This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
The administration of Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday it will merge two divisions that deal with state real estate. The Real Property Administration, the Department of Finance & Administration division that is responsible for capital improvements and construction of state buildings, will be combined with Property Services Management, the Department of General Services division that operates and maintains state facilities.
As the country nears a possible historic debt default, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and top officials said Thursday that the state can meet its obligations for weeks should Washington’s partisan disputes over raising the debt ceiling send the nation’s credit ratings careening off a cliff. “We’ve looked at what happens if the funding totally gets cut off if they shut down, and we’re actually in pretty good shape with how our payment flow works,” Haslam told reporters.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has begun talking about a trip to New York in September to meet with representatives of the three major credit rating agencies. It would be a critical round of presentations by the governor and several top aides, since one of those rating agencies recently announced it might be forced to cut its rating on Tennessee’s credit if the federal government loses its own gold-plated credit rating in the coming days.
Gov. Bill Haslam delivered a $69,686 grant Thursday to help Spring Hill finish a sidewalk project so children can walk to school. The city will build an elevated walking path across a stormwater detention basin connecting on the north end to sidewalks already built in Thompson’s Station through the Safe Routes to Schools grant program.
For the first time since his election, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam visited Macon County Thursday, July 28 with Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver for a meet and greet at the Lafayette Municipal Airport. Rep. Weaver and Sen. Beavers took a minute to speak and welcome Gov. Haslam before Sen. Beavers introduced the governor.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will be flying into the Lafayette Municipal Airport, via helicopter, on Thursday, July 28th at approximately 8 a.m. to survey the recent updates at the airport and meet with County Road Supervisor Audie Cook to assess the county’s options for obtaining more asphalt to repair roads. The Governor’s visit will also include a breakfast that will be served in one of the airport’s T-Hangars.
Yes, Gov. Bill Haslam will indeed have a dashboard — the device for measuring the state’s progress, as the former Knoxville mayor outlined in his campaign for governor. But it’s still not certain when the dashboard will appear, or what will be on it.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (right) answers a question posed by Post-Intelligencer Editor/Publisher Michael Williams (left) this morning at The P-I office, as Publisher Emeritus Bill Williams listens. The interview was videotaped and will be available for viewing online at
A number of organizations who are working to preserve the past are getting a financial boost from the state. On Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Historical Commission announced Historic Preservation Fund. grants for 28 community organizations for programs and activities that support the preservation of historic and archaeological sites, districts and structures.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined state and local leaders today to announce the award of a $69,686 transportation enhancement grant to the city of Spring Hill for the Tanyard Springs Connection Walkway Project. The Tanyard Springs Connection Walkway Project includes the construction of a ten foot wide, 230 linear feet long elevated walkway that will connect at the Spring Hill – Thompson’s Station boundary to a Safe Routes to School project being completed by the town of Thompson’s Station.
Tennessee may not sport the worst record in the country for high unemployment, but the Volunteer State and its neighbors make up a regional pocket where lots of people are having a hard time finding work. Five of 10 states with the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. touch Tennessee’s borders.
The Republican-backed campaign to require photo IDs for Tennessee voters ended in June, but passage of the photo ID bill still angers Memphian Michael Blanner, who invites legislators to “pucker up and kiss my grits.” Blanner, 63, says he can be “a crank sometimes.”
Four candidates to become Knoxville’s next mayor mostly focused their ideas on economic development and gave differing views on whether they would raise city taxes during a debate Thursday night. With the Knoxville Chamber hosting the televised event at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium before some 350 people, business-related questions were very much at the forefront, although one question also was asked on transparency in government with a reference to “Black Wednesday” in county government in 2007. Candidates taking part were Joe Hultquist, Ivan Harmon, Mark Padgett and Madeline Rogero, all of whom have served as elected officials except Padgett. However, he worked for several years in the administration of former Gov. Phil Bredesen and he referenced that experience when it was appropriate.
Sen. Bob Corker called Thursday for a short-term extension of the U.S. debt limit to prevent a downgrading of the country’s credit rating. In a speech on the Senate floor, Corker, R-Tenn., said the proposals offered by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid both are probably too weak to avert a downgrade. Corker said Congress should pass a short-term extension and “at least take a week” to try to agree on a plan that would produce enough savings to satisfy the credit ratings agencies.
No matter how the debt crisis ends, the economy will probably take a hit. The question is how big. Failing to raise the federal borrowing limit would force the government to slash spending immediately and possibly cause a default, frightening financial markets and sending interest rates up.
An intensive endgame at hand, Republican leaders abruptly postponed a vote Thursday night on legislation to avert a threatened government default and slice federal spending by nearly $1 trillion. “The votes obviously were not there,” conceded Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., after Speaker John Boehner and the leadership had spent hours trying to corral the support of rebellious conservatives.
Middle Tennessee’s U.S. House members mostly agree on what a debt deal should do: cut spending, rein in long-term deficits and raise the debt limit to avoid default. But they disagree on the best way to get there.
Tennessee Valley Authority officials are refining plans on how to better respond to the next twister outbreak. The April 27 tornadoes caused major damage to TVA’s power transmission system and knocked out several power plants.
The jobless rate increased in all except four of Tennessee’s 95 counties in June, and unemployment in the Nashville-Murfreesboro area hit 9 percent — up 0.6 percentage points from May’s revised numbers. Statewide, more than 309,000 people are estimated to be unemployed based on seasonally adjusted data from the Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Commission.
Amazon.com announced plans Thursday to open a 500,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Lebanon, promising to create hundreds of full-time and seasonal jobs before the end of this year. It’s one of three sites the company has announced it will open in Tennessee that are expected to create 1,200 new full-time jobs for the state.
