This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee has been named the “2013 State of the Year” by a national economic development publication. Business Facilities magazine picked the state after evaluating its top five economic development projects for the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested from October 1, 2012 through October 31, 2013. Those projects created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment and included seven expansions and three new recruitments. However, the state’s most recent unemployment rate of 8.1 percent is above the national rate and its revenues have been sluggish.
Tennessee is the “2013 State of the Year,” according to Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication. Tennessee’s top five economic development projects created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment and included seven expansions and three new recruitments. The magazine picked the state after evaluating the top five projects for the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested from October 1, 2012 through October 31, 2013.
Tennessee is the “2013 State of the Year,” according to Business Facilities magazine. The monthly economic development publication recognized Tennessee for its job additions and business investments across a variety of industries, including its leading position in the growing automotive sector. “Tennessee continues to impress us with its aggressive execution of a diversified growth strategy,” Business Facilities Editor Jack Rogers said Tuesday. “The state has put in place a solid foundation for robust job creation for years to come.” The magazine picked Tennessee after evaluating the top five projects in each state for the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested from October 1, 2012 through October 31, 2013.
Tennessee has been named “2013 State of the Year,” by economic development publication Business Facilities magazine. This is the second time in five years Tennessee has won the award (the first was in 2009). Tennessee and Texas are the only states to win the award more than once since it was first created in 2007. The award is based on criteria that includes capital investment and job creation through economic development. According to Business facilities, Tennessee will be the site of projects that will result in the creation of 6,900 jobs and more than $3.2 billion in capital investment from corporations including Hankook Tire Co., Aramark, International Paper Co. and Nike Inc.
Editors of national economic development publication Business Facilities magazine named Tennessee the 2013 State of the Year. “Tennessee continues to impress us with its aggressive execution of a diversified growth strategy,” Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers said, according to a prepared statement. “The state has put in place a solid foundation for robust job creation for years to come.” The state’s top five economic development projects created 6,900 jobs, represented $3.2 billion in capital investment, and included seven expansions and three business recruitments, according to a news release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
A national business magazine named Tennessee the “2013 State of the Year.” Business Facilities said the Volunteer State joins Texas as the only multiple winner since the competition started in 2007. Runner-ups were Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Tennessee’s top five economic development projects created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment, and included seven expansions along with three new recruitments. The magazine picked the state after evaluating the top five projects for number of jobs created and the amount of capital invested from October 2012 – October 2013.
Business Facilities magazine has named Tennessee its 2013 State of the Year for the number of jobs and amount of business investment the state has attracted. The economic development magazine cited Tennessee’s top five economic development projects — all in Middle Tennessee — that created 6,900 jobs total. The top five capital investments totaled $3.2 billion and included two Memphis expansions: $321 million for enlarging International Paper headquarters and $276 million for expansion of Nike’s distribution center. “Tennessee continues to impress us with its aggressive execution of a diversified growth strategy,” Business Facilities editor in Chief Jack Rogers said.
Tennessee is the “2013 State of the Year,” according to Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication. Tennessee’s top five economic development projects created a total of 6,900 jobs and $3.2 billion in capital investment, and they included seven expansions and three new recruitments. The magazine picked the state after evaluating the top five projects for the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested from Oct. 1, 2012, through Oct. 31, 2013. “A lot of hard work goes into keeping Tennessee competitive, and I want to thank Business Facilities for recognizing the efforts of so many people across the state,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.
Efforts by Clarksville-Montgomery County and state business recruiters have helped earn for Tennessee the coveted title of “2013 State of the Year,” awarded by Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication. The Hankook project was singularly recognized by Business Facilities as the state’s top project for new job creation, and was second overall statewide last year in the total capital investment category. Hankook will bring 1,800 new, direct jobs to Montgomery County in an $800 million investment. On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Haslam and the state Department of Economic and Community Development touted Tennessee’s latest distinction in a news release.
TBI is investigating the hanging death of an inmate at a local jail. The agency says the death happened Sunday evening at the Jefferson County Detention Facility. The district attorney’s office asked the TBI to investigate. Officials are not releasing any more information right now.
The Supreme Court is set to decide whether a Tennessee man’s misdemeanor domestic assault plea should ban him from gun ownership. The high court on Wednesday will hear prosecutor’s appeal in the case of James Castleman of Huntingdon. Castleman pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic assault in 2001. He was then charged in 2009 with illegal possession of a firearm by a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. A federal judge threw those charges out. Federal law bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving physical force or a deadly weapon from possessing a firearm.
A state panel that reviews judges’ performance is invalid because its composition doesn’t reflect the state’s population, a Davidson County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday. Judge Hamilton “Kip” Gayden ruled that the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is unconstitutional under state and federal law. State law says the panel’s composition shall “approximate the population of the state with respect to race and gender,” but it consists of seven white men, one white woman and one black woman. Gayden said he would not prevent the commission from meeting, however. Its next meeting is scheduled for Friday.
