This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Bill Haslam: Fiscal strength makes us No. 1 (CNBC)
There is little margin for error in today’s business climate. Companies, investors, shareholders and executives all operate in a high-stakes world where a global economy with lightning-fast access to information leaves no room for mistakes. That means private-sector job creators willing to risk capital must choose their partners wisely. Making a decision about where to invest often carries with it the choice of a government partner. Tennessee is the best state for business due to sound fiscal management, coupled with significant new investments in our economic ecosystem. Our strategies for cultivating an attractive business climate are long term, not short plays for quick headlines.
‘Prescription for Success’ forum sheds light on pill abuse epidemic (Leaf Chronicle)
Monty Burks captivated the crowd as he shared his personal experience that started with his father’s death and led to him spiraling into drug addiction. After dropping out of college and working full-time, Burks said he was introduced to the party drugs ketamine and ecstacy. He began using to escape and fill the pain of losing his father. He quickly found himself using daily and going downhill, losing his home, friends and job. Burks, who is now a Lifeline of Tennessee peer support coordinator for the region that encompasses Montgomery and Robertson counties, spoke to a group of local and state officials who met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the “Prescription to Success” plan to curb the prescription abuse epidemic in Tennessee.
Governors to convene in Nashville for NGA meeting (Associated Press)
Governors from across the nation will convene in Nashville next month. They will be attending the National Governors Association summer meeting from July 10-13. Governors will discuss innovative work in states in several areas, including education, workforce, health care, veterans and jobs. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government. Throughout the meeting, governors will attend “governors-only” sessions, which provide an opportunity to exchange ideas about challenges facing states in a private, off-the-record setting.
Top TN leaders pitch non-stop Europe and Asia flights to Nashville (WKRN-TV)
Ever think of Nashville to London non-stop? Or maybe Nashville to Tokyo as Tennessee trade with Asia seems to grow yearly? Some of the area’s biggest leaders from business to politics are thinking a lot these days about bringing an international non-stop flight from Europe or Asia to Nashville. First, News 2 has learned that as part of his week long trade mission to Asia last week, Governor Bill Haslam and his Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Bill Hagerty “called on” Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Second, Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed told News 2 he and Hagerty will be meeting in London soon with airlines to make a pitch about a European non-stop to Nashville.
Memphis jobless rate dropped, but so has number of people employed (CA/Evanoff)
When it comes to measuring the region’s climb out of the economic crash, Greater Memphis is a tale of two cities. On Thursday, the latest report on the local economy is scheduled to appear and is likely to show a gain in jobs. But a companion report by government labor monitors could show fewer people are actually employed. That trend — more jobs, yet fewer workers — has dogged metro Memphis since 2011. “It’s something that’s been persistent over the last three years,’’ said Alex Miron, an economist for Moody’s Analytics, a research firm in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “In Memphis, it suggests part-time employment is increasing but not nearly enough to give people a sense there’s opportunity there. So they are still leaving the area.”
First lady promotes summer reading in visit to Chattanooga (TFP/Putman)
Read this summer. That is the message Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam and local police officers told hundreds of Chattanooga children Wednesday. It’s also the message Haslam is taking to children across the state with her Read 20 Book Patrol. Haslam is partnering with police officers across Tennessee to give children books and encourage them to read at least 20 minutes a day. “Folks who are illiterate are more likely to become involved in crime,” Haslam said. Nationally, 70 percent of prison inmates are illiterate. And 85 percent of children involved in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate, statistics show.
Smyrna residents concerned about railings that line busy roadway (WSMV-TV)
Steve Ammons has walked across the bridge over Chicken Pike a number of times. While nothing has happened yet, he fears it’s only a matter of time before someone dies. He says ever since the Department of Transportation installed bike lanes on Lee Victory Boulevard a few years ago, more and more people are using them. Ammons says the railings designed to safeguard cyclists aren’t tall enough. In 2010, the Department of Transportation strengthened its bicycle and pedestrian polices to be in line with federal standards. Under the code, rails are supposed to be 42 inches tall for pedestrians, 54 inches for bikes.
Judge Mark Rogers seeks re-election (Daily News Journal)
Sixteenth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Mark Rogers announced his re-election bid today. “As Circuit Court judge, I’ve enjoyed working to improve our judicial system, resolving disputes and administering justice in Rutherford and Cannon Counties,” Rogers said in his press release. “One of the things I’m most proud of is how former state Rep. Kent Coleman, state Sen. Jim Tracy and I worked together in 2007 to gain legislative approval to establish the Child Support Magistrate position on behalf of children in our communities,” Rogers said. “It was a bi-partisan effort and demonstrated to me that the ability of a judge to improve the system was not limited to the courtroom.”
State to renounce Trail of Tears at Friday event (Tennessean/Humbles)
Lawmakers will publicly renounce Tennessee’s role in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 known as the Trail of Tears at a ceremony on Friday, in the chamber of the House of Representatives. The ceremony follows a resolution passed by the state legislature and now signed by Gov. Bill Haslam that states regret over the state’s involvement. The resolution is not worded as an apology because sponsor Glen Casada, R-Franklin, said the state can’t apologize for the actions of others. The resolution states it acknowledges, renounces and offers “sincere regret,” toward the Trail of Tears. “The resolution was a legislative affair, this is a way to open it up and make it more public,” said Casada. “It’s a way to remind people this was wrong.”
