This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam has a series of public events scheduled for West Tennessee, and will also make appearances in Nashville, Knoxville and Washington, D.C. The governor starts out the week with a grant announcement at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in Memphis on Monday afternoon. Haslam travels to Washington on Tuesday for an education and workforce summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Later that day he will be in Dyersburg and Trenton for grant announcements.
Tennessee could soon have a new state park on a 400-acre wildlife sanctuary along the French Broad River in Knox County. The Knox County commission will consider a measure on Monday to transfer the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge to the state. The commission is expected to approve the resolution at its next regular meeting on Sept. 23. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton told The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1geBSyS) that Gov. Bill Haslam will likely announce the transfer Sept. 20 at a luncheon at the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge hosted by the Legacy Parks Foundation, the nonprofit land trust that manages the refuge.
About once every 80 minutes in 2010, an American woman made a fatal mistake. She took medicine…In 2012, in response to the increasing rates of prescription drug use, Gov. Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Prescription Safety Act into law, requiring all medical professionals to register with the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database and to check a patient’s history of prescription drug use before issuing new prescriptions. Prior to the act, state law required that prescribers report their data but did not require them to check the database for signs of abuse.
New facility not a long-term fix for space issues “The moment the doors opened on the new building is the moment we realized we’d probably need more space,” said Cheryl Hyland, director of Motlow College Smyrna Center. “Our next step is working with the Tennessee Board of Regents and the community to see how much more space we need.” The need for more space has been an ongoing issue for Motlow, which is based in Moore County, ever since opening a site in Rutherford County 15 years ago. Motlow started offering classes in 1998 at Riverdale High School before moving to the Tennessee Army National Guard building in 2000.
Dozens of Tennessee bridges are among the thousands nationwide that have advanced deterioration or are at risk of collapsing, federal data show. That works out to a small percentage of the state’s total number of bridges, but it could be enough to cause concern among drivers who travel them regularly. The Associated Press analyzed data involving 607,380 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory, which are subject to National Bridge Inspection Standards. On a national basis, there are 65,605 structurally deficient bridges and 20,808 fracture critical bridges, according to the most recently available federal government data.
South Pittsburg is in one of the worst financial situations it has ever seen, and that was before a massive flash flood struck downtown in July. The City Commission voted unanimously last month to nearly double the property tax rate, to 99 cents per $100. Mayor Jane Dawkins said the boost was necessary because of “indebtedness and lack of sufficient funds to run the city.” The money will repay the city’s utilities division more than $800,000 for money former Mayor Mike Killian transferred from the division to the city’s general fund, Dawkins said.
Lawmakers assessing the agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons argued Sunday about whether President Barack Obama was outfoxed by the Russians and had lost leverage in trying to end the civil war, or whether his threat of military action had propelled the breakthrough. Obama said the turn to diplomacy had laid “a foundation” toward political settlement of the conflict….Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the threat of force “is still very much in Russian hands.”
Dr. Cherae Farmer-Dixon, dean of dentistry at Meharry Medical College, said better access to dental insurance is an important step toward recognizing oral care as a medical priority. Healthy smiles are far from abundant in Tennessee, where almost 36 percent of people have not been to see a dentist in a year and 53 percent of people over the age of 65 have lost six or more teeth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is really a major step in providing dental care for adults,” Farmer-Dixon said. But it is still just a step.
New poll results show the depth of the Obama administration’s challenge on the eve of the rollout of the federal health law’s core provisions, as many Americans say they don’t understand the law and don’t think it will help them. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that even those lacking health insurance, who are supposed to be the law’s biggest beneficiaries, generally believe it wouldn’t do them much good. Overall, nearly 70% of poll respondents said they didn’t understand the health-care overhaul passed by Democrats in March 2010 or only understood a part of it.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has appointed 19 people to serve on a new Regional Energy Resource Council. When the TVA board established the council at its April meeting, officials said the council would advise staff on energy efficiency and renewable energy, among other things. According to the utility, the council members reflect a broad range of stakeholder views and backgrounds. They represent environmental, industrial, business, consumer, educational and community interests. Council Chairman is Dus Rogers, of Scottsboro, Ala., who is president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority in Alabama.
Rhea County school board members agree that added safety precautions are needed for Frazier and Rhea Central elementary schools. “I think we need to do something,” board member Chip Pendergrass said at the board’s regular meeting last week. Last month, board members discussed reviewing estimates to make changes, such as secure entrances for school offices from entryways and additional measures at Rhea Central Elementary, with its larger vestibule and wider doors.
A new school year is upon us — with new teachers, new textbooks, and hopefully, many new educational opportunities for more Tennessee families and students. Going back to school is a big reminder to all parents of how quickly our children are growing, and also how the world itself is changing. While all of the new technologies present some challenges — they also present many new opportunities and options for students, educators and parents alike. Our families are excited to begin another school year of online learning with the Tennessee Virtual Academy. We recognize that, like those in many other families, our children have very unique learning needs — and online learning is helping us meet the educational needs of our children in ways we never thought possible.
Insofar as Tennessee goes, there’s something of a Catch-22 situation in a national Republican campaign — launched last week in Nashville — to swell the ranks of women officeholders at the state level. Basically, to swell the ranks of Republican women in any significant way, you’d have to unswell the number of Republican men holding office. House Speaker Beth Harwell is a co-chair of the Republican State Leadership Conference effort, funded at $6 million with the goal of recruiting 300 women candidates nationwide and getting at least half of them elected in the coming year, mostly to state legislatures.
Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School is one of the outstanding jewels in the public school system that is working. But instead of celebrating that, schools director Jesse Register dropped a bombshell last week: He proposes dropping seventh and eighth grades from the school to make room for all the high school students who qualify to go there. The school is such a success, it’s jam-packed with students and hundreds more are turned away each year. To go there, kids have to excel academically in their lower grades, so the magnet school is bound for success once they move up. Nearly 300 students from Head and Rose Park magnet middle schools are on track to attend MLK next year, but there’s no room for them.
The issue of union representation is front-of-mind after last week’s Volkswagen employee vote. Let’s briefly look at the realities of the job market. Why does a company exist? A company meets a demand and sometimes an unmet need with a service or product. Ultimately, the company that offers the most desirable product or service at the most competitive price gets the business and creates jobs. Why does a company hire workers? To offer a service or product that meets the demand and competes in the market, employees are hired to produce and operate at an agreed-upon wage, often with benefits.