State lawmakers on Tuesday reconvened the 108th Tennessee General Assembly in a legislative session that is expected to feature debates over creating a school voucher program and whether to allow supermarkets to sell wine. House and Senate speakers gaveled in around noon for a session they are hoping to wrap up as quickly as possible so lawmakers can focus on their re-election bids. All 99 House seats are up for re-election this year, along with 17 of 33 seats in the Senate. But lawmakers will first have to approve the state’s $33 billion annual spending plan amid flagging state revenues.
The Tennessee House of Representatives opened Tuesday at noon with a sentimental, 20-minute tribute to the late state Rep. Lois DeBerry. DeBerry died in July at 68 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. At the time of her death, the Memphis Democrat was the longest-serving member of the House, having first been elected in 1972. DeBerry was the second African-American woman to be elected to the Tennessee legislature and the first woman to serve as House speaker pro tempore. Many lawmakers from both parties paid tribute to DeBerry by wearing purple, the color DeBerry frequently chose for herself in her later years to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer research.
After a memorial tribute to the late Rep. Lois DeBerry of Memphis, Tennessee lawmakers hit the ground running on opening day of the General Assembly’s 2014 session Tuesday with committee hearings and partisan jabs. DeBerry, the longtime House speaker pro tem when Democrats ruled the chamber, died July 28 of pancreatic cancer. The veteran Memphis Democrat served since 1972. Her successor, Rep. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, was sworn in to South Memphis’s House District 91 seat by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade.
Tennessee lawmakers opened their 2014 session Tuesday with the House offering a bipartisan tribute to the late Rep. Lois DeBerry before Republicans and Democrats promptly fell out over how bad the state government’s revenue picture really is. House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, warned members of his panel that with revenues falling below projections, lawmakers are “definitely looking at a challenging year.” He also announced new guidelines on members’ filing budget amendments seeking to add items to the state’s annual spending plan. But House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, questioned whether things are as dire as Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says.
The state legislature is back in session. Lawmakers convened the 108th General Assembly in Nashville Tuesday afternoon, ready to debate a host of issues that will impact us right here in East Tennessee. Many of the issues they will be voting on this year are familiar ones, and state lawmakers are hopeful some of these discussions will finally find some sort of resolution. Those issues include school vouchers, and the question as to whether they should be handed out to Tennessee youth who want to transfer away from failing schools. Two Knoxville representatives find themselves at odds on the measure.
A statewide business coalition is showing its support for Tennessee’s Common Core standards. The group, called Businesses for Tennessee Prosperity, is scheduled to hold a press conference on Wednesday at the Legislative Plaza near the state Capitol. The Common Core provides a set of standards for reading and math that are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed to prepare them for college and the workforce. The standards have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states. Tennessee adopted them in 2010 and began a three-year phase-in the following year.
State senators tapped the brakes Tuesday on a partnership between the Department of Correction and a nonprofit to find a way to reduce the growth of the state’s prison population. The Senate State & Local Government Committee asked correction officials to pause efforts to work with the Vera Institute of Justice, a think tank focused on the criminal justice system. The partnership would come at no cost to the state, but senators said they would prefer to review it before allowing it to move forward. Tennessee has experienced a surge in its inmate population over the past decade.
At the outset of the 2014 legislative session, state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has filed a bill allowing handgun carry permit holders to take their weapons into city and county parks despite local ordinances prohibiting the weapons. Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, would go beyond that with a new bill declaring that cities and counties cannot enact any ordinances whatsoever dealing with firearms or ammunition. Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, proposes to expand the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, enacted in 2010, to prohibit enforcement of federal gun laws in Tennessee.
The U.S. Agriculture Department says more than 6,900 families used its rural home loan program to buy a house in fiscal year 2013. In a news release, the USDA says 119 private lenders in Tennessee participated in the program, which gives buyers of homes in rural areas access to loans with competitive rates. The USDA says the total private and public investment by those using the program topped $846 million in Tennessee last year. The department says First Community Mortgage of Murfreesboro made more than $84 million in rural home loans, tops in the state last year.
Tennessee’s biggest health insurer is giving more time for those signing up for health care coverage under Obamacare to pay their premiums. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee said Tuesday it will extend until the end of January the deadline for premiums to be paid for health care plans offered through the new health insurance marketplace. The plans became effective on Jan. 1, but the Chattanooga-based BlueCross is granting until Jan. 31 for premiums to be paid on the new policies to help reduce the possibility of gaps in coverage.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee on Tuesday extended until the end of January the deadline to pay premiums on federal marketplace health insurance coverage that started with the new year. BlueCross is giving the new payment deadline of Jan. 31 to consumers who enrolled by Dec. 24 in the insurer’s plans sold through healthcare.gov. Because of problems with the federal health insurance exchange website, the deadline had been extended twice before. BlueCross is offering flexibility to consumers who are unfamiliar with purchasing health insurance and may not realize that coverage only starts with the premium payment, said Mary Danielson, a spokeswoman for Chattanooga-based BlueCross.
