This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that there will be both an external and internal review of the new teacher evaluation system. He has charged the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) with conducting an independent, third-party evaluation and is asking the state Department of Education to formalize a review process, which the department has already begun.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday he has commissioned an outside review to help “separate the anecdotes from flaws” in Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system. The Republican governor said in a news conference at the Capitol that he has asked for an education foundation launched by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist to conduct the review and to report recommendations back to the state next summer.
Today Governor Bill Haslam called for an independent look at Tennessee’s new approach to evaluating teachers. The group he’s tasking with that review is the State Collaborative for Reforming Education.
Citing several months of complaints from teachers about new state-mandated evaluations, Gov. Bill Haslam is calling in a third-party education advocate to sort out the new system. The State Collaborative on Reforming Education has agreed to independently grade the state’s new evaluation process and report back by this summer with feedback and recommendations to be used going into the 2012-13 school year.
Gov. Bill Haslam is calling for more study of Tennessee’s new process for evaluating teachers, in a bid to head off legislative action spurred by complaints over the system’s fairness and practicality. Haslam said Wednesday that he has appointed SCORE, a Nashville advocacy group that pushed for reforms to teacher evaluations, to conduct a formal review of how well the state’s new system is working.
Gov. Bill Haslam called Wednesday for a new study of the state’s new teacher evaluation system, the source of multiple complaints from educators, before any changes are made by the state Legislature. In a news conference, Haslam said an “independent review” would be conducted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), which will “separate the anecdotes from the flaws” and report back June 1.
Gov. Bill Haslam asked Wednesday for an outside review of the new teacher-evaluation process, saying the state will have “blown a huge opportunity” if it is flawed. The review will be conducted by the nonprofit, nonpartisan State Collaborative on Reforming Education organization founded by former U.S. senator Bill Frist.
Gov. Bill Haslam is calling for a five-month study of Tennessee’s new process for evaluating teachers, in a move to head off legislative action spurred by recent complaints over the system’s fairness and practicality. Haslam said Wednesday that he has asked SCORE, a Nashville education group that pushed for tougher teacher evaluations, to conduct a review of how well the state’s new system is working.
Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that the new teacher evaluation system will be subjected to review next year, with public input. “There has been a lot of discussion about teacher evaluations over the past several months,” Haslam said.
Governor Haslam announced Wednesday he is calling for an outside review of the evaluation system that went into effect this school year. It’s an effort to head off action by state lawmakers taking complaints about the system.
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. Bill Haslam has appointed Judge Roger Page to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section. Since 1998, Page has been a circuit court judge for Division III of the 26th Judicial District, serving Chester, Henderson and Madison counties.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his appointment of Judge Roger Page to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section. Page currently serves Chester, Henderson and Madison counties as a circuit court judge for Division III of the 26th Judicial District, a position he has held since his first election in 1998, and he replaces the late Judge J.C. McLin on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday appointed Judge Roger Page to the vacancy on the state Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section, created by the death of Judge J.C. McLin. Page, 56, currently serves Chester, Henderson and Madison counties as a Circuit Court judge for the 26th Judicial District, a position he has held since his first election in 1998.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced on Wednesday that he will appoint Judge Roger Page to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section. Page currently serves Chester, Henderson and Madison counties as a circuit court judge for Division III of the 26th Judicial District, a position he has held since his first election in 1998.
In July, Andrea Kallas was planning a funeral for her 7-year-old son. Doctors said Alex’s cancer was back, and the family had just about three months left with their little boy.
Students at UTC may see a fee increase to help pay for new buildings under a capital projects plan that includes a life sciences building. Under the plan recently approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, schools will have to match part of the cost of new buildings.
East Tennessee State University officials could soon be drafting construction plans, if the state approves a new funding scheme for capital outlay projects. The normal process to get a new academic building for any state school would be to submit a proposal to the state and it would eventually be placed on the capital outlay projects list to be built.
