This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
It’s not unusual for a governor to hold a ceremonial bill signing on a different day than when he actually puts his signature on a piece of legislation. But Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is holding seven ceremonies this week for the same bill. The Republican governor is making a series of stops around the state this week to celebrate the enactment of his Tennessee Promise law, which will cover the full tuition for community college for high school graduates. Haslam starts the bill-signing spree in Cookeville on Tuesday, followed by encore signings in Jackson and Covington on Wednesday.
If you are under the impression that area industry has been busy lately, you are correct. In the Knoxville – Oak Ridge region alone, nearly 1,500 new jobs were announced between January and the end of March. It’s the latest in a glowing report card for manufacturing in Tennessee, and what it means for you is not just a potential job, but a career. Gov. Bill Haslam made a recent visit to the Mahle plant in Morristown as the company announced a $156 million expansion which will bring 100 new jobs. “It represents how critical the automotive industry is in Tennessee. It’s become one of our largest industries,” said Haslam.
On Saturday, Sherburne Martin proved that a college degree can be for everyone. Martin first enrolled at Tennessee Tech University in 1969 but left to get married. After she and her husband, James, had their first daughter, she tried to come back to TTU but the pair had another child 19 months later. She left the university in 1976 without her degree.… Those from the Colleges of Business and Education received their degrees in an afternoon ceremony, which was addressed by Gov. Bill Haslam. In his address, Haslam celebrated the contribution that each of the ceremony’s graduates are making to the state’s future.
More than 1,100 graduating students at Tennessee State University avoided scattered showers as they received their degrees on Saturday morning. After friends and family were sent to the Gentry Center to wait out a brief downpour early Saturday, university officials said the outdoor commencement ceremony at their on-campus football field went off “without a hitch,” according to a TSU release. Gov. Bill Haslam spoke at the ceremony at Hale Stadium, commending the graduates for doing the necessary work for degrees that he said would undoubtedly help them succeed in the workforce in the future.
Four area law enforcement agencies were certified for “noncompliance” in reporting to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in the “Crime in Tennessee” annual report the agency recently released. TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said Oak Ridge Police Department was listed as noncompliant on June 12; Jacksboro Police Department and Roane County Sheriff’s Office each were listed as noncompliant on March 20, 2012; and Kingston Police Department was listed as noncompliant on March 14, 2012. Staying in noncompliance can cost the agencies state and federal money, DeVine said.
Funeral services for former U.S. Sen. Harlan Mathews are scheduled for Monday in Nashville. Mathews, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Al Gore after he was elected vice president in 1992, died Friday at age 87. He recently had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Visitation is set for 1:30 p.m. at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, and the funeral service will be at 3 p.m. Mathews joined Tennessee government in 1950 as a member of the state budget staff and quickly became a top aide to Govs. Frank Clement and Buford Ellington.
Three Democratic Tennessee Supreme Court justices seeking to be retained on the August ballot promise they will mount a defense of their seats despite a GOP effort to unseat them. Justices Sharon Lee of the Eastern Section, Cornelia Clark of the Middle Section and Chief Justice Gary Wade all said in short interviews at The Club at Ridgefields that they will campaign to keep their seats for another eight-year term. “We’re working hard,” Lee said. “We’re organizing a campaign. We’re getting our message and the facts out. We trust that when the voters understand our records and the good work we have done, they’ll vote to retain us. … Lawyers support us. They are going to talk to their fellow attorneys. They will talk to their clients, their friends, their neighbors.”
Nashville’s African-American voters proved Tuesday that President Barack Obama doesn’t need to be at the top of the ballot to get them out to vote in game-changing numbers. The Davidson County primary, a collection of mostly uncontested judicial elections and other races, is the sleepiest date on the city’s election calendar. It can’t compete with a gubernatorial race or Senate primary, a mayoral campaign or Metro Council battles. But black voters didn’t treat it that way this time around. And they got the results to show for it. Three African-American candidates won judgeships.
The Department of Energy’s decision to combine the contracts for managing the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants was driven by a desire to save money, and Consolidated Nuclear Security won the $22 billion federal contract by out-promising the other bidders. In its winning proposal, CNS committed to save the government more than $3 billion over the next decade. As the transition of contractors nears — CNS assumes full responsibility for managing Y-12 and Pantex on July 1 — more information on the cost cuts and likely impacts is becoming available.
If Volkswagen green-lights production of a new sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga, it will be viewed as one of Tennessee’s biggest economic development wins of the year. “It certainly would be really large,” said Dr. Bill Fox, who heads the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research. If the estimates are right, the new production line will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and around 1,000 new jobs. VW’s supervisory board meets in Germany today. It’s the first meeting since the United Auto Workers dropped its appeal of the Chattanooga plant’s union election about three weeks ago.
Within four miles of the headquarters of Metro Nashville Public Schools are two institutions considered among the best in producing teachers. Metro Nashville Public Schools wants to take better advantage of those — even as the district already has started to solidify those pipelines. Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development and Lipscomb University’s College of Education already account for two of the three top teacher prep programs represented in new hires at Metro. At 13 percent of new hires collectively, that marks an uptick, particularly for Vanderbilt, which had been underrepresented in its hometown school district.
This month, commencement speakers from Ramapo to Rutgers will wax poetic and college grads will dream lofty dreams of the future. What kind of future is there for college itself? Consider this: When asked recently, “What industry will tech put out of business next?” Twitter co-founder Ev Williams said: “Higher education.” Can this really be true? And is that actually such a terrible thing? A study released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics did find that college enrollment has dropped from a high of over 70 percent a few years back to 66 percent. Observers, however, attribute this to the improving economy… As for policymakers, anti-spending Republicans may cringe, but Tennessee lawmakers are currently debating a proposal to offer all state residents free tuition to a two-year school.