This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Governor Haslam To Attend Memorial Service For Senator Baker (WTVF-TV Nash)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced plans to attend the memorial service for the late, Senator Howard Baker. The former Senate Majority Leader and Tennessee lawmaker passed away Thursday, at his East Tennessee home of complications from a stroke. He was 88-years-old. Affectionately called “Tennessee’s Favorite Son,” Baker served as White House Chief of Staff for President Reagan and Ambassador to Japan. Baker also emerged as an unlikely star of the Watergate hearings in the summer of 1973. He later said that Watergate became “the greatest disillusionment” of his political career. Like Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, Governor Haslam also worked for Baker some time ago.
State and national political figures expected at Baker’s funeral (N-S/Collins)
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander will deliver remarks at former Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr.’s funeral in Huntsville, Tenn., on Tuesday. Alexander, a two-term Republican senator and former Tennessee governor, worked as Baker’s first legislative assistant in 1967 and 1968 and considered him a mentor and friend. “It is difficult to express how much we honor his life and how much we will miss him,” Alexander said after Baker’s death on Thursday at age 88. A number of state and national political figures — Republicans and Democrats — are expected to attend Baker’s funeral, which will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Huntsville.
Policy restricting ads could help prescription drug problem (Herald Citizen)
Governor Bill Haslam’s “Prescription For Success” plan has seven specific goals to help curb the prescription drug abuse issue that has been called an epidemic in the state of Tennessee. The Herald-Citizen will examine one goal each Sunday for the next seven weeks in an effort to give readers a better understanding of the aspects of the plan. “Prescription For Success” discusses a number of strategies that will help meet the goal. The Prescription For Success plan has been well thought of throughout the state — both by members of the legislature in Nashville and in roundtable discussions in various communities throughout the state.
Mentors needed to help students succeed (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
The state is seeking mentors for its tnAchieves, a program that provides scholarships with mentor guidance to public high-school students. The program needs about 150 more mentors from Knoxville to reach its goal of about 375, said Jackie Hartmann, director of operations for tnAchieves. Mentors must be 21 or older and subject to a background check. They must complete an application online, https://tnachieves.org/mentor-application, by Nov. 1 and complete the mandatory mentor training by Dec. 1. Mentors are expected to spend 10-15 hours each year assisting five high-school seniors to help them become successful in higher education.
Changes may be coming to TN teacher licensing (Tennessean/Garrison)
Changes could be coming to the process teachers navigate to renew their work licenses in Tennessee, including easier routes for those who perform well on annual evaluations. But one component it won’t include? Making student test scores a reason to stop a teacher from advancing in through the profession. The Tennessee General Assembly this spring swiftly passed legislation, pushed by the state’s largest teachers union, to reverse a controversial policy of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration — set for implementation in 2015 — that would allow have allowed student growth on tests to be used to revoke or not renew a teacher’s licenses.
U of M reverses course, hires more full-time professors (News-Sentinel/Backer)
After hiring scores of lower-paid professors for part-time jobs, the University of Memphis reversed course and has brought in fresh tenure-track faculty paid higher salaries for full-time work. More tenure-track faculty were hired at the university in recent years than in the institution’s history, said Tom Nenon, dean of U of M’s College of Arts and Sciences. U of M added about 100 new tenure-track positions in 2012 and 2013, he said, and promises to continue the trend as it tries to shore up its national academic reputation. Tenure-track professors generally attract better graduate students because the professors are considered more able researchers.
Chinese ties offer more opportunities (Daily News Journal)
In May, the university renewed its Confucius Institute partnership for another five years, an investment totaling $500,000, MTSU President Sidney McPhee said, and other short-term projects and grants will come as a result of the collaboration. Most of the Confucius Institute’s costs are covered by grant funding, which will total $1 million by the time the second five-year agreement expires. That does not include smaller grants and projects that have or will come from these collaborations, McPhee said. “It is also important to note that the university benefits financially from the increases in international student enrollment.
Shelby County no stranger to lawmaker residency disputes (C. Appeal/Moore)
Where lawmakers live draw focus When former Collierville alderman Tony Sarwar was accused of not living in the town, he said the stress made him lose 12 pounds. A restaurant owner, Sarwar said he was going through a divorce and as a result on a handful of late nights he slept at his parents’ home in Cordova after work rather than wake his then 12-year-old daughter to take her back to his rented house in Collierville. “It was gut wrenching because you literally want to pick up the phone and call every resident in Collierville and let them know this is something with no validity to it,” Sarwar said.
Sens. Rand Paul, Lamar Alexander visiting Nashville on Monday (Tenn/Williams)
U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Rand Paul will be in Nashville on Monday to host a roundtable discussion about the Affordable Care Act with state health care professionals. Alexander, R-Tenn., and Paul, R-Ky., will speak in a closed-door session with Tennessee officials about the effects of the health care reform bill better known as “Obamacare” and future steps GOP leaders will take about the issue. Both Alexander, who’s running for his third Senate term this year, and Paul, whom some consider a potential 2016 presidential candidate, oppose the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and have called for its repeal.
