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Tennessee lawmakers make late session push on final bills
AP Tuesday May 9, 2017

Tennessee lawmakers are working on Tuesday to clear the decks of their last lingering legislative priorities before adjourning for the year.

The House and Senate are slated for afternoon sessions to take up a laundry list of bills on issues including gun rights, online sales tax and free community college for adults.

Lawmakers had hoped to adjourn early this week, but disagreements over various bills make it more likely they will conclude their business on Wednesday or later.

One contentious bill that lawmakers won't have to worry about would have barred cities from placing some restrictions on short-term rental properties, including through Airbnb.

After a marathon debate in the House on Monday night, the chamber voted to have the legislation only affect Nashville. The Senate version was aimed at the four biggest cities in the state.

Then on Tuesday, Senate sponsor Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, agreed to delay consideration of the bill until next year. He cited a lack of support for his legislation.

On Monday, the Senate gave final approval to the $37 billion annual state spending plan, which was the biggest hurdle to finish months of legislative work. The session began in January.


UPDATE: Tad Cummins Makes First Court Appearance in Nashville
Peg Broadcasting News Tuesday May 9, 2017

Wearing a jail-issued gray jumpsuit and leg shackles, Tad Cummins made his first appearance in federal court in Nashville on Tuesday afternoon. The 50-year-old Maury County teacher is accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old female student and fleeing with her to California. Cummins' two daughters and his sister were in the courtroom as he and his court-appointed attorney were advised that Cummins is charged with kidnapping, sexual contact with a minor and transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of sexual intercourse. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted. A detention and preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Friday, May 12 at 1 p.m.


UPDATE: Tad Cummins expected in federal court Tuesday
WTVF/WVLT Tuesday May 9, 2017

(WTVF/WVLT) -- Tad Cummins, the man accused of kidnapping and transporting a Maury County teen across state lines, is expected to appear in federal court Tuesday.

According to CBS affiliate WTVF, the former teacher is expected in federal court in Nashville at 2 p.m.

Cummins was booked into the Henderson County Detention Center in Kentucky Monday. He was previously being held in federal custody in Sacramento after he was found with missing 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas in Northern California. He was ordered to return to Tennessee after he was determined to be a flight risk.

After he was arrested, Cummins was charged with kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. He was also charged with transportation of a minor across state lines with intent to have illegal sex, which is a federal crime that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.


Governor and Commissioner Release Transportation Improvement Plan for 2018-2020
TDOT Tuesday May 9, 2017

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have released TDOT?s annual three year transportation program, featuring approximately $2.6 billion in infrastructure investments for 101 individual project phases in 40 counties, as well as 15 statewide programs. The three-year program is more robust than previous years, due to funding increases through the IMPROVE Act, which is projected to raise an additional $150 million to meet the state?s infrastructure needs in FY 2018. This increase, combined with $120 million repayment to the highway fund, provides the necessary funds to move several backlogged and new transportation projects forward in the first year of the program.

In Cumberland County those projects include road construction from North I-40 to near Potato Farm Road, and from near Lowe Road in Cumberland County to near Little Road in Fentress County. The program also includes improvements to 48.2 miles of I-40 in Cumberland County including ITS expansion at Rockwood Mountain.


Tennessee Lawmaker Pulls School Bus Seatbelt Bill For Year
AP Tuesday May 9, 2017

A bill that would require school buses to have seatbelts in Tennessee has been withdrawn for the year.

The Times Free Press reports that Democratic Rep. JoAnne Favors of Chattanooga late last week pulled her bill, which was inspired by a deadly school bus crash in her city in November.

The legislation would have mandated seat belts in new school buses bought after July 2019.

Fiscal estimates say the proposal would add $12.9 million in annual costs to school districts and $2.2 million in yearly state costs. The bill was changed to make the state pay the whole cost, but the money isn't currently in the state budget.

Favors believed the cost would be much cheaper. The Chattanooga bus crash in November killed six elementary school children.


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