This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Governor Bill Haslam says cutting the grocery tax half a cent would be a move that would positively impact everyone in the state. Every time you go grocery shopping in Tennessee you pay a tax rate of 5.5%. Governor Haslam is asking the state legislature to drop the tax to 5% in the 2012 budget.
Not endorsing legislation to alter Shelby County agreement Gov. Bill Haslam says he does not endorse proposed legislation that would undo a 12-year annexation reserve agreement among Shelby County’s municipalities, making it harder for Memphis to grow geographically. Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor, noted the two bills filed by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Curry Todd, both R-Collierville, and Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, have been held up by Norris so State Atty. Gen. Bob Cooper can give an opinion on their constitutionality.
Senator Mark Norris is putting the brakes on a bill that would take the Gray’s Creek area of Shelby County away from Memphis’s annex reserve. The co-sponsor says he’s are doing that to seek council from the Tennessee’s attorney general.
If you want state money, do not provide abortions; that’s the message from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. His reaction comes after Planned Parenthood branches in Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the state for cutting funds for HIV and syphilis testing. Governor Haslam wouldn’t say if the cuts were driven by politics. He claims the state is simply moving money to other health care providers, and firmly stands behind state cuts to Planned Parenthood.
Unlike his rather somber predecessor, first term Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam can still manage to evoke chuckles from an audience with his “aw-shucks-I’m just a country boy-you like me-you really like me” self-deprecating humor. “Ladies and Gentlemen the Commander and Chief of the Tennessee National Guard, and the band starts playing and that’s you.
Judge Derek Smith, a former deputy district attorney in Williamson County, will be sworn in by Gov. Bill Haslam 9 a.m. Monday in the governor’s conference room at the Capitol. Smith has been serving as a 21st Judicial Circuit Court judge since Haslam appointed him in December. There was a private swearing-in then. Smith replaced Judge Jeff Bivins, who was sworn into the Court of Criminal Appeals earlier in 2011.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has fired two top officials at the Department of Environment and Conservation, while a third has announced his retirement The department said in a statement Friday that the changes are “designed to streamline our structure and build management efficiencies.” Changes are to include the creation of a single water resources division encompassing the department’s pollution control, water supply and groundwater management programs, according to the statement.
Reshuffling follows complaints from businesses about TDEC permits The Haslam administration has shaken up the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, removing two top officials, combining several divisions and cutting more than 150 jobs. The heads of the divisions responsible for managing water quality and solid waste were fired this week.
While lawmakers in Nashville and Gov. Bill Haslam’s office wrestle over numbers and the proposed closure of Taft Youth Development Center, a judge in Rhea County says closing the facility is a “smoke screen” for eventual privatization of juvenile justice in Tennessee. The real dispute isn’t about jobs, Rhea County Juvenile Court Judge Jimmy McKenzie said. “We’re not talking about economics, we’re talking about children,” he said. “
Tennessee Department of Transportation on Thursday announced a grant of $52,200 towards $58,000 in engineering services to study taxiway repairs at Shelbyville Municipal Airport. City government will have to furnish only 10 percent of the budget, or $5,800.
A Bradley County woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” a crime involving the use TennCare benefits to go to multiple doctors in a short time period in order to obtain controlled substances. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Michelle Hicks, 24, of Cleveland, Tennessee.
The Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce announces upcoming events during the month of February: On Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 290 Alfred Thun Road, the Chamber will be presenting a Women In Business forum. The First Lady of Tennessee, Crissy Haslam, will serve as the keynote speaker. As first lady, she has been outspoken on education, literacy and making families more involved with their children’s education.
In one of the more anonymous efforts in an interesting legislative session in Nashville, there is apparently some discussion of requiring school systems to charge nothing less than fair market value if they rent or sell a school building to a charter school. Meanwhile, suburban leaders considering forming their own municipal school districts have been told by their consultants that they shouldn’t have to pay anything to get existing school buildings from Shelby County within the footprints of their municipal school districts.
A law that requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls starting this year has resulted in hassles for older Tennesseans who don’t have a picture on their driver’s license. The Department of Safety estimates nearly 200,000 seniors don’t. And now a state representative is trying to prevent future inconveniences by requiring photos for all ages. Republican Cameron Sexton of Crossville has written a bill that would eliminate the state’s photo exemption for seniors.
Sen. Joe Haynes announced Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2012, saying a newly redrawn district by Republicans wasn’t necessarily a factor in his decision. However, the Goodlettsville Democrat, who has served in the Senate for 28 years, did note what he called an “interesting symmetry” in the circumstances surrounding his decision to run in 1984 and the one he would face 2012.
Saying he could have won re-election in a redrawn district but didn’t want to run for the sake of his “political ego,” state Sen. Joe Haynes announced Friday that he would retire from the General Assembly after 28 years in office. In a two-page statement, the Goodlettsville Democrat said he was confident he could still win in a district reshaped by Republicans last month to include several GOP-friendly enclaves in West Nashville.
