This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Bedford County School Superintendent Dr. Ray Butrum said the approval last week of waivers for the requirements of the No Child Left Behind act had been expected, and won’t change the way schools are operating. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that waivers from some of the law’s requirements were being granted to 10 states which had requested them, including Tennessee.
Tennessee schools will no longer be penalized for failing to meet benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind Law. President Barack Obama freed 10 states, including Tennessee, from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind law Thursday.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday shied away from his proposal to lift a class size cap, acknowledging that it had received “mixed reviews” from administrators, teachers and lawmakers. Haslam said his plan had been intended to give school districts more flexibility to recruit and reward teachers who take on difficult tasks or subjects with higher pay.
Anderson County government has received a $206,994 grant to make safety improvements, including sidewalks and crosswalks, near two schools. The Safe Routes to School initiative, a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will provide Anderson County with funds to construct sidewalks and crosswalks, and install flashing beacons and traffic control devices near Lake City elementary and middle schools…
Tennessee’s new system for tracking the sale of pseudoephedrine — a main ingredient in making methamphetamine — is working, officials said this week. “It’s doing what it was designed to do,” state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, said of the National Precursor Log Exchange, NPLEx.
The use of adjunct professors soared at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the five years ending in 2009, but since then officials have improved parity by hiring more full-time, tenured faculty. Today, about 41 percent of faculty at UTC are adjuncts, matching the national average.
We first told you about an investigation launched by the state of Tennessee into Johnson City’s Appalachian Christian Village on Thursday. The Tennessee Department of Health issued a notice that Appalachian Christian Village can no longer accept patients.
Twelve attorneys are seeking to replace the late Judge Bob Moon on the General Sessions bench, including one who wants to be a caretaker until a special election this August. A chief magistrate, an arbitrator, a current and several former prosecutors, a civil trial attorney and a city judge are applying for the position, which pays about $156,000 a year.
How Richard Baumgartner, a drug-addicted judge, stayed on the bench despite warnings It was a Thursday night in January 2010 when the phone rang at the Andersonville home of then-Knox County Sheriff’s Office courtroom security officer Meredith Driskell. “He said, ‘I’m coming to get those pills.’ He told me to put them in a brown paper bag.
What did Jamie Satterfield know about Richard Baumgartner’s woes, and when did she know it? The question has been raised several times since the News Sentinel’s court reporter began exposing the judge’s criminality.
Threat of loss spurs many to settle tardy fees Tennesseans with unpaid court fees may find themselves without a driver’s license come July 1 when a new law takes effect allowing the state to suspend debtors’ driving privileges. Criminal court clerks across the region have struggled for years to collect hundreds of millions of dollars owed to taxpayers.
A new effort is under way toward passage of legislation that pits the interests of gun rights advocates against the property rights of businesses, a politically volatile mix that was apparently a factor in a public confrontation between two legislators. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey last week declared he strongly supports passage of the key proposal, which would authorize handgun permit holders to take their weapons to work — provided they are left in a locked car — even if the permit holder’s employer prohibits guns on company property.
Tennessee lawmakers have tried before to guarantee that workers can keep firearms in their cars at work. A new twist to this year’s attempt is that it would affect both the public and private sector, meaning it would apply to everyone from college faculty to airport workers.
Says move would reduce costs State Sen. Bill Ketron is sponsoring legislation that would remove drug enforcement authority from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission and place it under the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Senate Bill 3358, which clarifies several ABC-related laws, would remove the commission’s ability to enforce Tennessee’s felony laws dealing with marijuana.
Two state lawmakers are disputing which of them helped save the life of a seizure victim at a Nashville hotel recently. State Rep. Joanne Favors told the Knoxville News Sentinel she was stunned to learn that Rep. Tony Shipley had been honored for “heroic actions” in helping a 34-year-old Passport Health Communications employee.
Dozens of special interests ranging from AT&T to Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee have given $2.93 million so far to the campaigns of Tennessee lawmakers and legislative candidates during the 2012 election cycle, state filings show. A political action committee operated by Memphis-based FedEx Corp. topped the list, according to figures from the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
As state plans eviction, group weighs next step As state lawmakers prepare to move forward this week with plans to evict Occupy Nashville from Legislative Plaza, protesters are considering the idea of temporarily shutting down the encampment on their own as a possible next step. “I think being out here during the winter months is risking people’s health,” said D.J. Hudson, 23, one of the Occupy Nashville protesters arrested during the state’s first ouster attempt in October.
The ragtag Occupy Wall Street encampments that sprang up in scores of cities last fall, thrusting “We are the 99 percent” into the vernacular, have largely been dismantled, with a new wave of crackdowns and evictions in the past week. Since the violent clashes last month in Oakland, Calif., headlines about Occupy have dwindled, too. Far from dissipating, groups around the country say they are preparing for a new phase of larger marches and strikes this spring that they hope will rebuild momentum and cast an even brighter glare on inequality and corporate greed.
