This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed an executive order easing restrictions on hay haulers to help farmers without access to hay for livestock. The order allows trucks to carry larger loads as long as they observe safety requirements.
The state of Tennessee sold $546 million worth of bonds this week, making it the largest sale in the state’s history. According to a news release from the state comptroller’s office, the demand for the state’s bonds was high due to the state’s strong credit ratings.
The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area will give Franklin a much-needed $240,000 grant to buy the kiosks, signs and brochures needed to bring visitors to the city’s Civil War battlefield park. Ernie Bacon, former city alderman and member of the heritage area’s board of advisors, confirmed the group’s financial commitment to help pay for the guides at the Eastern Flank of the Battle of Franklin Park.
A majority of states intend to take President Barack Obama up on his offer to let them get around unpopular requirements in the “No Child Left Behind” education law, the Education Department said Thursday. Obama said last month he was frustrated that Congress didn’t act to change the law that he has said is flawed, so he was moving forward with an effort to let qualifying states circumvent it.
With the March Shelby County primaries on the way, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will be lending his support to a fundraiser for Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. Haslam is the featured guest at a $500-a-head fundraiser Nov. 2 at Oaksedge in East Memphis.
Hispanics and African-Americans choose to explore the Internet with mobile technologies, particularly smartphones, more than Tennesseans generally, according to survey data released Thursday by a broadband advocacy group. And the presence of children at home continues to push more low-income families to buy computers and high-speed Internet.
Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner praised Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles’ efforts to make it easier for more than 7,000 county residents to get a photo ID to vote. A state law, passed earlier this year, requires voters to present a photo ID when they go to the polls beginning next year.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Wednesday moved to make more options available for registered voters to get photo driver licenses or identification cards for voting purposes. A new law that goes into effect Jan. 1 requires voters to show a state or federal issued photo ID to cast a ballot at the polls in Tennessee.
It’s a tough new stance that could cost some people their money or their homes. Florida is one of two states to begin random drug tests for folks who receive government aid, and the Tennessee legislature may consider it as well.
In July, 11 Connects opened an investigation into dash cam video procedures at the Tennessee Highway Patrol. It uncovered a complex web of missing videos, limited oversight, and budget restrictions. JOSH SMITH, anchor: Three months ago, 11 Connects opened an investigation into dash cam video procedures at the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The result: a complex web of missing videos, limited oversight, and budget restrictions.
After more than 22 years, Dick Gourley, dean of the UT College of Pharmacy, is stepping down from his post to serve as interim president of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that monetizes the university’s intellectual property and promotes regional economic development in the state. James Eoff, who is currently executive associate dean for the UT College of Pharmacy, will replace Gourley on an interim basis, until the school’s new dean, Marie Chisholm-Burns, takes over next semester.
Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner can no longer practice law in Tennessee, according to the disciplinary arm of the Tennessee Supreme Court. By agreement, Baumgartner was disbarred, according to Thursday’s notice from the Board of Professional Responsibility.
State Rep. Brenda Gilmore wants to overturn a state law that nullified Nashville’s right to ban discrimination against gays. The Nashville Democrat will join state and local gay rights activists and Metro Council members today to introduce legislation that she hopes will restore local rights to ban discrimination, even if those laws are stricter than the state’s.
Ward 1 Councilman Nick Steward and the City of Clarksville welcomed Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as part of a business round table Thursday afternoon to address small business issues city and statewide. Ramsey’s visit was the first stop on the Tennessee Red Tape Tour initiative, or Ridiculous Employee Decisions that Affect People Everyday.
State Rep. Curry Todd’s arrest on drunken driving and gun charges led to repercussions Thursday with the Collierville lawmaker resigning his chairmanship of a House firearms task force. House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he accepted the resignation from the House panel because Todd “has other things to concentrate on.”
The chairman of a special state House firearms task force has resigned his position following his arrest Tuesday night for DUI and possessing a loaded weapon while intoxicated. The future of the task force itself is in limbo with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who created the panel, saying he will make a decision about it by next week.
State Rep. Curry Todd, arrested Tuesday night on drunken driving and other charges, stepped down Thursday as chairman of a Republican Caucus Firearms Task Force and was criticized by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey. The developments followed the arrest of Todd, R-Collierville, on charges of drunken driving, possession of a handgun while under the influence and refusing to take a breath alcohol test.
At least he didn’t say, “ I apologize if I offended anyone,” that staple of the disingenuously stubborn when they have to own up to something but do so only half-heartedly, making it look like their non-apology (for that is what it is) is just a generous concession to somebody else’s irrational sensitivity. No, Curry Todd has screwed up big-time, and knows he did.
Tennessee would turn into the Wild West. Drunken shootouts would be the norm. And tourists would shun the state, opting for safer, calmer locales.
To give employees pay raises, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is putting his faith in “these tough economic times” turning around, something he’s constantly fretted over and used as a reason to cut other parts of county spending. His proposal, which Knox County Commission will discuss Monday, would give roughly 2,300 employees in general government and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office a 3 percent, across-the-board pay increase, starting Jan. 1.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office is investigating whether an employee of a Texas-based law firm that collects taxes for the city of Memphis misappropriated thousands of dollars by depositing checks into a personal account. Cedrick Hughes, the Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson firm employee, convinced at least one elderly Memphis couple beginning in 2007 to write checks to Hughes personally instead of to the city, according to City Attorney’s Office officials.
Hospital operator Vanguard Health Systems Inc. said Thursday former Tennessee Gov. Philip N. Bredesen has joined its board of directors. Bredesen served as governor from 2003 to 2011 and also served as Democratic co-chair of the National Governor’s Association task force on health reform, according to Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard.
Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has joined the board of Vanguard Health Systems, an operator of 28 hospitals and complimentary facilities and services. “The addition of Phil to the board will further diversify the outstanding talents and wide-ranging experience that our directors already bring to Vanguard,” said Charlie Martin, chairman and chief executive of Nashville-based Vanguard.
Hospital operator Vanguard Health Systems has added former Gov. Phil Bredesen to its board of directors. Bredesen, who served two terms as mayor of Nashville and as governor, is a health care industry veteran having co-founded health care technology outfit Qualifacts.
Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has been appointed to the board of directors for Nashville-based Vanguard Health Systems “Phil is a true visionary and thought leader. As a successful governor, mayor and entrepreneur, he brings unique experiences and perspectives to assist Vanguard in developing a transformative health care business model and drive sustainable growth.
U.S. Reps. Phil Roe and Scott DesJarlais said Thursday that a weekend trip to Afghanistan left them convinced that American troops injured on the battlefield are getting top-notch medical care and that the overall situation in the war-torn country is improving. “As a physician, I was incredibly impressed with the level of health care they get on the ground and in the hospitals there in Afghanistan.
The congressman from Frog Jump, Tenn., said Thursday that he understands the “frustration” of the Occupy Wall Street movement but said it appears to want “an easy fix” to complicated problems. In a wide-ranging interview in The Grill of the Republican Party’s Capitol Hill Club, Rep. Stephen Fincher discussed what he sees as the need for predictable, long-term stability in areas such as health care reform and environmental and financial regulation.
A program that has paid for job training and other aid for more than 35,000 unemployed Tennesseans since 2002 will stay alive for at least two more years. Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration made renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program a precondition for voting on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
The Internal Revenue Service reminds an estimated 169,000 Tennesseans that their six-month extension for filing their 2010 federal tax returns ends Monday. The IRS said in a news release Thursday that individuals and small businesses should double check their returns for recently expanded tax benefits such as the new Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Meanwhile, the agency said that more than 2.2 million Tennesseans have used IRS e-file so far this year, up about 14 percent over last year.
Next up for House Republicans who are seeking to curb the role of the Environmental Protection Agency is a vote today on a bill that would give states the power to monitor the disposal of coal ash from power plants. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead and many other toxic materials that can escape into the air or water if the material isn’t properly contained.
The emergence of “floating subdivisions” on TVA-managed waters is creating new regulatory challenges as houseboats on East Tennessee waters mushroom and begin to conflict with increasing lakefront development. That was the assessment of experts addressing the federal utility’s Regional Resource Stewardship Council on Thursday at the beginning of a two-day meeting on issues facing Tennessee Valley rivers and lakes.
Memphis City Schools let go of 33 teachers Thursday, casualties of a union-based seniority contract. Some had no warning and no chance to say goodbye to their students, including Amanda Barnett, who was crying in the parking lot at Messick School after being kicked out of the termination meeting, she said, for trying to record the proceedings on her cellphone.
Metro Schools is inviting businesses to sponsor high school scoreboards, banners and even athletes’ uniforms. This week, school board members agreed to a two-year contract with School Sports Media, which will sell advertising spots through Metro athletics to raise much-needed funds for middle and high school sports.
Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham said Thursday that he’ll support the purchase of new land for Ooltewah Elementary School only if revenue from the sale of the current site goes to the county and not the schools. The school board voted last week to ask commissioners to buy 33.97 acres along Ooltewah-Georgetown Road for $875,000, or $75,758 per acre, for a new school to replace the currently undersized and overcrowded Ooltewah Elementary.
A state commission voted Thursday to yank the teaching licenses of eight teachers and three school administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools, imposing the first sanctions in the nation’s largest-ever school cheating scandal. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission ruled on the first set of cases from a state probe that revealed widespread cheating in nearly half of the district’s 100 schools dating as far back as 2001.
The school day was difficult, said Will Clarkston, a soft-spoken 20-year-old who, in his own words, can’t sit still. His dyslexia sometimes leaves him grasping to text the right acronym to his friends. He often loses his train of thought because of his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Arun Raha, Washington State’s chief economist and revenue forecaster, is a good-natured man known for bringing a sense of humor to his job. But three times in the past three years, Raha has been forced to notify state lawmakers of budget shortfalls totaling $1 billion or more.
A Wisconsin lawmaker has proposed splitting the state’s electoral votes according to congressional district, a move that would undercut President Barack Obama’s advantage in the longtime Democratic state. The proposal, introduced by GOP state Rep. Dan LeMahieu, follows a similar move by Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania.
In our smartphone world today, isn’t there an app for everything? Grocery lists can be compiled with an app; you can check tonight’s TV schedule and order a book from Amazon — all on your smartphone. Now apps are in the health-care world and, as Tennessean reporter Tom Wilemon wrote in a recent article, “cellular phones have changed medicine.”
Who has a chance to be your representative in Congress after the next election? Your state senator?
Curry Todd has redefined irony. How very convenient for the state representative — arrested earlier this week and charged with DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence — to not admit that he personally, and unwittingly, demonstrated that a bill he sponsored has been rendered sheer folly. After all, it was Todd who spearheaded the 2009 legislation that allowed people with handgun permits to carry their weapons into establishments that serve alcohol — naïvely assuming they wouldn’t drink.
Curry Todd’s arrest: An honest discussion of the handgun-carry issue would have to mention that Todd’s night could have gone a lot worse. If the police reports are accurate, state Rep. Curry Todd this week joined a long list of state legislators who over the years have overindulged in the temptations that flow freely in the Capital environment.
Few of us think very much about foreign trade. But opening foreign markets to U.S. goods is nevertheless important to job creation and economic growth in our country. That’s why Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander were among those who voted this week for free trade agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama.