This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
As they sat around the table, six students from the L&N STEM Academy and two teachers, spent a few minutes sharing what they love about their school with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “Here we are developing the traditions.
As students at Knoxville’s L&N Stem Academy finish up their very first semester, they got to share their experiences with Governor Bill Haslam. On Friday, the Governor sat down with students and principals to see how things are going.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today announced the release of nine regional strategic plans outlining how ECD’s field staff will lead new economic development efforts in their regions, support existing networks of local organizations and serve as an effective conduit between the department and regional stakeholders. The plans can be viewed at http://tn.gov/ecd/. Gov. Haslam’s Jobs4TN economic development plan, announced earlier this year, decentralized ECD and established nine jobs base camps throughout the state.
Tennessee’s new INCITE fund will put a premium on seed-stage investments, with state officials expecting money to flow through the regional economy by first quarter 2012. The fund, part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Jobs4TN plan, will steer $30 million in federal money toward a fund for venture capitalists looking to make their own investments in Tennessee businesses.
Gov. Bill Haslam says he has voiced concern to legislators that the new state law requiring voters to have photo identification will make it “unnecessarily hard” for some people to cast ballots in next year’s elections. The governor said he is not recommending changes in the new law or delaying implementation.
Officials from two Tennessee state agencies apologized to an estimated 400 motorists on Interstate 40 who were forced to spend 11 hours in their vehicles from Thursday night into Friday morning after an accident that involved an overturned truck. “We should have done better, and we apologize,” Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said.
An administrator of the state’s employment security system was appointed to the post while under indictment in Ohio. Charges of money laundering, theft and abetting an unlicensed loan broker were dropped on Nov. 29, after Turner Nashe Jr. was appointed by Tennessee officials on Nov. 14, according to The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/uOzU5K ). Nashe, 37, of Brentwood was among several people indicted in a mortgage fraud case. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, prosecutor’s spokeswoman Maria Russo said charges were “dismissed without prejudice,” meaning the state isn’t precluded from filing other charges in the future.
More than 100 Tennesseans have been tested for radiation exposure as part of a nationwide effort to determine the safety of a widely used heart imaging device that has been recalled. The recall also factored into Baptist Hospital’s decision to shut down its positron emission tomography (PET) department, while other hospitals have temporarily stopped using the devices for a type of cardiac test.
Radiation therapy will be the latest health care service to be provided at Dowell Springs off Middlebrook Pike. The Tennessee Health Services Development Agency narrowly approved this week a certificate of need application for East Tennessee Radiation Therapy Services, an affiliate of Provision Healthcare, to initiate the service and acquire linear accelerator equipment.
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. has received nearly $1 million from a pair of technology companies it blamed for software glitches that resulted in the sale of about $2 million worth of unwinnable tickets in 2007. The computer program that Smartplay International and Gaming Laboratories International came up with for games such as Cash 3 and Cash 4 was flawed and resulted in thousands of unwinnable tickets being sold to state residents.
A federal appeals court has ruled that a Tennessee death row inmate’s mental disability claims weren’t properly considered. Byron Black, 55, was sentenced to death after his 1989 Nashville conviction in the murder of his girlfriend Angela Clay and her daughters, Latoya, 9, and Lakeisha, 7.
In this courtroom, the judge knows defendants by name and a clean drug test can earn applause.The Knox County Drug Court came under fire this year after its chief judge, Richard Baumgartner, resigned and pleaded guilty to buying pain pills from a probationer in Criminal Court and a Drug Court graduate.
If a convicted rapist is forced to put the man who sent him to prison on trial to win a do-over, that judge will be at the top of the witness list, his attorney said in a motion filed Friday. Defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs is asking Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols to cough up addresses for all witnesses named in a file containing the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s probe of former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, including the disgraced judge himself.
State law forces doctors in Tennessee to log every painkiller prescription they write.They don’t have to check a patient’s log before writing another.
Local officials should have more leeway to conduct government business in private than is currently allowed under Tennessee’s open government laws, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said. Although the Blountville Republican told reporters this week that he’s against weakening what is known as the state’s Sunshine Law, he said he thinks city or county officials should be allowed to hold some discussions outside of official meetings.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is slamming the door on the possibility of cutting the grocery tax, saying most people wouldn’t notice if it was lower, anyway. “I’ll bet you that if you poll the citizenry, there isn’t 5 percent that can tell you that when you walk into a grocery store and you buy some pork and beans, your tax is 5.5 percent from the state, and if you reach right beside it and get a box of toilet paper, it’s 7 percent,” Ramsey told reporters Thursday.
