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Tennessee

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes are forecast from the Plains states to the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Valley regions.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a Memphis meat packer has recalled some ready-to-eat ham products due to possible bacterial contamination.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee local official has been arrested after police said he choked his girlfriend at a fast food restaurant.

Memphis police said Monday that Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford has been charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Police said Ford's girlfriend told officers he physically assaulted and choked her during an argument at a Church's Chicken on Sunday.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee legislative leaders appear to agree on a bigger property tax break for disabled veterans, which should put the finishing touch on months of work on Gov. Bill Haslam's bill that increases the gas tax to fund roadwork and cuts other taxes.

Both chambers passed the Republican governor's roads bill Wednesday, with the property tax break unresolved.

Senators amended the legislation to increase property tax relief to disabled veterans to up to $175,000 in property value, from $100,000 currently.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of a Memphis neighborhood are being told to avoid approaching, detaining or feeding a black bear that's been roaming the area for two days.

Memphis police say officers are looking for the bear, which was seen by people in the Frayser neighborhood in north Memphis on Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials are leading the investigation into the bear's whereabouts. Frayser has woods that could attract the bear and allow it to avoid people as it moves through the area.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — Teacher Tad Cummins took guns, money and his wife's car before kidnapping a 15-year-old female student and taking her on a 2,500-mile cross-country journey that ended Thursday, court records show.

He had just been suspended from teaching and police were zeroing in on him, questioning his relationship with the girl.

After taking out a loan for $4,500, the records say, the teacher took the money and two handguns and wrote a note to his wife saying he needed to go to Virginia Beach or the D.C. area to clear his head.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials say the state's first human case of West Nile virus this year has been found in west Tennessee.

The health department in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Friday the virus was recently confirmed in a person who lives in the county. Officials did not identify the patient.

Officials said there were six human cases of the virus in Tennessee in 2016. One case was fatal.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's road and bridge funding bill is headed for a showdown in the Tennessee House on Wednesday.

The sticking point is the governor's proposal to pay for new projects in large part through the state's first gas tax hike since 1989.

Supporters argue that a package of tax cuts made in the bill outweigh the amount raised from the fuel tax increases.

Opponents are calling for the fuel tax hikes to be stripped from the bill and to instead dedicate sales tax revenues from auto sales to highway funding.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is expected to announce on Tuesday a new education plan that will emphasize more accountability, especially when it comes to teaching traditionally underserved kids.

The plan outlines how Tennessee will comply with a federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Shelby County Commission has decided against naming an interim replacement for a Republican state House member who resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation.

The Commercial Appeal reports (http://memne.ws/2niIydu) that commissioners voted 6-5 against a resolution to schedule the appointment to replace former Rep. Mark Lovell. That means nobody will hold the seat until after the general election scheduled for June 15.

The primary will be held on April 27.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would create a school voucher pilot program for Shelby County has passed in a House committee following rancorous debate.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, a Republican from Knoxville, would allow public school children to use taxpayer money to go to private schools.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Mae Beavers, the sponsor of a bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms of the sex on their birth certificates, says she is exploring a bid for Tennessee governor.

The Mt. Juliet Republican tells WKRN-TV (http://bit.ly/2nOkX1T) she's considering entering the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam in the event Sen. Mark Green gets appointed to President Donald Trump's administration.

Funding for the Delta Regional Authority would be eliminated under President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. The federal agency is set up to help encourage and coordinate economic development in eight states, including Arkansas, tied to the beleaguered Mississippi River Delta region.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Middle Tennessee State University poll finds that registered voters favor Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to pay for a new road program primarily through a fuel tax hike by a margin of 38 percent to 28 percent.

The remaining third of the 600 people surveyed said they weren't sure about the governor's plan. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, Soundgarden and Sturgill Simpson are among the musical acts scheduled to perform at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis in May.

Festival officials also announced Wednesday that Widespread Panic, Death Cab for Cutie, Wiz Khalifa, Booker T. Jones, Bush, Ludacris and Jill Scott also are in the lineup for the 41st installment of the annual three-day festival.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has announced that free legal clinics will be held around the state to help citizens who find themselves in need of a lawyer's advice on matters outside criminal law. It's all part of the court's initiative known as Access to Justice, a program aimed at helping a growing number of people find assistance when they can't afford an attorney.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday concerning Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Justices questioned whether the city ordinance, passed by voters there in September 2015, conflicts with a state law passed earlier that year which bans cities and counties from enacting protections not contained in the state's civil rights law.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says the manufacturer of Amish Classic Colby deli horn cheese has recalled several lot numbers and instructed wholesalers and retailers to stop selling their stock.

The action comes after the Agriculture Department discovered listeria monocytogenes in a sample of the cheese from a store in Trenton, Tennessee.

State agriculture officials urged anyone who purchased any of the items not to consume them. No illnesses have been reported in Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are scrambling to get their legislative proposals submitted before Thursday's filing deadline.

Among the last batch of bills is a renewed effort to require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates. Other recently filed bills would allow people with handgun carry permits to be armed in schools, drop a ban on Sunday liquor sales and get rid of open primary voting in Tennessee.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill proposed in Tennessee's legislature would create a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition.

The bill, filed Wednesday by Republican Rep. Dennis Powers, calls for a "Second Amendment sales tax holiday" on the first weekend of September each year.

Knoxville station WBIR reports that Tennessee already has a sales tax holiday at the end of the summer that's meant for back-to-school shopping. Last year, Louisiana and Mississippi each hosted sales tax holiday weekends on guns.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee motorists can try their hand at coming up with a winning safety message for the overhead message signs on the state interstate highways.

The state Department of Transportation says it's holding a contest again this year for a catchy safety message.

Last year's winning entries were "Turn signals, the original instant messaging"; "Get the cell off your phone and drive"; "Practice safe text. Don't do it while driving"; "You're in Tennessee. Volunteer to drive safe"; and "Ain't nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down."

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a challenge for lawmakers seeking alternatives to his proposal to hike the state's fuel taxes to help tackle $10 billion backlog in bridge and road programs.

In the Republican governor's words: "Show me the math on your plan."

Haslam said Tuesday he doesn't want to use general fund tax revenues paid for by Tennesseans to pay for roads used heavily by out-of-state drivers. He argues the fuel taxes paid at the pump come from those who actually use state roads.

Recent high school graduates in Tennessee are already allowed to attend community college at no cost. Now Gov. Bill Haslam is looking to expand the year-old program to provide free community college educations to adults, as well.

Haslam, a Republican who has been in office since 2011, made his pitch at Monday night's State of the State address. Afterward, he tweeted, "Let's be the Tennessee we can be."

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland calls President Donald Trump's executive order on barring citizens from certain Muslim countries "unwise."

Strickland expressed his concerns over the order to the Commercial Appeal on Sunday before releasing an official statement on Twitter.

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