This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Chattanooga is straddling the best states in America in competing for business, according to Site Selection magazine. The business publication on Tuesday ranked Georgia No. 1 and Tennessee No. 2 in the magazine’s annual list of the most competitive states for economic development success. Georgia displaced Texas, which had been No. 1. Texas fell to No. 3 in the newest ranking, behind both Georgia and Tennessee. Mark Arend, editor of Site Selection, said most of the top states were in the Southeast, including No. 4 Louisiana and No. 5 North Carolina. Georgia was ranked No. 1 by the magazine last November for also having the best business climate in a separate rating of the states…
When you’re talking on the phone, take a walk around the office or up and down a hill. If you’re craving a soda, add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer or sparkling water instead. Create a list of things that you can use to distract you from your cravings when you feel the urge to light up. Those are among the dozens of simple tools, called Small Starts, that are available to businesses and individuals online through the state’s “Healthier Tennessee” campaign.
Two Tennessee agencies are partnering to create the nation’s first incident management training facility. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are scheduled to break ground for the new facility on Wednesday. The groundbreaking event is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. CDT at the Tennessee Highway Patrol Training Center in Nashville. The facility will be used to teach best practices for safe, quick clearance of major highway incidents to emergency responders across the state.
While spring signals the arrival of warmer weather, it also carries the potential for dangerous storms and lightning. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is offering tips on how to deal with the threat of rough weather. Changing temperatures increase the likelihood of storm activity, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent the risks posed by lightning, said Katelyn Abernathy, director of communications at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Abernathy advises those who are outside during a storm to look for shelter in a home, large building or hard-topped vehicle. Trees and open water should be avoided.
State Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville says the Tennessee Legislature wants to know the size of the statewide problem of untested rape kits, an explanation of why it happened and a credible plan for eliminating it before coming up with funding to deal with the problem. “We took a multidisciplinary approach to it with a statewide inventory, which we’ll coordinate,” Norris said. “By July 1, everything is supposed to be in and then the (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) will send a report to the General Assembly. So we will know what we are looking at statewide when we get back in January.”
Miriam Romero was enrolled at Southwest Tennessee Community College studying nursing when she heard Victory University, a local for-profit college, was offering scholarships that covered the full cost of tuition for high-achieving students. For a working student like Romero, 25, the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. Not only would the scholarship dramatically bring down the cost of her studies, she’d obtain a four-year degree, instead of an associate degree. The best part, in her case, was that the scholarships were open to undocumented students.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., remains one of the nation’s top 10 “most vulnerable” congressmen, according to a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper. “It’s increasingly difficult to see any path to victory for DesJarlais in the 4th District,” the nonpartisan Roll Call, which covers Congress, reported Tuesday. “The self-described abortion rights opponent is damned by revelations stemming from his 2001 divorce, that he encouraged his ex-wife and a former mistress to get multiple abortions.”
The school lunchroom isn’t your typical supply-and-demand marketplace. Demand for school lunches in Hamilton County is down to the tune of $1.2 million, but prices are only going up. Food prices nearly always rise with inflation — both in the lunch line and the grocery store. But officials say an increase that will take effect next school year is due to taxing federal regulations that are mandating healthier foods. The cost of a school breakfast in Hamilton County will increase from $1.50 to $2 and lunches will go from $2.75 to $3. It’s the school district’s second such increase in three years.
It’s a story straight out of a classic country potboiler. Olivia Hill, a painter and costume designer, moved to Nashville from California for romantic reasons, and when the relationship failed, she was jobless and broke. Hill was living in her car and preparing to hock some belongings to finance a trip back to California when she was offered some work on the ABC show “Nashville.” In the nearly two years that followed, Hill turned that opportunity into a full-time job as a costumer on the production. Hill found love too, and she recently bought an East Nashville house with her fiance, who also happens to work for the show as a grip.
The ongoing discussion on how to raise the number of Tennesseans who have some form of college degree or technical certification takes a new turn with passage of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Tennessee Promise” plan to provide any Tennessee high school graduate with a free community college or state technical school education. While the concept is appealing and forward thinking, the devil is in the details. Tennessee is the first state to offer such a broad-based education opportunity. That makes the Tennessee Promise a cutting edge concept. But implementing such a plan to the point where it delivers the goods — community college and technical school graduates with diplomas — is not without its challenges.
On Thursday the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors will meet in Memphis and move one step closer to determining the utility’s energy plan for the coming decades, a decision that will have major implications for ratepayers, local businesses and TVA’s legacy as an innovative, affordable energy provider. TVA’s board is wise to convene in Memphis to work toward updating its long-term power generation strategy. Although TVA had anticipated that its 2011 energy strategy would provide a road map for the next two decades, the energy landscape in the United States is fundamentally changing and is prompting the federally owned corporation to move ahead with a new plan earlier than expected.