This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Haywood County officials today joined with representatives from Precision Coils to announce plans by the company to expand and relocate its existing Somerville facility to Brownsville. Increasing demand for the Precision Coils product line has made the move to a larger facility with expansion capability necessary, according to a news release.
The federal government has declared 14 Tennessee counties as agricultural disaster areas after drought and excessive heat last summer. Gov. Bill Haslam announced Friday that Blount, Cumberland, Fayette, Fentress, Haywood, Loudon, McMinn, Macon, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Wilson counties were given the designation by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Farmers in 14 Tennessee counties that suffered losses as a result of drought and heat in 2011 are eligible for federal disaster assistance, state officials announced Friday. The designated counties include Blount, Cumberland, Fayette, Fentress, Haywood, Loudon, McMinn, Macon, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Wilson.
A crackdown on domestic violence in Tennessee is aimed at repeat offenders, thanks to Governor Bill Haslam who released a public safety plan giving hard time to abusers. “I think it’s wonderful,” said Elizabeth Shelley, who has worked with domestic abuse victims at the YWCA for 20 years.
A Hardeman County woman is charged for a second time with “doctor shopping,” or going to multiple doctors in a short period to obtain the same or similar controlled substances, and using TennCare to pay the way, according to a news release from the state Office of Inspector General. The Office of Inspector General on Friday announced the arrest of 56-year-old Charlotte Lee Woods.
It may seem like something pulled out of the “Obviously” file, but a new report proves conclusively there’s huge return possible for destinations that invest in advertising. The study, performed by an international tourism research group and commissioned by a trade organization, documents results achieved by the state of Michigan and city of Philadelphia in marketing pushes.
First Lady Crissy Haslam sounded the call Friday, asking for volunteers to help with a new state wide initiative launched by the United Ways of Tennessee. United Way does a lot of good for lots of people, and now they’re raising their hands to teach children how to read.
Despite commitments from both museums, paintings are unlikely to go anywhere soon Like a nervous couple at the altar, America’s newest art museum and one of the nation’s oldest historically black colleges are hoping a third party doesn’t disrupt their proposed union — again. An appeals court upheld Fisk University’s right to sell a $30 million share in its famed Stieglitz art collection to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
A harsh economic environment is being cited as the reason for a rise in the number of Tennessee lawyers disciplined for stealing or misusing client funds. And some attorneys are taking money from clients and then closing shop without performing the legal services they were paid to do.
Denied the use of an investigative file on the misdeeds of a disgraced former Knox County judge, a convicted rapist is getting the next best thing — the jurist who read it. One day after prosecutors blocked Jayson Bailey from using the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation file on ex-judge Richard Baumgartner, Bailey’s case was abruptly reassigned Friday to Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.
A political caucus focusing specifically on science, technology, engineering and mathematics in education has formed in Tennessee, giving new weight to a prominent workforce preparation initiative. The STEM Education Caucus formed during the 2011 recess of the Tennessee General Assembly and is the first of its kind, according to a news release from the American Chemical Society. Proponents of STEM say it promotes coursework related to industry and workforce development; the initiative is just one of numerous theories and initiatives competing within the educational system.
Business leaders push legislative agenda Christmas may be over, but local business boosters presented their wish list to state lawmakers on Friday. At a breakfast meeting, the Knoxville, Blount County and Oak Ridge chambers of commerce outlined their agenda for the upcoming legislative session in Nashville.
Tri-Cities governments asked for a ban on over-the-counter synthetic drugs emulating marijuana and amphetamines in handing over their legislative policy wish list to Northeast Tennessee lawmakers on Friday. The Joint Legislative Policy of the Tri-Cities directed lawmakers to develop a broad legislative approach to get rid of “any and all formulations” of synthetic drugs sold primarily in specialty shops and at convenience stores.
As the second session of Tennessee’s 107th General Assembly prepares to convene on Jan. 10, Dyer County’s district attorney general is hoping legislators will listen to Tennessee’s district attorneys and pass new legislation to make Tennessee a safer place. District Attorney General Phil Bivens took office in June of 2011 as president of the Tennessee District Attorney Generals Conference.
Republican lawmakers don’t plan to divide Nashville among several congressional seats as some Democrats had feared, according to plans released Friday. The redistricting plan, first obtained by The Associated Press, also indicates that the 4th District would be significantly redrawn to extend from Rutherford County on the outskirts of Nashville to Bradley County near Chattanooga.
Republican lawmakers released their proposal for new U.S. congressional districts on Friday and Nashville will remain intact. Under the plan, the 5th District comprises all of Davidson and Dickson counties and most of Cheatham County.
But adding Rutherford to 4th District could mean competition for DesJarlais A proposed map of redrawn congressional districts released Friday by Republican lawmakers would keep Nashville intact in a single district but set up a more competitive race for U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais by adding Rutherford County to the Middle Tennessee district he represents. In the proposal, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper dodged the prospect of a splintered Nashville. His 5th District would hold on to the city, shed part of Wilson County and gain heavily Republican areas in the southern part of Davidson County.
