Tennessee House Postpones Decision on Transgender Sports Bill – Sponsor Awaiting Supporters to Return for Vote

State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) requested Thursday that the final vote on the bill be delayed to next Monday’s calendar. Cepicky cited that numerous representatives wanted to vote on the bill but couldn’t on Thursday. This bill would require youths to participate in sports according to their biological sex at birth.

The general assembly has moved along steadily on this legislation: the Senate passed the bill on the first of this month easily along party lines. The only members to vote against the bill were Democratic State Senators Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville), Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis), and Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).

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Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Talks Education and His New Bill Called the Teacher’s Discipline Act

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Rep. Scott Cepicky to the studio to talk about one of 10 bills he’s introducing called the Teacher’s Discipline Act.

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Democrats Block GOP Bill to Test Illegal Immigrants for COVID-19

Illegal Alien Detention center

Democrats blocked a bill sponsored by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), which would require the Department of Homeland Security to test all migrants crossing illegally into the country for COVID-19, Breitbart reports.

Republicans put forward a motion to block the previous question on a piece of legislation Tuesday that would allow for the consideration of Miller-Meeks’ legislation, the Requiring Every Alien to Receive a COVID-19 Test (REACT) Act. This bill would mandate that the Homeland Security Department (DHS) test all migrants crossing the border illegally that the DHS releases into the country, Breitbart reported.

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DeSantis Slams Critical Race Theory, Says Florida Schools Will Exclude ‘Unsubstantiated Theories’ from Curriculum

During a press conference in Palm Harbor, Florida on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his administration is banning “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in Florida schools.

The governor made the announcement while describing a new civics education initiative aimed at teaching students “foundational concepts” in America, rather than “unsubstantiated theories.”

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Mayor John Cooper Organizes Concert, Cheerleaders for Mass Vaccination Event at Nissan Stadium

The 10,000 individuals who signed up for the mass vaccination event at the Nissan Stadium will be greeted with fanfare: live music, cheerleaders, and mascots to boot. Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued this announcement in a press release on Thursday, several days ahead of the mass vaccination event on Sunday. The release noted that the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation (CVC) and the Tennessee Titans would assist in putting on the “live musical performance.”

The Tennessee Star inquired with the mayor’s office about the cost of this celebratory aspect to the mass vaccination event. Cooper’s spokesperson didn’t respond by press time.

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New Jobless Claims Increase to 770,000, Above Economist Projections

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 770,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending March 6, when 725,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 712,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

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State Rep. Scott Cepicky and All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Advocate for Culture Changes Needed in LEA Accountability

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer and State Rep. Scott Cepicky in studio to talk about the failing educational system in many Tennessee counties and offered up some solutions.

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Michigan County Experimenting with Social Distancing Guidelines in Schools

After a damning New York Times report in which a Virginia Tech virologist said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) six-foot social distancing guidelines appeared to be pulled out of “thin air,” one Michigan county is experimenting with three feet of social distancing in schools.

“The Kent County Health Department is in the middle of a study that officials hope will reduce the social distance requirements in all pre-k through 8th grade classrooms,” a WZZM report said. “During the six-week pilot study, any student that has been within three feet of a COVID-positive student for 15 minutes or more — within 48 hours — must quarantine at home for 10 days. Before that, quarantine was triggered at a distance of six feet.”

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Judge Arrested for Child Porn Headed Drag Queen Story Hour Club

A gay Milwaukee judge arrested on child pornography charges formerly served as the president of a Drag Queen Story Hour club.

Police arrested 38-year-old Brett Blomme Tuesday and held him overnight in Dane County Jail, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was charged Wednesday with seven counts of possession of child pornography showing abuse of young boys, the publication reported, noting that each count carries a minimum of three years in prison and a maximum sentence of 15, plus 10 years of supervised release.

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Commentary: Define ‘Net Neutrality,’ Then Write Rules

On the campaign trail, the Biden campaign voiced its support for network neutrality—“net neutrality” for short.  The topic has resurfaced in recent weeks and months thanks to a few key events.  These include the appointment of a new acting FCC chairwoman, the DOJ dropping a lawsuit against the state of California, and Biden’s choice of Tim Wu, the so-called “father of net neutrality,” for a National Economic Council role.

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Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill Raising Taxes on Companies That Pay Executives 50 Times More Than Median Worker

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced legislation Wednesday that would targeting companies who pay executives 50 times more than their median worker.

The legislation, titled the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act, aims to combat corporate greed and “end outrageous CEO pay,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a press release Wednesday. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Chris Van Hollen, along with Reps. Barbara Lee and Rashida Tlaib, joined Sanders in introducing the bill.

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Music Spotlight: Amanda Cooksey

Like me, Amanda Cooksey was not raised on country music. Cooksey started playing piano at the early age of six and began learning classical music. Later on, she took voice lessons and started singing in church in middle school. However, this “super shy” kid did not want to be in the spotlight.

Even though being in front of people wasn’t easy for her, Cooksey always loved music. As a young girl, she found a piano/vocal instructor, Ron Feldman, who changed her life.

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Tennessee Legislature Entertaining Expansion of Black History and Culture Education for Fifth and Eighth Grades

Legislators are looking to standardize Black history curriculum in grades 5 and 8, and have the state provide additional resources by 2025. The bill in question specified that fifth and eighth-grade students would learn about Black heritage, culture, experience, and the “ultimate destiny of all social, ethnic, gender and national groups and individuals, and that such are represented as interdependent, interactive, and complementary.” It also specified that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) would provide internet resources and materials for K-12 instruction in the subject.

State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) first introduced the bill, followed with a companion bill filed by State Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga). Senate committees recommended the bill for passage with amendments. Although senators applauded the basis for the idea, they expressed concern over the fiscal impact of the bill. They also questioned the reality of schools’ ability to craft a new curriculum of that magnitude by this fall, as the bill required originally.

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40 GOP Senators Allege Biden’s Border Wall Freeze Is Illegal

Dozens of GOP senators alleged in a Wednesday letter that President Joe Biden’s freeze on border wall construction is a violation of federal law.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, joined by 39 GOP senators, wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a legal opinion on Biden’s executive order to freeze funding for border wall construction. The senators say this order both violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), which prohibits the executive branch rejecting congressional funding, and contributed to the current border crisis.

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New HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in Role as California AG, Targets Tennessee-Based Brookdale Senior Living with Lawsuit

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week filed a lawsuit against the Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living, which Becerra described as “the nation’s largest senior living operator.” This, according to a press release that Becerra and his staff published on his website.

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California Recall Backers Submitted 2.1 Million Signatures Ahead of Deadline – Far Above Required Amount

Backers of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that they submitted 2,117,730 signatures by Wednesday’s deadline, a number that will likely far exceed the required threshold even if a fraction prove to be invalid.

Newsom himself acknowledged Tuesday that the recall effort would likely qualify, triggering what could be a wildly expensive race later this year to protect the Democratic governor’s seat in one of the bluest states in the country. Newsom, however, has promised to fight it and has blasted the effort to oust him, blaming it on right-wing extremists.

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Report: WHO Granted China Authority to Veto Scientists on Wuhan Mission

The Chinese government maintained tight control of a World Health Organization investigation in Wuhan into the origins of the coronavirus, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, which said that Beijing was granted veto power over which scientists were allowed to take part in the mission.

According to the Journal, the constraints placed on the WHO team rendered the scientists unable to conduct a thorough investigation into the virus’ origins.

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All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Talks About the John Kerry No Mask Flight and Elizabeth Warren’s Filibuster Foibles

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer to the studio to weigh in on Elizabeth Warren’s irresponsible rhetoric attempting to get rid of the filibuster in the Senate.

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Months After Trump Complaints, Some Courts Are Finding Irregularities in 2020 Elections

Long after former President Donald Trump dropped his legal challenges to the 2020 election, some courts in battleground states are beginning to declare the way widespread absentee ballots were implemented or counted violated state laws.

The latest ruling came this month in Michigan, where the State Court of Claims concluded that Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s instructions on signature verification for absentee ballots violated state law.

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Georgia AG Carr Joins 20 Other AGs Who Fear American Rescue Plan Could Hijack State Tax Policy

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is among 21 state attorneys general calling on the U.S. Department of Treasury to secure states’ rights to implement tax policies under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The attorneys general sent a letter this week to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to confirm that provisions in the act do not attempt to strip states of their sovereign authority. They argue language in the act is too broad and could be interpreted as a blanket policy.

