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FAITH-BASED ADOPTION

Tennessee governor says he will sign anti-LGBT adoption bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has announced that he'll sign into law a measure that would assure continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies even if they exclude LGBT families and others based on religious beliefs. The bill was the first to pass on the opening day of the 2020 legislative session. The GOP-controlled Senate approved the measure on Tuesday despite pleas from Democrats and Republicans about the negative consequences the bill could have on Tennessee's reputation. Nationally, supporters argue that such measures are needed to protect against potential lawsuits hostile to the group’s religious beliefs.

DEATH PENALTY-TENNESSEE

Lawyer: Death row inmate went from life-taker to lifesaver

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Attorneys for Tennessee death row inmate Nichols Sutton say he should be spared from execution because he has transformed himself from a killer to a lifesaver while in prison. Sutton was sentenced to death in 1985 for the murder of fellow inmate Carl Estep. He was already serving a life sentence for killing his grandmother when he was 18 years old, and he had been convicted of two other murders when he was 18. In a Tuesday petition to Gov. Bill Lee, Sutton's attorneys say he saved the lives of numerous prison employees and fellow inmates. He is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 20.

STUN GUN CHARGES

Former jail officer convicted of using unnecessary force

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A former corrections officer at a Tennessee jail accused of repeatedly using a stun gun on a restrained detainee has been convicted of using unnecessary force. News outlets report the federal jury returned the verdict Friday for 41-year-old Mark Bryant, a former Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer. Jurors convicted him on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and acquitted him on two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of lying to the FBI.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each charge.

SENATE 2020-TENNESSEE

Trump Jr. to visit Tennessee to boost Hagerty US Senate bid

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. is coming to Tennessee to help raise money for Republican Bill Hagerty in his bid for an open U.S. Senate seat. A fundraiser invitation says President Donald Trump's oldest son and former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle will headline a Hagerty campaign event on Jan. 28 in Gallatin. Hagerty has been eager to tout the president's endorsement of him in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. Hagerty served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under Trump. His main GOP primary opponent is trauma surgeon Manny Sethi, who also has stressed his support of the president.

VANDERBILT-SUSTAINABILITY

Vanderbilt University plans to divert 90 percent of waste

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University announced plans on Monday to divert 90% of its waste from the landfill by the year 2030. According to a news release from the school, Vanderbilt already diverts 47% of its waste. To increase that number, the school plans to end single-use plastic bottle purchases, except in laboratories, by 2025. The school also wants to expand food waste collection to all dining areas and residential halls by 2025. The waste reduction initiative is part of the university's overall plan to significantly reduce its environmental footprint. That includes powering its campus entirely through renewable energy, with a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE-RECORDS DENIAL

Governor claims 'executive privilege,' denies public records

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's administration has invoked executive privilege multiple times to withhold documents from public records requests, even though such privilege is not defined in the state's law, nor mentioned in its constitution. Officials in Lee's office say they are using it interchangeably with a separate protection when documents are deemed part of the executive office's decision-making process. Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, says open government advocates worry that deliberative process exemptions will be used too broadly _ thus making it difficult to know whether it's being used improperly without involving the courts.