This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Italian gun-maker Beretta USA plans to make Gallatin its manufacturing base in the United States, announcing plans Wednesday to invest $45 million in a firearms plant that will initially employ 300 workers. Tennessee’s reputation as a gun-friendly state was key to the Sumner County city landing its biggest economic development win since clothing retailer Gap Inc. opened a distribution center two decades ago. “This is a platinum project,” Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves said. “It’s an international company. It’s well-known, it has an excellent reputation and we’re very excited that they’ve chosen (us) over eight other states.”
Italian gun maker Beretta said Wednesday that Tennessee’s support for gun rights was a major factor in its decision to build a manufacturing and research facility in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin. The $45 million plant is projected to be complete this year and create 300 new jobs. Gun rights were “the first criteria for deciding to even consider a state,” said Jeff Reh, a member of Beretta USA Corp.’s board of directors. Reh spoke to reporters after a press conference that included Gov. Bill Haslam and Franco Gussalli Beretta, the company’s executive vice president and director, as well as lawmakers and city officials.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Beretta USA officials announced today the company will expand its U.S. operations by building a new firearms manufacturing plant in the Gallatin Industrial Park. Beretta, a global manufacturer of high-quality sporting and military firearms, will invest $45 million in a state-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D facility and create 300 new Tennessee jobs. “I want to thank the Beretta family for their substantial investment in Tennessee and the 300 jobs they’ll create in Sumner County,” Haslam said.
Gallatin Industrial Park will be the new site for Beretta USA’s firearms manufacturing and R&D facility. The move is expected to bring 300 new jobs in Sumner County according to Governor Bill Haslam. The facility itself will see an investment of $45 million dollars. Executive vice-president Franco Gussalli Beretta says Governor Haslam and his economic team played a large role in “demonstrating the benefits of doing business in the state.” Construction is expected to be completed this year.
Officials with Italian gun maker Beretta announced Wednesday morning the company will establish a major U.S. presence in Gallatin with the construction of a $45 million manufacturing and research/development facility. The move is expected to generate 300 jobs, according to state economic and community development officials. The company is expected to complete construction on the facility this year in the Gallatin Industrial Park. It will make firearms at the new Gallatin plant for both its sporting and tactical product lines. Before choosing Tennessee, Beretta officials also considered Georgia and South Carolina for the facility.
Rutherford County-based Barrett Firearms soon will be joined in Middle Tennessee by Beretta USA. Company officials announced Wednesday the company will expand its U.S. operations by building a new firearms manufacturing plant in the Gallatin Industrial Park, according to a press release from Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty. “When Beretta chooses a location for its business, we start with the possibility that we will be in that location for decades, if not hundreds of years, to come,” said Jeff Reh, a member of Beretta USA Corp.’s Board of Directors.
When Beretta opens its Gallatin factory, that facility will be devoted to straightforward firearms manufacturing. Even so, a quick look at the nearly 500-year old company’s broader operations shows a certain continental style to doing business. The Italian gunmaker’s bread and butter has always been guns. The first documented order was from the Arsenal of Venice; in 1526 the city bought 185 barrels for long guns similar to muskets, called arquebus. But not long after, the Beretta family branched out into the business of making wine. That vineyard, called Lo Sparviere, is still in operation. A second estate was added in the 19th century, and Beretta obtained a third vineyard just a decade ago.
Beretta USA’s choice of Tennessee for another American-based location had a lot to do with the state’s reputation as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, according to Jeff Reh, a member of the company’s board of directors. In fact, when determining where to add another manufacturing facility, Reh said that state gun policies were the first criteria in narrowing down specific locations. “That was actually a bright-line, yes-or-no choice factor looked at before we considered any state,” Reh said Tuesday after the company and state officials announced a $45 million plant that would initially bring 300 jobs to Gallatin.
A centuries-old Italian gun-maker announced today it will build a new factory in Gallatin, creating 300 new jobs assembling rifles and shotguns. To lure Beretta to Tennessee, the state’s strong support of gun rights was a factor. Beretta USA is based in Maryland, but last year the company reportedly threatened to leave that state altogether over a new gun-control law. That’s part of why when the company decided to expand elsewhere, Tennessee stood out, says Beretta’s Jeff Reh: “We started our search by looking only at those states that we felt had a consistent history and likely future history of support for second-amendment rights,” Reh said, to cheers from state officials attending the announcement.
