Two Nashville Lawmakers File Bill Aimed at Letting Students Sleep More

Democrat Nashville lawmakers Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville-HD55) and Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville-SD19)  filed a bill that would change the start times of high schools and middle schools, ostensibly giving students more time to sleep.

HB1836 and SB1818 were filed on Wednesday and amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-3004, by adding “Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public high school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight-thirty a.m. (8:30 a.m.). Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public middle school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight o’clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.).” These changes would go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

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Tennessee Senate Passes Congressional Redistricting Plan, State House May Pass on Monday

The Tennessee Senate passed their congressional redistricting plan, which splits up Nashville amongst three congressional districts as well as the senate legislative redistricting plan. Both plans passed the Tennessee Senate by a vote of 26-5.

Amendments were added to both plans, SB0781 and SB0780, providing more detail on the district lines.

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Nashville Metro Council Passes Redistricting Plans for Council and School Board

Nashville Metro Council met on Tuesday and took several actions. Metro Council passed their own redistricting plans for council and school board, in addition to passing a resolution urging the General Assembly to reject the proposed congressional redistricting plans that are heading to the House and Senate floors and continuing the legislative process on license plate readers.

BL2021-1052, an ordinance on third reading, is “An ordinance approving and adopting a plan for redistricting the Councilmanic Districts of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and revising the school districts pursuant to Article 18, Section 18.06 of the Metropolitan Charter.” The list of the new boundaries and the maps were posted on the bill’s website.

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Nashville Mayor Cooper Announces Additional Funds to Support ‘Grassroots Violence Reduction’

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has announced additional funds are going to Nashville’s communities to “support grassroots violence reduction efforts” through his Community Safety Partnership program.

In a press release, Mayor Cooper said: “Community safety requires a community-wide effort,” Mayor Cooper said. “This work takes all of us, supporting one another and learning from each other. And it takes Metro government, championing that response and investing in the strategies that work best for our neighborhoods.”

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Nashville Courthouse Arsonist Sentencing Delayed as the Defense Prepares New Witness to Testify ‘Concerning a Psychological Evaluation’

Wesley Somers

Wesley Somers of Hendersonville, was supposed to be sentenced Tuesday in federal court for his role in the Nashville courthouse fire but the sentencing was delayed for a second time, to February 22, 2022.

It was previously reported that Somers’ original sentencing date was December 1st, 2021, and had been moved to January 18th, 2022. The reasons for the second postponement to February 22, 2022 are now clear.

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Metro Nashville Council Passes Resolution Urging General Assembly to Reject Congressional Redistricting Plan, Considers License Plate Readers and Other Issues

Metro Nashville Council had their January 18 meeting where they passed a resolution urging the General Assembly to reject the proposed congressional maps that split Nashville amongst three congressional districts. It also considered issues like license plate readers, redistricting, board appointments, settlements for property damages, approval of grant applications, zoning, and other expenditures totaling millions of dollars.

Councilmembers Zulfat Suara and Ginny Welsch late filed a resolution “urging the Tennessee General Assembly to reject the redistricting plan splitting Davidson County into three congressional districts.” The Rules Committee had no objection to the inclusion of the resolution. The resolution passed by voice vote, with one no, and three abstentions. There was no major discussion on the resolution.

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Nashville Courthouse Fire Suspect’s Sentencing Delayed for the Second Time

Wesley Somers, aged 26, of Hendersonville was supposed to be sentenced today in federal court for his role in the Nashville courthouse fire but the sentencing has been delayed for a second time.

Somers was originally supposed to be sentenced on December 1st, 2021 and it had been postponed to January 18th, 2022. The Clerk’s Office of the Middle District of Tennessee told The Tennessee Star that Mr. Somers’ counsel made a motion to postpone, yet again. The new sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 22nd at 1pm.

