This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN) will join local leaders for the Knoxville Chamber Governor’s breakfast Monday morning. During the breakfast, Gov. Haslam will discuss his visions and legislative priorities for the upcoming year, especially those concerning East Tennessee.
Various state agencies are ramping up efforts to prevent synthetic and prescription drug abuse as part of the new Tennessee Public Safety Action Plan released by Gov. Bill Haslam earlier this month. “Keeping our citizens safe is one of state government’s primary responsibilities,” Haslam said.
Smaller colleges are stepping up their efforts to recruit in-state students to their campuses. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga is becoming the college of choice for Midstate high school students while Middle Tennessee State University is getting a closer look from students in the east and west parts of the state, The Nashville Ledger reports.
Garages, Student Services building total $35.8 million Dirt will soon be moving on two new parking garages on campus at MTSU and construction of a new student services building will not be far behind. The contract for two 500-space garages has been issued to Messer Construction and a pre-construction meeting is set for Thursday morning.
Fifty-four Tennessee Highway Patrol cadets begin five months of training Monday in Nashville. They will spend the next 18 weeks in classroom exercises and physical training, with graduates advancing to a maximum of 12 weeks of field training.
Culture warriors are on the offensive in the opening days of this year’s legislative session, much to the chagrin of Republican leaders who hoped to avoid controversy in advance of the fall elections. Gun enthusiasts are demanding another expansion of their rights and threatening political reprisals against lawmakers who stand in their way, and social conservatives are pushing measures to beat back what they see as a homosexual threat to society.
State lawmakers are scrambling to hand in proposed new legislation before a Thursday deadline. But political leaders in the Tennessee House say that no matter what shows up, they’re going to pay most attention to bills about jobs and economic issues.
Two socially conservative Tennessee lawmakers are promoting what they think is a legally defensible way for local governments to display the Ten Commandments in county courthouses or on public grounds. Sen. Mike Bell, R-Rice-ville, and Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesboro, last week introduced a bill authorizing counties and cities to set up displays of “historical documents and monuments and writings” that have been “recognized to commemorate freedom and the rich history of Tennessee and the United States.”
The Legislature now appears on track to put a second proposed amendment to the Tennessee constitution on the ballot for a 2014 referendum while Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says there may be a coordinated effort for a third. The House voted 73-17 last week to give its first-round blessing to an amendment that would amend the constitution to explicitly prohibit a tax on general income.
Psychology student Jay MacDonnchadh says a plan that would cut some students’ lottery scholarships in half is a bad idea. “If it wasn’t for the lottery scholarship, I would have had to work my way up through community college,” said the University of Memphis senior. MacDonnchadh, 21, is among hundreds of Tennessee students who depend on the scholarship, also called the HOPE Scholarship.
To no one’s surprise, the legislative and congressional maps laid out week before last by the leadership of the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature settled partisan scores and greased the skids for members of the GOP “Gerrymandering,” such a thing is callled, and Republicans got to do it — for the first time, reallly — in much the way Democrats have always done it. Were there injustices? Of course. (Although there were also some conscientious efforts to make amends if that could be done without inconvenience to the aforementioned Republican majority. Several legislators — both Democrats and Republicans — did what they could to ease their own predicaments.
Some Knox County leaders today will scrutinize the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp., looking into the top executive’s salary, how the organization operates and where it spends its money. The questions come in the wake of plans to sell the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, which KTSC manages, and an surprise over how much President and CEO Gloria Ray earns.
The Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation isn’t the only not-for-profit entity that provides a hefty pay package to Gloria Ray. The president and CEO of the local tourism organization has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for compensation that exceeded $400,000 in the year that ended in June 2010.
Super Tuesday may tip balance of race Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s big win Saturday in the South Carolina primary will probably thrust Tennessee into the fight for the Republican presidential nomination. Tennessee and a handful of other states may tip the balance of the Republican race, which has seen each of its first three contests won by a different candidate. Even if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney can win in Florida, the next race on the Republican calendar, the early contests have raised questions about his standing with Southern, socially conservative and evangelical voters that probably will not be answered until after Tennessee votes in the Super Tuesday contests on March 6.
Here’s a reality check for President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul: Three out of four uninsured Americans live in states that have yet to figure out how to deliver on its promise of affordable medical care. This is the year that will make or break the health-care law.
There’s a thirst in the mountains for legal Tennessee moonshine. Sevierville attorney and co-developer of the Ole Smoky Distillery Joe Baker said he and another partner bought the Legends Restaurant on the Gatlinburg downtown parkway and will distill different spirits there.
Spurred by new studies showing that The Pyramid could peel apart during an earthquake, engineers plan to install an underground steel-and-concrete wall extending two football fields long and 130 feet deep to shore up the facility. Apparently unprecedented in scale, the 30-foot-thick buttress wall will cost $7.18 million and require about 100 workers to build.
Insurer’s report faults drugmakers, but they disagree Mary Brown got sticker shock when she went to have a prescription refilled and found that the price of one medication had skyrocketed from $19 to $77. “I got in touch with my heart doctor, and they called my insurance company and finally got it down to $24 for me,” she said.
Angie Venable relies on an arsenal of tricks to keep 27 Head Middle Magnet School algebra students’ eyes on her. She has taught classes with 13 to 42 students over the past decade, and knows never to lecture planted at the front of the room in big classes, because she’ll surely lose students in the back. She asks open-ended questions. She breaks students into small discussion groups after a half-hour — sitting still too long doesn’t work.
Chinese and Japanese will be required in the virtual science and engineering program Memphis City Schools is launching next month. “These are important languages in the field, and it’s critical you have some understanding of them,” Deputy Supt. Irving Hamer told students and parents at a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) orientation last week.
Remy International’s Indiana roots go back more than 120 years. The manufacturing company is headquartered in the small town of Pendleton, with 500 employees in Indiana, more than 6,000 scattered over the globe, and plans to add a new factory somewhere in the United States by 2013.
The governments of both Tennessee and Georgia continue to make or propose budget cuts that may not prove very popular but that are clearly necessary in this time of continued economic weakness. In Tennessee, for example, it was announced recently that the Department of Education will be cutting scores of positions, some of which fortunately are not currently filled but most of which are.
Tennessee’s Republican legislators would have the state’s voters and citizens believe that they are doing them a great favor by promoting an amendment to the state Constitution to ban the creation of a state income tax. How wrong they are. Writing a clear ban against an income tax into the state Constitution would only cement, perpetuate and worsen the gross inequity in taxation that now falls on the vast majority of Tennesseans from the highest and most regressive level of state sales taxes in the nation.
Lock them up at home: The pressure by gun advocates to normalize the idea that everyone shold have a weapon comes with a cost. In America we love our guns. In Memphis we are reminded again of the reality that love and guns often don’t mix.
While Sunday’s Jackson Sun news report that a shockingly small percentage of Jackson-Madison County public school students are prepared for college isn’t new information, it remains troubling. Jackson-Madison County college readiness statistics aren’t unique. Indeed, the entire state of Tennessee ranks near the bottom of states that require all high school students to take the ACT test.