In the two weeks following Tennessee being named “2013 State of the Year” by economic development publication Business Facilities magazine, state officials have announced the creation of more than 1,400 new jobs across Tennessee, with the bulk of those coming in Memphis. Last week’s announcement that New York-based Conduit Global will create 1,000 new jobs in a 25,000-square-foot Memphis call center started off the year with a bang for Memphis, while today’s announcement that gun manufacturer Beretta USA will give Middle Tennessee a literal bang when it builds a manufacturing plant in Gallatin. Total Quality Logistics also announced plans to create 100 jobs in Nashville with a new facility.
With higher education emerging as one of the governor’s focal points during the legislative offseason, Gov. Bill Haslam said this year’s State of the State address will center on education. It will also dive into the state’s finances, which for the next year look to be tight given state officials say revenues are lagging some $170 million behind expectations. “We’re going to focus on, really, the state of the state financially, where we are in terms of addressing some of our challenges with education and we’re going to have some, I think, a path to continue the path that Tennessee’s been on in terms of improving education,” he said.
Governor Bill Haslam has issued a $10,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the deaths of a Robertson County mother and daughter who have been missing for nearly 10 years. Jennifer and Adrianna Wix, then 22 and 2 years of age, were reported missing by family members in March 2004. They were last seen in Cross Plains, Tenn. According to a letter received from the governor’s office Wednesday, Haslam issued the reward at the request of 19th Judicial District Attorney General John Carney. The governor wrote in the letter that he had carefully considered and deliberated on the matter before issuing the reward.
Governor Bill Haslam has issued a $10,000 reward in the cold case disappearance of a Robertson County mother and daughter. Nearly 10 years after they went missing, the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office recently reclassified the disappearance of Jennifer and Adrianna Wix to a homicide. The new reward brings the total reward for information leading to a conviction up to $27,000. “The addition of this reward from Governor Haslam’s office shows the unity and dedication among state and local law enforcement to the ultimate goal of solving this case and getting justice for Jennifer and Adrianna Wix,” said Sheriff Bill Holt.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam dismissed questions Wednesday about whether his administration exaggerated the potential savings of two major programs. An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation first exposed the questionable accounting. Following an economic development announcement, Haslam had his answer ready, essentially saying that savings are savings. “I know this that we are saving the state a lot of money. Again, it’s interesting to me that your argument’s about how much we are saving,” he answered. It was the first time that the governor reacted to our investigation that uncovered questions about the Haslam administration’s incredible claims of the money being saved by an expensive reorganization of state offices.
The number of UT Knoxville students taking distance or online classes has nearly tripled since the 2001 school year, a new report from the state’s Offices of Education Research and Accountability says. The number went from 514 students in 2001 to 1,413 students in 2013 and is in line with significant growth nationally in interest in flexible, online ways to learn and get a degree. The report on online learning comes at a time when soaring student loan debt has captured the attention of politicians and the public — a problem BusinessWeek says may represent “the next big threat to the economy.”
Drivers stranded on icy Tennessee roads would see state troopers, Red Cross volunteers and even National Guard soldiers sent to help them, emergency managers said Wednesday. The state constantly refines plans to handle situations like those seen across the southeast this week, where people became trapped as interstates iced over. In Atlanta alone, one million drivers tried to get home during Tuesday’s storm. The ensuing gridlock forced many to spend the night in their cars as roads became impassable. The state practices for similar scenarios using “tabletop” exercises, said Jeremy Heidt with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
The Tennessee comptroller’s office on Wednesday slapped Meigs County with 20 findings in an audit of fiscal year 2013. Auditors said 16 of the findings were repeats from previous audits of problems that county officials failed to correct, and 13 of the 20 findings were in the finance director’s office, according to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury audit. Findings in the director of finance’s office included issues with the way the office handled payroll, purchasing, budgeting and administration of state and federal grants.
With a revamped wine in grocery stores bill working its way through the state legislature, it’s hard to not recall President Abraham Lincoln’s famous words regarding the impossibility of pleasing all of the people all of the time. With at least three different business interests represented at the negotiating table in the fight over the often-proposed bill, it seems that at least two of the parties aren’t going to be completely satisfied with the outcome. The latest version of the wine bill is now actually two pieces of legislation, one creating a new license for retailers, defining the stores that qualify as retail food stores and expanding the products liquor stores are allowed to sell, and the other dealing only with the local referendum that may permit the new alcohol sales.
