This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Joyce Nall watched her sister Janie Monroe fight the pills for years. “It was a 30-year addiction,” Nall said. “She was a brilliant nurse, but she got hooked, and she overdosed in 2008 at 52. She lost her house, her car and her family. She died alone, and we found her two days later.” Nall and Judy Bensey, another sister, shook the governor’s hand Friday when he signed a bill aimed at tightening restrictions on doctor-shopping and other forms of prescription-drug abuse in Tennessee.
Governor Bill Haslam took a big step in ending what he called an “epidemic” in Tennessee. He signed into law a bill designed to make doctor shopping, the act of filling a single prescription numerous times, harder for addicts to do. The Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2012 was signed into law on the footsteps of the Anderson County Court House, a county that has seen its share of prescription pill crime.
Doctor shoppers in Tennessee may find it harder to get prescription drugs from now on. Governor Bill Haslam Friday signed the Prescription Safety Act. The medical community agrees it’s a good idea, but there are some drawbacks. The average Tennessee resident gets 18 prescriptions filled a year, many for pain-killers like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Governor Bill Haslam has now signed a bill to stop doctor-shoppers and prescription drug abusers.
Tennessee’s governor has signed into law a measure allowing teachers to be penalized for promoting or condoning “gateway sexual activity” by students, expanding the state’s existing abstinence-based sex-education program. “The bill language and provisions are generally in line with our current standards and law,” said David Smith, a spokesman for GOP Gov. Bill Haslam. The “gateway activity” in question remains vague. Some critics have said it could punish teachers for allowing students to hug or hold hands.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s office on Friday said that he has signed legislation that adds the concept of “gateway sexual activity” to the state’s abstinence-first sex education curriculum. Haslam signed Senate Bill 3310 over calls to veto the measure from the American Civil Liberties Union and others. The measure says that sex education teachers cannot encourage “gateway” activities that stop short of sexual intercourse.
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that bans discussion of “gateway sexual activity” and directs an abstinence-centered approach to sex education in Tennessee public schools. After earlier voicing indecision about what he intended to do with the legislation, which critics urged him to veto, Haslam went ahead and made the legislation law. “The bill language and provisions are generally in line with our current standards and law,” Haslam spokesman David Smith said in an email.
Tennessee teachers can no longer condone so-called “gateway sexual activity” such as touching genitals under a new law that critics say is too vague and could hamper discussion about safe sexual behavior. Gov. Bill Haslam’s office Friday confirmed to Reuters that Haslam had signed the bill, which stirred up controversy nationwide and even was lampooned by comedian Stephen Colbert. “Kissing and hugging are the last stop before reaching Groin Central Station, so it’s important to ban all the things that lead to the things that lead to sex,” he said on the “Colbert Report” television show.
Gov. Bill Haslam has declined to sign a resolution that denounces “the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21,” passed by Republican legislators over Democratic complaints that it buys into a bogus conspiracy theory. The resolution, HJR587, was approved 72-23 in the House and by a 19-11 vote in the Senate. “Resolutions are position statements by the General Assembly, not a law to be implemented,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an emailed response to a question. ”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed several bills into law, including one that allows judges to compel blood tests from motorists arrested on drunken driving charges. Another measure he signed allows parents to sue teachers or outside groups working in schools that promote or condone “gateway sexual activity.” The pro-abstinence bill has been derided, and critics say it’s so vague that kissing and holding hands might trigger a lawsuit.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will make an appearance Monday at Tennessee High School to sign bath salts legislation. The governor is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 a.m., according to Todd Bailey, a spokesman for the Bristol, Tenn., school system. During the recent session of the state General Assembly, legislation was approved to make the sale of bath salts or synthetic drugs illegal based on their effect rather than ingredients, which allowed sellers to skirt an earlier law.
Sgt. Jacob Schwallie killed in Afghanistan on Monday Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder issued a statement on Friday regretfully announcing the death of Tennessee and Clarksville native Sgt. Jacob Michael Schwallie in Afghanistan. Schwallie and two other paratroopers were fatally injured when their military vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on May 7, in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan.
Sergeant Jacob Michael Schwallie, killed by a roadside bomb on May 7, in Afghanistan will be remembered this weekend in his hometown, Clarksville. A Memorial Service is scheduled for Saturday, May 12th at 11:00 a.m. at Madison Street United Methodist Church, 319 Madison Street. On Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam issued this statement; “On behalf of the state of Tennessee, we extend our deepest condolences and continuous prayers for the Schwallie family,” Haslam said.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed May “Foster Care Month,” joining other states and organizations across the country in saluting foster parents and encouraging others to take steps to serve children in the year ahead. “Family is the crucible of a child’s life,” said Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day. “Children must live in a safe, stable and loving family in order to develop properly. When a child’s own family is unable to care for them, foster families are a lifeline for them.
Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam’s visiting schools around the state as a part of her initiative to improve literacy rates. She stopped at Red Bank Elementary this afternoon. Mrs. Haslam read to third graders at the school. This wraps up a series of campus visits. The first lady announced last year she would partner with 10 schools across Tennessee. She’s pushing the Read 20 program Crissy Haslam,TN First Lady, “I think it’s such a tremendous message and program to have kids reading 20 minutes a day or parents reading to their kids 20 minutes a day.It’s a great way for them to improve their reading skills and that’s something the department of education is working on, improving or 3rd grad reading proficiency.”
A law that requires Amazon.com to begin collecting sales tax in Tennessee doesn’t take effect until 2014, but one provision that became effective immediately appears to be having some effect. Consumer use tax collections in April were $571,197, an increase of $342,964 or 108.1 percent from April 2011. That appears to be directly related to a provision in the law that requires Amazon to begin notifying its Tennessee customers immediately that sales tax payments are already required by state law.
Amazon.com won’t begin collecting sales tax from its customers in Tennessee for two more years, but until then the state wants people to still pay a similar tax on their online purchases. Amazon is in the process of building distribution centers in Murfreesboro and Lebanon. The two sites are expected to create a combined 1,300 new jobs. As part of the deal, the Tennessee Department of Revenue says Governor Bill Haslam signed a law in March requiring Amazon to collect sales tax from customers beginning in 2014.
The state of Tennessee is selling the old Motor Vehicle Maintenance Building on Charlotte Avenue. The asking price is $10 million for the 8.4-acre property, which includes a 40,000-square-foot building at 2200-2400 Charlotte Ave., Nashville. Bids are due May 17 by 1:30 p.m. at the state’s Real Estate Assets Management office in Nashville. A host of redevelopment is expected for that section of Charlotte Avenue thanks to the $20 million city roadway project connecting it with West End.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is making upgrades to its SmartWay map, an Internet tool that charts traffic accidents and incidents on state and federal roads. TDOT hopes to provide more specific information about the accidents and incidents displayed. Upgrades will include more details about what side of a road is affected or when a ramp is closed. The upgrade also will allow additional information about construction and maintenance projects and how that will affect driving as well.
From the road, it’s hard to get a sense of the magnitude of the work that must be done to repair Interstate 75 in Campbell County. New aerial photographs released Friday by the Tennessee Department of Transportation put it all in perspective. A great gash in the hillside exists where there used to be two southbound lanes near mile marker 143. “I keep using the word ‘massive,’ ” TDOT Region 1 spokesman Mark Nagi said Friday.
State officials are looking at sites in West Tennessee to build a new state veterans cemetery and they hope to choose three finalists later this year. Members at a steering committee meeting of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs in Parkers Crossroads on Thursday expressed a need for one within the 190-mile stretch between Nashville and Memphis. “We definitely need a veterans cemetery in this area,” said Mark Breece, the department’s assistant commissioner.
While some candidates for the General Sessions Court judge election in August say voters should take cues from a recent poll conducted by the local bar association, others don’t give the results much weight. The Chattanooga Bar Association this week released numbers from a “preferential poll” of members. The poll asked who they support among the seven candidates for the seat formerly held by Judge Bob Moon, who died in January.
Vanderbilt “Van” Brabson has been low-key in seeking the Republican nomination for the 13th District House seat that state Rep. Harry Tindell, a Democrat, is vacating. But he says that is about to change. His opponent is Gary Loe, a TV sports producer, who’s campaigning everywhere. Loe says he wants to make sure people know he’s a serious candidate after losing two years ago in a race against state Rep. Steve Hall, who represents the 18th District.
Teen’s death brings to light common street use of carts without safety features In Westhaven, a subdivision with its own golf course on the outskirts of Franklin, it is so common to see golf carts on the street that a grocery store there has parking spaces reserved for them. A golf cart retailer in Williamson County touts its ability to outfit a cart for neighborhood use, and Ghertner and Co., a property management firm in Nashville that works with hundreds of homeowner associations in Middle Tennessee, acknowledged that the debate over carts on the street is routine.
A group of people opposing a Metro property tax increase said the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce should refuse to accept a $300,000 Metro subsidy after endorsing the tax plan. Talk radio host Ralph Bristol, Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham, businessman Lee Beaman and Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a conservative think tank, said the chamber should live without the city subsidy “to avoid a perceived conflict of interest.”
A fellow Republican’s loss could turn into Senator Bob Corker’s gain. After 36 years in Washington, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar was sent packing this week, which opens up the top G-O-P slot on the Foreign Relations Committee. Corker is next in line according to the committee’s seniority system, but his ascension is not a done deal. Tennessee’s junior senator may face a quandary: he also has a chance of being named the top Republican on the Banking Committee, where he’s been active on financial issues.
