This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Haslam signs agreement to protect dairy industry (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed an agreement with eight other states to protect the dairy industry in the event of an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. According to the state Agriculture Department, the agreement is called the Secure Milk Supply Plan. It sets standards by which milk producers, haulers and processors interact with animal health authorities to reduce the risk of spreading hoof and mouth disease in the event of an outbreak. Although the disease has not been seen in the U.S. since 1929, outbreaks occur every year in other countries and the disease could easily be introduced through international trade.
Rain, flooding wallop Memphis area; no injuries reported (CA/Callahan)
Alfredo Perez remembers his father awakening him around 7 a.m. Sunday with an ominous warning. “It was water,” the 14-year-old said. “My dad woke me up. My mom got us to put clothes in a bag. We put the televisions on top of the refrigerator.” Alfredo, his parents and his two siblings then fled their mobile home in the Wheel Estates park on Brooks Road in Whitehaven, splashing through still-rising water that nearly reached his father’s neck. They soon made it to high ground, joining hundreds of others who escaped as floodwaters inundated nearly 100 mobile homes, about a third of the community.
Tennessee teens’ appetite for hard drugs grows (Tennessean/Wilemon)
Tennessee teenagers are using heroin and shooting up drugs at twice the national average, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many more — roughly one in every five — pop pills for recreational use. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report reveals that their appetite for hard drugs grew dramatically over a five-year period and that Tennessee teenagers are putting themselves in danger in a multitude of ways. The 251-page report, based upon surveys of high school students and released every two years by the CDC, looks at behaviors ranging from dietary choices to driving habits. The survey period was between September 2012 and December 2013 — a time frame when heroin was making a comeback.
Tennessee teacher evaluation proposals considered (Associated Press)
Teachers who consistently score highly on annual state-mandated teacher evaluations may be able to bypass training requirements to advance or to renew licenses under a new policy to be considered by the State Board of Education today. The Tennessean reported the board is also scheduled to take up a new teacher licensure policy that would satisfy directives given by the Tennessee General Assembly. Lawmakers passed legislation during the last session to reverse a controversial initiative of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration that would have allowed student growth on tests to be used to revoke or not renew a teacher’s license.
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 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.
‘He’s done a lot’: Huntsville remembers its favorite son (News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
Every summer, at his sprawling ranch home two blocks west of the center of town, Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. hosted a small Fourth of July celebration with friends and fireworks. But when the beloved senator learned that town residents would gather off his property to watch the colorful display, Baker opted to move his party — two blocks east. Huntsville’s Independence Day event has been on the town’s Courthouse Mall ever since. “He wouldn’t exclude anybody,” said Don Stansberry, Baker’s longtime law partner. “Howard’s always been well-liked, even before he was elected to anything. Anybody in this town would do everything to help him.”
Dozens of Y-12 workers exposed to radiation in 1958 accident (N-S/Munger)
Official reports on the worst nuclear accident in Oak Ridge history have always focused on eight radiation victims who were hospitalized following the event and monitored for the rest of their lives to gauge the radiation effects. But, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, dozens of Y-12 workers received radiation doses from the June 16, 1958, accident. The NIOSH study estimated the doses likely received by 31 individuals who were in the vicinity of the shop when a solution of weapons-grade uranium was inadvertently drained into a 55-gallon drum.
Brian Kelsey: The need for reforms (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
Steve Bebb, district attorney for Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties, resigned today — two months before the end of his term and not a moment too soon. He faced multiple allegations of misusing his office and had been investigated by the TBI and by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair. His story shows the need for judicial reform in Tennessee. Fortune Magazine recently ranked Tennessee third among U.S. states for public corruption. Having lived through the Tennessee Waltz scandal my first year in the Legislature, I believe it. Public corruption is a black eye on this state, and it is time to make serious changes to the law to address it. Allegations of misconduct by Bebb were first raised in the Chattanooga Times Free Press newspaper in August 2012.