last week.

72. Bill targeting Occupy Nashville will hit homeless -

NASHVILLE (AP) - The House will take up a bill on Monday that is designed to evict Occupy Nashville but could also be used to jail homeless people around the state.

The "Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012" makes it a crime to camp on any state-owned land that is not specifically designated for camping - not just the War Memorial Plaza near the Capitol where Occupy Nashville protesters have set up tents.

73. 'Occupy Nashville' bill passes Senate 20-10 -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Occupy Nashville protesters say a proposal passed Thursday by the Senate aimed at stopping them from camping overnight at the Capitol complex will not thwart their efforts.

The Senate approved the Republican-backed proposal 20-10. Two Democrats voted for the measure, and 10 against it. The companion bill passed the House 70-26 last week, and that chamber must also approve an amendment that was added.

74. 'Occupy Nashville' bill passes Senate 20-10 -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Occupy Nashville protesters say a proposal passed Thursday by the Senate aimed at stopping them from camping overnight at the Capitol complex will not thwart their efforts.

The Senate approved the Republican-backed proposal 20-10. Two Democrats voted for the measure, and 10 against it. The companion bill passed the House 70-26 last week, and that chamber must also approve an amendment that was added.

75. Gov. Haslam abandons Tenn. class size proposal -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that he's abandoning his proposal to do away with average class size restrictions in Tennessee.

The Republican governor's decision came as a growing chorus of educators and parents - and the lawmakers who represent them - criticized the idea, fearing the change would hurt teaching standards because more classrooms would be filled to capacity.

76. Lawmakers promote camping ban on public property -

NASHVILLE (AP) — Lawmakers concerned about the Occupy Nashville encampment next to the state Capitol are promoting a bill that would criminalize camping on public property across the state.

House Judiciary Chairman Eric Watson, who has a clear view of the 60-or-so tents from his office window, is sponsoring the legislation. He mentioned several reasons for wanting the encampment gone, including a couple last year having sex near his windows.

77. Lawmakers promote camping ban on public property -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Lawmakers concerned about the Occupy Nashville encampment next to the state Capitol are promoting a bill that would criminalize camping on public property across the state.

House Judiciary Chairman Eric Watson, who has a clear view of the 60-or-so tents from his office window, is sponsoring the legislation. He mentioned several reasons for wanting the encampment gone, including a couple last year having sex near his windows.

78. Well-prepared Berke reaps praise from both parties -

State Sen. Andy Berke says he had no expectations of what public office would be like when he was elected in 2007.

In fact, he says somewhat sheepishly, he “literally had not been to the legislature since my fourth-grade field trip. … By the way, that’s a mistake. I now realize I should have been paying more attention all along.” When he speaks to groups, he says, he asks audiences to learn from his mistake.

79. Proposal would end ACT-only path to scholarships -

NASHVILLE (AP) — A special legislative panel is considering a proposal that would end high school graduates' ability to qualify for Tennessee lottery scholarships through their ACT scores alone.