This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
American Colors to build Gallatin plant (Tennessean/Cross)
Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with American Colors Inc. officials announced Wednesday the company will build a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing and research facility in the Gallatin Industrial Center. As part of the project, the Sandusky, Ohio-based company will invest $3.7 million and create 31 new jobs in Sumner County in order to support ongoing growth at the company’s existing Lebanon location. “We really enjoy the atmosphere and economic climate here,” American Colors Inc. President and CEO James Wible said following a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
JMS Russel to expand in Jackson (Jackson Sun)
JMS Russel Metals Corporation officials announced Wednesday the company will expand its steel plate processing facility in Jackson by investing $2.5 million in new equipment to allow additional processes to be done in-house. The expansion will result in the addition of 26 manufacturing jobs in Madison County, according to a news release. “Under Gov. Haslam’s leadership, net new manufacturing jobs have increased significantly here in Tennessee, placing our state among the top 10 states in the nation for job creation in this sector,” Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said in the release.
$2.5M investment nets 26 new jobs in Jackson (Memphis Business Journal)
JMS Russel Metals Corp. is investing $2.5 million to expand its steel plate processing facility in Jackson, Tenn. The company will create 26 new jobs in Madison county and add 17,000-square feet of warehouse space for new machinery. JMS Russel Metals is a full-line distributor of steel and aluminum products. It is owned by Canadian-based Russel Metals Inc., and has eight facilities around the south. “As Jackson is home to JMS, it is exciting to see this location continue to expand. We appreciate the efforts made by the state of Tennessee and Jackson Chamber of Commerce whose focus on growing the existing industrial base as well as recruiting new industry to the area is very refreshing,” John Reid, chief operations officer for Russel Metals, said.
TN lauded for partnerships between ed., economic development (B. Clarksville)
Education and industry leaders from the nine-state Pathways to Prosperity Network gathered in Nashville on Thursday, June 26, to discuss how to build academic pathways that establish clear connections between education and the workforce. Tennessee has earned national recognition for forging critical relationships between education and economic development through Pathways Tennessee, the state’s multi-agency initiative established in 2012, focused on providing rigorous education that leads to relevant careers. Pathways Tennessee currently has two pilot programs, one in the Upper Cumberland region and one in the Southeast.
Haslam appoints Crump district attorney general for 10th Judicial District (AP)
Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Stephen Crump district attorney general for the 10th Judicial District. The 47-year-old Crump replaces Steve Bebb, who submitted his resignation in May after serving the district for nearly 40 years as district attorney general, criminal court judge and assistant district attorney general. Crump will serve the remainder of Bebb’s term and is currently unopposed in the general election to fill the seat. The 10th Judicial District includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.
Haslam confirms Crump as DA Taking office 2 months early (Daily Banner)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam made it official Tuesday with his announcement of the appointment of Steve Crump as district attorney general for the 10th Judicial District, effective immediately. Crump, 47, replaces Steve Bebb who submitted his resignation in May after serving the district for nearly 40 years as district attorney general, criminal court judge and assistant district attorney general. “Stephen is active in his community and has extensive public and private sector experience,” Haslam said. “The 10th Judicial District will benefit from all that he brings to the table, and I appreciate him serving in this capacity.”
Gov. Haslam announces $398K TDOT grant for Ashland City (Business Clarksville)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced Tuesday, June 24, the award of a $398,447 transportation alternative grant that will connect three parks along Marks Creek in Ashland City. The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail Project is located along the bank of Marks Creek near three city parks and SR 49. The project will provide trail connections to all three parks, which are currently only accessible by automobile. It includes more than 2,000 linear feet of 10-foot wide asphalt trail, a bridge, boardwalk, retaining walls, fencing, and a trailhead with amenities.
State task force using air surveillance to crack down on marijuana (WSMV-TV Nash)
From meth to prescription pills, and even a resurgence in heroin, drugs continue to be a target for law enforcement. “We’re number two in meth labs. We’re number two in prescription drug abuse and we’re number three in the illicit growing of marijuana. Tennessee has got to have a force,” said Tommy Farmer. That force is the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication, and its crew is using air surveillance and ground crews to seek and destroy. “We’re also looking to make an investigation. Are there perpetrators or is there just somebody we can pin this to? We’re not just going in to eradicate the marijuana,” Farmer said.
Transportation Department celebrating 100 years (Associated Press)
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is kicking off a yearlong celebration running up to the 100th anniversary of the agency. The centennial anniversary of the state law that first created what was first called the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works will fall on July 1, 2015. The agency plans to unveil a permanent centennial memorial to highlight TDOT’s accomplishments. TDOT has also launched a website with videos, a schedule of activities and a timeline of key events in the agency’s history.