The Obama administration is targeting Memphis and two dozen other cities over the next few weeks in a campaign to get more young people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Some 36,250 Tennesseans had signed up for insurance through the law’s health insurance marketplace by the end of 2013, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly a quarter of those Tennessee enrollees are between the ages of 18 to 34. The White House says the number of young enrollees under age 35 is a good start, but that young people must make up about 40 percent of the total enrollment to help offset the cost of providing care for elderly and sick people.
One year ago, Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat, stood before a state legislature controlled by his party and laid out an aggressive agenda that included a sweeping expansion of gun-control laws after the mass shooting at an Aurora movie house. “Why not have universal background checks for all gun sales?” he asked. When Mr. Hickenlooper stood again before the legislature last week — after a year in which three Democratic state senators who supported his bill were forced from office — there was little mention of gun control, or for that matter, any potentially divisive social or fiscal issue. “We got a lot of pushback over universal background checks,” Mr. Hickenlooper said in a telephone interview.
A special health insurance program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses will be extended for two additional months, through March, so patients can continue treatment while they search for other coverage, the Obama administration said Tuesday. About 30,000 people are now in the program, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. The program, which is essentially a high-risk pool sponsored by the federal government, was to have ended on Dec. 31. Congress had assumed that it would no longer be needed because private insurers would have to accept all applicants and could not charge higher premiums because of a medical condition or history.
Denso is investing another $55 million and adding more than 130 new manufacturing jobs at its Athens, Tenn., plant to boost production of its gasoline direct injectors. The Japanese-based automotive supplier announced Tuesday that it will expand its 1,100-employee plant in Athens for the second time in as many years. Last year, Denso added 130 more jobs as part of a $50 million expansion in Athens. The investments are part of more than $1 billion Denso is investing in its North American facilities as the auto market improves and Denso gains market share.
DENSO announced it is investing an additional $55 million and adding more than 130 new manufacturing jobs at its DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee (DMAT) facility in Athens Tenn. This is in addition to the $50 million investment and 130 jobs that was announced last year to localize its gasoline direct injection injectors (GDI), bringing the total investment to approximately $105 million and 260 new jobs. Just two years ago they expanded in Blount County. Now, they’re bringing hundreds of new jobs to Athens. “We came a long way from when I first started here. I started 15 years ago,” said Assistant General Manager, Donovan Pierce.
A plan for prekindergarten expansion in Nashville that hinges on a system of new pre-K hubs received glowing early reviews Tuesday night from the board that would need to approve it. “Can we vote right now?” Metro school board member Will Pinkston joked after hearing a Nashville teacher enthusiastically endorse the proposal. Director of Schools Jesse Register unveiled what he called a “national model” for early childhood education Tuesday, a proposal The Tennessean reported this week would aim to ensure, in four years, pre-K to all Davidson County parents who want it for their 4-year-olds.
As we begin a new year, it’s a good time to look back at where we’ve been and ahead to where we’re going. In Tennessee we have a lot to be proud of. We balance our state’s budget each year and do so without raising taxes. We have the lowest debt of any state in the nation and the third lowest overall tax burden per capita. Tennessee ranks first in the Southeast and 10th in the nation for personal income growth and second in the Southeast and eighth in the nation for job growth. One of our top priorities has been to make Tennessee the number one state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, and we have a lot of momentum. Since January 2011, more than 130,000 new private sector jobs have been created here.
As the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes this week, it’s worth remembering we have a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best states in America in which to do business. In the Nashville region, our businesses, working with state and local officials, have created a dynamic, growing economy. Even so, many companies struggle to find qualified employees with the right education credentials. We also need to revise our laws periodically to stay ahead of our competitor states. That’s why the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce surveys our membership each year to develop a legislative agenda intended to make our state and region an even better place to do business.
In the 1970s, actor Orson Welles made famous this slogan when referring to the Paul Masson brand: “We will sell no wine before its time.” Well, it’s 2014 in Tennessee. And it’s time. It’s time for the legislature to follow the will of its constituents and allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. It’s time for the 70 percent of voters who were polled to have their wish met: They want to vote on it. It’s time that the convenience to customers trumps the bulging wallets of liquor lobbyists and distributors that, until now, have controlled the market. It’s looking good this year. Finally, after well over a decade, the legislature is lining up in support of a bill that would allow any county or city to vote on whether to allow wine sales in groceries (if that municipality already allows the sale of spirits in liquor stores).
The Tennessee General Assembly opened a new session Tuesday with a memorial service in the House of Representatives for Rep. Lois DeBerry of Memphis, the Democratic lawmaker who died last summer of pancreatic cancer after serving some 40 years in the House. Considering that DeBerry built a stellar reputation on her ability to work behind the scenes for bipartisan cooperation, the service was a fitting start to a 2014 legislative session that no doubt will be dominated by a majority-Republican House and Senate. Lawmakers should keep DeBerry’s approach in mind as they consider legislation on a variety of issues that will impact all Tennesseans, whether they are well-off financially or struggling to feed their families and pay their utilities.