This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee education officials say they will not apply for up to $60 million in federal funds for early childhood education because the requirements don’t meet the state’s needs. Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that it’s hard to understand why the state wouldn’t want to get more money from the Race to the Top education grant program that already gave Tennessee $500 million to reform schools.
In a microbiology lab at the University of Tennessee, while studying yeast proteins that could someday help design better medical drugs, then-freshman Madelyn Crawford decided that was the kind of research she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Crawford, now a junior, is among the growing number of UT students opting to study science, technology, engineering or math over other degree programs.
State Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner made his first visit to Jackson on Wednesday. He took a tour of the West Regional Department of Health Office and the Jackson-Madison County Health Department. Wednesday’s trip was Dreyzehner’s first visit to West Tennessee since being sworn in as health commissioner 17 days ago.
A Knox County woman is charged with using TennCare to pay for a fraudulent prescription. The Office of Inspector General and Knox County Sheriff’s Office today announced the arrest of Vera Natascha Milligan, 36, for allegedly taking an altered prescription for a controlled substance to a pharmacy and using TennCare public health-care insurance benefits to pay for the drug.
A Knox Co. woman was charged with using TennCare to use a fraudulent prescrption, the Office of the Inspector General announced on Thursday. Vera Natascha Milligan, 36, is accused of taking an altered prescription to a pharmacy and using TennCare to pay for it.
Tuesday was open mike night in the Museum Center at Five Points as a long line of friends congratulated Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland for being the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. Rowland achieved the distinction in 2008 when he surpassed the late Harry Dethero, who served 17 years from 1966 to 1983.
A key to the remake of “Footloose,” which opens Friday, is that the dance-loving rebel kid character and the dance-forbidding preacher aren’t so much antagonists as wary, unintentional allies, trying to do what’s best for the girl they love…Brewer said he loved the Georgia experience, but it remains a touchy subject. He had wanted to shoot “Footloose” in his home state, like his previous projects, but tax incentives lured the $24 million production to Georgia.
Construction to correct traffic issues near the Sango Road/Highway 76 intersection and Exit 11 are expected to begin in spring of 2012, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan said. In late 2010, the Tennessee Department of Transportation conducted a safety audit on the area, said B.J. Doughty, the public information manager for TDOT.
While other states continue to “battle” giant online retailer Amazon.com, Oak Ridge state lawmaker Randy McNally is commending Tennessee officials for reaching a pact with the company to collect Tennessee sales tax beginning in 2014. The agreement, announced late last week, will also bring 3,500 jobs to the Volunteer State … or 2,000 more than previously expected.
Lebanon business owner A.J. McCall traveled to Washington Wednesday to promote a bill that would let states collect sales tax on items sold online. Under current law, retailers that don’t have a physical presence in a state don’t have to collect sales tax on products they sell there. A bill introduced Wednesday by Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Jackie Speier, D-Calif., would change that to allow states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes.
Morgan Hardy watched in frustration as a man walked into his comics and games shop last week, picked out what he wanted to buy, and then used his cell phone to order the merchandise on eBay. By ordering online, the customer was able to avoid paying the 9.25 percent sales tax he would have been charged if he’d bought the goods in Hardy’s store. “Customers are getting more brazen,” said Hardy, who owns Organized Play in Knoxville’s Old City.
Tennessee businesses are taking their calls for sales-tax reform to Washington, D.C., today, echoing recent pledges to see national reform of how online retailers must operate. The Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which had opposed a deal under former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen to waive sales taxes for Amazon.com in Tennessee, was scheduled to appear in Washington, D.C., at 2:30 p.m. central time today.
Tourism got the spotlight in the latest leg of the Tennessee Democrats’ jobs tour Tuesday — from talk of large-scale investments in marketing the state in general down to a specific proposal for an African-American music museum in Nashville. Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory, the Democratic caucus chair, was the only legislator to hit all four spots of the day’s schedule in Nashville.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester says Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is violating state ethics laws by using his office to promote a website funded by PAC contributions. Tomorrow, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey kicks off a statewide series of discussions called the Red Tape Road Trips.
The Collierville sponsor of the law that made it legal to carry a gun into bars in Tennessee is facing charges of possession of a handgun while under the influence and drunken driving. Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, was pulled over in Nashville late Tuesday, according to court documents.
State Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville), chief sponsor of the controversial “guns in bars” bill, was arrested in Nashville Tuesday night. Todd was picked up by Metro Police and charged with DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence.
If state Rep. Curry Todd is to be punished politically for getting arrested on charges that he drove drunk with a loaded gun Tuesday night, it will be the public, rather than his General Assembly colleagues, swinging the paddle. Todd’s arrest drew national media attention — fueled by the fact that he sponsored a controversial law that allows handgun carry permit holders to take guns into bars in Tennessee.
The Tuesday night arrest of state Rep. Curry Todd, sponsor of Tennessee’s controversial guns-in-bars law, on DUI and handgun possession charges, quickly found its way into the political sphere Wednesday. Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called Todd’s reported actions “embarrassing to himself and the state of Tennessee.
