This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said last week he is “not close to proposing a change” in the state’s flat 20 cents-per-gallon gas tax, plus the 1.04 percent inspection and environmental fee. Nonetheless, the Tennessee Journal reports that the governor said he recognizes some change might be required in the future. More fuel-efficient cars, and new electric-powered vehicles like the battery-powered Nissan Leaf to be made in Smyrna, Tenn., will cut fuel taxes used for road construction.
Taxable sales made their biggest quarterly gain since 2006 over the summer quarter, according to figures released last week by the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. Revenue collections in Tennessee for October, which represent September sales, were up 8 percent over a year ago.
In a county that has suffered the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee, Takahata Precision America Inc. is expanding its plant in Helenwood and intends to hire more workers. The automotive industry is beginning to come back from the recession, and the Scott County plant, which makes injection molded plastic parts for vehicle fuel systems, is seeing demand pick up, said Mike Slaven, business planning manager for the operation.
Officials at the University of Memphis have decided to push for a tobacco-free campus by next summer. The move was spurred by a student government petition last year and similar actions by faculty and staff leaders.
Red tape and delays in the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency are choking the flow of money for local disaster recovery efforts, according to a state audit. The performance audit by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office faulted TEMA for taking an average of three months, sometimes longer, to repay local costs for cleanup and repair of public property after a disaster.
A child suffering — or possibly dying — at the hands of a drunk driver can lead to a lifetime of pain for all involved. Data released by the Tennessee Department of Safety reveals that between 2004 and 2011, 169 children ages 1 to 20 died in DUI-related wrecks in Tennessee, and 285 have sustained incapacitating injuries. In Montgomery County, four children have died in DUI-related wrecks since 2004, one between the ages of 5 and 9 and three between 17 and 20.
A state trooper’s botched traffic stop involving an off-duty sheriff’s deputy he suspected of DUI wasn’t the only reason for his firing, internal Tennessee Highway Patrol documents show. Internal affairs files state THP Trooper D’Angelo Inman also lied to internal affairs investigators at THP about the location of two of his department-issued weapons and, when faced with a deadline, turned in another trooper’s weapons in an attempt to get out of trouble.
The county’s slow population growth will cost it seats as GOP leaders remap the Tennessee legislature. Big Shelby is losing some of its clout in the Tennessee legislature — numerically at least — as a result of the county’s slower population growth relative to the Nashville suburbs and parts of East Tennessee.
Local and national Muslims called for state officials Saturday to rebuke state Rep. Rick Womick for remarks he made that all Muslims be removed from the U.S. military. At least one local Muslim, Saleh Sbenaty of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, went further, saying Womick “needs to be impeached immediately.”
Rep: All Muslims should be ousted from military Local and national Muslims called for state officials Saturday to rebuke state Rep. Rick Womick for remarks he made that all Muslims be removed from the U.S. military. At least one local Muslim, Saleh Sbenaty of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, went further, stating: ” … he needs to be impeached immediately.”
About 200 people stopped by the Tennesseans for Fair Taxation tents on Legislative Plaza on Saturday to hear the group’s stance on the state’s tax laws, according to members there. The Nashville event, held from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., was one of three events scheduled as part of the group’s Statewide Day of Action.
Knox County officials plan to review the multimillion-dollar Sheriff’s Office pension plan and determine whether voters should sign off on changes to offset its increasing price tag. Officials also want to study the rising expenses incurred by the Knox County Retirement and Pension Board, which administers the plan. Some board members say they’re concerned that the system spends too much on legal fees.
The Memphis City Council approved a budget ordinance in June that included a sharp increase in court costs, but at least one City Court judge has not been assessing the higher amount. In addition, the City Court clerk is just now moving to acquire the “boots” necessary for a car booting-and-towing system the council approved in June, and scheduled to start last month.
Hamilton County commissioners held a secret meeting with their attorney on Friday to discuss Occupy Chattanooga protesters, possibly signaling a determination to make some move against them. The state’s Open Meetings Act requires most meetings of local officials to be open to the public, but the Tennessee Supreme Court has said public bodies can meet privately with an attorney about pending or contemplated litigation.
On Tuesday, a baker, a college student, a home-schooling mom, a homeless man waiting to hear from a job and a data analyst packed up the supplies they’d gathered for eight days and moved to the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn. Some of the protesters say they expect to be occupying for a year, maybe more. But as of this morning, they have slept out there for just 12 days, and winter’s worst is yet to come.