After deadly lapses and threat of financial penalties, hospitals step up safeguards The baby’s racing heartbeat set off an alarm. The nurse rushed to his incubator, then realized the horror of her mistake.
An 18-month saga for Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield may have ended Friday. Standing inside a Hamilton County courtroom, Littlefield said that, for the remaining 14 months of his administration, “we’re going to keep doing the business of the city.” Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth ruled Friday that an Aug. 2 recall election set by the Hamilton County Election Commission is illegal and ordered it stopped.
A West Tennessee jail has implemented new policies in the wake of an inmate’s suicide. Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork told The Jackson Sun that deputies are now required to check every 10 to 15 minutes on inmates who are on suicide watch (HYPERLINK “http://bit.ly/AoiF2a” ).
Inmate suicides undocumented, rarely reported at local or state level Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails nationwide, with the highest suicide rates in small jails. But a review by The Jackson Sun shows that inmate suicides in West Tennessee jails are largely undocumented and are not reported at the state level.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe warned Saturday the military would bear the brunt of automatic spending cuts called for in a budget control measure passed by Congress last year. The so-called “Budget Control Act of 2011” included “sequestration,” or $1.2 trillion in automatic deficit reduction through 2021 unless Congress adopts a different plan from a Joint Select Committee of lawmakers.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has formed a political action committee to lobby the federal government, even as numbers show that PACs in the health industry have more than doubled their contributions to federal candidates in the last 10 years. The Chattanooga-based organization already had a state PAC and contributed to BlueCross BlueShield’s national federal PAC, spokeswoman Mary Danielson said in an email.
In the mid-1800s, French emperor Napoleon III was known to provide gold or silver dinnerware for most guests at state banquets, but the emperor and his really important guests used the good stuff — aluminum dinnerware. Aluminum was a rare commodity then — more valuable than gold — and something only royalty could afford, long before advancements in mining and metallurgy turned this now common metal into an economic bedrock for communities like Blount County.
The city schools system has a new software tool to assess how each school is performing instead of waiting for the state’s annual report cards. “I think Schoolnet is the key to get us where we need to get to, testing-wise,” said Martin Ringstaff, schools director.
Angela Majors and thousands of other Shelby County residents are living in the no man’s land of public education. Majors lives in an unincorporated area in Memphis’ reserve area off Hacks Cross.
While leaders in suburban cities talk of setting up their own school systems, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said Saturday he’s not sure those municipal districts would have a claim on the countywide funds that are doled out for education based on average daily attendance. Luttrell said the issue of what funds would be available for any new school system is “just very complicated.”
The Dyer County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit arrested a suspect early Monday morning for initiation of methamphetamine manufacture. Jackson Hogshooter, 36, 158 Booths Point Road, was taken into custody by agents around midnight at his residence after a search warrant for methamphetamine production was executed.
The Public Safety Action Plan put together by Gov. Bill Haslam’s subcabinet working group offers a new approach to fighting crime in Tennessee. With input from a dozen departments and agencies, it represents the most comprehensive approach to fighting crime that we have seen.
Tennessee has a crime problem — it ranks fifth per capita in the nation for violent crimes and leads the country in the number of meth labs — that has persisted for years despite various programs to curtail it. Recent efforts have enjoyed some success, but not enough.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s public-safety action plan mirrors local collaborative efforts to fight crime on a holistic front. A delegation of Tennessee government department heads sat in The Commercial Appeal’s conference room last week armed with a stack of information about the governor’s public-safety action plan.
Haslam’s action plan is ambitious and needed, but may rely too much on kindness of others Gov. Bill Haslam’s sweeping Public Safety Action Plan is as ambitious a legislative agenda as any Tennessee governor has advanced in recent memory — rivaling even the First to the Top education initiative of two years ago. What’s more, if it unfolds as Haslam envisions, the plan would affect the lives of every Tennessean for the better.
Every year, bundles of bills are introduced in the Legislature to cut taxes and, every year, governors and legislative leaders make sure that the vast majority quietly disappear in the name of fiscal responsibility. This year, Gov. Bill Haslam, after uttering fiscally responsible misgivings just a few weeks earlier in keeping with gubernatorial traditions, has decided to grant a couple of exceptions.
After state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s, R-Notsville, recent ejection from a local eatery, political and comedy observers are asking: Can a serious politician really be as clownish as Campfield? “Is Stacey Campfield some Stephen Colbert-like performer?” the conversation goes.
Jobs created, business relocations are proof Middle Tennessee is on track Few metropolitan areas in this country or anywhere else in the world are doing as well as Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and there’s a reason for that. The reason is the strength, adaptability and resilience of this region’s business community.
Gov. Bill Haslam has put forth an aggressive, mostly forward-thinking set of legislative proposals this year. But when it comes to loading classrooms with more students, he’s stepped in it. Deeply. Haslam is proposing that school systems be allowed, if local boards want, to grow the average class size of a grade level by five students.
Both Tennessee and Georgia are facing serious challenges in continuing to provide scholarships funded by the states’ lotteries. Fortunately, some of the legislation being proposed in the two states with regard to the lottery is wise.