This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
The governor, mayors and Greater Memphis Chamber rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for about a dozen people who advise businesses where in the world to build or relocate. When all other factors among competing cities are about even, building relationships between local leaders and corporate decision-makers is crucial, said one of the visiting site-selection consultants, Robert M. Ady of the Chicago-based Ady International Company.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was in Memphis Wednesday to talk about the strategy and the struggle to bring jobs to the Mid-South. “The most important thing that I should be doing as governor is to bring more jobs to Tennessee,” he said.
A bus tour by the Greater Memphis Chamber rolled only to the best stops In Memphis. Consultants, who advise big businesses on where to relocate their companies, were on board. “This is kind of like getting the ear of the people who have the ear of the company and we’ve found that to be critical for our success,” said Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam.
Tennessee will likely face as much as a $400 million budget gap next year as spending on services like education, TennCare and pensions likely swell beyond the state’s predicted revenue growth, Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration said Wednesday. To compensate, state government is going to have to find options for cuts, and the governor has asked each department to explain their contingency plan for absorbing a 5 percent reduction.
The heads of three state agencies on Wednesday began giving Gov. Bill Haslam their proposals for how they would cut 5 percent from their spending plans in next year’s budget. The Republican governor kicked off annual budget hearings at the University of Memphis, the first time they have been held outside Nashville.
A potential state budget deficit of up to $400 million in the next fiscal year could prompt staffing cuts at Tennessee’s drivers licensing centers just as they are implementing new efficiencies to trim waiting times, state officials said in Memphis Wednesday. Gov. Bill Haslam opened the process of building state government’s $30 billion budget for fiscal year 2012-13 on the University of Memphis campus — the first time that state budget hearings have been held outside of Nashville, he said.
Haslam brings budget hearings from capitol to UM campus Governor Bill Haslam met with state department heads to discuss budget proposals for the 2012-2013 fiscal year at The University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology on Wednesday, the first time in state history the hearings have been held outside the state capitol in a public setting. While the purpose of the Memphis visit was to increase citizen participation, six members of Occupy Memphis comprised most of the attendees, quietly sitting in on the hearings while other members organized a protest of Haslam’s visit in solidarity with Occupy Nashville.
Filtration products maker Mann & Hummell USA Inc. plans to locate its southern production facility in southeastern Tennessee and officials said the $15 million investment will create about 150 jobs in Dunlap by the end of 2013. Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, Sequatchie County and Dunlap officials joined in making the announcement in a statement Wednesday.
Louisville’s Rick Pitino’s blessing wasn’t enough. Congressman Steve Cohen’s plea on Capitol Hill hasn’t exactly pulled it off either. Now Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam admits he too has thrown his support behind the possible entry of the University of Memphis Tigers into the Big East Conference.
An estimated 5,000 people waited in line in Murfreesboro hoping to get one of the 1,600 jobs at Nissan as the automotive manufacturer looks to ramp up hiring for a new battery plant at its Smyrna facility. Yates Services, a maintenance contractor at the plant, held a job fair on Wednesday for part-sorting, production line and forklift positions and the response was the largest turnout for any Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce job fair.
Robert Darnell of Columbia lost his job at the Sanford pencil plant in Lewisburg more than two years ago. Since then, he’s been looking for work every week.
Several thousand people turned out to apply for work with Nissan at a job fair in Murfreesboro today. That’s far more than the 1,100 full-time jobs the carmaker has open at its Smyrna plant, both in warehouses and on production lines.
Tennessee’s latest announced tourism trail covers 347 miles throughout Middle and West Tennessee. The Tennessee River Trail, to be officially launched Friday, crosses Benton, Decatur, Hardin, Houston, Henry, Humphreys, Perry, Stewart and Wayne counties.
Middle Tennessee State University and Motlow State Community College have announced a dual-admission program that will help students earning a two-year associate’s degree to apply those credits toward a bachelor’s degree. MTSU president Sidney McPhee and Motlow President Mary Lou Apple signed the agreement on Wednesday, according to a statement from MTSU.
The presidents of Middle Tennessee State University and Motlow State Community College signed an agreement Wednesday to ease student transfers between schools. Under the program, Motlow students will be guaranteed admission to MTSU if they meet certain requirements.
UTC unveiled three competing plans on Wednesday that could determine the shape of the university’s expansion for years to come. The planned push to 15,000 students from the current 11,450 will require thousands of beds, more parking and additional academic buildings, officials said Wednesday during a presentation of the plans at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.
