Sergio Martínez-Beltrán

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.   

In his free time (once in a blue moon), Sergio can be found playing volleyball or in Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the coolest uncle (feel free to fact-check) to Olivia and Jimena. 

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán / WPLN News (File)


Gov. Bill Lee has not yet decided whether he should call for a special session.

But, the Republican told reporters Tuesday it might be needed in order for lawmakers to pass a measure that would protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits.

“As we all know, a special session is a tool that’s reserved for extraordinary circumstances,” Lee said. “But, protecting Tennessee’s small businesses and organizations and churches and schools is certainly an extraordinary circumstance and we’ll be looking to consider that decision.”

WPLN News (File photo)


A Tennessee representative wants to make Juneteenth a day of special observance in the state.

The measure (HB1626/SB1829) is moving in the House of Representatives with unanimous support, but its prospects in the state Senate are uncertain.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, told WPLN News Monday his bill is meant to celebrate freedom. He also thinks it would help teach Tennesseans history from an African American perspective.

Chas Sisk / WPLN News


A bill that would eliminate Tennessee’s observance of Nathan Bedford Forrest Day has passed its first challenge in the House.

But that’s the only measure regarding the Confederate general that is moving forward in the General Assembly.

For decades, Tennessee has observed July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, but a bill (HB1670/SB1874) by Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, could end that.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán / WPLN News


An East Tennessee Republican publicly apologized Monday evening after making a racist comment to one of his colleagues.

The white representative said he will now work with his black colleagues on achieving “racial reconciliation.” But the lawmaker he apologized to says it will take more than an apology.


It all started when Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, made a racist comment about fried chicken directed at Joe Towns, D-Memphis, a black man.

That took place during a committee hearing Monday. Hours later, Carter apologized on the House floor.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN News


The Tennessee Supreme Court decided Thursday morning that it will not take up the case of whether the state’s Education Savings Account program is legal. It also declined to reverse an order that bars the state from implementing the program.

This means the fight over school vouchers will proceed in August in the Tennessee Court of Appeals. In the meantime, the state will be unable to process voucher applications or make any awards until appeals courts have ruled.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán / WPLN News


As Congress continues to craft a new coronavirus relief bill, a Tennessee senator says liability protections for universities must be included.


Sen. Lamar Alexander—the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Education Committee—told local and national reporters Thursday that university presidents across Tennessee have talked to him about their desire to open. But, Alexander said, they also shared concerns about facing legal action, even when they have been following safety protocols.



The Tennessee Education Savings Account law — Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher initiative — was declared unconstitutional on Monday evening by a Nashville chancellor.

At the center of the lawsuit, brought by Davidson and Shelby counties against the Tennessee Department of Education, was the interpretation of the state constitution’s Home Rule Amendment. The plaintiffs claimed that the school voucher law was unconstitutional because it singled out two counties without their consent.

Chris Wood, an attorney for the plaintiffs, celebrated the decision.

FOX Business


State Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, has been in office for 26 years, 12 of those as a committee chairman and all of them as a Democrat.

But that could quickly change.



Non-essential businesses across the state have been ordered to close as part of Gov. Bill Lee’s latest executive order.

Lee says this will strengthen the recommended social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the governor stopped short of requiring people to stay at home.

“This is not a mandate for people to shelter in place,” Lee told reporters in a videoconference Monday. “This is an urging for citizens to not utilize non-essential businesses.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán/WPLN News


Originally published on March 20, 2020 6:57 am

Tennessee’s legislature approved a fast-tracked budget of about $39.8 billion late Thursday night after a marathon day of activity and as the state responds to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The amount is about $900 million less than what was initially proposed by Gov. Bill Lee’s administration.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson said the approved budget excludes many of the initiatives considered earlier this year.