- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015
More Tenn. lawmakers come out against gas tax hike in 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Add the chairman of the state Senate transportation committee to the list of opponents of raising Tennessee’s gas tax in 2016.

Republican Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, who heads the transportation panel in the upper chamber, said Tuesday that there isn’t enough time to put together a comprehensive road funding proposal for the upcoming legislative session.

“I don’t think it’s doable,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “Because we’ve got a lot of work to do to put it together.”

Gov. Bill Haslam has been on a statewide tour to discuss what he calls a $6 billion funding shortfall for infrastructure projects in Tennessee. But the Republican governor has said he wants to complete the 15-stop tour before deciding whether to propose raising the state’s gas tax for the first time since 1989.

That hasn’t stopped prominent GOP lawmakers like House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville from voicing their opposition.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, has called on lawmakers to keep an open mind, arguing that properly funding infrastructure projects is a key role of government.

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Court case against Titans’ wide receiver continued 2 weeks

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Tennessee Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter’s trial on misdemeanor charges arising from a July bar brawl has been pushed back to Sept. 15 so defense attorneys can try to produce a key witness.

Hunter attorney Toby Vick says the witness is the person who really punched a man outside a bar in Hunter’s hometown on July 3, not Hunter as prosecutors contend.

The witness had been subpoenaed to show up to court on Tuesday as Hunter’s trial on assault and battery was set to begin. The charge stems from a brawl that began inside a bar in the oceanfront tourist district of Virginia Beach. The fight led to a man’s jaw being broken.

Prosecutors have previously said the brawl began after Hunter interrupted a conversation a man was having with someone else at the bar that night. After an exchange of words, Hunter punched the man in the face twice, according to prosecutors’ statements in July. After a melee ensued and the bar was cleared, prosecutors contended the man Hunter originally punched was bent over and spitting blood on the sidewalk outside when Hunter “sucker punched” him again before leaving.

The man had to be taken to a hospital for treatment.

On Tuesday, Hunter’s attorneys said the no-show witness had told a detective that it was he who punched the man outside of the bar. Hunter’s attorneys said they subpoenaed the man and that they expected he would invoke his Fifth Amendment at trial so as not to incriminate himself if he were to appear at court. Hunter’s attorneys had been seeking permission to allow the witnesses past statements to be admissible in court even without him there.

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Loretta Lynn, Luke Bryan, Eric Church receive ACM Honors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Country star Luke Bryan may have one of the most popular albums in the country, but Loretta Lynn made his day when she gave him a kiss.

Bryan, Lynn, Eric Church and the band Alabama were honored by their peers in country music with special achievement awards from the Academy of Country Music during a special event Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee. The stars were celebrated with performances by Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves at the 9th annual ACM Honors event at the Ryman Auditorium.

Lynn received the Crystal Milestone Award for her 50-year country music career, and Bryan, who received the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, is coming off a two-week ride atop the Billboard 200 chart with his new album, “Kill the Lights.”

“I got a kiss from Loretta, so I am still pretty excited about that,” Bryan said after getting a smooch from the coal miner’s daughter while on the red carpet prior to the event.

“It’s an amazing year,” Bryan said. “I have been blessed that every year in my life for the past several years have been even bigger than the last. It’s fun to come out and celebrate nights like this where even more important people in the industry get recognized.”

Lambert sang one of the more controversial songs of Lynn’s career, “Rated X.”

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Millington police chief resigns amid TBI probe

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (AP) - Officials in Millington say the city’s police chief has resigned amid an investigation into money that was reported missing from the police department’s evidence room.

The city said in a statement Tuesday that police chief Frank Tennant has resigned and one veteran member of the department has been fired for dereliction of duties.

The statement says other members of the department may also be disciplined as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probes how funds went missing from the evidence room. The money was discovered missing on Aug. 20, and the TBI began investigating the next day.

The statement does not say how much money was missing. But the city says it gave a check in the full amount to the family of a Jimmy Wayne Smith on Monday.

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