State Rep. Curry Todd, the Collierville Republican who worked for years to win last year’s approval of a law allowing gun-carry permit holders to go armed into places serving alcohol, was arrested here late Tuesday on charges of drunk driving, possession of a handgun while under the influence and refusing to take a breath alcohol test. He was released from the Davidson County Jail on $3,000 bond about 8:30 this morning.
The widely publicized case of 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper, of Chattanooga, who ran into problems seeking a free photo ID to vote under a new Tennessee law, has taught officials an invaluable lesson, state Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said Wednesday. “In terms of other individuals who may be in that situation again, we’re encouraging our employees to use some common-sense discretion in deciding whether or not that person is presenting documentation that is legitimate and issue the photo ID accordingly,” Gibbons said.
State officials say 30 county clerks across Tennessee have agreed to issue photo driver’s licenses at no charge to registered voters who do not have them. Under a new state law, starting in 2012 voters will have to show a state or federal photo ID to vote in Tennessee.
Beginning Oct. 17, Davidson County’s approximately 8,500 registered voters who have a driver’s license without a photo will be able to add one at no charge at the county clerk’s main office, located at 700 Second Ave S. In a release, the office of county clerk John Arriola said it has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Safety to begin the free upgrades this month and continue them through March 12, as the state prepares for a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.
More than 8,400 registered Davidson County voters who don’t have a photo on their driver’s license can add one for free at the county clerk’s main office, starting Monday. Clerk John Arriola said the free license upgrades will continue through March 12 to help voters get ready for implementation of a new state law requiring them to show photo identification before casting their ballots.
The Hamilton County Election Commission is waiting on the County Commission to determine whether the March primary will be held using old or new boundaries before notifying voters of coming district changes. At a meeting Wednesday, Election Commission Chairman Mike Walden told his board they would have to wait on the County Commission to decide whether to run the District 3 primary, set for March, on old boundaries or new ones.
Wharton, other incumbents win big, but a potentially edgy council runoff remains. Unsurprisingly, there were no surprises in the 2011 Memphis city election — unless you count the apparent irrelevance of Mayor A C Wharton’s maiden effort at a Ford-style coattails ballot.
The Rutherford County Democratic Party is breaking ties with former chairman Jonathon Fagan after he took the stage with a Republican state senator to criticize a party officer for incorrectly voting as a convicted felon. The Democratic Party’s executive committee voted last week to remove Fagan from the party and to prohibit him from participating in any activity connected with the local Democratic Party, according to Treasurer Michael Cowger.
Tennessee’s Senators joined their Republican colleagues in blocking President Obama’s 400 billion dollar jobs bill. Last night, the bill failed to get the 60 votes needed to continue in the Senate.
Bush education secretary worries new proposal will hurt minority kids Former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, a leading enforcer of the federal No Child Left Behind law, says she worries a proposal to dismantle that system would be a step backward for the nation’s 50 million students. Spellings was a headliner at a Chamber Education 2020 speaker series in Nashville on Wednesday.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to consider the case of a former Anderson County High School student who insisted a ban on the display of the Confederate flag violated his constitutional right to free speech. The high court’s decision not to accept the case leaves intact U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan’s 2009 ruling that the school system had the right to restrict students’ exercise of their free speech rights in the interests of school safety.
At a forum on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Gibson Guitar Corporation CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said the federal investigation into the company’s international wood deals has hurt sales and cost the company millions in fees. “We are really having a difficult time,” Juszkiewicz told GOP lawmakers at a discussion about the government’s “assault on private property.”
More than one-third of Americans now oppose the death penalty — the highest level in nearly 40 years — according to a Gallup Poll out Thursday. Moreover, those who believe the death penalty is being applied fairly, and those who say it isn’t used often enough, are at the lowest levels in a decade, underscoring significant changes in attitudes.
A decision in the first of two sets of lawsuits involving the Kingston coal ash spill is now in the hands of a judge, although a decision is not likely for months. The four-week trial concluded Wednesday in U.S. District Court in a case where 230 plaintiffs in five lawsuits are seeking damages from TVA.
The Rutherford County Commission will consider a $3.5 million classroom expansion for Eagleville High School today. Rutherford County Schools Director Harry Gill Jr. reported that the Eagleville project will add eight classrooms, a science lab, one teacher workroom, restrooms, a teacher work area, elevator access, hallway lockers, teacher restrooms and 13,600 square feet of unfinished space for restrooms, according to the minutes of the commission’s Budget, Finance & Investment Committee last week.
As with a number of smaller schools, Corryton Elementary School, is the focal point of its community. “It’s close knit,” said Knox County school board member Mike McMillian, who represents the school as part of the 8th District.
Civil rights groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on Wednesday to prevent the state’s new illegal immigration law from taking effect in January. The federal lawsuit names Gov. Nikki R. Haley and state Attorney General Alan Wilson as defendants along with Charleston County’s sheriff and a state prosecutor.
We don’t blame Gov. Bill Haslam for wanting to take a fresh look at higher education construction projects before committing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to campuses throughout the state. Having a master plan for such expenditures makes sense.
It is thrilling to contemplate not only Volkswagen’s current $1 billion investment in a manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, but the possibility of VW significantly expanding operations and employment here. Thousands of local workers are already producing Passats at the large VW plant at Enterprise South industrial park.