This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Change is hard. That’s been the company line from state officials — from Gov. Bill Haslam to Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman — with regards to new teacher evaluation methods that some say are the root of frustration and low-morale in schools across the state. The one-size-fits-all evaluations require multiple observations from principals (and additional pre-observation and follow-up sessions), judge teachers based on standardized test scores and emphasize lengthy, teach-to-the-test lesson plans.
Tennessee’s House and Senate Republican leaders could be at odds next year over legislation requiring school voucher programs in Hamilton County and Tennessee’s three other largest school systems. Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he is fired up about new legislation that retools a bill to let children from lower-income families use taxpayer dollars to attend private and religious schools.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty recently approved more than $23 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with infrastructure improvements in Tennessee. The pair announced recipients of the grants in West and Middle Tennessee today – East Tennessee grant recipients will be announced at a later date.
The qualities that make Tennessee a desirable location for businesses—proximity to large cities and a network of interstate roads—are the same factors that draw the people whose business is human sex trafficking. A recently released report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showed that human trafficking and sex slavery is more common in Tennessee than authorities have believed, TBI director Mark Gwyn.
A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation survey reporting more than 100 cases of human sex trafficking in Hamilton County by an unnamed social service organization may have inflated the number of cases that occurred locally. The TBI survey is a sharp contrast to the number of sex trafficking cases investigated by local law enforcement — zero.
The traffic problems caused by a major bridge construction project at Interstate 24’s exit 152 here may have no easy answers. Crews on the Tennessee Department of Transportation project are raising the two spans of the bridge to address clearance issues with tractor-trailers that pass under the interstate on U.S. Highway 72 on their way to South Pittsburg, Tenn., and Alabama.
The water and sewer problems which have plagued the Town of Bell Buckle may soon be eased, with help from a pair of low-interest loans awarded by the state’s Revolving Fund Loan program. The award was a highlight of Tuesday’s meeting of the board of mayor and alderman.
City ordinances recently approved by Memphis and Jackson, Tenn., that ban people under age 21 from retail liquor stores without a parent, legal guardian or spouse may become a state law too. The Memphis City Council passed the ordinance in September, and on Tuesday, the Jackson City Council voted unanimously on the first of two required readings to pass its ordinance.
Occupy Wall Street protesters who were arrested and cited last month for trespassing on state Capitol grounds are hoping to get their citations dismissed during a hearing in Nashville. General Sessions Judge Dianne Turner will consider a motion for relief filed by some of the protesters on Monday morning.
Most say cuts alone won’t be enough Large majorities of Tennesseans favor taxing the wealthy — especially millionaires — a statewide poll conducted by Vanderbilt University has found. More than two-thirds of state residents say they support higher income taxes on millionaires as part of next year’s budget, and nearly as many say they would support raising taxes on people who make $250,000 a year or more.
Tennesseans have not grown more optimistic about the economy this year, even as they say their personal fortunes have improved, according to surveys. The portion of Tennesseans who say they expect to be better off in a year’s time has remained at about 25 percent since January, and the share who say they will be worse off has dropped by only about 5 percentage points, pollsters at Vanderbilt have found.
It has been three months since Tropical Storm Irene washed out roads all across Vermont, but in the town of Roxbury, it is still difficult to get around. Two bridges on the main road through the town of 700 are still out, and are not expected to be repaired until the middle of December.
Justices may agree as soon as today to take up Fla. Case After a year and a half of legal skirmishing, President Barack Obama’s beleaguered health care law has arrived at the Supreme Court, riding a surprising winning streak and carrying a constitutional stamp of approval from prominent conservative judges.
East Tennessee’s best kept travel secrets now are available to a worldwide audience just by clicking a mouse. For the last two years the National Geographic Society and communities and businesses across the Tennessee Valley have been working to develop an online guide that showcases the region’s natural, cultural and historic attractions. The new interactive guide — titled “Where Rivers and Mountains Meet” — goes online Tuesday with a celebration starting at 10 a.m. and hosted by the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville, one of the sites showcased in the guide.
Chattanooga’s 48-hour launch propelled moneymaking ideas from concept to creation over the weekend, culminating in two dozen pitches at downtown’s Track 29 venue as a crowd of more than 100 tweeted their approval. Dreamers, developers and local investors spent two sleepless nights hammering out the next big thing, borrowing ideas and talent from each other as the sun rose and set.
The return of layaway plans this holiday shopping season is raising concern that the break from credit cards might actually cost consumers far more. For example, a rock ’n’ roll Elmo doll that requires a $5 layaway fee and a 10 percent down payment for a month can equal a credit card that charged more than 100 percent interest, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday. Schumer is asking major retail associations to direct their members to more clearly present their layaway fees to customers.
Alabama’s ruling class has dug in against the storm it caused with the nation’s most oppressive immigration law. Some of the law’s provisions have been blocked in federal court; others won’t take effect until next year.
Penn State Scandal Revives Bill Requiring Calls to Police of Suspected Incidents State lawmakers are expected Monday to press for passage of legislation to toughen requirements for reporting child sexual abuse following the Pennsylvania State University scandal in which at least two adults allegedly witnessed abuse and didn’t report it to law-enforcement authorities. State Sen. Wayne Fontana, a Democrat from Pittsburgh, said he would ask Senate leaders to move a bill he first introduced in 2005 that would amend state law to require any professional who works with children to report suspected child abuse to police.
Teacher evaluations under a new system adopted last session by the Tennessee Legislature will be a valuable asset in determining the competence and performance of those charged with educating the state’s young people. In that respect, we strongly and unequivocally favor an evaluation system that will help improve teacher performance with the broader goal of improving education in Tennessee.
Gov. Bill Haslam should err om the side of caution in deciding his position on school vouchers. He has said he will offer his position by the end of the year, after additional careful study.
The biggest question is: What took them so long? The Tennessee Department of Mental Health suspended all admissions at New Life Lodge last week, effectively shutting it down for at least four months or until a state investigation is complete.
To the victors belong the maps: Chances for reform of redistricting are slim, but a few states have shown that it can be done. Politicians are people.
What does it mean if you have a poor credit rating? For one thing, it means there is doubt about your ability to repay money that you borrow. The lower your score goes, the more doubt there is.
A persistent shortage of many prescription drugs, especially some widely used antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and medicines often employed to save lives in emergency rooms, is causing growing alarm among doctors and their patients. The problem is not new, but it is growing worse and beginning to adversely affect the treatment and even survival of patients.
American health care is remarkably diverse. In terms of how care is paid for and delivered, many of us effectively live in Canada, some live in Switzerland, some live in Britain, and some live in the unregulated market of conservative dreams.