The University of Tennessee is offering a free online training course for the public on how to report child abuse. The course, by the College of Social Work, has been developed in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
The College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical School in Nashville and Nashville-based Centerstone Research Institute are sharing a federal grant of $8.3 million to help curb substance abuse. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health is managing the grant, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Oak Ridge Utility District officials say they’ve changed policy and repaid money after criticism from state auditors that its manager and workers milked programs for personal gain. “We cooperated 110 percent,” said Ben Andrews, the district’s general manager.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is once again participating in the national holiday enforcement campaign Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Troopers will join local law enforcement agencies across the state to encourage safe driving habits and remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways this holiday season.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has created a website targeted especially for people who can’t afford a lawyer and need help with civil legal matters. JusticeForAllTN.com includes court forms, resource pages for individual counties, court alternatives, help with finding a lawyer and more. In essence, it seeks to be a one-stop-shop for anyone who needs a lawyer to help with all or part of a case, who needs to find an agency to help with a legal problem or who wants more information about representing themselves.
Governor, House Speaker mull plan aimed at benefits recipients Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell said Wednesday they want some questions answered before joining some state senators in calling for drug testing of Tennesseans seeking taxpayer-funded benefits. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he plans to push three bills calling for drug testing in the 2012 legislative session: one dealing with persons on welfare, one for those drawing unemployment compensation and one for those receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Key laws sponsored by two local state senators are among new Tennessee statues which are set to take effect Jan. 1. Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) was Senate sponsor of a new law to ensure Tennessee workers are in the state legally and co-sponsor of a new law designed to curb the abuse of prescription drugs at pain clinics in Tennessee. Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) led to passage a measure to help curb voter fraud and co-sponsored a separate statute to help children receive insurance coverage for hearing aids.
The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development and Growth Engine board approved a tax freeze which would clear the way for Valero Refining Company-Tennessee LLC to make substantial improvements to its local refinery. The EDGE board approved a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) abatement for the company which will save it $25.7 million in city and county taxes.
A local economic development agency granted a 15-year tax freeze to Valero Energy in return for the company spending more than $298 million in planned investment and upgrades at the Memphis refinery. The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) Board awarded the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes benefit for the benefit of the refinery at 543 West Mallory Ave., which has 305 employs and 252 contract workers.
The Hamilton County Commission took its first official action Wednesday regarding the Occupy Chattanooga protesters who’ve been camped out on the courthouse lawn since last month. Commissioners passed a resolution expressing disapproval of those camping on county property and appointed Chairman Larry Henry to take enforcement action against them.
In the midst of concerns about how Knox County is going to cover multimillion-dollar employee pension costs, retirement board officials and the Burchett administration are locked in what appears to be a power play over office space. “There are other things going on here and I don’t know what they are, but we need to get them out,” said Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, a member of the pension board.
When Justin Ford, all of 25 years old, was elected in 2010 to the Shelby County Commission seat his father, then interim county mayor Joe Ford, had vacated, nobody quite knew what to expect. The mystery continued during the first year of the young commissioner’s service, with Ford keeping a virtually complete silence for several months and then speaking only in short, usually noncommittal bursts.
The last convoy of American troops has rolled out of Iraq, but the national debate over whether the nine-year war was necessary and what it accomplished is still raging on, and probably will for years. “It’s a sad chapter in our nation’s history, and I’m glad it’s over,” said U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., a Knoxville Republican.
Approximately 1,400 Tennessee organizations are affected by an Internal Revenue Service announcement giving tax-exempt groups with January and February filing dates additional time to submit their annual returns. They now have until March 30, 2012, to file the returns.
Some say they’ll spend less on groceries. Others expect to cut back on travel. For many, there would be fewer meals out. Across the country, Americans are bracing for another financial hardship: smaller paychecks starting in January, if Congress doesn’t break a deadlock and renew a Social Security tax cut.
It is no secret that these are hard times for cities, with tax collections down, state aid dwindling, unemployment high and foreclosures pitting many blocks. So, as he sat in his office here, Mayor Ed Pawlowski of Allentown echoed the question mayors around the country are asking: Why has Washington cut one of the main federal programs for cities by a quarter in the last couple of years?
