Tennessee Approves $884M in Funding, Creates Board for $6B Ford Project

The Tennessee Legislature finished its special session on Ford’s $5.6 billion electric truck project Wednesday by approving $884 million in spending and creating a Megasite Authority of West Tennessee board to oversee operations.

“This is the largest single economic investment in rural Tennessee’s history,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “… It is, most importantly, a win for western Tennessee’s workforce.”

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Bias Training for Teachers Could Go Statewide in Tennessee If Democrat Bill Passes

Before too long, teachers throughout all of Tennessee might have to start taking bias training, either the same as or possibly like what Williamson County teachers already go through. That depends on whether a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly gets any traction and is signed into law. State Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, sponsors the proposed legislation in the state house while State Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, sponsors a companion bill in the state senate. “Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, this bill requires that all school personnel receive implicit bias in-service training that encourages school personnel to explore and discover their own implicit biases in order to deliver more equitable education to all students,” according to a summary of the bill, as described on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website. “This bill requires the department of education to develop a model evidence-based, bias-reducing in-service training program for school personnel that may be used by LEAs to provide the required training. An LEA may use the program developed by the department or the LEA may develop its own program. If an LEA develops its own program, the commissioner of education must approve the program before its implementation.” The bill also requires…

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Tennessee Democrat State Senator Raumesh Akbari Wants Voting Rights Restored for Certain Felons

State Senate Minority Chairwoman Raumesh Akbari, a Democrat, plans to sponsor legislation that could automatically help restore the right to vote for people with low-level felony convictions. But some research indicates felons, when given the chance, overwhelmingly pull the levers for Democrats. Is Akbari, who represents Memphis’ 91st District, doing this to help the Democratic Party? Akbari said no. Akbari said in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star that she wants Democrats and Republicans to support her forthcoming bill. “I’m not drafting it to benefit a Republican or Democrat – but Tennesseans as a whole,” Akbari said, adding she has had meetings on this issue with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. Those meetings, she said, also included members of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. “Our sole focus was coming up with bipartisan criminal justice reform initiatives we could all agree on. Some form of automatic restoration of voting rights was among one of the many ideas we discussed and agreed on,” Akbari said. “States that have some version of automatic restoration of rights varies- and many are traditionally Republican-led states like Utah, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, and Alaska. On a national level, I know at…

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