This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development helped create more than 28,535 jobs over the last year, according to the department’s 2011 Annual Report, released today. The report, available here (PDF), says ECD projects created 28,535 new jobs in Tennessee, representing more than $4 billion in investment.
Tennessee boasted its best year for business recruitment in five years in 2011 during the first year of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, state officials said Tuesday. In its annual report, the Department of Economic and Community Development said Tennessee landed more than $4 billion of new investment last year.
Startup Tennessee would like to announce that it has launched the Startup Tennessee Resource Network, a database to connect Entrepreneurs, Mentors, Investors, and Business Partners throughout Tennessee. Entrepreneurs with access to resources and personal networks build businesses that create jobs.
Startup Tennessee announced a new database today meant to connect entrepreneurs with mentors, investors and other business partners throughout the state. The program’s Resource Network connects startups with the “regional accelerator” in their local county, which can assist them with launching their business and provide access to statewide resources.
West Tenn. education in Haslam’s budget highlights Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam wasn’t ready to say the state has recovered from the recession. But his $31 billion budget proposal outlined in the Monday, Jan. 30, State of the State address included a robust building program mixed with state pay raises and plans to cut more than 1,000 state jobs.
Governor Bill Haslam spent part of his State of the State address Monday highlighting two small, but meaningful shifts in Tennessee’s budget. One is a reversal in the trend toward privatization.
The long quest for a Southeast Tennessee veterans home here inched closer to reality after Gov. Bill Haslam included a key piece of funding for the facility in his budget. The governor’s proposed 2013 budget includes the last of the $23.2 million needed for the home.
More than a decade ago John Simmons had a vision for fellow veterans in southeast Tennessee. Unfortunately he passed away before he could see the long-term care home built but his dream is still very much alive and closer to being realized.
Twenty-three million dollars for a new Veterans Home could be coming soon. It would fund an on-going project in Bradley County. For more than 10 years local and state leaders have worked to get a veterans care facility in the area. According to the Bradley County-Cleveland Veterans Affairs Service, 28 acres of land has been donated for the center.
Building expected to attract research, students MTSU officials and students are jubilant in the wake of Gov. Bill Haslam’s move to fund construction of a long-awaited science building on campus, but the university still has some heavy lifting to do in the form of an $18 million match. “With us getting this, it allows us to be a research school,” said Joshua Wienczkowski, 24, a senior biology and physiology major from Grand Rapids, Mich., as he worked on a lab project Tuesday.
University of Tennessee Health Science Center officials said they’ll get to work on the school’s multi-disciplinary simulation building “as fast as we can” if the legislature approves a $24.1 million funding request. Gov. Bill Haslam requested the funds for the building in his 2013 budget, which he unveiled during his State of the State address Monday in Nashville.
No money for an East Tennessee State University fine arts center was included in Gov. Bill Haslam’s next state budget, but his plan would move the nearly $40 million project up the list of projects to be built. Meanwhile the governor proposed Northeast State Community College receive money to begin planning a much-needed technology education complex. In his State of the State address Monday evening, Haslam proposed a $335 million increase in construction and building maintenance spending at Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee schools.
Governor Bill Haslam’s budget does not include keeping Bledsoe County’s Taft Youth Development Center open. That means relocating about 96 teens (88 as of today) and the loss of up to 170 jobs.
Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State Address included some proposals to make Tennessee a safer place. Half of all crimes in the state are those of domestic violence. “In my eyes, he should of got life,” said a domestic violence survivor that didn’t want to share her name to keep her abuser from finding her again.
The governor also wants mandatory jail time for people convicted of repeated domestic violence crimes. Why? According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control 4.8 million women are assaulted or raped by their partner or ex-partner every year.
Tennessee’s death rate from drug overdoses has nearly tripled since 1999 prompting governor Haslam to propose expanded regulations. The proposal would require doctors and pharmacists to check a controlled substance database before writing or dispensing prescriptions.
During December, Washington County had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in Tennessee, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Washington County’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November and 7.6 percent in December 2010, according to figures released by the department recently.
A preliminary plan to widen one of Cleveland’s busiest intersections, North Ocoee at 25th streets, got its first public viewing Tuesday evening. The Tennessee Department of Transportation held a public hearing on a proposed project to widen the intersection to seven lanes in each direction.
Both lanes of Interstate 40 West in Cocke County have been closed following an early morning rockslide between Mile Markers 450 and 451. Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Geotechnical Engineers are continuing to evaluate the slide and are currently developing a plan to stabilize the mountainside.