Nashville area draws newcomers faster than TN (Tennessean/Gonzalez)
The Nashville area saw greater growth than the rest of the state in 2013, continuing a recent boom that has made the region one of the most attractive in the nation. Yet one population expert said rising housing costs and living expenses could tamp down that growth before long — although if the job opportunities that fueled the recent rise continue to surge, so might the pace of growth. Some 21,438 people moved into the Nashville metro area — which includes especially fast-growing Franklin and Murfreesboro — in 2013, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data out today.
TSEA names Bryan Merritt new president (Associated Press)
The Tennessee State Employees Association has elected Bryan Merritt to be its new president. Merritt has represented TSEA’s 11th district on the association’s board of directors since 2009. Recently, he served the association as chairman of the Tennessee Employees Action Movement, TSEA’s political action committee, since 2013. Earlier this month, the TSEA named former state Rep. Randy Stamps as its new government affairs director. Last month, the association named former Nashville Councilman John Summers as its executive director.
Brooks disputes allegation that she doesn’t live in her district (C. Appeal/Moore)
A day after the county attorney declared Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks could no longer occupy her seat because she didn’t live in District 2, Brooks’ lawyers announced that she had changed residences but still lives in the district. As the commission held committee meetings Wednesday, Brooks took her seat despite the county attorney’s ruling. Her lawyers said they plan to go to court to contest her removal from the commission. Brooks lives at 1177 Mississippi Boulevard, her lawyers said, though she filed documents with the county’s human resources office and the Election Commission that say she lived at 1867 Crump.
Embattled VA Taps Nashville Health Care Exec To Advise Agency Overhaul (WPLN)
The Department of Veterans Affairs has brought on a Nashville health care executive to help right the ship after a scandal over wait times. Dr. Jonathan Perlin is taking a 60-day leave from his position as chief medical officer of HCA. Perlin is no stranger to the VA. He previously served as VA under Secretary for Health. He returns as a special advisor to the acting VA chief. A statement from the agency says he will be part of a team “accelerating access to care and rebuilding trust with veterans.” While the VA is a massive bureaucracy, HCA is comparable in size. They both have roughly the same number of hospitals and clinics around the country.
HCA official to serve as VA advisor (Nashville Post)
HCA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jonathan Perlin will begin a short-term assignment at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as senior advisor to the acting secretary, the department announced today. Perlin will hold an approximately 60-day position at the VA, beginning July 15. The department has faced recent controversy over long treatment delays and cover-up allegations. Also chair-elect of the American Hospital Association, Perlin previously served as the VA under secretary for health in 2005. “We’re pleased to welcome this exceptional leader back to VA,” Sloan Gibson, acting secretary, said in a release.
How tax refunds could boost health coverage in U.S. (Tennessean/DuBois)
Few Americans, given the choice, would buy health insurance over a Christmas present. And yet, the open enrollment period for federal Marketplace plans on Healthcare.gov coincides with the winter holidays, one of the most financially stressful times of the year. That’s why researchers, including a Vanderbilt University scholar, suggest switching the open enrollment period to line up with a less stressful time. Namely, in spring, just after people have received their tax return. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs was co-authored by Katherine Swartz, a professor at Harvard’s health policy and management department, and John Graves, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University’s medical school.
Hamilton County holds $2.1 million from school sale (Times Free-Press/Brogdon)
The Hamilton County Schools system is $2.1 million closer to its next building project. But board members will need to sell their projects to county commissioners before a dime gets spent. County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Wednesday at a commission agenda session that the county has collected $2.1 million for the old Ooltewah Elementary facility, which has been vacant since May 2013. Based on resolutions passed in 2004 and 2011, the money from the sale can be spent only on a short list of capital school projects. A majority of the school board and the commission must agree on the project before any money can be spent.
Oklahoma: Inmates Sue to Stop Executions (Associated Press)
A group of 21 Oklahoma inmates on death row are asking a federal judge to halt their executions, claiming that the state’s death penalty procedure is unconstitutional and that state officials are experimenting with inmates’ lives. In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, the inmates contend that the state’s lethal injection protocol, a new three-drug method, presents a risk of “severe pain, needless suffering and a lingering death.” The lawsuit follows the state’s botched April 29 execution of Clayton D. Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes. His execution was halted, but he died about 43 minutes after the execution started.
Joe Sullivan: Wither the BEP? (Metro Pulse)
Tennessee Public School Funding Must Be Made More Equitable and More Sufficient Tennessee’s Basic Education Program can be viewed as a $6 billion pie that feeds the state’s K-12 public schools. The state provides about two-thirds of the money in the aggregate, and localities are expected to cover the rest. However, the way the pie gets sliced varies widely from county to county. Their respective shares depend upon their fiscal capacities as measured by a convoluted set of BEP funding formulas. The state’s share ranges from a high of 91 percent in poor little Union County to a low of 39 percent in Sevier County whose prodigious tourism-driven economy more than makes up for a lack of indigenous wealth.
Frank Cagle: Judicial Misconduct (Metro Pulse)
Board of Judicial Conduct Has Opportunity to Show Decisive Action Two state senators scheduled a hearing this week to examine whether the Board of Judicial Conduct is vigilant enough in disciplining the state’s judges. The Board of Judicial Conduct has an opportunity to demonstrate that it can move quickly and exact justice and it can do so in a very public and popular way. They can come down hard on Sessions Judge Casey Moreland of Nashville. State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, has asked them to investigate.