The Center for American Progress Action Fund ranked all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) on three main areas critical to a healthy democratic process: ballot accessibility in each state, influence in the political system, and representation in state government.  The report gave Tennessee a failing grade for ballot accessibility.

Lauren Harmon, one of the report's authors, joins us to talk about it.


By Ken Lund [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Remember the scene in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation when the Griswolds finally finish their long journey to Walley World and find the theme park is closed?

If you’re headed for a whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River and you don’t plan ahead, you might be similarly frustrated.

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Nicki Dugan Pogue / Flickr/Creative Commons

State Rep. Jon Lundberg and Sen. Joey Hensley are sponsoring HB0143, the "Tennessee Right To Try Act," which allows terminally-ill patients to ask pharmaceutical companies for experimental drugs or medical devices that the FDA hasn't approved.


Gas prices have plummeted to lows not seen since 2009, and in Chattanooga, regular unleaded can be bought for as little as $1.80 per gallon. But the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances road construction and other transportation projects, is facing a $100 billion shortfall, according to U.S.

On Tuesday, November fourth, Tennessee voters will approve or reject four new amendments to the state constitution, along with choosing candidates in various elections.  Nooga.com's David Morton joins us to talk about the amendments and what a yes or no vote on each one could mean.

Tom Kanon joins us to discuss two intertwined, oft-overlooked military conflicts: The War of 1812 and the Creek War.  Kanon is an author and an archivist for the Tennessee State Library in Nashville.  His new book is Tennesseans at War, 1812–1815: Andrew Jackson, The Creek War, And The Battle of New Orleans.

Would Tennessee whiskey by any other name taste as sweet?

A debate in Tennessee simmers over a legal definition of what makes Tennessee whiskey "Tennessee."

The state legislature passed a bill last year saying whiskey can be labeled "Tennessee" only if it's made in the state from a mash that's 51-percent corn, trickles through maple charcoal, and is aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Tax Foundation

At 9.45%, Tennessee has the highest combined average state and local sales tax rate, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation think tank.  In this segment, WUTC's Michael Edward Miller speaks with Scott Drenkard, a Tax Foundation economist, about the reason why the foundation collects and publicizes this information.  They also discuss the oft-touted claim that in Tennessee, the sales tax is high, but it's offset by low income tax.

Dallas Bunton, the President-CEO at North American Credit Services, Inc, and Michael Rainwater, President of the Tennessee Collectors Association, join us to talk about Ask Doctor Debt, an online resource for people who are in debt and need answers, or who want to report unscrupulous debt collectors.

The Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, has ranked the Volunteer State’s business tax climate as the 15th best out of all 50 states.

From a media release:

Tennessee's annual sales tax holiday runs August 2 - 4 this year, and shoppers are expected to save between $8 and $10 million on items like clothing, school supplies and computers.  For computer sales in Tennessee, these are even bigger sales days than Black Friday.  These weekends are touted as economic boost for Tennessee and tax relief for low-income families, but a nonprofit research group, the Tax Foundation, says these tax holidays may not actually do much for the economy.  

Brian Auer, Creative Commons

The majority of states allow grocery and food stores to sell wine.  Not Tennessee.  Here in the Volunteer State, liquor stores alone can sell packaged wine.  In this segment, WUTC examines the history and rationale behind this law.  WUTC also explores current debates about changing it.

In Tennessee, when a teenager is the victim of statutory rape, the law could consider the teenager an accomplice in the crime.  Some people are outraged over this law, which dates back to 1895.  In this segment, WUTC explains what the law really means and why it's been on the books so long.

Philmeskips (Flickr.com) / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/deed.en

In this segment, we explore reasons why people support or oppose teachers carrying guns at school.  Going beyond pro/con arguments based on hypotheticals, we look for examples of a teacher or school official using a gun to stop a school shooting.