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Congressional Redistricting Process in Tennessee Continues to Move Forward

Tennessee Senate Chamber

The congressional redistricting process continues to move forward through the Tennessee General Assembly.

The next stop in the state House is the State Government Committee and the next stop in the state Senate is the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both committees are set to meet Tuesday.

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Candidates Must Have ‘Bona Fide Republican’ Status to Qualify for Tennessee GOP Ballot

Tennessee State Capitol at night in winter

Election season is heating up in Tennessee. The midterm congressional elections occur this year and the release of the proposed new maps has led to even more discussion about potential candidates and district races in Tennessee.

In addition to satisfying the federal and state requirements to run for public office, candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Tennessee must satisfy the Tennessee GOP’s governing criteria in order to qualify for the nomination contest.

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Affordable Housing, Redistricting, and Grant Approvals Among the Agenda Items Metro Nashville Council Set to Address at Tuesday’s Meeting

Davidson County Courthouse in Tennessee

Metro Nashville Council has posted the agenda for the next meeting, which takes place on January 18.

Included in the agenda are board appointments, settlements for property damages, approval of grant applications,  zoning, and other expenditures totaling millions of dollars.

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Nashville Metro Councilman Incurs $360,000 Fine for Campaign Finance Violations

Jonathan Hall

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance fined Nashville Metro Councilmember Jonathan Hall to the tune of $360,000 at their meeting on Thursday.

The Registry found Councilmember Jonathan Hall guilty of campaign finance law violations related to his run for Council in 2018 and 2019. Councilmember Hall represents District One on the Metro Council which covers Bordeaux, parts of North Nashville, Whites Creek and Joelton.

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Tennessee Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Redistricting Releases Its Plan

The Tennessee Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Redistricting released their plans and maps for congressional and state senate redistricting.

The Senate version of congressional redistricting is substantially similar to the House plan, which was released on Wednesday. These plans split Nashville amongst three congressional districts. Under the current district lines, Nashville is in the 5th Congressional District and is represented by Congressman Jim Cooper. The current 5th District consists of all of Davidson and Dickson counties, and part of Cheatham County.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Target Organized Street Racing with Proposed Bills

Two Tennessee lawmakers are targeting organized street racing.

State Representative John Gillespie (R-Memphis-HD97)  and State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon-SD24) have teamed up to introduce identical bills, HB1661 and SB1673. These bills create a new offense in the state code, aggravated reckless driving.

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House Select Committee on Redistricting Releases Proposed Congressional Maps

The Tennessee State House Select Committee on Redistricting met on Wednesday, releasing the new plan for Congressional redistricting. The plan includes the proposed new maps, which are listed on the committee website.

Tennessee’s current delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives has a partisan breakdown of seven Republicans and two Democrats. Democrat Congressman Jim Cooper’s 5th Congressional District and Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen’s 9th Congressional District currently center on Nashville and Memphis, respectively.

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Davidson County’s State House Delegation Back at the Capitol

Davidson County’s ten state representatives are back at the Capitol this week for the General Assembly session, joining it’s four state senators.

As previously reported, redistricting and education are pressing issues.

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State Department of Education and Metro Nashville School District to Hold Town Hall

The Metro Nashville School District and the State Department of Education is set to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday night at 6:30pm. Parents, students, teachers, and community members are encouraged to share their thoughts on state education funding. The meeting is scheduled to last an hour.

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Davidson County’s Four State Senators Get Back to Work

Tennessee Capitol building

The Tennessee General Assembly is now back in session, and redistricting and education among the most pressing issues the state’s “part time” lawmakers are set to address as they returned to the capital Tuesday.

According to the General Assembly website, “Session beings the second Tuesday in January at 12:00 Noon. There is no defined adjournment date. But, the General Assembly usually adjourns in mid April.”

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Second Nashville Courthouse Fire Suspect to be Sentenced on January 18th

Wesley Somers

The second person to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from the May 30, 2020 Nashville Metro Courthouse fire will be sentenced on January 18, 2021. The first was Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville.

