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 a comprehensive, multi-year action plan designed to improve public safety statewide. The Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group, which includes commissioners and representatives from 11 state agencies, submitted the plan after months of meetings with more than 300 public safety professionals and stakeholders across the state.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday announced a coordinated plan to fight drug abuse, gangs and domestic violence in Tennessee. The plan was produced over the course of a year by representatives of 11 state agencies to reduce drug abuse and trafficking, lower violent crime and cut the rate of repeat offenders.
The Haslam administration wants to take a stab at cracking down on violent crimes and shrinking the recidivism rate by beefing up prison sentences, a task officials expect will cost taxpayers $6 million annually. Gov. Bill Haslam is also asking lawmakers to adopt a comprehensive approach to tackling the state’s prescription drug problem by making it easier for law enforcement to track addicts and keep a better eye on ex-convicts by requiring the Department of Correction to take over supervision of parolees.
Gov. Bill Haslam Thursday announced a plan for the next few years that he hopes will improve public safety across the state. According to Haslam’s office, the plan — which consists of 11 objectives and 40 “action steps” — aims to reduce drug abuse and trafficking, violent crime, and the state’s rate of repeat offenders.
Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a public safety plan Thursday that includes mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders and tougher penalties for gun-related gang crime. The plan, some of which requires approval by the state legislature, would also require doctors and pharmacists to check a prescription drug database before prescribing and dispensing pain-killing drugs to see if the patient is receiving the drug from other providers.
Legislation requiring doctors to check a state drug database before writing painkiller prescriptions was embraced by Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday for inclusion in a new “public safety action plan.” The plan further supports separate legislation to establish stronger penalties for “doctor shopping” to obtain prescriptions.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a comprehensive, multi-year action plan designed to improve public safety statewide, largely targeting methamphetamine use. The Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group, which includes commissioners and representatives from 11 state agencies, submitted the plan after months of meetings with more than 300 public safety professionals and stakeholders across the state. ”
Governor Bill Haslam outlined a wide ranging public safety plan Thursday that includes 40 separate “action steps” – from increasing sentences to keeping tabs on who is taking prescribed pain killers. A committee representing 11 state agencies drew up the plan, which has the stated goals of reducing drug abuse, cutting the number of repeat offenders and curbing violent crime. Several of the proposed steps would need approval of the legislature and more state funding.
Multi-pronged plan aims to make Tennessee’s crime rate plummet Citing Tennessee’s record of higher-than-average crime, Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday released a plan to increase penalties for certain violent crimes, tamp down on drug offenses and revamp how felons are supervised in the state. “While we’ve seen an improvement, Tennessee continues to have a violent crime rate that’s above the national average and that none of us find acceptable,” Haslam said.
Workers’ compensation reform won’t be part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2012 legislative push, but broad structural reform remains on the table as the administration mulls what is a top business community complaint. The Republican governor has said he heard complaints about Tennessee workers’ compensation — one of the few court-based systems in the country — the most as he talked with businesses around the state last year.
State chief: Staying under federal benchmarks would be ‘demoralizing’ The state’s top education official said keeping Tennessee under the No Child Left Behind law would be too demoralizing for schools that are improving — just not fast enough. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said he hopes to learn this month whether the federal government will approve a request for Tennessee to use its own method of measuring schools’ performance.
Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, all economists, examines a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term.
Ahead of potential budget constraints and amid an ongoing departmental shakeup, the Tennessee Department of Education is set to eliminate 43 positions, 26 that are filled with employees. “In the current budget climate, it’s unlikely that the Department of Education will be receiving any additional funds,” said Kelli Gauthier, spokeswoman for the department.
State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman plans to fire 26 employees as part of the department’s belt tightening — a move Gov. Bill Haslam indicated Thursday will be duplicated in other areas of state government in his upcoming budget. Haslam said he believes “one of our responsibilities in government is we use taxpayer money as effectively as we can.
The Tennessee Department of Education is cutting back its administrative staff. More than 40 civil service positions are going away. State education officials have been preparing for another budget that’s millions of dollars smaller than the year before.
Since last February, MTSU students, faculty and staff and visitors to the Murfreesboro campus have had to navigate around areas of construction on Blue Raider Drive and MTSU Drive and around Scarlett Commons and Corlew Hall and Forrest Hall. Work crews, taking advantage of mild temperatures this week, were able to pour concrete at the intersection at MTSU Boulevard and Champion Way, near the School of Nursing, and Corlew Hall.
More than 19,000 rebates totaling more than $4.5 million have been paid to Tennesseans this year for using Energy Star appliances. The rebates ranged from $40 to $250 for using room air conditioners, central air conditioners, air source heat pumps and gas furnaces.
Practiced in Memphis with no state license A New Jersey lawyer who practiced in Memphis for two years without a Tennessee law license has been banned from further practice in the state and will be suspended for 60 days if and when she becomes licensed. Tonya Butler told the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility that she had intended to become licensed in Tennessee, but that she failed to follow through.
Mother of three Katrina Henderson said she never missed a prenatal visit. It was her last pregnancy with her youngest that proved why it was important.
U.S. Rep. Cooper on 5th District: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ Republicans appear in no hurry to reveal their plans for reshaping Tennessee’s congressional districts. The GOP proposals for new district lines in the state House and Senate were unveiled Wednesday, but leaders were unwilling to say when the new outlines of the state’s nine congressional districts would be made public.
Leading Tennessee Democrats on Thursday amped up threats of a court challenge over the Republican House redistricting plan released the day before. Critics of the plan want changes to the proposed boundaries, which pit pairs of Democratic incumbents against each other, particularly in districts currently represented by African-Americans.
