Associated Press

capitol.tn.gov

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — House Speaker Beth Harwell, whose support of efforts to strip a gas tax hike out of Gov. Bill Haslam's transportation funding proposal had cast doubt about the bill's prospects, now says she is 'leaning' toward voting in favor of the Republican governor's proposal.

Harwell had publicly taken a hands-off approach to the measure as it worked its way through the legislative process. But she caught the governor's office and her Senate counterparts by surprise when she announced she was backing a last-minute bid to change the funding mechanism.

attorneygeneral.tn.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's attorney general has agreed that the state will drop two abortion limits similar to Texas laws struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The attorney general's office decision was contained in federal court filings Thursday. One requirement mandated that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges. The other forced abortion clinics to meet hospital-level surgical standards.

The Supreme Court struck down similar Texas laws in June 2016. The Tennessee case has been on hold since December 2015 while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling.

va.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The launch of an online portal has revealed that Veterans Health Administration facilities across Tennessee still struggle with patient wait times.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/2p0uYgp) reports the new Access and Quality in VA Healthcare site launched April 12 lists average wait times by appointment type and satisfaction scores based on data released in February. The last time the VA released comparable data was in September 2014, after the agency's head resigned following national attention about long wait times.

capitol.tn.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The sponsor of a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in Tennessee has delayed the legislation for a week to give lawmakers a chance to read the opinion of the attorney general, who has called sections "constitutionally suspect."

Republican Rep. Matthew Hill also defended the legislation on Wednesday.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines the fetus is viable. Exceptions would exist for mothers who would otherwise die or be severely hurt. Criminal penalties could be included for doctors.

mtsu.edu

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Middle Tennessee has suspended defensive lineman Justin Akins and linebacker Shalom Alvarez while they're investigated for possible animal cruelty seen on a Snapchat video.

Athletic director Chris Massaro said Wednesday in a statement that the actions captured in the video were disturbing.

Coach Rick Stockstill suspended the players until the investigation is completed, and Massaro says Akin and Alvarez will perform community service for local animal welfare groups.

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