Associated Press

  COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — The father of a Tennessee teenager says the 50-year-old teacher she vanished with last month is "nothing but a liar."

Anthony Thomas tried to deliver a message to his missing 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, on Wednesday by telling WKRN-TV ( ) "we all need you home." He said teacher Tad Cummins is "filtering" the news the girl sees. He urged Cummins to turn himself in.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Supporters of the Black Lives Matter and Fight for $15 movements have marched through the streets of downtown Memphis, demanding higher wages and racial equality on the 49th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.

Several hundred people, including a 220-piece marching band from Talladega College in Alabama, marched more than a mile (1.6 kilometers), from City Hall to the National Civil Rights Museum on Tuesday.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — A Williamson County jury has convicted a man of human trafficking in what's believed to be the first trial of its kind in the county.

The Tennessean reports 26-year-old Eric Demarco Hamilton of Flint, Michigan was convicted last week on one count of trafficking for a commercial sex act and one charge of domestic assault.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton is once again berating his colleagues on the House floor about what he calls rules violations and manipulations to advance Gov. Bill Haslam's transportation funding proposal that would include the state's first gas tax hike since 1989.

Sexton had lectured his GOP colleagues about how they should join him in opposition to the bill before committee votes that resulted in the measure being moved along.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican leader in the Tennessee House says his effort to allow lawmakers living within 50 miles of the state Capitol to be reimbursed for hotel bills is unrelated to his pending divorce.

Rep. Glen Casada tells WTVF-TV ( ) that the proposal is "absolutely not" connected to his own family status.

Casada, who lives 39 miles from the Capitol in Williamson County, says the measure would take effect after the 2018 elections, which would be after his divorce is finalized.

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A plan by a Tennessee nonprofit to house the homeless by building a village of micro homes near a church has prompted some neighbors to picket in protest.

WTVF-TV ( reports protesters picketed property owned by Glencliff United Methodist Church in Nashville on Sunday where the nonprofit Open Table Nashville plans to construct the homes.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Plumbing company executive Bill Lee says he's close to jumping into the Tennessee governor's race.

The Franklin businessman tells The Tennessean that he has been touring the state and meeting with Republican leaders. While a formal announcement may be weeks away, Lee says he wants to join the race "sooner rather than later."

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Christian music singer Amy Grant and Nashville philanthropist Martha R. Ingram will be honored with stars on the Music City Walk of Fame next month in Tennessee.

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. made the announcement Thursday. The ceremony will be at 1 p.m. April 27 in Walk of Fame Park.

The new stars will bring the total on the Walk of Fame to 76. Inductees are recognized for significant contributions to preserving Nashville's musical heritage and for their contributions through music or other industry collaboration.


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A National Public Radio affiliate reporter has sued over her firing after she covered meetings between high schoolers and legislators who said she secretly recorded them discussing LGBT issues.

The Times Free Press reports Thursday ( ) WUTC-FM reporter Jacqui Helbert sued University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which licenses the station.

The Hamilton County Circuit Court lawsuit claims she was fired because lawmakers threatened retaliation against UTC.

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee authorities say it is inaccurate to use the word "romance" to describe the relationship between a 15-year-old girl and a 50-year-old teacher who disappeared together two weeks ago.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said Tuesday at a news conference that teacher Tad Cummins manipulated Elizabeth Thomas and kidnapped her.

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A previously defeated proposal to amend the state constitution to say that God is the source of Tennesseans' liberties has been resurrected in the House.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough had failed on a 3-3 vote in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee earlier this month. But Republican Rep. Martin Daniel of Knoxville made a motion to reconsider the bill, so it is scheduled to be heard again on Wednesday.

  CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Police fatally shot a suspect who was a sheriff's department employee after being called to a home disturbance on Wednesday, officials said.

The Chattanooga Police Department said in a news release that officers were called to a home about 1:30 a.m. and encountered an armed suspect outside. The statement said officers were forced to shoot the suspect, who later died at a hospital.

During a press conference, Chattanooga Police Chief of Staff David Roddy said it was unclear what type of weapon the suspect had.