On May 31, 2020 Metro Nashville Police Department announced that Wesley Somers, aged 26, of Hendersonville, had been arrested “on charges of felony arson, vandalism, & disorderly conduct for setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse”. Somers was identified by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department – Specialized Investigation Division after receiving numerous tips from citizens who had seen videos from the incident.

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Tennessee Legislator Files Bill Criminalizing Online Posting of False Business Reviews

Person using a laptop, pointing to the screen

A Tennessee legislator filed a bill which would criminalize the posting of false reviews about businesses on the internet.

If passed, the House Bill 1664 would classify those actions as Class B misdemeanors under the Tennessee Code. The maximum penalties for a Class B misdemeanor conviction in Tennessee are fines of up to $500, as much as 6 months in jail, or both.

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Juneteenth Holiday Salary, Zoning Exemption, and Affordable Housing Among $16.5 Million Metro Nashville City Council Appropriations

Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting featured dozens of agenda items in addition to the end of Nashville’s vehicle emissions program and the allocation of $3.15 million to the Metro Nashville Police Department for tasers.

In all, the Metro Nashville City Council addressed 84 items on the agenda published prior to the meeting. The municipal body dealt with issues ranging from children’s safety, building codes, and zoning to allocation of taxpayer funds, allocation of COVID-19 relief funds, the election of notaries, and more.

Six additional items totaling $16,500,000 in taxpayer funding was approved. 

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Nashville Pursues Bids for 2024 Republican and Democrat Presidential Conventions

Nashville is pursuing bids to host the Republican and Democrat presidential nominating conventions, at Governor Bill Lee’s request.

Mayor Cooper spokesperson Ben Eagles told Axios that economic interests will be at the forefront of the mayor’s mind.

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Metro Nashville Expands COVID-19 Testing Hours

Metro Nashville is expanding COVID-19 testing hours, offering testing on the weekends for the month of January, starting Saturday.

Testing demand has been high. On Monday, nearly 1,300 individuals were tested at the Metro testing centers close to 1,600 were tested on Tuesday. That is only the number of people tested at Metro testing sites. It does not include people who get tested at other sites, like pharmacies, doctor’s offices, at home, or other places.

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Metro City Council Votes to Appropriate Millions in Funding for New Tasers for Metro Nashville Police Department

police belt with taser

Nashville Metro Council voted last night to give Metro Nashville Police Department $3.15 million dollars to fund the purchase of new tasers. That was far short of the $5.8 million that MPND had requested.

As previously reported, The Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) had requested a budget for new tasers, stating that the tasers in current use are obsolete and are not reliable.

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6th Circuit Takes Up Case of Nashville Homeowners Suing the City

It is now up to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether Nashville is violating the constitutional rights of homeowners by forcing them to pay for sidewalks in exchange for building permits. The 6th Circuit and other U.S. circuit courts are the second highest courts in the federal judicial system.

Nashville citizens Jason Mayes and Jim Knight have been engaged in an ongoing lawsuit with the city.

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Metro Nashville Public Schools Says They Will Not Close Schools Amidst COVID-19 Spike

Metro Nashville Public Schools said on Monday that shutting down in-person learning and switching the district to remote learning is “not an option”. 

An email sent out to staff by MNPS stated, “So, to be clear, switching the district to remote learning during this wave is not an option, and closing schools is not an option without extending the school year into the summer”. This is in compliance with current state guidelines, individual classrooms or schools may temporarily switch to remote learning for up to seven days, school districts are not allowed to. The need must also be documented.

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Metro Nashville Council Unanimously Votes to End Emissions Testing in Davidson County

Metro Nashville Council unanimously voted to end emissions testing in Davidson County.

In August of 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency greenlit the ending of vehicle emissions testing programs by approving a revision to the state’s air quality plan, clearing the way for Metro Council to hold this vote.

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