Latest Tennessee Headlines

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY-TENN

Tenn. presidential primary date moving to March

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Senate has approved moving Tennessee’s presidential primary date to March and has sent the bill for the governor’s signature.

The chamber voted 31-0 on Monday to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville. The primary would be move back by a month to the first Tuesday in March.

The House approved its version of the bill on a 91-2 vote earlier this month.

EXECUTION DRUG-SHORTAGE

Death row inmate asks how state got execution drug

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Attorneys for an Alabama death row inmate scheduled to be executed in less than four weeks have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether the state illegally obtained its supply of the execution drug sodium thiopental.

Attorneys Bryan Stevenson and Angela Setzer told Holder in a letter that Alabama has obtained its sodium thiopental from the state of Tennessee. Tennessee’s supply of the execution drug has been seized by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration because of concerns it was illegally obtained from overseas.

Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett declined to comment about the letter to Holder or on claims the state bought sodium thiopental from Tennessee.

The attorneys asked Holder to prevent the state from using the drug to kill their client, Jason Oric Williams of Mobile.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

Tenn. lawmakers honor Tuskegee Airmen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee lawmakers are honoring America’s first black fighter pilot group in World War II.

A proposal to name a portion of Interstate 75 the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail unanimously passed the House 96-0 on Monday. The Senate unanimously approved the companion bill 32-0 earlier this month.

Lawmakers must now work out differences in the legislation before it goes to the governor for his consideration.

The airmen, who escorted bomber planes during the war, never lost a plane.

They were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in 2007 by President George W. Bush. In 2009, the airmen were invited to attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Democratic House sponsor John Deberry of Memphis said the airmen made believers of skeptical blacks and whites who felt they were incapable of flying.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LIMITS

Bill to void Nashville ordinance advances in House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The House has passed a bill that would void a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.

The measure sponsored by Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin was approved 73-24 on Monday.

The proposal would prohibit local governments from creating anti-discrimination laws that are stricter than the state’s own laws.

Under state law it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.

The Nashville ordinance prohibits companies that discriminate because of sexual orientation or gender identity from receiving city contracts. It does not apply to local governments’ hiring policies for their own workers.

An amendment to remove Nashville from the proposed legislation failed Monday.

MEDICAL EXAMINER RECORDS

Former Knox County medical examiner wins fight

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The troubled former Knox County medical examiner will not have to turn over her mental-health, prescription drug and disciplinary records in a court case involving a couple charged in the death of their 11-month-old child.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling that the couple wasn’t entitled to the records of former medical examiner Sandra Elkins.

John and Sarah Cote are accused of using morphine to kill their daughter. Elkins performed the autopsy.

Elkins, who admitted to prescription drug abuse in the past, took a leave of absence in 2008. She was later hospitalized after being accused of threatening to shoot a Knoxville police officer who was investigating complaints that she threatened suicide and her co-workers with violence.

A Sevier County judge ordered the records turned over. Last year the Tennessee Court of Appeals disagreed, saying the couple did not show the information would help their defense.

RETAIL CENTER AUCTION

Nashville retail center on the auction block

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The foreclosed Hickory Hollow retail center will be auctioned online beginning Tuesday.

According to a news release from Auction.com, the starting bid will be $1 million. Bidding ends Thursday.

The company said the foreclosed property, just off Interstate 24 southeast of downtown, was once valued at $10.8 million.

Spots in the center are about 53 percent leased and about 8 percent occupied.

GM-SPRING HILL

GM holding open house at Spring Hill plant

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) – General Motors and the United Auto Workers are holding an open house at the automaker’s plant in Spring Hill.

The Tuesday open house at the plant south of Nashville includes rare tours of the plant, set between noon and 7 p.m.

An announcement of a GM Foundation community grant is also planned, as are vehicle displays and safety demonstrations.

Since laying off about 2,000 Spring Hill workers in 2009, GM has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and recalled hundreds of them to build the company’s new Ecotec four-cylinder engine. Hundreds of the laid-off workers have relocated to GM plants in other states.

GM is holding open houses at each of its 54 U.S. facilities to promote the roles of auto manufacturing and parts distribution in local economies.