Republican Tennessee Senator Bob Corker could soon be chairman of one of two powerful Senate committees, WPLN 90.3 FM reports. The primary defeat this week of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar clears the top GOP spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to the committee’s seniority system, Corker is next in line for the position. WPLN reports that Corker also has a chance of being named the top Republican on the Banking Committee, an area in which Corker has been active.
Sen. Bob Corker’s campaign is all dressed up with nowhere to go. The Tennessee Republican had raised $12.5 million to fund his re-election bid by the end of March. Only one other senator running for re-election this year raised more, according to a Tennessean Washington Bureau analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. So far, at least, Corker doesn’t have much of a race to spend it on. Other top-grossing senators have clear reasons to aggressively raise money.
Vowing to run hard against “two millionaires, actual millionaires, one in the primary, one in the general election,” 9th District congressional candidate Tomeka Hart opened up her headquarters in Chickasaw Crossing on Poplar Thursday night. Addressing a group of supporters drawn heavily from the ranks of New Path, the activist group that gave her a start in politics by boosting her for the Memphis City Schools board in 2004, Democrat Hart promised to focus on local issues in a way that she said the incumbent Democrat, Steve Cohen, has not.
They won’t arrive all at once, but some East Tennessee soldiers could come home from Afghanistan this weekend in time for Mother’s Day. More than 200 reservists of the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion left Knoxville last May for training at Fort Dix, N.J., on their way to Afghanistan. The Army reservists have cycled through deployment since 2001, with some deployed as many as five times in the past decade. The unit arrived stateside May 12 at Fort Dix and spent the past week being mustered out, Maj. James Rivenbark said.
The United States Postal Service is broke. It is a well-known fact based on the repeated losses the agency continues to show in its quarterly reports. In July 2011, the agency announced that it would study nearly 3,700 post offices (most located in rural areas) for possible closure. Here in Dyer County the post offices in Tigrett, Lenox and Bogota were evaluated for possible closure, as was the post office in the neighboring community of Friendship.
Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday. The move is the latest sign the Obama administration is trying to draw attention to the law’s benefits before the fall elections, even though the law faces an uncertain future. The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether its central plank—a mandate that everyone carry insurance—violates the Constitution.
The nuclear disaster in Japan and the abandonment of a spent fuel repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., have prompted TVA to consider a $298 million contract for giant concrete and steel casks to store nuclear waste outside its operating plants. TVA’s board in April authorized the federal utility to contract with Holtec International, a company that makes the giant casks. The casks hold highly radioactive spent fuel after it has cooled for five years underwater inside the nuclear plants.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was in Oak Ridge on Friday to tour the government’s facilities — Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and the former K-25 uranium-enrichment plant. “I need to see firsthand what’s going at the site,” said Hastings, a key advocate for cleaning up the environmental legacies of the World War II Manhattan Project and the Cold War nuclear weapons operations.
After years of differing fees charged to each marina or campground in the Tennessee Valley Authority area, the TVA decided everyone will now pay the same fee, and for many that means a huge increase in payments. Local recreational facilities that use TVA land have been notified of the new fee structure that will go into effect January 2013. The facilities will have the option of paying part of their Fair Market Value or paying about 4 percent of their Gross Revenue.
Kingsport is the center for building jobs as officials announce the possiblity of a large manufacturer coming to the area. Mayor Dennis Phillips told 11 Connects that an automobile parts company is considering several locations for a new site. The company is considering the old General Shale Brick property near downtown and property at BAE systems. Phillips says the manufacturer would need 200 acres and would supply hundreds of jobs.
Over the past three weeks, Kingsport officials have been meeting with representatives from an automobile parts company that is considering locating a new manufacturing plant in the Model City that could create up to 240 jobs. Mayor Dennis Phillips, who met with the representatives on Thursday, called the prospect the most impressive situation he has seen since being elected mayor of Kingsport.
If the city of Memphis has one more fiscal year of funding Memphis City Schools, it could be one-time-only funding instead of raising the city property tax rate. After several years of Memphis City Council members debating the use of one-time-only funding to cover continuing expenses in the city’s operating budget, the coming schools consolidation that begins in August 2013 has prompted some new scenarios.
Rhea County students will pay 25 cents more for lunch next year. On Thursday, school board members raised prices in response to a federal mandate. Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said the federal school lunch program is requiring an increase of at least 14 cents per meal next year. But he recommended the larger increase in an effort to put off another hike for three years or so. Lunches cost $2.25 for elementary students and $2.50 for high school students this year.
Two Unicoi County people were arrested Wednesday on methamphetamine-related charges after officials allegedly found precursors in their vehicle following a traffic stop. Stacy G. Black, 41, 420 Walnut St., Erwin, was charged with initiating the process of methamphetamine manufacture. Brittany Nicole Conley, 23, 505 Lindsey Road, Unicoi, was charged with promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.