Chas Sisk

Chas joined WPLN in 2015 after eight years with The Tennessean, including more than five years as the newspaper's statehouse reporter.Chas has also covered communities, politics and business in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Chas grew up in South Carolina and attended Columbia University in New York, where he studied economics and journalism. Outside of work, he's a dedicated distance runner, having completed a dozen marathons

Vice President Mike Pence is due in Nashville on Thursday to speak to the Tennessee Republican Party — an appearance that comes amid a tumultuous period in the White House.

Pence will speak at the Tennessee GOP's annual Statesmen's Dinner, its biggest event of the year. The fundraiser at the Music City Center typically draws more than 1,000 of the party's most ardent supporters, and the Tennessee Republican Party has a history of lining up top-tier figures.

New research suggests the Tennessee state legislature is now one of the most politically divided in the South.

Across the 13-state region, only Texas has a legislature that's more polarized, according to a study of all 50 statehouses. 

Researchers say the rise in partisanship appears to be tied to a change in voting patterns in rural areas.

Tennessee's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in at least four decades — just 3.6 percent — and other measures of the state's jobs market are also looking stronger.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday that the share of Tennesseans who want jobs but can't find them has reached its lowest point since the state began keeping records in 1976. The unemployment rate has also dipped nearly a percentage point below the national figure, which stands at 4.4 percent.

A political scientist at Middle Tennessee State University is predicting next year's race for governor could go down in the books as the state's most expensive race ever.

Kent Syler, an instructor at MTSU and former campaign manager to U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, says the battle to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam should easily eclipse the $20 million he spent to win the office in 2010 and is likely to surpass the state record $34 million that went into the 2006 Senate campaigns of Bob Corker and Harold Ford, Jr.

Tennessee’s Speaker of the House Beth Harwell announced this weekend that she is running for governor, widening the field and immediately setting off jockeying to succeed her.

Tennessee is inching toward making birth control pills available with a single visit to a pharmacy.

State lawmakers voted over a year ago to eliminate the requirement that women first see a doctor before getting oral contraceptives. But even though Tennessee law has changed, pharmacies haven't been given the final go-ahead to put it into action.

Health officials say the task of drafting final rules has been complicated. 

The prolonged debate in Congress over health care is having a ripple effect on Tennessee's race for governor, and it may be a few more weeks before the field for 2018 is set.

A key figure is Diane Black. The Congressional representative from Sumner County is a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor. But Black has work in Washington she wants to wrap up first, including a job that stems from a major position she holds — chair of the House Budget Committee.

Tennessee's unemployment rate has approached a low-water mark — 4 percent — and the market for jobs appears to be strong statewide.

In a major reversal from a few years ago, only one of Tennessee's 95 counties has an unemployment rate higher than 5 percent: Rhea County on the Cumberland Plateau in East Tennessee. In the Nashville metropolitan area, unemployment stands at just 2.1 percent, one of the lowest rates among big cities in the nation.

That stands in stark contrast to the worst part of the recession in 2009, when unemployment peaked at more than 10 percent statewide and, in some corners of Tennessee, topped 20 percent.

Penalties for cheating the elderly have gotten tougher in Tennessee.

As part of a new law that went into effect over the weekend, people convicted of financial exploitation against senior citizens now face more jail time and higher fines. It's one of several updates to the state's laws protecting older Tennesseans.

You may have heard that Tennessee's gas tax rose by 4 cents a gallon over the weekend. But that's only one of dozens of laws that went into effect.

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