This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Haslam kicks off re-election campaign (Tennessean/Sisk)
Gov. Bill Haslam greeted about 1,200 supporters at the Loveless Barn Saturday morning as he launched his campaign for a second term. Backers of the Republican governor crowded the music venue for the free event, where they heard him deliver a 15-minute speech, were entertained by a string band and snacked on biscuits, Moonpies and iced tea served in souvenir red cups. Facing only nominal competition in the August primary and November general election, Haslam focused on his first-term record, rather than what he’d do with a second term. The kickoff comes notably later than the launch of his first campaign.
Haslam launches bid for second term as governor (Times Free-Press/Sher)
When he first ran for the state’s top office four years ago, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says it was not exactly a “safe bet” he would win. But kicking off his bid for a second term Saturday, Haslam, 55, appears to be about as safe as he can be in the uncertain world of politics. He’s got a record he’s happy to run on, $5 million in the bank, polls showing a 58 percent job-approval rating and only token opposition in the GOP primary and general election. A thousand or so supporters joined Haslam for the launch at Nashville’s famed Loveless Cafe on the outskirts of town.
Haslam launches bid for second term as governor (Associated Press/Schelzig)
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Saturday launched a re-election bid that bears little resemblance the often contentious campaign of four years ago. Haslam hosted a gathering at Nashville’s Loveless Cafe to celebrate the kick-off of election season. He faces little serious competition in the primary, and will likely have a vast fundraising and name-recognition advantage over the Democratic nominee in the general. “When we started five years ago, many of you jumped in to help us, and we weren’t a sure bet at all,” Haslam told supporters. “You knocked on doors with us all across the state and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
Gov. Bill Haslam Kicks Off Reelection Campaign (WZTV-TV Nashville)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam kicks off his reelection campaign. Gov. Haslam says he is ready for four more years. Over a thousand people filled the Loveless Barn Saturday morning. The mood was optimistic as Tennessee’s Governor greeted supporters and friends. Nearly four years ago Bill Haslam was elected, now he’s ready for a second term. “It has been an incredible honor and privilege to do this,” says Governor Haslam. In a speech that lasted about 15 minutes, Haslam renewed his commitment to familiar principles. He says the state will live within its means, seek true education reform, and recruit high quality jobs.
As unemployment drops, is Tennessee’s economy getting stronger? (N-S/Flory)
Employment numbers paint rosy picture, but may not tell whole story The Texas economy may be booming, but when David Pain’s business needed a new home, he came to Tennessee. Pain is the president of Leisure Pools, a manufacturer of fiberglass swimming pools that was founded in Australia and expanded to the San Antonio area in 2003. The company had outgrown its space in the intervening decade and was looking for a home where it could more effectively ship to the East Coast. In January, Leisure moved its U.S. operations to the Forks of the River Industrial Park, in East Knox County.
Foreclosures at their lowest level in Tennessee since mid-2007 (Times-News)
A telling economic statistic has arrived in Tennessee to close the door on the 2008 financial crisis and latest recession. Residential foreclosures are at the lowest level in the state since mid-2007 when the housing collapse began, according to a Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) report. THDA also cited a RealtyTrac market report noting that residential foreclosure filings were 32 percent lower in the first quarter of this year compared to the same quarter in 2013. Area bankers say they are seeing positive patterns revealing a healthier real estate market.
Tennessee turns attention to zip line safety (Tennessean/Wilemon)
Awaiting his turn on a zip line, Nathan Newell looked toward the treetops and admitted he was no Tarzan. “I’m certainly nervous about the heights,” he said. The 35-year-old was among a men’s group from Turning Point Church in Murfreesboro who had booked time Saturday morning at Treetop Adventure Park. On the grounds of the waterpark Nashville Shores, it features 100 obstacles, including zip lines soaring above the forest floor. An instructor carefully watched Newell’s every move. And a comforting fact the novice zipliner probably didn’t know: Treetop Adventure Park passed its annual safety inspection in September under a relatively new Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development program.
State House speaker plans to tour UT Martin Parsons Center (Jackson Sun)
Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, will make her first visit to the University of Tennessee at Martin Parsons Center at 4:30 p.m. Monday. A tour of the new West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Nursing Wing, which will open in August, is the focus of her visit to the center. The expansion will house the university’s bachelor of science in nursing program. Joining Harwell will be Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, who represents Decatur County and also serves as deputy speaker.
New temporary VA chief has only 3 months with the agency (USA Today)
The new, temporary head of the Department of Veterans Affairs is someone who has been at the agency for only three months — former United Service Organization president Sloan Gibson. The Senate confirmed his appointment as deputy secretary at the VA on Feb. 11. President Barack Obama named him a temporary replacement for Eric Shinseki, whose resignation in the face of a wait-time scandal the president accepted Friday. In remarks to Congress during his approval process in January, Gibson said: “VA exists to serve veterans. I believe, and it is clear to me that the secretary and VA senior leaders believe, VA’s success is defined by veterans and measured in terms of individual veteran outcomes.”
Does ‘Made in America’ mean something? (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Pare)
Some say yes as VW weighs Chattanooga SUV decision Three new red, white and blue Passats sit directly in front of the entrance of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory. Painted on the hood of the white sedan is an American flag with the words, “Proudly made in Chattanooga, Tn.” Autos are one of the few goods Americans buy that are required by law to show if they’re made in the United States. As VW weighs whether to build a new sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga or Mexico, some experts say that it makes a difference where an auto is made. “Made in America is incredibly important,” said Alec Gutierrez, a Kelley Blue Book senior analyst.
School rezoning plan misses racial diversity goals (Tennessean/Garrison)
Do priorities Metro Nashville Public Schools adopted last year in an appeal toward greater student diversity carry any sway at all? Some are beginning to wonder. Metro’s “diversity management plan” was never intended to be a binding document that mandates racial quotas. But a rezoning proposal to accommodate a new elementary school in 12South and ease overcrowding in Green Hills — the first substantive student assignment overhaul since the plan’s adoption — falls well short of goals the district outlined. It raises questions whether some of the plan’s objectives are even practical in a city where many neighborhoods remain isolated by race and class, and where a return to busing isn’t desired.
Editorial: Veterans’ medical care needs action now (Daily News Journal)
Questions about availability of medical services to military veterans grow more troubling every day. This community has vested interests in these questions not only because of the veterans who are part of this community but also because of the Alvin C. York Campus of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System that has been an institution in this community for decades. An interim report from the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs released last week described problems with scheduling of appointments at VA medical facilities as “systemic.” Investigations are underway in regard to whether veterans have died because they did not receive medical services at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.