Staring at new Republican-leaning political terrain, longtime District 20 state Sen. Joe Haynes, a Democrat, announced Friday he won’t seek re-election in 2012, though he claimed he still could have won. Haynes’ resignation ends a 28-year senatorial career in Tennessee, and comes three months after the retirement of his wife, Davidson County Circuit Judge Barbara Haynes, who left the bench in November.
The current version of the latest Memphis blow-up — one which all the involved principals appear to be accepting, perhaps for the sake of a momentary armistice — is that a local, almost casual impulse was the source of two radioactive bills regarding urban annexation in Shelby County. The bills — one removing a key area from Memphis’ annexation reserve and another requiring a positive vote on the part of any community about to be annexed — were sponsored in the House by GOP members Curry Todd and Ron Lollar and in the Senate by no less than Majority Leader Mark Norris.
The votes are still close on the Shelby County Commission as the group takes the first vote Monday, Feb. 6, on its third try at redistricting. The plan that’s up for the first of three readings is a conversion of the 13-member, five-district body to 13 single-member districts covering all of Shelby County.
Gloria Ray is on her way out, but the terms of her departure are up for debate. In the face of intense political pressure, the board of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp. on Friday voted to accept the retirement of Ray, who is the organization’s president and CEO and has drawn criticism for a compensation package that exceeds $400,000. The board hasn’t yet achieved closure, though. Ray’s retirement is contingent upon the two sides reaching an agreement about its terms.
After determining the retirement package for outgoing KTSC President Gloria Ray, the next step for the KTSC Board of Directors is to find her temporary replacement. Once an interim president is named, a full search can be made for Ray’s replacement.
Before a new mayor is elected in August, some Millington leaders feel the time might be right to transfer control of the city’s day-to-day operations from a full-time mayor to a professional city administrator. Proponents of the change say moving away from a strong mayor system in Millington could help restore the public’s confidence in local government.
The Air National Guard in Nashville would get an unmanned aircraft squadron under planned restructuring by the Air Force, announced Friday in Washington. The city would lose six WC-130 aircraft to Luis Munoz, Puerto Rico, to replace retiring aircraft.
Dairy mogul Scottie Mayfield on Friday became the second unexpected challenger to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who has spent four months waging a primary battle against Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of his immediate predecessor. Mayfield said he “filed the paperwork to be a candidate” Friday, turning Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District GOP money race into a three-way scrum.
Consumers are paying less to heat their homes this winter, but the mild winter is putting the heat on the nation’s biggest government utility. The Tennessee Valley Authority on Friday reported a $173 million loss for the final three months of 2011 and cut its sales forecast for the year by 2 percent because of warmer-than-usual temperatures this winter.
A warm winter is hitting the Tennessee Valley Authority’s bottom line. Electricity sales are down five percent for the most recent quarter. TVA’s revenues dropped by $260 million compared to the previous year.
With demand for new automobiles rising, auto parts manufacturer OTICS USA Inc. said today it would expand its Morristown plant and create 67 new manufacturing jobs. The company said it will invest $24.8 million in the expansion.
Even as a major storm barres into Nebraska after dumping more than a foot of snow in Colorado, this is shaping up as a relatively mild winter, saving cities money on salt and snowplowing but hurting businesses that rely on cold to bring in cash. The National Weather Service predicts all but 10 of the continental 48 states will experience above-average temperatures in February, while precipitation will remain at or below average for much of the nation.
The unified Shelby County school board will meet in a special called meeting Tuesday to iron out its stance on municipal districts and what its position will be on getting rid of surplus buildings. The board is divided on both issues, but it is not clear how deep the crevices are.
At the outset, members of the schools consolidation transition planning commission set out some basic ground rules for the set of public hearings they began in late January. They wouldn’t answer questions about details of a merged school system that hadn’t been worked out yet.
The governor’s budget shows he hasn’t forgotten his pledge to support Memphis projects. For the second year in a row, Gov. Bill Haslam is keeping his pledge to keep Memphis in the loop on state-supported capital projects.
As practicing physicians concerned with public health and patient safety, we join Gov. Bill Haslam in supporting the Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2012. This legislation has the potential to impact the supply of scheduled drugs that flows into our community and play an important role in the state’s strategy to combat prescription drug abuse and addiction.
As Tennessee legislators discuss reductions to lottery-supported scholarship funds, students and their families can’t afford to leave their financial future in others’ hands. Students can actively prepare for standardized tests and maintain high grade-point averages — both of which can qualify them for larger scholarships. Under the current Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS) Program, incoming college freshmen with an ACT score of 21 or a 3.0 grade-point average are eligible for the HOPE Scholarship, which provides up to $6,000 per year for tuition.
Higher education institutions are predictably cool to President Obama’s proposal to shift federal aid away from colleges that fail to control rising tuition. Even though the details of his plan, which would require Congressional approval, will not be fleshed out until later this month, the idea behind it is sound.