This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam will be joined by state and local officials for a significant jobs announcement this morning in Clarksville, Tenn. The announcement comes amid numerous reports last week that South Korea-based Hankook Tire Co. is on the verge of announcing plans to build a plant in Clarksville that would cost up to $800 million and employ more than 1,000 workers. The announcement is likely to provide an economic boost for the community, which suffered a major setback earlier this year when Hemlock Semiconductor decided to shutter its polycrystalline silicon plant just weeks before it was set to be fully operational.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will make a “significant” jobs announcement in Clarksville on Monday morning, according to a media advisory issued Sunday from Capitol Hill in Nashville. While the state wouldn’t specify exactly what Haslam will announce, it is widely speculated that Clarksville is soon to gain a new automotive supply company that will create a minimum of 1,000 direct jobs. The invitation-only event is set for 10 a.m. Monday at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center in Liberty Park. This week, it was reported a South Korean tire company has chosen Middle Tennessee for a new plant, and there are key similarities in those reports to a prospect that’s been under discussion for Clarksville.
Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to make a jobs announcement in Clarksville on Monday. It’s scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. Haslam is expected to be joined by state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers.
With the partial shutdown of the U.S. government entering its third week, Gov. Bill Haslam said Sunday he’s optimistic Republicans and Democrats will broker a deal sometime this week that will end the stalemate. “They’re making headway, finally. I’m really hopeful by next weekend it will be over,” Haslam said. “I don’t have inside knowledge but just listening and talking to people there.” Haslam’s comments about the shutdown came after his interview with Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of presidential history and Vanderbilt University distinguished visiting professor.
Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed the next several days Earth Science Week in Tennessee. The week officially started Sunday and ends this Saturday. During the week, state officials are hoping to promote the role that geology and other earth sciences play in the state’s safety, health, welfare and economy. An Earth Science Week toolkit will be made available for teachers across the state. Items in the free toolkit include map resources and materials from the National Park Service, NASA, Soil Science Society of America, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Kevin Huffman is now a blogger. Tennessee’s education commissioner offered his first post Wednesday on a new blog called Classroom Chronicles, which the state Department of Education quietly launched a few weeks back. The former Teach For America executive, who dabbled as a guest columnist for the Washington Post during those days, chose to highlight Gov. Bill Haslam’s new goal of making Tennessee the nation’s fastest-improving state in teacher pay, as well as progress in high school-level national assessments.
Tom Hopton meets a lot of Tennesseans with disabilities who want to find work. When they visit his Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, many already have good skills and a track record of employment, but they need a boost to overcome their impairments. Some need transportation or a job that fits them right. But for more than a decade in Tennessee, the state government’s Vocational Rehabilitation program, which seeks to help those with disabilities get job training, has had funding and staffing to help only those with the most severe physical or mental disabilities.
With eyes focused on buying the decommissioned Chattanooga State Office Building, UTC administrators hope that a new approach to dorm life could be the secret weapon to keeping students on pace to graduate. One of Chancellor Steve Angle’s primary goals in his first year is raising UTC’s retention rate — the number of freshmen who return for their sophomore year — to match Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” percent graduation watermarks. At current pace, less than 70 percent of UTC’s freshmen come back for a sophomore year, according to university data.
The University of Tennessee is eyeing nearly $200 million in new student housing, including a $127 million multi-building project near Presidential Court. Those new residence halls are still in the early stages and, depending on the feasibility, a plan could be outlined by early next year, campus officials said Friday. Still, that project along with another announced last month to raze Gibbs Hall and replace it with a new $68.4 million dormitory, were included on a list of projects to go before the board of trustees this week.
State Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, has a modest proposal he believes can promote “better communication” between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Tennessee’s GOP-dominated congressional delegation. “Will better communication lead to a more responsive system that will lead to more accountability and protection of our besieged rights? I believe the answer is a resounding yes!” said Matheny, a tea party-allied legislator. Matheny’s idea is for a “Bilateral Session of Congress” in which state legislators and the state’s two U.S. senators and nine congressmen meet openly in a dialogue. That “will leave both levels of government with a clear understanding of each other’s needs and actions we’ll rebuilding public confidence,” he said.
