This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee has received four corporate investment and community impact awards, more than any other state, from Trade & Industry Development, a national trade publication. The ninth annual Corporte Investment & Community Impact Awards recognized four projects in Tennessee: Hankook Tire’s $800 million plant in Clarksville (recognized in the Corporate Investment category) Eastman Chemical’s $1.6 billion investment to expand in Kingsport (also in the Corporate Investment category) Calsonic Kansei North America’s $109 million investment in three Tennessee plants (recognized in the Community Impact category) ProNova Solutions’ $50 million investment in a new HQ and lab in Alcoa (also recognized in the Community Impact category) All totaled, the projects represent $2.6 billion in investments and 3,825 new jobs.
Two Clinton manufacturing facilities have been awarded Incumbent Worker Training grants by the state of Tennessee. On Wednesday, Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced that a $25,000 grant has been awarded to Eagle Bend Manufacturing and that Aisin Automotive Casting Tennessee Inc. received the same amount. The Eagle Bend grant will provide 76 employees with training in repair/welder qualification and re-qualification, advanced product quality planning (APQP), and FANUC (handling tool operation and programming).
Our partners at the Tennessean say Governor Bill Haslam will sign the wine in grocery stores bill next Thursday. Both the House and Senate passed the bill within the last month. Once the governor signs it, supporters say counties and cities will hold referendums this fall. Voters will get to decide whether to allow wine sales in grocery stores. Still, it likely won’t be until July 1st, 2016 that wine drinkers can pick up a bottle at the store.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods of Clarksville, TN. Woods was among eight service members killed in a plane crash on October 24th, 1964 and the first Tennessean to be declared missing in action (MIA) leading up to the Vietnam War. Woods was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group based out of Fort Campbell. The United States Army Staff Sergeant was aboard a C-123 Provider aircraft that crashed when it was struck by enemy fire while resupplying the U.S. Special Forces camp at Bu Prang, Vietnam.
Toia Patrick arrived at the Driver Services Center on East Shelby Drive at about 10:30 a.m. Friday. By 2:30 p.m., there were four people ahead of her as she waited with her sister-in-law, who needed a photo identification card. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Patrick said. “I just figure that they should have a better system with how they do things.” Bill Gibbons, the commissioner of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, was also at the Shelby Drive center on Friday with assurances that the complaints from Shelby County have been heard and plans are in place to shorten the wait times at the county’s driver service centers.
If the Tennessee General Assembly halts the state’s conversion to a new test aligned with Common Core, Metro Nashville Public Schools would seek special permission to start using the assessment this fall anyway. Metro Director of Schools Jesse Register, during a lunch with school board members Friday, discussed major concerns he has over delaying further implementation of Common Core education standards and postponing use of its companion Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, which students are slated to take this fall. “I don’t want our children to be two years behind on starting a new assessment system that’s aligned with Common Core,” Register said.
The state House’s move to delay for two years further implementation of the controversial Common Core curriculum standards and testing left policymakers, educators and Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration reeling with uncertainty on several fronts Friday. Uncertainty among educators, for example, as to whether the “postpone any further implementation” language approved by the House Thursday means an extensive teacher-training program can proceed — and even whether teachers can continue teaching to the new standards that have been phased in over three years. “I think that’s an open question,” David Sevier, deputy executive director of the state Board of Education, said Friday.
A former state employee will continue her legal fight against Tennessee government by appealing to a higher court. Last month, a Davidson County chancellor dismissed the case of Annie Hendricks, who sued the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development charging she was forced out of her job based on race. Hendricks, who is white, represented herself. Two lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office argued that she left voluntarily and did not suffer changes in salary or other job benefits, and that Hendricks did not prove a pattern of race-based decision-making.
Experts in labor law say Sen. Bob Corker and other Tennessee Republican officials made statements that justify setting aside the recent union election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga and ordering a new one. And the National Labor Relations Board, which is reviewing a complaint filed by the United Auto Workers, cites in its own legal manual numerous examples of improper outside interference, including ones similar to the circumstances in this case. Volkswagen workers voted 712-626 on Feb. 14 against joining the UAW. The union filed a complaint with the NLRB a week later seeking a new vote.
A federal judge ordered the state of Tennessee on Friday to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples while their lawsuit against the state works its way through the court system. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages. In her written memorandum, Trauger makes clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples. A preliminary injunction can only be granted in cases the judge believes the plaintiff will likely win.
The Bradley County Board of Education has authorized its legal counsel to take action over more than $720,000 in previously distributed liquor tax revenues that the body says Cleveland owes the county school system. On Thursday, the board voted 6-0 to ask law firm Logan-Thompson, P.C., “to take such steps as are necessary to request a judicial ruling as to the meaning and enforceability” of state law that pertains to the distribution of liquor-tax revenues to school systems. In addition to the previously allocated $720,000, a ruling in Bradley County Schools’ favor would equate to about $80,000 in annual distributions from the city going forward, board member Chris Turner said.
If all of Collierville’s public school students sign up to attend the town’s new municipal school district this fall, officials say they will have to add more portable classrooms and require some teachers to float between classrooms at Collierville High and Schilling Middle. “It’s going to tax the schools,” Supt. John Aitken said during this week’s school board meeting. But he stressed that the numbers do not take into account a potential agreement between Collierville and Germantown that could help ease overcrowding. Currently about 1,100 Collierville students attend schools in Germantown. An inter-local agreement could guarantee Collierville students who are already in Germantown schools places until their exit grade from elementary, middle or high school.
Over the past several legislative sessions, the Tennessee General Assembly has been gung-ho in pushing and passing legislation to make sure children are receiving a good education in the state’s public schools. Some of that legislation has been unpopular, especially among teachers, but placed in the wider context of trying to make schools better, the state House’s vote Thursday to delay the Common Core education program for two years is difficult to understand. Common Core standards already are in place for teaching math and English in the state’s public schools. In a rare show of bipartisan support, the House voted 82-11 to freeze in place Common Core, placing implementation of science and social studies curriculums on hold and putting off new testing that goes with the program until the 2016-2017 school year.