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EPA loophole for ‘glider’ trucks OK’d on Pruitt’s last day

On his last day before resigning amid ethics scandals U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt granted a loophole to allow dealers to sell new trucks with old engines built into them that can pollute at as much as 55 times the levels those covered by modern emission controls, the New York Times reports .

The loophole has been promoted by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Crossville company that has given heavily to Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign. Black has traveled on the company’s private plane to attend campaign events.

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Beacon releases ‘long-awaited’ transit alternative

The Beacon Center, a conservative think tank, has released what it bills as its “long-awaited” alternative to Nashville’s failed transit proposal. It includes calls to end incentives and grants for companies to move downtown, lifting restrictions on private shuttle companies, and promote telecommuting.

The plan also calls for traffic signals to control access to downtown interstates, diverting trucks onto I-840, and converting HOV lanes into toll lanes.

See the whole report here. While the Beacon Center (and board member Lee Beaman, the Nashville auto dealer) hold great sway in the heavily Republican General Assembly, their influence in the just as heavily Democratic Metro Council is considerably less.

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Bredesen takes aim at Trump trade policies, but ‘fine’ with North Korea outreach

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is taking aim at Trump administration trade policies in a new ad, while also declaring that he’s “fine” with the president’s outreach to North Korea. The former governor says that’s in keeping with his pledge to agree with the president when his initiatives benefit Tennesseans, while opposing them when they don’t.

“These new tariffs will hurt us,” Bredesen says while standing in front of a rack of whiskey barrels. “They hurt our auto industry, our farmers, even Tennessee exports like Jack Daniel’s.”

Here’s the spot:

The Bredesen campaign also released a 60-second video featuring the former governor speaking with the owners of Nashville-based Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery about how a trade war could hurt small businesses. The distillery was also the site of a visit in October 2016 by then-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman as the Obama administration was making a final push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP was later abandoned by Trump.

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New book on history of slavery in Tennessee

“History Bill,” as former Tennessean reporter Bill Carey is known in overseeing the non-profit Tennessee History For Kids organization, has waded through hundreds of old newspaper archives to produce a book that starkly illustrates how deeply slavery was once embedded in a state that now is often presented as a leader – well, at least in comparison to other Southern states — in opposition to the now-outlawed ownership of men, women and children by other men, women and children.

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Haslam on questions about TBI director nominees: Nobody’s perfect

Gov. Bill Haslam says he will personally interview all three nominees for director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with the understanding issues have been raised about all the men and that no one is perfect, reports the Times Free Press.

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Alexander and Corker criticize Trump move to put tariffs on vehicle part imports for national security (UPDATED)

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, are both criticizing a proposal by President Trump that could lead to heavy new tariffs on imported vehicle parts.

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Black bill proposes crowdfunding to help pay for border wall with Mexico

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is stressing her opposition to illegal immigration in campaigning for governor, has proposed in Congress to use crowdfunding to help pay for the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump, reports Fox News. She has also issued a press release on the “Border Wall Trust Fund Act.”

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Another Black poll shows her leading Boyd in GOP gubernatorial primary (41 percent to 28 percent)

An internal polling memo leaked by U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s campaign shows her on top of GOP primary competitor Randy Boyd by 13 points, reports the Nashville Post, close to the results of an earlier Black-commissioned poll that was labeled “bogus” by Boyd’s campaign.

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Black poll shows ‘surge,’ Boyd camp calls it ‘bogus’

U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) speaks at a Republican event in Nashville on May 7, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

An internal poll for U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s campaign shows the Gallatin Republican “surging ahead” of her primary rivals. The Grassroots Targeting poll of 800 registered Republican voters shows Black with 41%, compared with 26% for nearest rival Randy Boyd of Knoxville.

Chip Saltsman, the Randy Boyd for Governor Campaign CEO, promptly issued a statement calling the finding a “bogus poll” that fails to reflect what he called “a clearly competitive two-person race.”

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Human Resource Agency’s executive director fired for alleged misconduct (including use of agency van to attend GOP fundraiser)

The executive director of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, headquartered in Cookeville,  was fired Wednesday by a 14-12 vote of the organization’s board of directors, reports WSMV TV. The vote came after a closed-door meeting for a briefing on allegations against Luke Collings by the board’s attorney. A state comptroller’s audit is also underway.

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