A fundraising tactic that has been employed for some time now by artists and entertainers — namely securing small-dollar financial backing for projects from large numbers of donors — may become equally commonplace among entrepreneurs if the U.S. Senate approves a bill to allow “crowd funding” for startups and small businesses. Earlier this month and with overwhelming bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act by a vote of 401-17.
U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s legislation, H.R. 2576, dealing with Medicaid payments passed the Senate Thursday by a vote of 95-0. Black’s bill closes a loophole in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that would have allowed some middle-class Americans to receive Medicaid benefits.
Those serving minorities may lose Medicare millions Without a car or money for a cab, Bonnie Turgeon called an ambulance to get her sick husband to the doctor. He spent a week in Nashville General Hospital and has to walk 2.5 miles for follow-up appointments.
Although they say it is unlikely to occur this year, officials with an area chapter of Trout Unlimited say the closure of nine national fish hatcheries, including the Erwin National Fish Hatchery, is still a conceivable possibility. These officials are asking people interested in keeping the hatcheries open to make their voices heard now in an effort to stop the cessation of hatchery operations.
Third-party prospect tempts lukewarm voters After surveying the field of presidential choices, Brandy Kirk has not been impressed. Texas Gov. Rick Perry: He seems to lack polish. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: It’s not clear where he stands. And former restaurant executive Herman Cain: His handling of the allegations of sexual harassment has not been deft.
Hamilton County middle and high schools called for police help 20 times a day on average last school year. Nearly half the 3,624 police calls received from the 20 schools that have a law enforcement presence came from five campuses: Washington Alternative School, with 415 calls; Ooltewah High School, with 394; Tyner High School, with 359; Howard School of Academics and Technology, with 329; and East Lake Middle School, with 290.
As a middle-schooler, Megan Olive suffered in silence as two of her classmates taunted her about her weight and frizzy hair. “I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t think it was that important,” she said. “They would made ‘oink’ noises at me in the hallway.
New three-dimensional technology will soon allow Chattanooga police to take jurors on a visual trip past the yellow crime scene tape, to the scene of a fatal shooting. The Chattanooga Police Department is the first in Tennessee to get a Leica Geosystems ScanStation C10, which uses cameras and lasers to reproduce a crime scene on a screen in three dimensions.
For the first time next year, thousands of Chicago Public Schools teachers will be evaluated based partly on how well their students are doing academically. Many fear they will face dismissal if the standards are not applied fairly.
Gov. Bill Haslam is sending signals that he will be more of a Doberman than a dachshund in the second year of his administration. OK, maybe more like something in the terrier family. You now, prone to feisty jumps and speaking out.
Something close to panic has seized opponents of new teacher standards in Tennessee. Among other things tripping their horror reflex is the fact that tenured teachers may no longer skate by with only two evaluations every 10 years. They’re also miffed that a big part of determining a teacher’s proficiency will be subjective classroom observations.
Requiring online and catalogue retailers to collect sales taxes could help the state reach worthwhile goals. When was the last time you sent a check to state government for the sales tax you owed for an online purchase?
Now that the 2011 election season is finally over, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen once again must start looking over his shoulder. The three-term incumbent is pretty much guaranteed to face new opposition in the 9th Congressional District Democratic primary next August.
While the pace of social media continues to race upward like TVA salaries, government websites continue to evolve. Those websites, collectively referred to as .gov sites, for years were reluctant warriors in the battles to conquer the Internet.
Jane and John Middleton work hard for their money. Both finished high school, but college just wasn’t their thing. In 2009, John earned $10 per hour, about $20,000 per year, while Jane worked part time and earned $12,395.
Mayors, CEOs work to keep skilled foreign students, entrepreneurs America’s eagerness to compete on the world stage over the past 200 years, along with its constitutional freedoms, made it into the pre-eminent economic power and the destination for disaffected and displaced people from all parts of the globe. Lately, we have lost a significant amount of that luster.
America has a love affair with unrealistic limits and quotas. In 1919, the United States ratified the 18th Amendment to prohibit the sale of most alcohol — only to repeal Prohibition in 1933 by ratifying the 21st Amendment. Unrealistic immigration quotas are now choking American businesses.
Attracting talent and ambition from abroad has always been a hallmark of our nation’s success and is a critical aspect of President Barack Obama’s vision for a 21st-century immigration system. This past week, I had the privilege of joining community and business leaders in Nashville to discuss the economic benefits of smarter immigration policies.