This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
State officials say 450 jobs will be created over four years in Kingsport, Tenn., after an Ireland-based company locates a manufacturing facility in Sullivan County. C&F Group, an auto exterior trim supplier, will invest $12.5 million in the facility, its first U.S. location.
It’s taken 18 months, but the luck of the Irish has finally arrived in Kingsport. C&F Group of Galway, Ireland, officially inked a deal on Monday to locate in Kingsport as part of a $12.5 million investment that will create 450 new jobs over a four-year period. The new Kingsport plant will be the company’s first location in the U.S. Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic & Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced the deal Monday evening.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t intend to rework the state’s new law limiting payouts in successful lawsuits against doctors and other businesses, despite calls from some members of his own party for changes to be made in the upcoming legislative session. Placing a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages like pain and suffering was one of the governor’s main priorities during his first legislative session this year.
The announcement last week that Canadian manufacturer Kruger Inc. will spend $316 million upgrading its plant in North Memphis, bringing 100 additional jobs to the area and preserving 294 jobs, can be traced back to the same starting point as several other multimillion-dollar corporate deals Memphis has recently landed. It began with a surprise overture from the company itself. Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development with the Greater Memphis Chamber, said Kruger reached out to local economic development officials several years ago, dangling the possibility of a major expansion at Kruger’s existing Memphis facility.
Chris Barbic used to belittle government bureaucrats running public education systems. In his view, “they didn’t know what they were doing.” Now, as fate would have it, the Vanderbilt graduate and acclaimed Texas charter-school founder has become one of them.
Students will be able to more easily transfer their credits from two-year to four-year schools under a plan announced Monday. The Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee said they have created 50 guaranteed transfer paths, effective for this fall semester.
Tennessee community college students can be sure their credits will transfer to four-year, public universities if they choose one of 50 paths released Monday. Last year’s Complete College Act asked the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Board of Regents systems to work together to develop a smooth transition for students coming from the state’s community colleges.
Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty will serve as chairman of the board for the Tennessee Technology Development Corp. Hagerty, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to head economic development for the state, was elected by the board late last week. Hagerty has been instrumental to Haslam’s evolving economic development strategy, as the Nashville Business Journal has reported.
There are more than 250,000 motor and sail boats in the state required to post registration numbers – that string of numbers on the bow starting with the letters “TN.” They act like a license plate for boats, and the state agency responsible for enforcing boating safety is now experimenting with a mail campaign to get more of those boats on the water and more money to the state.
Tennessee residents will have an opportunity to offer input on the State Funding Board’s revised debt management policy during a meeting at the State Capitol Wednesday, Aug. 24, officials with the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury announced in a release Monday. Last year, the board agreed to require all governments in Tennessee to adopt debt management policies by Dec. 31.
State authorities have closed their investigation into the disappearance of formal reprimands issued to four Lenoir City assistant clerks found by an audit last year to have used City Hall’s cash drawer as a personal ATM among other issues. The decision follows a review by a Loudon County grand jury, which returned no indictment, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm confirmed Monday.
Over the past four days, law-enforcement officials have executed two search warrants related to Marlin Roberts, one of the figures in the ongoing public-corruption case in Millington. According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Kristin Helm, the first search was at Roberts’ home last Friday.
The state wants to change the way judges assign lawyers to indigent clients. That proposal is raising concerns that local courts will lose some independence. The state Supreme Court is proposing that attorneys submit bids to be on an approved list to represent those who can’t afford a lawyer.
After his work in Georgia to rewrite the state’s burial laws, archaeologist Patrick Garrow joined with the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance Cemetery Task Force in 2009 to take a look at Tennessee’s laws. “There’s not a clear process for dealing with cemeteries,” Garrow said.
Nowhere in Williamson County was the population boom of the past decade as dramatic as in Spring Hill, and that unmatched growth will soon give the city new political power. Spring Hill has never seated a resident on the Williamson County Commission since the city began annexing from Maury County into Williamson for residential growth in the 1980s.
City officials are taking stock of federal grants and considering what the impact would be if federal officials shrink them. Michael Keith, city director of finance, prepared a report for Monday’s Cleveland City Council meeting. His first list, totaling nearly $600,000, is of grants “the city has traditionally received” annually, Keith wrote.
Local election commissions and advocacy groups are rolling out campaigns to educate people about a new Tennessee law that requires registered voters to present photo identification at the polls. Election commissioners say they worry that people don’t know or understand the new requirements.
Vanderbilt University is set to become the permanent home of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s pre-Senate papers. The senator and his wife, Honey, have announced that they plan to donate what amounts to some 600 cubic feet of materials to the university library’s Special Collections department. Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said in a statement Monday the university is honored by the donation, calling Alexander “one of our most accomplished graduates.”
Vanderbilt librarians are sorting through memorabilia from Senator Lamar Alexander’s early political life. The university announced today it will house the former governor’s papers prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Bob Corker figures he has a sure way to rev up the American economy — tax reform. The Chattanooga Republican told Memphis real estate executives on Monday that lower business taxes could jump-start a country that is losing confidence.
Bob Corker, the junior U.S. Senator from Tennessee, made it clear Monday, in a talk to the Memphis Area Association of Realtors on Poplar, that he doesn’t think the spending cuts provided for in the last-minute congressional settlement of the debt-ceiling crisis were sufficient. Corker, a Republican, was the author of a spending-cap bill — “the only bill that was bicameral and bi-partisan” — that, over a 10-year period, would have trimmed the nation’s deficit by some $5 trillion, a sum he contrasted with the $4 trillion figure that many in Congress had regarded as “the magic number” for reduction and with the $2.5 trillion in cuts, now and later, that was actually mandated by the final bill.