State House Democrats are demanding majority Republicans change a legislative redistricting plan or face a legal challenge. “We’re headed to court, no doubt about it — unless something happens and the Republicans want to sit down and talk,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of Nashville, told reporters Thursday.
Some reserving judgement until final vote in Assembly Several West Tennessee legislators said they aren’t disappointed with proposed redistricting lines, while others say they are reserving judgment on the plans that will come up for a vote during the second session of the 107th General Assembly, which opens on Tuesday. The once-a-decade redistricting plan reflects population changes in the 2010 Census and shifting political trends. State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, served on the redistricting committee and said the effort is a “fair and legal plan.
Maury County would anchor a newly-created state Senate district and have a new senator under a Republican redistricting plan. Under the proposal unveiled by GOP leaders Wednesday, Senate District 13, represented by state Sen. Bill Ketron,R-Murfreesboro, will be placed entirely in Rutherford County.
Rutherford County Commissioner Robert Stevens said today he is preparing to run as a Republican candidate in Rutherford County’s new 37th House District. Stevens, a Smyrna attorney serving his first commission term, said he filed papers Wednesday with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance to appoint a treasurer for a House campaign and start raising money. Stevens said he will remain in an exploratory phase until the Legislature approves the redistricting plan unveiled Wednesday.
Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, will hold a public forum Saturday in Chattanooga “for the purpose of reviewing the proposed redistricting plan” that affects the House District 28 she represents. Brown said she has obtained detailed precinct-level information about the Republican-drawn plan, which moved Wednesday through a House “ad hoc” panel comprising GOP members and later through the House State and Local Government Subcommittee.
The Tennessee Tea Party is calling it quits after nearly three years, the group’s husband-and-wife leaders wrote in a message to members Thursday. Robert and Tami Kilmarx said they had decided to disband the organization — one of many tea party groups in the state — after realizing it was ill equipped to help them carry out a religious mission.
Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth is expected to issue an order today delaying a hearing on the recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield just as candidates can begin picking up qualifying petitions. The delay was prompted by a new lawsuit in which the Hamilton County Election Commission is challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s recall statute.
Standing near about a dozen tents and a smoldering campfire, an Occupy Chattanooga member argued Thursday that new county rules cracking down on overnight tents can’t be used against protesters because they were enacted too quickly without proper public notice. The protesters set up on the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse are now waiting to see how the rules passed with no dissenting votes by the county commission Wednesday will be enforced.
More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime. As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers.
Metro Nashville issued a host of building permits Wednesday for retailers planning to open at Opry Mills mall. The stores include: The Disney Store , Famous Footwear , Papaya, Bath & Body Works , Express , Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH and Old Navy .
Although single-family home construction has dropped dramatically since the economic downturn, fresh momentum is slowly picking up in some corners of Middle Tennessee. New home building over the past 12 months in a number of Nashville’s suburban counties has improved from 2010, with the best improvement in Williamson County.
A local bank has trimmed its workforce as part of a reorganization plan. Matthew Converse, president and CEO of Sevier County Bank, said Wednesday that the lender had “restructured the organization to better represent a typical community bank structure.”
The 2011 State Report Card released in December by the Tennessee Department of Education shows Washington County Schools bettered its scores in nearly every category despite both a tougher curriculum and budget issues. “I want to tell you very concisely that I’m extremely pleased overall with the system’s performance academically, especially when you consider the rigor of the curriculum and the lack of additional financial resources from the state,” Director of Schools Ron Dykes said during the Washington County Board of Education meeting Thursday night.
The number of students in virtual schools run by educational management organizations rose sharply last year, according to a new report being published Friday, and far fewer of them are proving proficient on standardized tests compared with their peers in other privately managed charter schools and in traditional public schools. About 116,000 students were educated in 93 virtual schools — those where instruction is entirely or mainly provided over the Internet — run by private management companies in the 2010-11 school year, up 43 percent from the previous year, according to the report being published by the National Education Policy Center, a research center at the University of Colorado.
A disappointed customer who may have lost a bag of methamphetamine in a Raleigh drugstore led to four arrests involving the illegal drug. In addition, an unrelated police investigation of a house in East Memphis led to two more meth-related arrests.
California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Thursday to close the state’s projected $9.2 billion budget gap in the next fiscal year with cuts to social services and with expected revenue from a temporary tax increase he hopes to pass in November. Every January, California forecasts its deficit for the coming fiscal year, which starts in July. This year’s deficit figure is the narrowest the state has predicted since a forecast for the 2008 fiscal year, before the recession battered the construction industry and sent the state’s tax revenue slumping.
In his final address to the Legislature, Gov. Haley Barbour challenged the new Republican majority at the Capitol to follow through with efforts he has been unable to accomplish in his tenure. Barbour, who faced stern challenges from Democrats who controlled the House during both of his terms, urged lawmakers to resist the pleas of state agency heads who have resisted funding cuts.
The Internet gambling business has always been a lucrative one, but federal law has kept states on the sidelines, barred from tapping into an estimated $4 billion that Americans spend every year to gamble online illegally. Not anymore. Now that the U.S. Department of Justice has reversed its outright ban on Internet gambling, states are scrambling to figure out what the decision might mean for them.
After a huge decade of growth for one of the fastest growing counties in the state and nation, Rutherford County is certainly in line to gain another seat — and thus another voice — in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
It often is said that America is a nation of laws. From the Constitution to local ordinances, our willingness to have our actions bound by law creates the fabric of national stability, or, as we call it, “law and order.” Our laws are interpreted by the courts, and courts are run by judges.
The ripping sound coming from Washington on Wednesday could have been the self-inflicted removal of every hair from every head of every Tennessee Republican in Congress. More likely, though, the roar of a rip was President Barack Obama shredding the Constitution.