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TN Supreme Court Restrains Itself in Election Decision

The special election for Mayor of Nashville to replace Megan Barry will be held on May 24 instead of August 2, according to Tuesday’s ruling of the Tennessee Supreme Court overturning the decision of the Davidson County Election Commission and a subsequent Chancery Court ruling. What is positive about the ruling is that the Supreme Court affirmed that it could not look at the “consequences” of certain interpretations of the applicable law and “declined” Metro’s “invitation” to “judicially amend” the law!

As a result of the ruling, the filing deadline was reopened until noon on April 12 and the new withdrawal deadline is now noon on April 19.

At this time, the candidates include Acting Mayor David Briley, At-Large Metro Council member Erica Gilmore, state Rep. Harold Love Jr., Ludye Wallace, former talk radio host Ralph Bristol, former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, and several more.

Whoever wins the special mayoral election will serve only until the August 2019 general metropolitan election.

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shape of Tennessee on striped background with words Tennessee news

Gov. Haslam Signs Bill That Defunds Planned Parenthood in Tennessee

Gov. Haslam signed into law two bills this week designed to make sure no state tax dollars or certain federal funds administered by the state go to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform elective abortions.

The first of the two, HB 2251 by Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) and SB 2248 by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), directs the state to request a waiver from the federal Medicaid office to allow the state to exclude entities that provide elective abortions as providers in TennCare. The second bill, HB 2262 by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and SB 2494 by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), codified a process utilized by the Haslam administration to prioritize who may receive Title X family planning funds, with local health departments receiving top priority. The process effectively eliminates entities such as Planned Parenthood.

However, the Senate and House overwhelmingly approved, and Gov. Haslam signed into law SB 883/HB 1320 that allows federal funds administered by the state to be used to provide “assistance” to “health clinics that the commissioner of health finds are qualified and willing to perform comprehensive family planning services” so that they can provide “intrauterine devices and birth control implants.”

Hopefully, no commissioner of health will ever consider Planned Parenthood a “qualified and willing” provider of these services, but that remains to be seen.

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TN Rep Kills Own Bill Protecting Conservative Business Owners

An unusual thing happened Tuesday in the Tennessee Legislature when the sponsor of a bill failed to show up to present his bill to the committee to which it had been assigned. Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) had sponsored House Bill 54, which would have protected all businesses from discrimination by city governments in the bidding process for contracts, in regard to access to and the use of city facilities, and in regard to participation of city programs based on whether they did or did not extend special rights to employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity or provide coverage of abortion under employee group health insurance policies.

Even though proponents of the bill had updated Rep. Zachary on the bill’s status and the potential vote count among the committee’s members not less than thirty minutes before the committee convened, he came down to the committee room after it adjourned for the year, which means the bill is dead. Rep. Zachary’s reasons for his disappearance were murky.

Rep. Zachary cancelled a meeting this Wednesday with proponents of the bill desirous of finding out what happened, but it was rescheduled yesterday for next Tuesday.

The bill had passed the state Senate last year 25-5. In the Senate, it was sponsored by Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville).

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TN Senate Committee Leaves School Systems, Student Privacy Vulnerable to Attack

The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee killed a bill that would have allowed the attorney general to defend a public school system if it got sued by groups like the ACLU because it had adopted and implemented a policy designating locker rooms and bathrooms for use based on biological sex (with an accommodation for those who do not want to conform to their biological sex).

If the attorney general chose not to defend, there was a mechanism by which the state could reimburse the school system for reasonable attorney’s fees in defending the policy.

Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) moved the bill for consideration, but the following senators (listed alphabetically) did not choose to second the bill, so it died without any discussion: Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), Lee Harris (D-Memphis), Brian Kelsey (R-Collierville), Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), Jon Lundberg (R-Kingsport), Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro), Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), and John Stevens (R-Huntington).

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Conservative Carol Swain to Run for Mayor of Nashville

This week conservative Carol Swain, formerly a law professor at Vanderbilt University, filed the paperwork necessary for her to run for Nashville’s mayor in the upcoming special election.

Swain joins Acting Mayor David Briley, Metro Council Member-at-large Erica Gilmore, and talk show host Ralph Bristol as candidates.

Swain said in a statement released on Wednesday, “I am excited about the opportunity to offer Nashville voters a common sense approach to moving Nashville forward.”

The special election for Nashville’s mayor is scheduled for August 2 but could be rescheduled for either May 1 or May 26, pending the outcome of a legal challenge that the Tennessee Supreme Court will consider on Monday.

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