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State Legislature Passes Nine Bills in Final Day of 2014 Session

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Tennessee State Legislature finished the 2014 session by passing nine bills on Thursday.

According to the Nashville Tennessean, the General Assembly approved legislation covering a wide array of topics -- including wine in supermarkets and common core education standards -- that had inspired debate during the past few months.

State Sen. Douglas Henry, a Democrat from Nashville, was honored during the final day of the session, as he will retire after over 40 years in the Tennessee State Senate.

The bills approved on Thursday:

-Created a statewide authority to overrule local school board decisions regarding charter schools.
- Delayed implementation of the common core standards by one year.
- Allowed electrocution in the case of a shortage of the drug used for lethal injections for inmates receiving the death penalty.
- Offered free tuition to any high school graduate at select Tennessee colleges.
- Allowed the commercial production of hemp.
- Required legislative approval for mass transit projects.
- Set monthly limits on the sale of cold and allergy medicines used to make methamphetamine.
- Allowed local governments to hold referendums on the sale of wine at supermarkets.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Interstate Construction Work to Be Suspended for Easter Travel

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Tennessee Department of Transportation will temporarily cease construction work on interstate roadways this weekend to allow for speedier Easter travel.

The TDOT says all crews and contractors will stop performing construction work, which requires lane closures, at 6 p.m. on Thursday and will not begin again until 6 a.m. on Monday.

The agency says that this will "provide maximum roadway capacity to motorists expected to travel across the state this holiday weekend."

The move is aimed at minimizing delays, but TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said that incidents were still possible, so motorists should "use one or more of TDOT's available informational tools...to get up-to-the-minute traffic information before they hit the road this weekend."

Some lanes will remain closed on projects that require long-term construction and reduced speed limits will remain in effect.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


THP Announces Youth and Junior Trooper Academies this Summer

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Tennessee Highway Patrol announced Wednesday that it would hold its first-ever camp for students this summer.

The Youth Academy, held from June 23 to June 27, will be an overnight camp for students in grades 9 to 12. The Junior Trooper School will be run as a day camp for students in grades 6 through 8 and will take place between July 15 and July 18.

Colonel Tracy Trott called the academies "a program that we've wanted to implement for a long time." He added the programs are intended to "educate youth who may have an interest in pursuing a career in law enforcement."

Students will be asked to apply via the THP website by May 1, and acceptance letters will be sent out in early June.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Woman Killed in Car Fire in Jackson

(JACKSON, Tenn.) -- A woman was killed in a car fire in Jackson on Sunday.

The Jackson Sun reports that 25-year-old Taliesha Souter had been driving while her boyfriend was in the passenger seat with an open container of gasoline.

When Souter allegedly tried to light a cigarette, the gas ignited, setting the car on fire.

Her boyfriend escaped from the moving car. But when first responders arrived, they found Souter dead inside the car.

The man, 27, was hospitalized for treatment of burns. He has since been released.

The fire remains under investigation.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Gallatin Pastor Arrested for Child Rape

(GALLATIN, Tenn.) -- A pastor from Gallatin, Tenn. was arrested Friday for child rape.

The Tennessean reports that 54-year-old Randy Giulliani was arrested in Gallatin. He was charged with rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. He is being held on $200,000 bail.

A court date is set for May 7.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio