Tom Humphrey

Tom Humphrey

House sub blocks push to disinter and relocate President James K. Polk’s body

The House State Government Subcommittee has rejected a legislative resolution authorizing disinterment of the bodies of President James K. Polk and his wife from a tomb on the state capitol grounds and moving them to Columbia.

Continue reading

Maury County Commission chairman seeks to succeed Rep. Butt in House District 64

Maury County Commission Chairman Michael Fulbright has announced as a candidate for the Republican nomination in House District 64, now held by retiring Rep. Shelia Butt (R-Columbia), reports the Columbia Daily Herald. He says the big issue for the area is preparing for rapid growth spilling over from Nashville.

Continue reading

Politico: TN one of six states with no enforcement of minimum wage rules

Excerpt from a Sunday Politico piece:

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

Continue reading

Rally at UT brings 45 white nationalists, 250 protesters, 200 law enforcement officers

About 45 white nationalists showed up for a Saturday rally on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus that was led by Matthew Heimbach, leader of a group known as Traditionalist Worker Party, reports the News Sentinel. So did 250 people protesting white nationalists and about 200 law enforcement officers from four different agencies.

There were no arrests, though six people were issued tickets for obstructing a highway during the protests, according to University of Tennessee Police Chief Troy Lane.

“I have repeatedly said they weren’t invited,” said UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport afterward. “We didn’t want them here. I certainly didn’t want them to come here. This is not a place that stands for hate and bigotry and prejudice. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again.”

Heimbach is co-founder of the TWP and spent more than two hours talking to the roughly 45 people gathered with him on Saturday about his vision for a whites-only state where the purpose of women is “to have and raise children” and homosexuality is grounds for capital punishment.

Meanwhile, protesters assembled at the Humanities Amphitheater for a “No Nazis on Rocky Top” event organized by the UTK Progressive Student Alliance.

Despite a cold rain, the group later spread across campus, with many choosing not to enter a secure demonstration area police had set up outside Ayres Hall.

The crowd was a motley crew of students, faculty and local residents wielding fabric banners and poster board signs that read “no nazis in knox” and “all you fascists are going to lose.”

TN Tech research used in lobbying ‘eviscerated’ by some professors

“Growing faculty outrage” prompted a Tennessee Technological University internal investigation into the validity of the school research that was financed by a Tennessee company, then used by U.S. Rep. Diane Black in supporting the company’s viewpoint on federal air pollution regulations, reports The Tennessean. Tech’s president suggests the internal review may “exonerate the innocent.”

Professors have eviscerated the results of a $39,000 study commissioned by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Byrdstown-based trucking company that makes rebuilt diesel engines. The findings suggested those engines do not emit more harmful emissions than new engines.

The study, summarized in a June 2017 letter to U.S. Rep. Diane Black that was signed by university President Phil Oldham, was used to lobby to keep a measure that allows rebuilt diesel engines used in glider kits to be exempt from modern federal emissions rules.

The problem, as reported Thursday in The New York Times, is that the Tennessee Tech research is contradicted by an Environmental Protection Agency analysis that found emissions from glider kits are much more dangerous than emissions from new engines. (Note: The Times report also says Black got $225,000 in gubernatorial campaign contributions from donor tied to Fitzgerald. Previous post HERE.)

“This one has been called into some question, and so we’re following university policy to look into it based on concerns that have been expressed,” he said during a Thursday interview at the Cookeville campus. “Nothing has come to my attention at this point that concerns me but the fact that other people have raised concerns warrants us to take a look at it.”

But many professors, including members of the faculty senate, have demanded a more aggressive effort to distance the university from what they say is embarrassing research.

…In a letter to the head of the faculty senate, (interim College of Engineering Dean Darrell) Hoy recalled “urging (almost begging) that the Administration immediately suspend support for the project” during a Jan. 23 meeting.

“I realize this memo and the facts that I have brought to light may be a ‘professional suicide’ with regard to my position as Interim Dean,” Hoy wrote. “However, if that is what it takes to help force a more active response from the University and stop the damage to the College, I do it willingly and without hesitation.”

…Questions about conflicts of interest are compounded by the fact that Tennessee Tech and Fitzgerald announced a partnership in August that would allow the university to house a program in a company building on Fitzgerald’s property.

Fitzgerald did not respond to messages seeking a comment on the Tennessee Tech research or partnership.

Oldham said the partnership was not connected with the research project. He repeatedly defended the study and the protocol it followed during the Thursday interview.

He said the internal investigation could be an opportunity to “exonerate the innocent,” but he left open the possibility it might lead to changes.

Rep. Johnnie Turner won’t seek reelection in House District 85

Press release from House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE – State Representative Johnnie Turner of Memphis today announced that she will not run for re-election when her current term ends later this year.  Turner has been a member of the State Legislature since January 2010 when she succeeded her late husband, Representative Larry Turner.

Continue reading

Jury finds former Pilot Flying J president guilty of fraud, conspiracy and witness tampering

A federal jury Thursday convicted the former president Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest diesel fuel retailer, in a plot to rip off truckers to boost both his own bottom line and that of the company, reports the News Sentinel.

Continue reading

Legislators spurn new restrictions on bounty hunters

Legislation designed to crack down on bounty hunters following a fatal shooting in Clarksville last spring has died quietly in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, reports the Leaf-Chronicle.

Continue reading

Black, husband criticized for lobbying against medical marijuana bill

Medical marijuana legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison is hitting a hurdle with gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Diane Black opposing it and her husband trying to kill the measure, according to the Tennessee Ledger. Her husband says his actions are in the public interest and not for any financial gain by his company.

Continue reading

Black campaign collects $225K from donors linked to company benefiting from “pollution loophole” she promoted

Donors linked to a Crossville, Tenn., truck dealership known as Fitzgerald Glider provided 12 percent of contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, reports the New York Times under the headline, “How $225,000 Can Help Secure a Pollution Loophole at Trump’s E.P.A.” Black is reported to have played a pivotal role in promoting a “loophole” in federal law that helps the company.

Continue reading