Protest in ‘Boro today For the second week in a row, a group of citizens plans to protest outside Congressman Diane Black’s Murfreesboro office, this time with the focus on jobs. Members of Tennessee Citizen Action will picket for “good jobs, not cuts” today in front of the Gallatin Republican’s West Main Street office downtown. Last week, a group of about 50 tea party members gathered outside the office to lambaste Black for her vote to raise the federal debt limit.
For a preview of how states are likely to respond to deep cuts in federal military spending — a key component of the debt-reduction deal Congress approved this month — consider the Pentagon’s proposal a year ago to eliminate the Joint Forces Command, a sprawling military installation near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia. Last August, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the installation — one of 10 headquarters for U.S. military operations around the world — would be shuttered as a result of Pentagon budget cuts.
TVA says $1B plan to have little effect on rates, add jobs A plan to add new pollution control equipment to TVA’s Gallatin power plant will save jobs and reduce asthma-triggering substances that waft into the air. The Gallatin facility was among the Tennessee Valley Authority coal-burning power plants facing a phase-out if emissions weren’t cleaned up by 2017.
Erlanger Health System finished July with one of its largest financial losses in the last year. Hospital executives reported a $1.3 million loss at Monday’s scheduled budget and finance committee meeting, mostly blaming the seven-figure shortfall on overtime costs and physician summer vacations. “Health care is seasonal,” Chief Financial Officer Britt Tabor said after the meeting.
Metro Nashville is set to become the nation’s first large, urban district to adopt a school calendar that starts in July and builds in two weeks of intense intervention for struggling students. Its biggest proponent, Director of Schools Jesse Register, argues that it’s a must to close the achievement gap in a district where 70 percent of students are poor and nearly a quarter speak a primary language other than English.
In a recent survey, Metro school families, faculty and staff gave a slight edge to a new balanced calendar for the 2012-2013 school year over a traditional calendar, meaning school would start on July 25 or Aug. 1 if one of two plans is passed. The results, which include numbers recorded through last week’s automated telephone survey, give Director of Schools Jesse Register a last-minute boost in bolstering his case that a balanced calendar is preferable.
Gag order continues; at least 1 more mediation session likely this week Secretive efforts to settle the school-merger lawsuit continued Monday, and it remained unclear whether U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays oversaw any progress because a gag order has prevented details from leaking out in a case where legal costs now exceed $1million. Mays has taken special precautions: The courtroom’s windows are papered over, extra U.S. Marshals are on benches behind a cordoned-off area and participants are reluctant to divulge information as insignificant as whether they are leaving for lunch.
The second day of mediation in the schools consolidation case ended early and still with no comment from any of the parties on whether the attempts to settle the last part of the lawsuit are making progress or have made progress. The Monday, Aug. 22, session ended around 3 p.m. and followed a full work day behind closed doors Friday on the top floor of the federal building.
“Mum” continues to be the optimum word with all parties under a gag order in the Memphis City and Shelby County Schools merger lawsuit. After another round of mediation with federal Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays, attorneys left the Clifford Davis Federal Building with apparently no resolution on Monday.
A 16-year-old Central High School junior has received unspecified punishment after he posted a threatening message on Facebook, according to authorities. Extra officers and metal detectors also were deployed Monday at the Fountain City school in response to the message. “The appropriate security actions were taken,” Knox County Schools spokeswoman Melissa Copelan said Monday.
Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee education Commissioner Kevin Huffman formally requested a waiver from meeting many of the standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Tennessee’s major education reform efforts need time to take effect and to bring change to public education outcomes.
Conservative money managing gives us a chance Tennessee has worked hard to earn its AAA credit rating with Moody’s and Fitch. Based on our management of the state’s finances, we strongly believe that our high rating should continue.
In the face of the nation’s historic credit downgrade this month, Tennessee has been forced to consider whether its credit ratings could also suffer. Tennessee relies heavily on federal payments for health care and other services, and a downgrade for the U.S. could signal problems ahead for Tennessee.
Tennessee government agencies ordered to prepare for up to 30 percent loss of U.S. funding. Unpredictable but undoubtedly drastic federal budget cuts mandated by the debt-reduction plan have state officials preparing for a slimmed-down Uncle Sam. It’s reassuring to see Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration formalizing those preparations by instructing state agencies to say how they would restructure their operations with the loss of up to 30 percent of their federal funds.
Despite the decline in the nation’s economy that began in 2008, the prospects for children in Tennessee have improved, according to the latest national KIDS COUNT Data Book released Wednesday. Tennessee showed improvement in five out of eight categories, and only lost ground in two categories.
Any doubts Tennesseans might have had about for-profit education have been reinforced by the state’s new virtual academy anchored in East Tennessee. Would-be students and their parents in Memphis and across the state are reporting difficulty enrolling in Tennessee Virtual Academy.
Americans may be worrying about layoffs and a second recession, but it’s made them only moderately less openhanded in back-to-school spending, which has quietly assumed the status of a major economic barometer and event.Retailers say parents are more inclined to shop sales, make do with last year’s clothes and supplies; over 40 percent say they’ll spend less than last year.
Since the Republican Party took control of state and local offices two years ago, the so-called party of less government is becoming the party of who controls government. The removal of Hooper Penuel as elections administrator and ensuing ruckus over his replacement was a clear sign of dysfunction, along with wailing and gnashing of teeth over who would serve on the Election Commission as Republicans held a newfound 3-2 majority.
MEDICARE is going to be cut. That is inevitable.