Nearly every state has cut public pension benefits for new workers in the last three years, with an emphasis on reducing the money the states will owe to employees when they retire. Now, some state and local governments are turning to the other significant part of pension math: increasing the investment returns of their holdings by changing the management structure of public pension plans.
The Obama administration’s surprise announcement Friday that it planned to give states broad leeway to pick the benefits offered under the federal health care law offers yet another example of a gradualist approach to carrying out its signal domestic policy achievement. Facing vociferous Republican opposition, a looming Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the law and the practical challenges of overhauling the vast health insurance market for small businesses and individuals, federal officials are choosing to avoid some crucial choices until well after the 2012 elections.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s chief operating officer, 60-year-old Bill McCollum, says he will retire June 30. McCollum announced his plans in a Wednesday telephone call with reporters.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s chief operating officer, Bill McCollum, said Wednesday that he will retire on June 30. McCollum, 60, was appointed to the position in April 2007 after working at Duke Energy for 33 years.
TVA’s chief operating officer and No. 2 man announced Wednesday that he will retire on June 30. The retirement of William R. “Bill” McCollum Jr., 60, comes on the heels of a number of nuclear problems coming to light at all three of the utility’s operating plants.
Bill McCollum, TVA’s chief operating officer, said today he will retire effective June 30. McCollum, 60, joined the federal utility in 2007 after spending 33 years with Duke Energy.
Clean up or shut down. That’s the decision facing hundreds of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants under an Environmental Protection Agency rule announced Wednesday that will force plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants for the first time.
Move by pioneer in field comes amid competition, surgeon’s disappearance Saint Thomas — the hospital that performed the state’s first heart transplant — will stop doing the surgeries. The number of transplants at the hospital has declined in recent years, while volume has increased at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Erlanger hospital employees have been asked to take 12 days off in the next two months, consider voluntary buyouts and face possible layoffs as Chattanooga’s only public hospital bleeds money. The hospital has lost more $6 million in the last five months, half of that in November.
Days after federal officials for a third time rejected the state’s bid for Race to the Top grants, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried to use the failure as a rallying call for education reforms in the 2012 legislative session. “We have lost our edge.
Move Is Part of Effort to Become Key Player if U.S. Legalizes Internet Gambling Nevada is positioning itself to become the first state to allow Internet-poker games within its borders, a move that comes as online-gambling laws are being debated in statehouses and in Congress. The state’s gambling regulator will vote Thursday on rules that would allow companies to apply for licenses to operate poker websites in Nevada.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced last week he wants to put a hold on one aspect of education reform — a school voucher program — for a year while a task force studies how such a program would work. Given the contentiousness of the issue and the importance of instituting the right types of reform, the delay is a prudent step.
There was some tension between Gov. Bill Haslam and the more conservative members of his party in the state Legislature last session, but nothing serious. But last week Haslam started to discuss reservations he has with the voter photo ID law and wants to discuss it with legislative leaders.
There is a conservative business philosophy that says no deal is done until the ink is dry on all the signatures, and there are plenty of examples of deals gone awry at the last minute to support the belief. That’s why we breathed a sigh of relief on learning that the deed of ownership of the former Lambuth University campus was formally transferred to the state of Tennessee on Tuesday.
We talked with a legal brain recently who thinks there is an outside chance an appeal could save some of the verdicts in four high-profile murder cases tainted by Judge Richard Baumgartner’s drug use. The defendants in the carjacking and double murder of Channon Christian/Christopher Newsom will get new trials unless an appeals court rules the trials were not constitutionally suspect.
Some Tennessee lawmakers are raising questions about whether Tennessee’s tax on the estates of the deceased — also known as the “death tax” — may be driving some people out of Tennessee, thus harming economic growth. State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, said he knows half a dozen people who have moved out of Tennessee to avoid paying the “death tax,” The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro reported.
Escalation of trade dispute would help neither country The trade case brought against Chinese solar manufacturers by U.S. solar-panel producer SolarWorld and six other domestic equipment makers could undermine the solar industry’s significant progress at the very moment it is poised for success.