- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Students stage silent protest in Tenn. House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A student group that opposes Tennessee’s voter ID law has staged a silent protest in the gallery of the House chamber.

Members of the Nashville Student Organizing Committee stood in three rows overlooking lawmakers for more than an hour Monday. They stuck black tape over their mouths and held hands while the chamber went about its business.

Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, who has taken a hard line against past disruptions in the chamber, didn’t acknowledge the students.

The group last week broke into a civil rights-era song after a House subcommittee rejected attempts to amend the state law to allow college IDs to be used to vote.

Rep. Joe Carr, the panel’s chairman and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, angrily ordered them removed from the room.


Bill to allow AG to investigate corruption fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would allow the state’s attorney general to investigate public corruption has likely failed this session.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was defeated 13-12 on Monday when it failed to get the 17 votes needed for passage.

Under the measure, concurrent jurisdiction would have been granted to the attorney general over criminal investigations in cases involving corruption of a public official and misuse of public office by a public official.

It would have also allowed the AG to appoint an assistant district attorney to conduct specific criminal proceedings, including grand jury proceedings.

The companion bill is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.


Defense in Vandy rape case wants prosecutors out

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Lawyers for a former Vanderbilt football player accused in a gang rape on the school’s campus have asked that charges against Brandon Vandenburg be dropped or the district attorney’s office in Nashville be disqualified from prosecuting the case.

In court documents filed late Monday afternoon, Vandenburg’s attorneys accused prosecutors of overreaching and bringing “sham charges” against their client. They also accused prosecutors with the Davidson County district attorney general’s office of interfering with Vandenburg’s choice of lawyers and failing to turn over evidence to the defense.

The Davidson County district attorney’s office issued a statement calling the allegations baseless and said prosecutors “strongly deny” them.

Vandenburg and three other former Vanderbilt football players are accused of raping an unconscious student. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Bill to make in-state tuition changes fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would make students in the country illegally eligible for in-state tuition has failed this session.

The measure’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, withdrew it from the Senate Education Committee on Monday because he didn’t have the votes to pass it.

Under the proposal, a student would have to meet academic standards and attend Tennessee schools for at least five years before graduating from high school.

Currently, such students pay nearly three times as much for higher education - the out-of-state rate - even if they’ve lived in Tennessee for most of their lives.

The Senate later approved 20-9 a measure that would allow students of parents who are in the country illegally to be eligible for in-state tuition. The student must have been born in the United States and have a Tennessee high school diploma.

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