Emotional appeals were directed Friday at Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state Sen. Mike Faulk to maintain funding for a state program serving home-based family members with severe disabilities. About 20 families with disabled loved ones filed into the auditorium at the Kingsport Public Library to testify on behalf of keeping the Family Support Program in the state budget.
State Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, said Friday that Councilman Manny Rico should immediately step down after making what she perceived to be racial remarks in a City Council meeting. “His comments and his behavior, I was just appalled,” Brown said. “I can’t forget that. I won’t ever forget that.”
Mayor Ron Littlefield will go back to the court where he won his lone legal victory and try once again to stop a recall election. Hal North, attorney for Littlefield, filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to stop the Hamilton County Election Commission from holding a mayoral recall election in August 2012.
Five days is a long time in politics. That’s the gap between the Monday, Dec. 19, meeting of the Shelby County Commission and the special meeting of the commission last Wednesday.
As the last of American troops pull out of Iraq this month, Rep. Jim Cooper warns not to expect the savings to produce a giant windfall for the Pentagon. Some analysts have predicted a possible “peace dividend” at the official conclusion of war in Iraq, which – at times – cost upwards of $5 billion a month.
Republican Rep. Diane Black wants Congress to start 2012 by making major changes to the federal budget process. Black, of Gallatin, and other Republicans on the House Budget Committee introduced a package of 10 budget reforms last week, including legislation that would bring back a modified version of a presidential power not used since the 1990s: the line-item veto.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said Friday GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney pledged to repeal federal health care reform despite having signed a similar measure into law as Massachusetts governor. Last week, Roe endorsed Romney and mentioned the repeal pledge in a news release on Romney’s campaign Web site. But Romney has been a political target for signing into law a state measure more than five years ago mandating Massachusetts residents to obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of health care insurance coverage.
The Obama administration said Friday it would shift to states the decision about what treatments many insurance plans must cover under the health-care overhaul, sidestepping contentious fights with Republican state officials and patient-advocacy groups. The move—a departure from the way the administration had been expected to implement the provision—disappointed some disease-advocacy groups that had hoped federal regulators would spell out exactly what services insurance policies for millions of Americans will have to cover to be sold in state-run insurance exchanges that open in 2014.
In a major surprise on the politically charged new health care law, the Obama administration said Friday that it would not define a single uniform set of “essential health benefits” that must be provided by insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead, it will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has spent almost $11 million so far on outside legal help to battle lawsuits from the Kingston Plant coal ash spill. The nation’s largest public utility told The Associated Press on Friday that it paid about $10.8 million to the Shook Hardy & Bacon law firm of Kansas City, Mo.
Staff stacked medical rec- ords, workers installed an X-ray machine and lab personnel unpacked supplies last week in the sprawling new $18.6 million University of Tennessee Student Health Center, all in preparation for Monday’s opening. At about 109,000 square feet, the building at the corner of Pat Head Summitt Street and Volunteer Boulevard is nearly seven times the size of the former health center.
Nashville’s school system is a pressure cooker of change these days. The district’s 30 million dollar cut of Race to the Top money is paying for a massive brainstorming effort.
A Gallatin mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sumner County Board of Education, claiming the school system is partly responsible for the death of her 9-year-old daughter. Alexis Thompson, a third-grader at Benny Bills Elementary, was killed March 8 after leaving an after-school program with her intoxicated stepfather, Dusty G. McDonald.
More schoolchildren than ever are taking their classes online, using technology to avoid long commutes to school, add courses they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take — and save their school districts money. But as states pour money into virtual classrooms, with an estimated 200,000 virtual K-12 students in 40 states from Washington to Wisconsin, educators are raising questions about online learning.
While there might be a niche for vouchers, emphasis should be on perfecting the public schools.Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam made the right call this week when he appointed a panel of educators and legislators to study proposals to create a school-voucher program.
Tennessee, like most states, has suffered declines in tax revenue from 2008 levels every year since the financial implosion in the last quarter of 2008 triggered the worst recession in 80 years. The economy’s hard-won recovery, state economists say, may finally reverse that trend.
MTSU’s new student union building, which is slated to open next fall, will be an exciting part of the school’s campus for both current and prospective students. The 197,180-square-foot building, which faces the College of Education, will feature a new food court, a video game room, a video theater and a new computer lab.
When I moved to Nashville from New York this past August, the first place I went was the Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk University. What I found there was astonishing.