Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A University of Tennessee poll shows an overwhelming majority of Tennesseans think texting behind the wheel is as unsafe as drunken driving. Yet 27 percent of respondents said they had texted while driving in the previous month.

The poll was conducted by UT's Center for Transportation Research. It showed a nearly equal percentage of people think drunken driving is highly dangerous, but a quarter of respondents said they had done it in the last 30 days, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's top Republicans say they want to keep the current method of choosing judges and will introduce a constitutional amendment that would require voter approval.

Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Wednesday in Nashville that they oppose the popular election of Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The father of a gay college student who died after being beaten says he's disturbed by anti-gay legislation being proposed in Tennessee.

Dennis Shepard spoke at a Nashville news conference Wednesday. Shepard's son, Matt, was 21 when he was beaten 14 years ago in Wyoming, tied to a fence and left in the cold by two men he met in a bar.

His death spurred passage of a measure that expanded an earlier federal hate crime law to include sexual orientation, among other things.

NASHVILLE,‭ ‬Tenn.‭ (‬AP‭) — ‬Two Republican state legislators are pushing a measure aimed at allowing local governments to display the Ten Commandments in county courthouses or on public grounds in Tennessee.

Sen.‭ ‬Mike Bell of Riceville and Rep.‭ ‬Matthew Hill of Jonesboro have introduced a bill authorizing counties and cities to set up displays of historical documents and monuments and writings,‭ ‬as the bill reads,‭ "‬recognized to commemorate freedom and the rich history of Tennessee and the United States.‭"

NASHVILLE,‭ ‬Tenn.‭ (‬AP‭) — ‬Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Mae Beavers has withdrawn her proposal to strip Tennessee courts of the power to overturn laws enacted by the state Legislature.

The withdrawal late yesterday came after the proposal came under heavy criticism from members of both parties,‭ ‬including Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

Beavers,‭ ‬a Republican from Mt.‭ ‬Juliet,‭ said last week that her bill was aimed at reeling in what she called out-of-control courts.

Democratic senators argued the proposal would threaten the independence of the courts.

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