The top TennCare medical official defended in federal court on Wednesday the state’s response to the deaths of two New Life Lodge patients last year. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wendy Long said TennCare acted appropriately by informing other state agencies — the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Children’s Services — following the 2010 deaths of patients at the state’s largest drug rehabilitation center.
On November 23rd Tennesseans will learn how deep the state budget cuts will go into Medicare and Medicaid. At the Tennessee Hospital Association’s annual meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel Wednesday, some are prediction a dire situation.
A Roane County woman has been charged for the second time for “doctor shopping”. According to the Office of Inspector General, Kathy Ellison visited multiple doctors in a short period of time in order to get similar prescriptions using TennCare.
A Roane County woman is charged for a second time with “doctor shopping.” She’s accused of going to multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain the same or similar controlled substances and using TennCare as payment.
Health officials will go door to door in 30 randomly selected Davidson County neighborhoods today and Friday as they conduct a survey on emergency preparedness. The representatives of the Tennessee Department of Health and Metro Public Health will be wearing T-shirts with “CASPER” printed on the front and have photo identification cards.
The state of Tennessee has issued a new wastewater discharge permit for the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that requires a series of actions to ensure progress in the cleanup of long-standing mercury pollution. The five-year permit is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, but the National Nuclear Security Administration, which earlier raised objections to certain requirements in the draft permit, has 30 days to appeal.
Learn more about adding solar energy to your home or business at free workshops this week. The first is noon-1 p.m. Thursday in Region II Conference Room, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Ellington Agricultural Center, 440 Hogan Road.
The philosophical lines on school vouchers are so distinct and the passions on both sides so pronounced it probably shouldn’t be surprising that even guns in bars crept into the debate on a voucher bill Tuesday in a Tennessee legislative committee. House Bill 388, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, would provide scholarships and school choice for low-income students in the state’s four largest counties.
After receiving mountains of mail from teachers, state lawmakers got the messages in person Wednesday. During a hearing about a new evaluation system, educators forecast a mass exodus from the profession if changes aren’t made.
Tennessee’s teacher preparation programs are turning out a wide variety of educators, from woefully unprepared to high achieving, according to a new state report. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission released its Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs this week and shows that, of the state’s 41 teacher-training programs, only three produce graduates that enter the classroom and are immediately more effective at teaching than veteran teachers who’ve had more than three years of experience.
When he appears before the Tennessee State Board of Education meeting on Friday, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will propose modifications to Tennessee’s newly overhauld teacher evaluation system, TEAM. TEAM, an acronym for Teacher Education Acceleration Model, was implemented at the beginning of the school year as a primary component of the state’s First to the Top reform efforts.
With $50 million on the table for new Hamilton County school construction projects, the tug of war has begun over who decides how it’s spent. On the Hamilton County Commission’s side is fundraising power.
As the video clip above — from a public-information session on the new state Photo-ID law, held at the Vasco A. Smith County Administration Building on Tuesday night — makes clear, public response has been relatively meager to state government’s current campaign to publicize the ins and outs of the law, which goes into effect on January 1st. Officials of the Shelby County Electon Commission and the state Department of Safety were on hand for Tuesday night’s session, which also featured a prefabricated video of state Election Coordinator Mark Goins.
Tennessee Elections Coordinator Mark Goins predicted Tuesday that nobody will be prohibited from casting a ballot next year because of the state’s new voter photo ID law. “I don’t anticipate anybody’s going to be disenfranchised,” Goins told about 25 to 30 people at a town hall meeting at the County Courthouse.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester warned Wednesday that low voter turnout will go lower with the state’s new voter photo ID law. Forrester, while standing with a group of Northeast Tennessee Democrats on the steps of the Sullivan County Courthouse, said Tennessee ranked 49th in voter participation last year.
State and local Democrats announced Tuesday they will support a call to repeal Tennessee’s new photo ID voter law, but said in the meantime they are promoting a statewide education plan to help residents most likely discouraged from voting. “We are not saying that a person should not have to identify themselves,” state Rep. Joanne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said at a news conference in front of the Boynton Center.
Occupy Nashville protesters plan to march to Governor Bill Haslam’s office Thursday morning and hand him a letter. Occupy Nashville protesters have not released details of the letter, but said it will likely include a demand for an apology.
While Gov. Bill Haslam was defending the state’s actions in the arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters, the feeling was not unanimous at Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Some lawmakers said the situation should have been handled differently.
In the space of a weekend, Gov. Bill Haslam, state Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and the Tennessee Highway Patrol may have succeeded where three weeks of public protest hadn’t. They’ve given liberals and conservatives, hippies and yuppies, and media professionals who’d normally be at each other’s throats reason to rally behind Occupy Nashville — or at least behind its First Amendment right to assemble on Legislative Plaza.