‘Healthy eating’ rules just expanded (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Benton)
First it was the chicken patties, biscuits and french fries. Now federal regulations are moving beyond the lunchroom and targeting doughnuts, candy bars and cookies sold in schools. This fall, the federal government’s push toward healthy eating in public schools will spill over into vending machines and school fundraisers. The new rules, which represent the first time vending machine snacks have been regulated in Tennessee high schools, mean that local public high schools could lose some of the much-needed revenue stream provided by machine sales of chips, beef jerky and candy bars.
Army report details effect of cutting Fort Campbell by half (Leaf Chronicle)
For several months, the number 420,000 has been bandied about as an end-goal for Army troop strength, taking it down from a 2012 level of 562,000. As Washington debates the merits of such a reduction, and Congress continues closer to the automatic return of sequester cuts in 2016, the Army on Thursday released a report, required by law, showing what dropping to 420,000 would look like, if the reduction is spread over 30 areas with sizable Army populations. Such a reduction, according to the report, would mean Fort Campbell losing approximately half its personnel by 2020, bringing the post to only 16,281 soldiers and civilians and amounting to a nearly $1 billion per year hit to area income.
TVA looks for way to replenish underfunded pension plan (TFP/Flessner)
When President Franklin Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933, he wanted TVA to be “a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.” TVA’s unique status as an independent federally owned corporation helped it capture the power of the Tennessee River and keep power rates relatively low for most of its 81-year history. But some TVA retirees fear that TVA’s independence also now threatens the security of the utility’s retirement program for nearly 36,000 current and retired TVA employees and their families.
Growing Nissan-Daimler alliance pays off in Tennessee (Tennessean/Williams)
Nissan-Renault’s 4-year-old partnership with Germany’s Daimler AG ramped up significantly last week with two key moves in North America: the opening of a new Infiniti-Mercedes engine plant in Decherd, and announcement of a jointly owned assembly plant to be built in Mexico. While the collaboration between the automakers has until now been mostly between the Renault brand and Daimler’s Smart brand in Europe, other projects are taking off as the two companies work to expand their businesses using complementary strengths and economies of scale. For Middle Tennessee, the engine plant that opened Thursday means 400 new jobs for workers in the Decherd-Winchester-Tullahoma area, adding to the 1,600 that Nissan already employs at its 13-year-old Decherd powertrain facility.
High-potency ‘dabs’ make way to Manchester (Chatt. Times Free-Press/Benton)
A new, super-potent form of marijuana known as “dabs” made its way to Manchester, Tenn., with the Bonnaroo festival crowd this month, adding another drug concern for law enforcement in Tennessee. Old hippies might recognize the concentrated oil extract as something like hash oil that was popular in the 1970s, but this version — called butane hash oil or BHO for the manufacturing process — is far stronger, according to Manchester Police Department Chief Mark Yother. Dabs also goes by names like “wax” and “shatter” for the consistencies in which the substance is found. It’s often smoked in water pipes and electronic cigarettes and can be added to foods, authorities said.
Editorial: Baker leaves a legacy of dignity, honor, service (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
This day we mourn the passing and celebrate the life of the Honorable Howard Henry Baker Jr., a statesman of the first rank whose contributions to the nation are overshadowed only by his personal dignity. Known as the “Great Conciliator,” he was adept at forging compromises to push through legislation. At a crucial point in American history he spoke on behalf of a nation dazed by scandal. He was a leader in the U.S. Senate, a diplomat and a White House chief of staff. He was a man who at all times displayed the wisdom and civility that are the attributes of a true gentleman. Baker died Thursday at age 88 in his Huntsville home of complications from a stroke.
Free-Press Editorial: Recent elections unlikely to have local implications (TFP)
If Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr aims to be the next Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his primary election earlier this month, he’ll have to get on his horse. Carr, actually called the “next Dave Brat” in one analysis by CNBC, would like to upend two-term U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in the state’s August primary by suggesting the senator is out of touch with his constituents. That was the same argument made about Cantor, but Tennesseans may have a hard time buying that one. Although the Senate is in session Monday through Thursday, Alexander has spent more than half of his nights since being elected back in the Volunteer State, according to an aide.
Editorial: Election officials may require monitoring (Daily News Journal)
During the most recent state legislative session, we thought it was ridiculous that the House and Senate passed a bill to bar from the state election monitors from the United Nations, and we now think we may need those monitors in Rutherford County. They wouldn’t need to keep an eye on county elections, as far as we know, but they might be useful in keeping track of the goings on at the Rutherford County Election Commission. Despite the fact that 2014 does not have a presidential election, this is a busy election year with four different sets of elections. Two election dates are past, and two are to come. We recently wondered what would happen during half-time, and now we know that the president of the league is trying to fire the head referee.