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Online Sales and Big Jackpots Put Virginia Lottery on Path to Record-Breaking Year

The Virginia Lottery’s new online offerings are driving an increase in revenue for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which runs until the end of June. By February, online sales hit $436 million, about 21 percent of overall sales for that same period, according to lottery spokesperson John Hagerty.

“Fiscal Year 2021, which ends on June 30, is on track to break sales and profit records,” a Tuesday press release from the lottery states.

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Former Conyers Mayoral Candidate Allegedly Stole Massive Funds from the Paycheck Protection Program

A former mayoral candidate for the city of Conyers allegedly concocted a scheme to use a company she started to steal more than $323,000 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia arraigned the woman, Olivia Ware, 61, on federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering.

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Michigan Attorney General Nessel Won’t Investigate Gov. Whitmer’s Nursing Home Policy

Attorney General Dana Nessel rejected Republicans’ request to investigate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policy. 

A Republican state senator said Monday that Attorney General Dana Nessel is expected to announce by the middle of the week whether she will investigate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policies.

“I called on the attorney general to carry out an honest investigation into Michigan’s nursing home policies weeks ago,” Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, said in a statement. “I’ve learned from the attorney general’s office that they intend to announce a decision by Wednesday. Attorney General Nessel knows the right thing to do – and that is to get answers for every family who lost a loved one to COVID-19 in a nursing home.”

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Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan Praises Deal Involving Solar Company with Alleged Ethics Problems

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) this week praised a deal involving a Georgia electric cooperative and a Tennessee-based solar power company, the latter of which has a history of alleged ethics violations. This, according to a press release that members of Duncan’s staff published on his website.

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Ohio AG Responds to Criticism of American Rescue Plan Lawsuit

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost continues to receive support and criticism from groups throughout Ohio a day after announcing a lawsuit challenging requirements in the federal American Rescue Plan.

Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit progressive think tank, called Yost’s decision to seek an injunction to stop the state’s obligation to not cut taxes if it accepts more than $5 billion off base.

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Chauvin Lawyer Requests to Move Trial from Hennepin County

Earlier this week, the attorney for Derek Chauvin requested that the ex-Minneapolis Police officer’s trial be moved from Hennepin County due to the risk of a prejudiced jury. 

“You have elected officials — the governor, the mayor — making incredibly prejudicial statements about my client, this case,” Eric Nelson told Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill. “You have the city settling a civil lawsuit for a record amount of money. And the pre-trial publicity is just so concerning.”

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Bill Extending COVID-19 Liability Protection Gets Final Nod from Georgia Legislature

A bill that would extend the length of time Georgia businesses are protected from certain COVID-19-related lawsuits cleared the Senate on Wednesday.

The Senate voted, 36-17, in favor of House Bill 112, which extends the applicability of the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act by a year, from July 14, 2021, to July 14, 2022.

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Ohio Lobbyist Charged in $60 Million Scheme Commits Suicide, Friend Speaks Out

Last July, Neil Clark was arrested by FBI agents after a federal grand jury indicted him along with corporate entity Generation Now, then-Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder (R-Glenford), former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, and political operatives Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth. Monday, Clark was found dead in Florida.

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Senate Approves Tax Cut for Georgia Taxpayers

The Georgia Senate has approved a bill that collectively would cut income taxes for individuals by more than $600 million over the next five years.

House Bill 593, dubbed the Tax Relief Act of 2021, raises the standard deduction on state income tax returns for a single taxpayer by $800 to $5,400 and by $1,100 to $7,100 for a married couple filing a joint return, starting in the 2022 tax year.

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Virginia Parole Board Blocked Automatic Victim Notifications

The Virginia Parole Board paroled Hugh Brown last March after first telling his murder victim’s family that his request for parole had been denied, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The newspaper obtained emails showing that then-Chair Adrianne Bennett had specifically asked that automated emails to the victim’s family be blocked as the board reconsidered the decision to parole Brown.

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Poll: Gov. Lee Popular Among GOP Primary Voters, But Several Decisions Very Unpopular

According to a Tennessee Star poll of 1001 likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee conducted by Triton Research from March 5 to March 10, Gov. Bill Lee (R) is fairly popular, but many of his policies are not. 

Lee has a 69.9 percent favorability rate among those likely voters. That number is 20 points shy of former president Donald J. Trump’s 89.7 percent favorability – the highest ever for the forty fifth president in a Star poll – but still relatively high. 

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