The bulk of Chattanooga’s congressional district, Tennessee’s 3rd, could move northward next week if state lawmakers approve a redistricting proposal that would place Oak Ridge and its surrounding counties at the district’s geographical center. Despite that, lawmakers stressed that Chattanooga would be the district’s main emphasis.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s 7th Congressional District — which includes Germantown and much of Collierville and Bartlett — would move out of Shelby and Fayette counties under proposed new redistricting plans released Friday by the Tennessee legislature. In return, the 8th Congressional District now represented by Rep. Stephen Fincher will move much deeper into eastern Shelby County than it currently does, and the Memphis-based 9th Congressional District will extend upward to include the northwestern corner of Shelby County.
Even as the Shelby County Commission heads into Chancellor Arnold Goldin’s court to resolve its redistricting issues, the final shoe has dropped from the point of view of state redistricting responsibilities. On Friday afternoon, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate, released the details of statewide congressional redistricting agreed upon by himself and House Speaker Beth Harwell.
The congressional district that includes Nashville would stretch west and encompass Dickson County under a proposal released Friday by Republicans in the state legislature. But all in all, the representative who holds the seat calls the redistricting plan “fair.”
Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) released their joint proposal to redraw Tennessee’s nine congressional districts on Wednesday to equalize populations and make them more compact and based on logical groupings of communities of common interest. The 2010 census revealed that three of Tennessee’s districts deviated from their ideal population of 705,123 by more than 80,000 people.
Bedford County would move from the 6th Congressional District to the 4th as the result of proposed redistricting plans released Friday by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. State Sen. Jim Tracy told The Associated Press he hasn’t had time to consider whether or not to run for the U.S. House in the new district.
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.
Ketron pondering challenge to DesJarlais in GOP primary Congressional candidates with strong Rutherford County ties emerged in the 2010 race, and this may happen again in 2012 in light of a proposed map that puts the county in a new district. State Sen. Bill Ketron, a Murfreesboro Republican, is thinking about running and is still examining a proposed map released by the state Friday that shows Rutherford County moving out of the 6th Congressional District served by U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, to the 4th District served by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a fellow Republican and medical doctor from South Pittsburg in the Chattanooga area.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican, offered the following response to a plan for his 4th Congressional District to include Rutherford County in future terms. “I haven’t had an opportunity to study these proposed new lines closely yet, but regardless of the new district boundaries, I’m committed to continuing to be an independent conservative voice for Tennesseans,” DesJarlais said in a statement from his staff.
The Tennessee Tea Party, one of several tea party groups in the state, is disbanding after three years. In a letter to members, leaders Tami and Robert Kilmarx say they have realized the tea party is not a vehicle that will move the United States to what they call “a healthy relationship with God,” according to WPLN-FM .
An organization named the Tennessee Tea Party is no more. It was established by a husband and wife team from Springfield shortly after the tax day protests in 2009 that drew thousands of protesters to the state capitol.
The Knox County Commission is going to look into incentive payments that Trustee John Duncan III gave himself and six employees the past two years for participating in a government-related program most of them have yet to complete. State law indicates that the bonuses should go only to those who attain the designation of certified public administrator.
Noting that Mayor Greg Davis had admitted to aldermen that he “misled and lied” to them, Southaven’s governing board voted 5-1 Friday to ask the 15-year head of the city to step down amid continuing investigations into his use of municipal funds. Davis, 45, did not attend the special meeting to consider his fate, but attorney Steve Farese said the mayor has made no decision on whether to step down. “That would be something Mayor Davis, after considering his health problems, would make a decision on in the future,” Farese said.
School districts and their supporters around the country have launched a wave of lawsuits asking courts to order more spending on public education, contending they face new pressures as states cut billions of dollars of funding while adding more-rigorous educational standards. About half of the school districts in Texas have sued the state since the legislature cut more than $5 billion from school budgets last year, citing fiscal pressures.
A TVA executive last summer urged Claxton community residents to be patient and “give us a chance” on a plan to buy land and homes for an expanded ash storage area at TVA’s Bull Run Fossil plant. John Kammeyer this week indicated that approach has paid off.
Middle Tennessee saw a 12 percent increase in technology-related jobs in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the previous quarter, and the area outperformed the rest of the state for the year regarding the total number of positions available, according to the new “Technology Hiring Trends Report” released today by the Nashville Technology Council . The report found that 1,044 tech-related jobs were available in Middle Tennessee during the fourth quarter, a slight decrease (-2 percent) compared to the same quarter in 2010.
Jackie Webb is a five-year teacher in Memphis City Schools, specializing in forensic and diagnostic health. This week, she was told she was being transferred from her home school to Kingsbury High, even though there is not an opening for her there.
House Democrats brought state lawmaking to a halt in Indiana for much of this week, refusing for a third straight day on Friday to come out to their chamber floor in a procedural effort to stop “right to work” legislation at the center of a mounting battle over unions here. But by Friday afternoon Republicans in the Senate succeeded in moving the measure out of a committee to the full Senate, where passage is likely next week.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s broad new anti-crime package merits praise for provisions that address the root causes of crime. We wish it had more of them. Much of the governor’s plan is geared toward stiffer penalties for certain kinds of crime.
Occupy Chattanooga protesters have camped without incident on the grounds of the County Courthouse downtown for nearly two months. They were able to do so because county government officials had never established rules requiring a permit for such an action.
City and county officials have prepared their wish lists for the Tennessee General Assembly, and at the top — permission to govern in private. It’s not only that they covet what state and federal government officials can do, they say.