Beginning this month, prescriptions for opioid pain medicines and benzodiazepine medicines may not be dispensed in Tennessee in quantities that exceed a 30-day supply. The new limits apply to anyone dispensing the drugs. That includes pharmacies, dispensaries and mail-order programs located outside the state. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, some of the drugs limited under the new law are Lortab, Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax and Valium. For Schedule II medicines, each 30-day supply requires a new prescription. For other drugs, a single prescription can be refilled in 30-day increments for up to six months.
Tennessee lawmakers used to be a fairly independent lot, and for good reason. With most House members representing swing districts where support from both Democrats and Republicans was needed to win, it wasn’t uncommon to see lawmakers crossing party lines on Capitol Hill. Moderate Democrats voted with the GOP about a third of the time 15 years ago, while Republicans sided with Democrats on about 10 percent of votes. Not anymore. Only one of the state’s nine congressmen — Democrat Jim Cooper of Nashville — represents a district that’s remotely up for grabs on Election Day.
Locals hoping to buy health insurance on the newly created online marketplace say they remain in a “holding pattern” as they wait for chronic glitches to be fixed in the government site nearly two weeks after it was launched. Kathleen McCarthy, a Red Bank-area resident wanting to compare insurance prices on the exchange with her current employer plan, has been foiled repeatedly over the past two weeks by error messages and frozen screens. “I did finally get online and got an account set up, but then when I got back in there later it wouldn’t let me back in,” she said, laughing. “I haven’t submitted my application. I haven’t seen any price comparisons.”
The government shutdown and debt-ceiling fight are clouding the outlook for the global economy and markets, but they are bringing clarity to one area: The Federal Reserve is now likely to keep its foot on the monetary gas pedal even longer to offset damage from the standoff. Two weeks into the shutdown, some of the fallout is clear. Economic growth will be at least a little slower than it would have been otherwise. Businesses and consumers are less confident about the economy’s near-term course than they were before the shutdown started. And the most closely watched official gauges of economic activity—the government reports suspended by the shutdown—will be unlikely to provide reliable readings for months.
Forty-one percent of Knox County Schools’ teachers received a 4 on their teacher evaluations this year, while 23 percent received a 5. The scores, and the results of this year’s APEX strategic compensation initiative, will be presented to the Knox County school board tonight during its mid-month meeting. This is the second year the school system has given out payouts through the initiative — teacher evaluation scores are a large part of its calculations — that awards teachers up to $2,000 for their work in the classroom. The school board adopted the initiative in 2011 Knox County Schools will pay out about $3.1 million to about 51 percent, or roughly 1,850, of teachers this year — which is slightly less than last year’s numbers.
The Tennessean has published several opinion pieces this year regarding the Marketplace Fairness Act, the most recent on Oct. 9 by Arthur Laffer entitled “E-fairness good for TN economy, budget,” and another several months ago by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. These pieces stated that this bill would create a level playing field, but glossed over the fact that this bill in its present form would provide an exemption for merchants who do less than $1 million in out-of-state sales. I am deeply concerned that this bill, which has passed the U.S. Senate but not the House, would be extremely detrimental to businesses such as mine. I have been in business for nearly 44 years and have never had to collect sales tax on out-of-state shipments. More than 70 percent of my total business volume is out of state, so collection of sales tax would add great expense for my customers, especially since the guitars I sell typically cost well over $1,000.
From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, simplicity is the new watchword. Books with titles like “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity” and “The Laws of Simplicity” are must reading in boardrooms. Companies aim for the elegance of Apple’s design and Google’s search box. Then there’s ObamaCare. The functional failures of the Affordable Care Act websites are well-documented, but the fundamental flaw is the law’s mind-numbing complexity. The officials who planned ObamaCare blame their Web engineers, but they’re passing the buck. ObamaCare is a hugely complicated approach to addressing problems in health care that have simpler solutions.