DICKSON (AP) — The Tennessee widow and son of a Marine killed in Afghanistan received a new home in Dickson this week.

According to a news release from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Lance Cpl. Andrew Carpenter was shot while on patrol in Afghanistan in February 2011. Crissie Carpenter gave birth to their son Landon just four weeks later.

Since then, the mother and son, now 8 years old, have moved between rented apartments.

On Wednesday, they were given the keys to their new home during a ceremony featuring music and flags.

The foundation is named after a fallen 9/11 firefighter and honors military and first responders who have died in the line of duty. Its Gold Star Family Home Program provides mortgage-free homes to surviving spouses with young children.

 

Trustees approve Plowman

as Tennessee chancellor

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s Board of Trustees has approved the selection of Donde Plowman as chancellor for the university’s Knoxville campus.

Trustees approved the hire at a confirmation hearing Friday, a week after the university announced the selection of Plowman.

Plowman has been working as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska. She takes over as Tennessee’s chancellor July 1 and will receive a base salary of $600,000.

Plowman said in a statement that “there has never been a better time to be a Volunteer, and I am ready to hit the ground running.”

Plowman previously worked on Tennessee’s faculty and led the Haslam College of Business’ management department.

Wayne Davis has been serving as interim chancellor since May 2018 following the firing of Beverly Davenport.

Davenport was ousted after less than 1-1/2 years when former system President Joe DiPietro said she had “numerous areas of unsatisfactory performance.”

 

New Tennessee law 

punishes voter signup 

missteps; suit filed

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s governor has signed GOP-backed legislation that would likely make his state the first to fine voter registration groups for turning in too many incomplete signup forms, prompting a federal lawsuit and protests by critics who said it would suppress efforts to register minorities and other voters.

Tennessee’s NAACP chapter and other groups immediately sued the state after Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law, which was backed by Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett and is to take effect in October. Among other steps, the measure would allow criminal penalties for submitting registration forms too late and for shirking other new regulations.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit, helped file the lawsuit, which alleges that the law would “violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and have a chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental First Amendment rights.” The group called the law “one of the most restrictive voter suppression measures that we have seen this year.”

The bill won passage in a legislature with a GOP supermajority despite vocal protests from Democrats and voting rights groups. Critics argued that threats of civil penalties and misdemeanors could discourage people from helping others become civically engaged in a state that ranks dismally low in voter participation.

Hargett, the secretary of state, had noted that many of the 10,000 registrations submitted in and around Memphis last year by the Tennessee Black Voter Project on the last day for registering were filled out incorrectly. Critics have questioned whether the bill has anything to do with the fact that it signed up about 86,000 people to vote in last year’s election.

 

Tennessee lawmakers 

pass gun permit bill

NASHVILLE — Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that would offer new concealed carry-only handgun permits that don’t require training that involves actually firing a weapon, highlighting the final decisions of a frenzied last day of a monthslong legislative session.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he will sign off on the new permit.

In the session’s waning moments, Republicans also overcame House and Senate squabbling to pass a proposal that would require the state’s top leaders to call on the federal government to send a fixed amount of money each year in the form of block grants.

Supporters argue block grants would allow Tennessee to better manage its Medicaid program. Critics counter they open up opportunities to cut services.

Before the block grant    vote, Democrats briefly walked   out of the House in protest, upset that they weren’t included on a panel that negotiated the Medicaid bill’s version. Democrats said, at one point, they were locked into the chamber by the GOP leadership, and one Democrat, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, was involved in an altercation with the sergeant-at-arms as he tried to leave the chamber.

The spat drew barbs from both sides. Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said House Speaker Glen Casada thought he had the power, “like some sort of dictator from a third world country,” to block lawmakers from leaving the chamber. Casada said the Democrats shirked their constitutional responsibilities by walking out.

Later, a protester in the House gallery was escorted out for shouting at Casada. She was one of four women who sat outside Lee’s office last month in an attempt to secure a meeting with the Republican to discuss Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, who is accused of sexual misconduct nearly three decades ago.

 

Supreme Court: Tennessee 

Valley Authority can be sued

KNOXVILLE — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Tennessee Valley Authority can be sued about its commercial activity. But it left a lower court to decide whether the case of an Alabama man injured by a power line can proceed.

The decision comes in the case of Gary Thacker, who was boating in the Tennessee River in 2013 when he struck a low-hanging wire being worked on by TVA crews. Thacker was injured and a passenger killed.

Thacker sued TVA for negligence. Lower courts ruled the utility has immunity from such lawsuits because it is a government agency.

The high court unanimously decided TVA can be sued when it performs the same functions as private companies. Under certain circumstances, TVA may have immunity when acting more like a government agency.

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