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state attorney general's office says a bill that would require all Tennessee license plates to bear the words "In God We Trust" is constitutionally suspect.

However, the legal opinion by Attorney General Herbert Slatery said that same license plate would be defensible if citizens were given the option of having one, instead of being forced to get one.

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville judge faces federal corruption charges of bribery, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith announced charges Tuesday against Davidson County General Sessions Judge Cason "Casey" Moreland.

A news release says Moreland learned the FBI was investigating him in February, then tried to pay $6,100 through an intermediary to make a witness sign an affidavit recanting previous statements. It alleges Moreland schemed to plant drugs on the witness for an orchestrated traffic stop.

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Legislature has passed a bill that would bar cities in Tennessee from decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

If the governor signs the bill, it will strike down laws in Memphis and Nashville that give police the discretion to write civil citations for people who have small amounts of weed.

The bill passed in the Senate on Monday evening after impassioned debate on both sides of the issue.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the fastest growing counties in Tennessee were in or near metropolitan Nashville. Metro Nashville grew by 2 percent, nearly three times the U.S growth rate, to top 1.86 million people last year.

The U.S. Bureau of Census estimates that Hamilton County grew by 4,134 residents from July 2015 to July 2016 — a growth pace nearly 25 percent faster than the nation as a whole.

 CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A reporter for a radio station at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been fired after state lawmakers complained she failed to disclose her presence during a meeting on a state transgender bathroom bill.

Lawmakers said WUTC-FM reporter Jacqui Helbert failed to properly identify herself as a reporter during meetings March 7 between lawmakers and a group of high school students, according to a Chattanooga Times-Free Press ( report. Helbert worked for WUTC, a National Public Radio affiliate.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis has agreed to a new contract that runs through the 2023-24 season.

School officials said Friday the seven-year deal will gives Davis a $575,000 base salary plus $175,000 each year for television and broadcast responsibilities.

  CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee school bus driver has pleaded not guilty to six counts of vehicular manslaughter in a crash last November that killed six children.

WTVC-TV ( reports that Johnthony Walker was arraigned via video Friday morning in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Walker is also charged with four counts of reckless aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of reckless driving and one count of use of a portable electronic device by a school bus driver.

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has voted on a bill that would block any efforts by Tennessee cities to decriminalize the use of marijuana. The bill would nullify laws that Memphis and Nashville have passed that have reduced the penalty for weed in some cases.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown. It passed over the objections of lawmakers in Memphis and Nashville who thought the state should stop interfering with their cities. Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, of Nashville, voted against the measure.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction barring Rutherford County from putting juvenile offenders in solitary confinement.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger said putting kids in solitary confinement was cruel and inhuman punishment and defendants were not likely to prevail in their lawsuit.

  BOSTON (AP) — The former head of a Massachusetts pharmacy was acquitted Wednesday of murder allegations but convicted of racketeering and other crimes in a meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the country.

Prosecutors said Barry Cadden, 50, ran the business in an "extraordinarily dangerous" way by disregarding unsanitary conditions to boost production and make more money.

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill to require Tennessee school buses to be fitted with seat belts by July 2023 is advancing in the House.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the House Transportation Subcommittee advanced the measure on a voice vote on Wednesday.

The vote came after a pediatric surgeon testified about how three-point safety belts could have benefited children injured in a Chattanooga school bus crash that killed six children in November.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A voucher bill that would let parents use taxpayer money to spend on private schools has failed to get enough votes to move forward in the state Senate.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, would have let students in failing school districts use the vouchers.

There weren't enough votes in a Senate Education Committee to move the bill forward Wednesday. The bill could potentially be revived if Gardenhire could persuade lawmakers to change their mind.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill to require students at public schools and colleges in Tennessee to use restrooms and locker rooms matching the gender listed their birth certificates failed in a Senate committee on Wednesday without debate.

Sen. Mae Beavers, a Mt. Juliet Republican who announced this week that she is exploring a bid for governor in 2018, failed to a receive a motion from any member of the Senate Education Committee. The lack of a motion effectively kills the bill.