The State Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s decision to not tax a nationally recognized education company for conducting online and mail order business with its customers in Tennessee. At issue was nearly $6 million in sales and use taxes — including other penalties and fees — the state’s Department of Revenue had determined that Missouri-based Scholastic Book Clubs Inc. owed on amounts earned over a six-year period.
A lawsuit challenging a state law that invalidated Metro protections for gay and transgendered individuals is facing a dismissal in Davidson County Chancery Court. Chancellor Carol L. McCoy issued an order in the case last week that gives the plaintiffs 30 days to supply proof that they have been harmed by the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, which was passed last year and nullified an ordinance the Metro Council passed requiring city contractors to pledge not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law does not allow local governments to pass anti-discrimination policies more rigorous than the state’s, which does not mention gay and transgendered individuals.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. Assistant District Attorney General Leland Price is turning to that adage in fighting the use of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe of disgraced former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner as evidence to challenge cases over which Baumgartner presided.
Legislation that will cement Gov. Bill Haslam’s deal with Amazon.com will cost the state $22.8 million per year in “forgone revenue” while in effect, but it will bring in a like amount afterward, according to a legislative staff estimate. The “fiscal note” on HB2370, introduced at the behest of Haslam, does not mention the Internet retail giant by name but observes that “one taxpayer will meet the criteria specified in this bill exempting such taxpayer from collecting and remitting sales and use tax.
If Democrats have their way, the Tennessee General Assembly would meet only every second year, lawmakers’ daily expenses would be capped and bill sponsors would have to divulge if their legislation originated with national groups. Democratic leaders insist their proposals are designed to promote good government.
A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to block public access to business records used to make grant decisions. The Senate Commerce Committee voted 8-0 to approve the measure after making a change to allow the State Funding Board to examine the information that would otherwise be shielded from public view.
Believing they are in a race against state legislators who want to limit the city’s growth, nine of the 13 Memphis City Council members Tuesday approved a plan to annex a significant chunk of territory in eastern Shelby County. The full council must vote three more times before the annexation is final.
Just weeks after returning to Capitol Hill, state legislators may be setting the stage for another showdown between law enforcement and the encamped Occupy Nashville protesters outside their offices. A bill filed Jan. 17 — by Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) and Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville) — would make it illegal to “maintain living-quarters” on public property that is not designated for residential use.
Occupy Nashville protesters are warning Gov. Bill Haslam, state lawmakers and the highway patrol that, if evicted from Legislative Plaza, their members will occupy the state Capitol, other public areas and even restrooms at the Haslam family-owned chain of travel centers. In an “open letter,” the protest group denounces legislation they say is designed to oust protesters from the plaza, where members have camped since October.
A proposal to clear the Occupy Nashville protest off War Memorial Plaza comes up in a House subcommittee Wednesday. Occupiers have been camped on what is essentially the roof of the legislature’s main office building since October. But for some lawmakers the decision to clear the plaza is not a slam-dunk. State Representative Jon Lundberg says he wanted to visit with the protesters before he had to vote on the De-Occupy Nashville bill in subcommittee.
A proposal to require hands-on CPR practice in high school resuscitation programs, sponsored by State Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, has passed the Senate. The measure was approved 31-0 last week by the full Senate.
The state’s roughly 44,000 employees anticipate major changes if the governor is able to push through an overhaul to civil service protection. However, they’re not interested in talking publicly about their concerns.
Advocates for the disabled have joined an effort to repeal a Tennessee law that requires photo identification in order to vote. Jim Dickson is vice president of organizing and civic engagement for the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Hearings for a small number of Occupy Murfreesboro protesters cited for illegal camping on the Civic Plaza between December and early January have been rescheduled for a second time, according to city court personnel. The hearings for members of Occupy were rescheduled for early February after an attorney representing the group informed the court of a scheduling conflict.
R. Kemp Conrad, who has served as a Memphis City Council member and is a former chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, said Tuesday he has been asked to consider challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher in this year’s Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District. “Some people have asked me to consider it,” Conrad said.
As states like Tennessee look at creating insurance exchanges under the federal healthcare overhaul, demand is spiking for the information technology or IT know-how to set one up. It’s still an open question whether Tennessee even sets up an exchange.
Rand Paul run-in, studies call effectiveness into question Brandon Chapman had just been joking about U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s run-in with Nashville International Airport’s body scanners when one of those very same machines sounded an alarm on him last Tuesday. He laughed it off at first — it was a false positive somewhere on his arm — until the machine did it again a few days later in Raleigh, N.C., as he tried to return home.