With threat of arrest now gone, Occupy Nashville demonstrators are grappling with how they appear to the outside world. On Wednesday night, the group debated whether to take control of that image by collecting demographic information amongst themselves that can be shared with the media.
John Stefanski doesn’t blame Wall Street for the nation’s economic woes. Instead, he says the crisis is spiritual, not financial. Rather than protest, he wants people to pray.
An Occupy Nashville protester said he will file a lawsuit Thursday after he had to be taken to a hospital when police made arrests last week. Rob Keppler, a disabled protester who was arrested last week, said troopers used excessive force when they attempted to take him into custody.
Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government since its inception in 2003, has been named public policy director for the Tennessee Press Association. The coalition is made up of news media organizations, including The Associated Press, the TPA, citizen and professional groups and individuals.
100 lawmakers say all options to cut debt must be considered Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville joined a bipartisan group of 100 House lawmakers on Wednesday in urging the congressional debt-reduction supercommittee to find at least $4 trillion in savings over the next 10 years from revenue increases and cuts to entitlements and other programs — more than three times the panel’s minimum goal of $1.2 trillion. In a letter sent to the committee’s co-chairmen, the group of 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans told the 12-member panel that “all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table.”
Congressional candidate Weston Wamp said he will announce a more detailed platform “by the first of the year,” about a month after his campaign faces its first financial test. The campaign has been planning a major fundraiser for early December.
A revamped federal lending program for small businesses was formally launched in Memphis on Wednesday at a local company that is making international gains in HVAC technology. Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, met with partners at Evaporcool to announce the reformulated CAPLines loan program.
Students who graduated from college in 2010 with student loans owed an average of $25,250, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to a report scheduled for release Thursday. The average debt — once again the highest on record — came as the class of 2010 faced an unemployment rate for new college graduates of 9.1 percent, the highest in recent years, according to the report by the Project on Student Debt, which pointed out that unemployment rates for those without college degrees were still higher.
A 34-year-old New Jersey man beat odds of more than 32,000-to-1 last month when he correctly picked the winners of 15 National Football League games against the point spread on a $5 wager. He collected $100,000.
TVA employees, already under a federal wage freeze, may be required to contribute to their pension for the first time in the plan’s 72-year history if Congress accepts a deficit-cutting measure proposed by President Barack Obama. Beginning next year, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget wants TVA workers to pay 1.2 percent of their salary into the retirement system over three years as part of a plan to cut the federal deficit by $21 billion over the next decade.
Solar power generating systems may be built at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and at the Memphis Bioworks parking garage on Union. TVA on Wednesday approved allowing those projects as well as a solar array at Agricenter International to receive a lucrative subsidy that makes the projects financially feasible.
Moments after the Knox County school board voted against outsourcing the work of the district’s nearly 350 custodians, cheers and clapping erupted in the City County Building’s Main Assembly Room. With a 5-4 vote, the board turned down Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s recommendation to approve a contract with Knoxville-based Service Solutions for custodial work.
As individuals, Knox County commissioners and school board members say they get along. But in their respective groups, they often say “bring it on.”
‘Keylining’ slices ground so it holds rain, compost Howard Switzer, known for building straw bale buildings, is helping bring another eco-friendly technique to the state. It’s called keylining — farming to hold moisture where the land needs it and to enrich the land.
Today’s chaotic economic environment includes a national unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent and an under-employment rate nearly double that figure. In Tennessee, the unemployment/under-employment rates are consistent with the national average, but in some counties unemployment is over 18 percent.
The goal of the Complete College Tennessee Act is to get more college degrees and college credentials and certifications into the hands of more Tennesseans. Keeping that goal clearly in focus is easier said than done.
Tennessee’s prescription drug abuse problem has reached epidemic proportions. As outlined in a series of articles in the News Sentinel this week, drug overdoses have killed nearly 1,500 people in Knox and surrounding counties during the past decade.
Gov. Bill Haslam may not agree with or like the Occupy Wall Street movement which has taken root across the country and around the western world. But that doesn’t matter.
ORNL and the University of Tennessee are plainly the Knoxville area’s two biggest economic assets. Not only are they among the area’s largest employers of the present, but they’re also the source of inventions and technologies that hold potential for spurring its future economic growth.
The U.S. Postal Service is in serious financial trouble, and there is no readily apparent solution. Just this year, the Postal Service is expected to lose $10 billion!