This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Haslam to ignore GOP effort to oust education commissioner (N-S/Humphrey)
Gov. Bill Haslam says he will ignore for this year a call for “immediate removal” of Kevin Huffman as commissioner of education from 15 Republican legislators, but has made no decision on Huffman or any other cabinet members for a second term if re-elected in November. Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, one of the lawmakers signing the letter, told the Nashville Post that if Huffman remains next year he will face continuing criticism from legislators and, “We may even file legislation demanding his removal.”
First lady Haslam encouraging summer reading (Associated Press)
First lady Crissy Haslam is partnering with law enforcement across the state to encourage children to read during the summer. Haslam’s Read20 Book Patrol highlights the importance of reading over the summer to combat learning loss in elementary school students. It also encourages a positive relationship with law enforcement. Penguin Random House donated more than 5,300 books for the project. They will be distributed to children who might not have access to books in their home. On Tuesday, Haslam and members of the Metro Nashville Police Department will visit the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville to deliver some of those books.
Campuses raising both tuition and fees to deal with flat state revenue (CA/Locker)
Placed in a tightening bind by state lawmakers who cut the state’s share of higher education funding and pressured college boards to hold tuition increases, Tennessee’s public universities are raising both tuition and the numerous fees students must pay to attend. The two governing boards of the state’s public campuses — the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees — met separately last week to set tuition and fees for the school year that opens in August. Combined tuition and fee bills will rise for all in-state undergraduates, for most, in the range of 6 to 8.5 percent.
First State Workplace Bullying Law Has Few Fans (Wall Street Journal)
Last month, after a decade of stalled progress in 26 states, advocates of workplace bullying legislation scored their first victory. But they’re not entirely pleased. Tennessee approved the Healthy Workplace Act on May 22, a law designed to curb verbal abuse at work by making public-sector employers immune to bullying-related lawsuits if they adopt a policy that complies with the law. Though federal laws outlaw workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and other protected statuses, advocates like Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, are lobbying for laws that recognize the verbal abuse of coworkers regardless of whether they fall under a protected class.
2 emerge as leaders for Democratic Senate primary (Times Free-Press/Sher)
For a political party that’s sometimes struggled to field just one credible candidate for statewide election, Tennessee Democrats may have an embarrassment of riches in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Not just one but two candidates viewed as major players — Terry Adams and Gordon Ball — are running for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 7 primary. There are similarities: Adams, 43, and Ball, 65, are both attorneys, call Knoxville home and tout their respective hardscrabble starts in life, with Adams noting his father worked at a gas station. Ball says his father once was a “guest” of the federal government as a convicted moonshiner.
Department of Veterans Affairs falls short on female medical issues (AP)
Already pilloried for long wait times for medical appointments, the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs has fallen short of another commitment: to attend to the needs of the rising ranks of female veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them of childbearing age. Even the head of the VA’s office of women’s health acknowledges that persistent shortcomings remain in caring for the 390,000 female vets seen last year at its hospitals and clinics — despite an investment of more than $1.3 billion since 2008, including the training of hundreds of medical professionals in the fundamentals of treating the female body.
Cities in South, West to Grow Fastest (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. economy seems headed to a long-run growth rate well below 3%, but some metropolitan areas will see their economies surge above 4% annually for the rest of this decade, according to a study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Metro areas—which include cities along with surrounding suburbs—are already doing better than smaller nonmetro areas, according to the study, compiled by economists at IHS IHS +2.15% Global Insight. Last year, metro areas saw better economic growth and hiring than smaller regional areas. Looking at 2014, the IHS economists forecast payrolls in metro areas will rise 2.0% versus 1.6% in nonmetro areas, according to the report, released Friday in conjunction with the mayoral group’s annual meeting in Dallas.
Teacher discipline on rise in Tennessee, records show (Associated Press)
The number of public school teachers facing disciplinary action in Tennessee is on the rise, and social media could be partly to blame. A Chattanooga Times Free Press review of disciplinary data over the past decade data shows teachers are increasingly failing to maintain appropriate boundaries as the proliferation of social media facilitates constant communication between teacher and student. The review found that 160 teachers have been disciplined for crossing the line with students or other minors since 2004. Some were caught sending inappropriate messages. Others had sexual relationships with their students.
Supt. Dorsey Hopson has contract extension all but sewed up (C. Appeal/Roberts)
If Supt. Dorsey Hopson doesn’t get a contract extension Monday, it will be the work of sinister solstice energy or otherworldly forces unleashed over the weekend. As of late last week, six of seven board members were either firm yes votes or leaning so much that way, there was little doubt how they would vote. “I don’t want to say yes or no at this point, but my inclination is to probably support an extension,” said board member Teresa Jones, lead prosecutor for the city of Memphis. “An extension is warranted,” she said in the next breath, “because we are in a critical position. If we don’t really put to rest who is going to lead, we can’t move on to show what we can do.”