This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee will make the largest bond offering in its history this week, with proceeds going to major economic development projects and improvements to state buildings. The state will sell $584 million in bonds in a three-day offering that starts today.
Connecticut officials are not giving up on requiring Internet sellers to collect state sales taxes, despite signs from online retailer Amazon.com that it has no immediate plans to abide by the state’s new Internet tax law….Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon announced Thursday that the online retailer had agreed to begin collecting sales taxes in that state in 2014.
A year ago, Frayser High was the butt of every ugly joke and the object of wagging tongues as talk radio and TV yakked mercilessly about 90 teens there who were either pregnant or new moms. It wasn’t true, and students knew it. So did first-year principal Yolanda Lunford.
Loss rocks Tennessee, the home state of the film’s writer, director The annoyingly addictive theme song and happily partying kids from the opening credits are just memories and the mood is grim when Dennis Quaid’s character addresses a crowd in one of the first scenes in the new, filmed-in-Georgia “Footloose” remake. Time to face reality about the world they’re living in, he mournfully tells them. It’s “a world filled with evil and temptation and danger.”
The University of Tennessee system just began talks about tuition for next year but the trend points to more increases, UT President Joe DiPietro said. And that’s despite a nearly 40 percent increase in tuition in some schools over the past five years.
With state lawmakers studying how to cut costs in the state’s HOPE lottery scholarship program, Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle is urging them not to deny grants to thousands of college-bound kids unnecessarily. In a letter to legislators this month, Kyle called for using the lottery fund like an economic stimulus.
Tennessee schools have one less obstacle to opening buildings and sports fields to their communities, thanks to a law change being applauded by child fitness advocates. State code signed into law in June and being explained to schools this fall frees schools from liability when they sign agreements to allow athletic leagues, churches and community groups to use school grounds.
Davidson County will retain its 10 seats in the state House of Representatives, including two from districts in which nonwhite voters hold the majority, while Rutherford and Williamson will each pick up new members, according to plans in the works in the legislature. House GOP leaders are nearing completion of their redistricting plans, and they have begun presenting conceptual drawings to their Democratic counterparts of the shapes that districts could take for the next decade, members of both parties said.
AARP Tennessee is collaborating with the state’s coordinator of elections to help people meet the requirements of a new law requiring photo identification to vote. The two will hold a series of question and answer sessions around the state starting in Knoxville on Oct. 18.
The National Science Foundation plans a long-term study of how damage from an April tornado will affect the ecology of an isolated part of the Smoky Mountains. The tornado hit on April 27 as part of a massive storm system that swept through the western tip of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Blount County.
Growing tax base generates optimism Accusations of a borrow-and-spend mentality provided the soundtrack to Williamson County’s recent round of budget talks, and several commissioners amplified the rhetoric with criticism of unchecked school spending. This year’s $50 million debt payment is a primary reason taxpayers saw their first property tax increase in almost a decade.
When the Obama administration revealed that more than $17 billion in jobless benefits had been paid out improperly, a stream of headlines suggested that cheats were bilking the unemployment insurance system. The reality is a lot more complicated, as the U.S. Department of Labor itself noted when it reported state-by-state numbers last month.
Sam Burnett, a retired school administrator from Toledo, is an unlikely lobbyist. But next week, the 79-year-old will drive his blue Mercury Marquis 200 miles to Cincinnati to meet with aides to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Republican Sen. Rob Portman, one of 12 lawmakers on a congressional “supercommittee” charged with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit over a decade.
Four generators that power emergency systems at U.S. nuclear plants have failed when needed since April, an unusual cluster that has attracted the attention of federal inspectors and could prompt the industry to re-examine its maintenance plans. None of these failures has threatened the public.
The Appalachian coal collapse is not new. Nor is its impact on TVA. Tennessee has been the lowest or near-lowest coal-producing state in the East for about 15 years, according to statistical charts online on the National Mining Association’s website. And the Tennessee Valley Authority burns Appalachian coal at only two of its 11 coal-fired power plants.
The state’s new teacher evaluations are undermining the effectiveness of principals in Montgomery County, district officials say. Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Director Mike Harris is an outspoken critic of multiple aspects of the new evaluation system required by the state’s First to the Top Act, which requires four official observations for experienced teachers, and six for apprentice teachers.
Hamilton County Schools leaders have made a wish list of $247 million in building projects. Officials circulated a list of their recommendations to school board members Thursday, but it’s only in the very early stages.
Of all the landmark moments in the push toward consolidating Shelby County’s public schools, tonight’s organizational meeting of the now-unified countywide Shelby County Board of Education promises to be the most transformative yet. The theoretical and hypothetical become reality when seven people appointed by the Shelby County Commission join the nine people who represent the Memphis City Schools district and the seven who represent the formerly all-suburban Shelby County Schools district.
California’s decision to let undocumented immigrants apply for publicly funded financial aid for college offers illegal-immigrant youths in the largest state a new benefit after a federal measure to assist undocumented students failed last year. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act into law Saturday, saying it would give “top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us.”
Gov. Bill Haslam scored probably his biggest coup since taking office when he negotiated a compromise with retail giant Amazon that will bring an additional 1,500 jobs to Tennessee. Amazon will build distribution sites in Lebanon and Murfreesboro in exchange for a getting a break on charging sales tax on Tennessee customers until January 2014.
I felt it was necessary to respond to a “press conference” held by state Sen. Bill Ketron recently regarding the new voter ID law here in Tennessee. Not only is this law unneeded and politically motivated, but Ketron also feels it is necessary to single out one Rutherford County citizen, who made a terrible mistake almost 30 years ago.
When you are a 96-year-old, law-abiding, conscientious American citizen, you ought to be able to exercise your right to vote easily and quickly. You shouldn’t have to provide an envelope full of documents proving your identity — only to be told that you still haven’t shown that you are eligible to cast a ballot.
In the partisan atmosphere of Congress, there is one thing on which Republicans and Democrats should agree: Americans need accurate information about Medicare. Sen. Bob Corker’s bill requiring the government to provide an annual statement to taxpayers detailing how much they have paid into Medicare and how much they have received in benefits would do just that.
It would be wonderful if the University of Memphis could begin its second hundred years by successfully completing a $250 million Centennial Campaign. A quarter of billion dollars is a massive amount of money to raise by June 30, 2013, but the university has a tremendous head start.
It is no secret that the U.S. Postal Service is in serious financial trouble. Billions of pieces of correspondence that once would have been sent by traditional mail are today sent by email, creating huge losses for the Postal Service.
A shortage of primary care physicians for rural areas in Tennessee is not new perhaps, but if steps are not taken to reverse — or at least, curb — the trend, the problem could get out of hand. This shortage is expected to exceed 90,000 by the end of this decade.
It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. As a result, more than five million eligible voters will have a harder time participating in the 2012 election.