Legislation to block local governments from banning guns in city and county parks has cleared its first committee hurdle despite opposition from officials of the state’s largest cities and counties as well as Gov. Bill Haslam. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, won approval of his bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-2 vote late Tuesday after attaching an amendment that declares that local gun bans can still be enforced when school activities — a high school baseball game, for example — are underway at a city or county park.
Tennessee ranks in the bottom third for the quality of its charter school laws, including equitable funding, according to national advocacy group that has ranked the state laws for five years. In this round, Tennessee dropped from 33 to 35 among the 43 states with charter schools, largely because others, including Mississippi — which jumped from 43 to 14 — made significant change. The research, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws,” released Tuesday by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, ranks states on 20 components in its model law, including equal access with other public schools to funding and facilities and the absence of caps on many charters a state allows.
As President Barack Obama’s security detail prepared for his Thursday visit to a Nashville high school, grief counselors went to the school to help students cope with the fatal shooting of a teen by a classmate. The shooting came within an hour of the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, in which he renewed calls to curb gun violence. “I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, in our shopping malls, or schools,” Obama said in the speech. Police said the shooting took place at an apartment when 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson was playing with a pistol. It discharged, striking 15-year-old Kevin Barbee in the face.
If President Barack Obama could stay in Nashville a little longer than he’s expected to after he speaks at McGavock High School today, he’d see one city but two very different worlds. There’s Belle Meade in West Nashville. It’s leafy, affluent, full of the ornate houses a president might visit for a fundraiser. And then there’s the world of Napier Homes and Sudekum Apartments just southeast of downtown. It’s full of asphalt, poverty and government-issue apartments. The few miles between the two communities belie just how far apart they seem. “If you’re not born rich, you’re just out of luck,” said James Benton, a retired man who has lived in Napier Homes “too long.”
As President Obama took to the road on Wednesday to promote an “opportunity agenda” that he vowed to enact with or without Congress, lawmakers began sorting through issues on which they may yet come together during what promises to be a treacherous midterm election year. Mr. Obama began a two-day, four-state, campaign-style swing aimed at building support for a series of relatively modest executive actions on wages, retirement and education. But there were also signs that he may avoid major clashes over raising the national debt limit and other issues that have provoked some of the fiercest skirmishing of recent years.
The recession and its aftermath have cooled TVA’s industrial power sales, but frigid temperatures this month continue to heat up residential electricity usage to wintertime records. To heat homes, offices and factories during Wednesday’s subfreezing temperatures across the Tennessee Valley, TVA likely set its second one-day record for power consumption this month. Shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday with temperatures in TVA’s 7-state region averaging only 6 degrees Fahrenheit, the 9 million people in TVA’s 7-state region consumed 32,768 megawatts, just shy of the winter peak set last Friday at 33,353 megawatts when temperatures averaged 7 degrees in the Valley.
Many Tennessee legislators whine about having to obey federal laws they don’t particularly like, even in some cases invoking the failed 19th-centrury practice of nullification. Therefore, the lawmakers should give some thoughtful consideration of that federal-state relationship when they want to impose state law on cities and counties. The case in point here is the so-called “guns in parks” bill. The mayors of Knoxville and Knox County — along with other city and county mayors — have said they want to retain control of whether their citizens can legally take guns to parks.
The compromise proposed in the wine-in-grocery-stores bill moving through the Tennessee General Assembly raises this point: Who the heck is looking out for the majority of Tennessee consumers who have made it clear that they want this to happen sooner, rather than later? As proposed now, the legislation is a classic example of what can happen when a bill is written by special interests that are more concerned about protecting a monopoly as much as possible. All indications are that this is the year the General Assembly will approve legislation that authorizes local governments to hold referendums that allow voters to decide whether they want grocery stores to be able to sell wine.
Today, President Barack Obama makes his first visit to Nashville since 2008, when he was presidential nominee Obama debating Republican contender John McCain on the campus of Belmont University. While reports suggest security and scheduling constraints will make the chief executive’s visit brief, it is significant that the president has chosen to make Middle Tennessee one of his first stops after his State of the Union address — and that the setting will be McGavock, a public high school in a state that has seen its educational fortunes change dramatically.