Volkswagen is creating another 200 jobs at its Chattanooga assembly plant as production increases. A plant spokesman said in a statement Tuesday that the positions are needed as production capacity increases from 31 to 35 cars per hour.
Volkswagen plans to create 200 new jobs at its Chattanooga plant as it bolsters production from 31 to 35 cars per hour, according to the automaker. The new jobs will be integrated into VW’s current two-shift operation and filled by full-time employees, an official said in a news release.
When Nashville Predators President Sean Henry was introduced to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Henry received a simultaneous salutation and question. When will Nashville host the NHL All-Star game, the mayor wanted to know.
Much like the 2010 Memphis-Shelby County government consolidation debate, trust has emerged as a factor in suburban residents’ opposition to a countywide school merger. The issue was touched upon several times at Houston High last week as the Transition Planning Commission held a session of its listening tour.
Cheatham County educators have fared well so far under the state’s new teacher evaluation system. Under the evaluation system, observations by principals make up half of a teacher’s score, but a first glimpse at those observation scores from across the state shows they are all over the map.
Dave Gorman was pulled to pursue a career as a teacher. And now 11 years later, it’s something the South-Doyle Middle School teacher said he loves doing. “I’m trying to do the best I can.
A new report gives a near failing grade to the science standards used by Tennessee’s schools. The Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, says the guidelines for teachers don’t contain enough substance.
Thirty-five percent of Hamilton County high school students spend at least five hours a day watching television, playing video games and scouring the Internet, according to new survey results. But the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department doesn’t know how long those kids stare at their iPhones and BlackBerrys.
In the early morning hours of Super Bowl Sunday last year, Dallas police arrested Anthony Ladell Winn. They suspected Winn of forcing two sisters, ages 14 and 20, to travel from Austin to Dallas to work as prostitutes while thousands of football fans gathered for the big game.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday that he would ask lawmakers to approve an unprecedented tax increase on gasoline, applying for the first time Maryland’s 6 percent sales tax to every gallon of gas to raise billions of dollars for road and transit projects. The sales tax would be phased in annually in increments of 2?percent at the wholesale level, meaning that a gallon of gas that now costs $3.48 at the pump would increase 6?cents.
Most departments feel decline from last year in $5.49B plan Gov. Phil Bryant’s first budget proposal recommends $26 million less than the state is spending this year while fully funding education and cutting most departments and agencies by 5.5 percent. Bryant also wants to sell the state’s jet for $2 million. Bryant outlined his $5.49 billion spending plan, which recognizes the realities of a slowly recovering state economy and dwindling federal dollars, on Tuesday during a speech attended by lobbyists, reporters and a handful of legislators in a Capitol meeting room.
When governors and presidents lay out their plans and agendas for the year, the speeches are always filled with lots of promising, ambitious things sure to antagonize the opposition and delight those who like what they hear. That’s the case with Gov. Bill Haslam’s State of the State address on Monday night.
Many public officials find it easy to propose more spending and higher taxes. But Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam should be commended for proposing in his State of the State speech to legislators on Tuesday an actual reduction in the state’s budget.
Gov. Bill Haslam didn’t spring any surprises Monday when he announced his proposed budget for the coming year. The total amount of spending will be roughly the same as this year — $31 billion.
While Penny Sutton was understandably exuberant last week over gains made by her organization, Professional Educators of Tennessee, another Sevier County teacher has every right to be downcast this week. Gera Summerford, president of the Tennessee Education Association and Gatlinburg teacher, was a bit agitated by the education plans Gov. Bill Haslam unfolded in his State of the State address Monday.
When the state Legislature passed a law in 2011 requiring Tennesseans to show a photo ID in order to vote, legislators failed to take into consider the ramifications it could have on older voters. In fact, some didn’t realize that Tennesseans 60 and older aren’t even required to have a photo on their driver’s license.
Is there something wrong with growing in a manner that allows us, as a county, to prosper by improving our economic strength while still preserving the community character and rural landscapes that make Middle Tennessee so unique? I find the local Republican Party and the Rutherford County Concerned Citizen’s for Property Rights conclusion that the Comprehensive Plan and proposed Zoning Map and Ordinance to be “… unwarranted and not needed, as it infringes upon a property owner’s right to sell and profit from the development of their property” rather shortsighted.
Nashville is blessed with an economy diverse enough to keep things going even during the recent recession. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce wants to get across the message that while not recession-proof, the 10-county area of Middle Tennessee was slow to get in one and quicker to get out of it than most places.