Associated Press

State of Tennessee

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In a move that will transform higher education in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that overhauls the governing boards of some of the state's universities.

The Tennesseans reports that Haslam signed the FOCUS Act, a law that creates new boards for Austin Peay in Clarksville, East Tennessee in Johnson City, Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee State in Nashville and the University of Memphis. The University of Tennessee system is not affected.

sbc.net

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention says it lost more than 200,000 members in 2015.

It's the ninth straight year of decline for the nation's largest Protestant denomination, which also saw baptisms drop by more than 10,000 in 2015.

According to denomination statistics released on Tuesday, membership stands at 15.3 million, down from 15.5 million in 2014. Baptisms fell to just a little more than 295,000. Baptisms are an important measure for the denomination because of its strong commitment to evangelism.

capitol.tn.gov

CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — Two gay rights activists have filed a lawsuit challenging a new Tennessee law that lets therapists decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles.

Bleu Copas is an Anderson County man who says he was discharged from the Army under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Caleb Laieski is an activist from Virginia. Their lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Anderson County Chancery Court. It claims the new law targets gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, violating the right to equal treatment guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.

navy.mil

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) — Relatives say a Blue Angels pilot who died when his jet crashed in Smyrna had wanted to fly since he was a child.

A U.S. official identified the pilot killed Thursday as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dolph Kuss says his grandson dreamed of being an aviator since a young age. And Kuss' mother, Janet Kuss, said in a 2014 newspaper interview that her son had "wanted to be a Blue Angel since forever."

TN.GOV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced the departure of Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield to take a job with a publicly-traded corporation that builds and runs prisons.

Haslam praised and thanked Schofield, who has led the department since 2011 and has been criticized frequently for his handling of staffing and safety issues. The 55-year-old Schofield will join GEO Group in Florida as an executive vice president for continuum of care.

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