Amazon.com now confirms plans to build a 500,000 square-foot distribution center in Lebanon. The company estimates it will create “hundreds” of full-time and seasonal jobs as soon as this year. This would be Amazon’s third facility in Tennessee, with two being built near Chattanooga.
Amazon today announced plans to open a 500,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Lebanon, Tenn., outside Nashville. The online retailer said it will create hundreds of full-time and seasonal jobs at the facility this year. The Lebanon facility will be Amazon’s third fulfillment center in Tennessee, bringing its total footprint in the state to more than 2 million square feet.
An iron foundry that has been closed since January 2010 will reopen early next year, bringing 250 new jobs to Etowah. ThyssenKrupp Waupaca, Inc. announced Thursday its Etowah facility will restart production in the first quarter of 2012.
Jimmie Lewis says her granddaughter moved from McMinn County, Tenn., over a year ago when her husband’s job at Waupaca foundry was shifted to Indiana in the shutdown of the local operation. Now, with plans by Waupaca to restart the Etowah foundry and bring back 250 jobs, Lewis hopes her granddaughter and her family will return as well.
A new study conducted by Lipscomb University has found that the state of Tennessee comes in last with the number of women sitting on corporate boards. Allison Duke is an assistant professor of management at Lipscomb’s College of Business.
Some of the rumors and speculation concerning the proposed expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum were ironed out into specifics at an event Thursday morning. In the museum’s Ford Theater, Hall of Fame Director Kyle Young along with board Chairman Steve Turner and Mayor Karl Dean announced a three-year, $75 million capital campaign to nearly triple the size of the museum and connect it to the Omni hotel. Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs opened the event doing a rendition of the Carter Family and Bill Monroe classic, “Working on a Building,” which is serving as the primary title of the campaign.
The University of Memphis faces $3.5 million in “near-term” costs for safety repairs and access for the disabled, and $15 million in longer-term maintenance at the Lambuth University campus, a state report issued Thursday concludes. That money is above and beyond funding already pledged by the state and other sources.
Jackson Energy Authority will give $2.2 million to the Industrial Board of Jackson to help purchase the former Lambuth University campus for the University of Memphis. JEA board members voted to give the money to the industrial board at the JEA board’s monthly meeting on Thursday.
One of the subtexts of the 2008 decision by the Memphis City Council to cut back on its annual financial commitment to Memphis City Schools was what was generally perceived as a perceived lack of accountability in MCS’ expenditures. That was spoken to by several council members in the debate over whether or not to fund the schools.
A team of state building and fire safety officials plans to visit a Bluff City mobile home park next week so they can determine what caused a fire that killed an 18-month-old boy who lived there and whether any of his neighbors are at risk of succumbing to a similar fate. “They’re bringing the whole nine yards with them,” said Dennis Vaughn, a licensed private home inspector in Northeast Tennessee who is contracted by the state government to handle building code enforcement services for Carter and Johnson counties. “It’s basically going to be an investigation into what caused the fire.” Police and officers with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office are trying to determine what sparked a Sunday morning mobile home fire at Bluff City’s Highway’s Lakeview Trailer Park that claimed the life of 18-month-old Jessie James Whaley and left the infant’s family homeless. During a Thursday meeting, Vaughn told the Bluff City Board of Mayor and Aldermen the state fire marshal’s office would send a team of building code inspectors, arson investigators and other personnel to Lakeview next week so they can help local law enforcement agencies with the investigation.
Sixteen years ago, Errol Washington was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on crack cocaine charges — nearly double what it would have been if it were powder cocaine. But Washington, 43, may be among hundreds of Middle Tennessee offenders eligible for early release from federal prison after a significant change in federal sentencing policy.
Police report a Kingsport man has been arrested after a meth manufacturing operation was discovered in his mobile home. The arrest occurred Tuesday night at 417 Barnett Drive, Lot 83. Kingsport police say they were led to the residence following complaints of drug activity.
The Atlanta Regional Commission on Wednesday approved the region’s 30-year plan to spend $60.9 billion on transportation projects and manage growth.Chip Rogers: “The state of Georgia is near the bottom among states for SAT scores and graduation rates.” That transportation list is unrelated to the list being drawn up for a sales tax referendum next year.
A new report says Kansas finished its latest fiscal year with $107 million more in revenue than anticipated. The 2011 fiscal year ended June 30.
Illinois owed $37.9 billion more than all of its assets combined, including cash, investments and property, as of July 1, 2010, according to a recent statewide financial audit by the Illinois Auditor General William Holland and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Illinois even shorted unknowing taxpayers of $1.4 billion.
The demolition of the two largest buildings on the massive site of the former K-25 uranium enrichment facility in Oak Ridge grew so unwieldy — and costly — that the agency’s independent watchdog issued a highly critical report on the project. The new cost estimate for tearing down the K-25 and K-27 buildings is $1.2 billion, close to three times the original estimate of $460 million and, given the project’s history, a figure that might move even higher.
Recently, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick issued a statement announcing that he was forming a task force to support the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans to bear arms. The simple fact of the matter is: The General Assembly in Tennessee has been extremely progressive over the last decade or so in broadening the rights of gun owners in this state.
As more than a few Memphians have noticed, there are uncanny resemblances between the game of brinkmanship being practiced in the current confrontation between Memphis City Schools and the city of Memphis and the one going on in Washington between the White House and congressional Republicans concerning raising the nation’s debt limit. The deadline for the latter is August 2nd — coincidentally the same date that the council may have the opportunity to finish off the tense process of negotiation with MCS by formally approving the school system’s operating budget for 2011-12.
There is a lot of talk right now about whether states should levy sales taxes on online purchases. The real question is: Do we want large, profitable online players, like Amazon, spending large amounts of time and money trying to shield their customers (and thus, their own top lines) from sales taxes, when virtually every state in the United States is starved for revenue?