This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
State and federal agencies should improve customer service, fully assess potential impacts before changing or implementing regulations, and enforce existing rules more consistently, a recently released study says. Those were among the recommendations the state released last week after a yearlong “top-to-bottom” review of regulations.
A regulatory reform report released last week suggests that state agencies in Tennessee need to do a better job of assessing the impact of new rules and dealing with the businesses they regulate. The 54-page study prepared by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development recommends the creation of a “one stop” website for residents to easily find regulatory information.
The city of East Ridge will use a grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to help stabilize the banks of a creek through a city park. The Aquatic Habitat Program grant gives East Ridge $500 to buy trees that will help minimize flood damage along Spring Creek and improve aquatic wildlife habitat.
A third incident links former supervisor to steering lawsuits to favored judge With a criminal investigation already under way, more questions have emerged involving the steering of lawsuits to preferred judges at Shelby County Chancery Court. Those questions center on Veronica L. Nelson, the former court supervisor who resigned in June amid revelations that she kept a close, personal relationship with a subordinate who stole $1 million in court funds.
With the dust settling on Republican plans for redrawing legislative districts in Tennessee, lawmakers from both parties are assessing their future plans. Democrats say they will offer amendments to the state House and Senate maps unveiled last week, but with vast Republican majorities in both chambers it appears unlikely that the proposals will change significantly.
State Sen. Brian Kelsey wants the state to pay expectant mothers in three Memphis ZIP codes $50 each time they visit the doctor during their pregnancies. Kelsey, R-Germantown, said his idea, now represented in Senate Bill 2173, is a new way to combat infant mortality.
State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, says he finds the idea of working on Chattanooga issues as the city’s next mayor appealing but emphasizes he has made no decision yet about running for the post. Faced with a redistricting plan that weights his Senate district toward Republicans, Berke said his legislative focus on issues such as education and economic development should serve him well regardless of whether he opts to run again for the Senate or try for the mayor’s seat.
Supporters look to heavens over mining concerns Those who don’t believe that the ridges of mountains should be blasted away to extract coal in Tennessee have taken to prayer in the 40 days leading to this year’s opening of the state legislature. Baptist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Presbyterian and Methodist church members are among those who have been focusing on the beauty and wonder of the mountains, waters and sky in advance of the upcoming legislative session.
The Bradley County Commission today will review a proposed $32 wheel tax intended to fund major education projects. Commissioners repeatedly have said they do not plan to enact a wheel tax — assessed each time a vehicle is registered in the county — through a commission vote.
Gibson County officials are scheduled to discuss several resolutions today, including one that would raise the county’s sales tax rate to 9.75 percent in some areas. If approved, the resolution would be on the March presidential primary ballot as a referendum for county residents to approve or disapprove.
Senator giving up top positions in order to do so U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he is ready to express himself as he prepares to relinquish the titles of “third-ranking Senate Republican” and “Republican conference chairman.” The 71-year-old Alexander has served as a top lieutenant for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell since 2007 but announced in the fall that he would leave the role. In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Alexander said he’ll be able to express his opinions and ideas more fully as a rank-and-file senator.
Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais bucked his party’s leadership on several key votes during his first year in office, but that hasn’t stopped him from raking in tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from top Republicans in the House and Senate. The Jasper Republican may need that money if the state legislature approves a new plan to redraw the boundaries of the 4th Congressional District, which he represents.
From the moment he took office last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott made clear that a new and unabashedly conservative administration had taken power in Tallahassee — just as it had in state capitals around the country following an historic election haul for Republicans in 2010. Scott, a Tea Party-backed Republican, stood before a cheering crowd and introduced a state budget that contained more than $4 billion in tax cuts for corporations and property owners, even as it slashed funding for K-12 education.
Volkswagen is aiming to post sales of more than 500,000 vehicles in the United States this year, officials said Sunday, and Chattanooga’s mayor said he doesn’t think that target is unreasonable. “I don’t think that’s an outlandish goal,” said Mayor Ron Littlefield, adding that the city stands ready to help VW. Littlefield is attending the North American International Auto Show where VW’s Chattanooga-built Passat is competing for North American Car of the Year honors.
A month and a half after the unified school board denied a raft of charter school applications, start-up leaders are no closer to knowing whether they will be allowed to run schools next fall. Seventeen potential charter schools are at a standstill.
After hearing a speech by Buzz Thomas, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership, five local women got inspired to rally the community together to get behind Knox County Schools and public education. Thomas noted that during past budget hearings, not one constituent attended or expressed interest when it came to schools.
Once per week, Metro Nashville Police Department detectives Maria Sexton and David Elliott work their way down a list of addresses, knocking on doors throughout the city. They aren’t looking for active criminals or trying to sniff out gang activity. Sexton and Elliott are specifically on the hunt for sex offenders.
A federal law says states and localities with a history of discrimination cannot change any voting procedures without first getting approval from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington. Yet Texas is asking the Supreme Court to allow the use of new, unapproved electoral districts in this year’s voting for Congress and the state Legislature.
Zeroing in on recidivism and domestic violence: Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan tackles two issues that feed the state and city’s crime problem. There are two components of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s public safety plan that, if enacted, could have a significant impact here and across the state.
It is refreshing to hear someone as experienced in politics and government as Lamar Alexander talking about a common-sense approach to governing in Washington. Alexander’s decision to step down as the No. 3 ranking Senate Republican opens the door for him to practice statesmanship rather than partisanship.
As the Obama administration wrongly continues to oppose states’ photo ID requirements — rules meant to combat voter fraud — another type of voter fraud is being embraced in New Haven, Conn. The mayor of New Haven wants to extend voting rights to illegal aliens and other people who are not lawfully entitled to vote.