State authorities to step up enforcement during holiday weekend (N-S/Jones)
Some 742,000 Tennesseans are set to travel for the Fourth of July this year, according to AAA. To promote safety and reduce crashes during the holiday weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will conduct a high visibility enforcement campaign beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and ending at midnight Sunday, according to THP. The campaign includes checks for driver’s licenses and seat belt use as well as sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and “No Refusal” enforcement zones. The Highway Patrol will hold several checkpoints in the Knoxville area starting this morning with a seat belt checkpoint on Interstate 40 West at exit 340 in Roane County.
TWRA: Dead ducks poisoned by corn with banned pesticide (WKRN-TV Nashville)
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has completed their investigation into the deaths of 20 ducks found in Mt. Juliet off Old Hickory Lake. Officials with the TWRA stated the ducks were poisoned after they ate corn containing a pesticide called carbofuran, which is known for being extremely toxic to birds. The pesticide is banned in both Canada and the European Union, and was banned for human consumption in the United States in 2009. The TWRA noted that it is unclear if the ducks were intentionally or mistakenly poisoned. The investigation came after the 20 ducks mysteriously died on June 15 on the property of Michelle Desirey and her son, Catlin Gentry.
State Appeals Court Greenlights Southwind Annexation (Memphis Daily News)
The Tennessee Appeals Court ruled Wednesday, July 2, that the city of Memphis can move ahead with plans to annex Southwind because a recently enacted moratorium on annexation by the state legislature and a new state law requiring referendum approval of annexations do not apply to the earlier annexation decision. In the ruling, the court specifically overturned a December 2013 ruling by Chancellor Walter Evans just days before the Southwind annexation was to take effect. Evans granted an injunction preventing the city from annexing the area until the moratorium expired.
Tennessee Lawmakers Apologize for Trail of Tears (Associated Press)
Tennessee lawmakers have apologized to the Cherokee Nation for actions taken by President Andrew Jackson that forced up to 16,000 Cherokees off Tennessee lands 175 years ago. Tennessee lawmakers passed a resolution earlier this year and read it at an event Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the Trail of Tears. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker attended the event, where leaders of federally recognized tribes were presented with copies of the resolution and allowed to address the audience.
Memphis wine and liquor retailers move slowly to expand offerings (CA/Koeppel)
It’s all a result of a law that took effect Tuesday, but many shop keepers in the Memphis area are taking a cautious view. From The Corkscrew on the South Bluffs in Downtown Memphis in the west to Poplar Wine and Spirits in Collierville in the east, owners and managers echoed what Aaron Coppedge, general manager of The Corkscrew said: “We’re taking a marginal approach and moving slowly.” “We haven’t jumped into the food thing,” said Angela Moon, a manager at Kirby Wine & Spirits, on Kirby near Quince, “but we have gotten into accessories.” Her sentiment was reflected by Gary Burhop, owner of Great Wines & Spirits in Regalia.
Alexander ad touts Obamacare opposition (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is seeking to bolster his credentials with conservative GOP primary voters with a new television ad highlighting him as an early critic of the Affordable Care Act who directly challenged President Barack Obama. The two-term incumbent also announced he raised $900,000 to fend off a tea party-backed challenge from state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, and Memphis physician and businessman George Flinn, who say Alexander is not conservative enough. Alexander’s 30-second spot will begin airing statewide on Sunday. Titled “Lamar Was Right,” it starts with an announcer saying, “Republicans chose Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander to lead.”
Close combat: 3rd District Republican candidates spar (TFP/Brogdon)
Both candidates agree: Wednesday’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary debate got straight to the core differences between two-term incumbent Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and challenger Weston Wamp. Fleischmann is — and will remain — as far to the political right as possible, and Wamp says the days of die-hard partisanship are hurting the country and need to pass. The two met Thursday for a one-on-one debate sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and WTCI-TV, Chattanooga’s PBS station. The mood was decidedly tense, with Fleischmann at one point repeatedly yelling at Wamp to answer a question about speaking with Democrats in the district — and Wamp rebuffing him to the sound of snickers from the challenger’s side of the room.
Without Federal Action, States Move on Long-Term Care (Stateline)
Three years after the demise of the long-term care piece of the Affordable Care Act, some states are retooling their Medicaid programs to maximize the number of people who can get care at home and minimize the number who have to become poor to receive help. They also are trying to save state dollars. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, and long-term care for the elderly is putting an ever greater burden on state budgets: Total Medicaid spending for long-term services rose from $113 billion in 2007 to nearly $140 billion in 2012. Two recent reports have focused attention on the issue.
TVA study recommends Allen coal plant shutdown (TFP/Flessner)
TVA on Wednesday released an environmental assessment of its Allen Plant in Memphis that recommends the three coal-fired units at Allen be replaced with a new natural gas plant. TVA estimates building a new gas plant with comparable power output would cost from $500 million to $1.3 billion, depending upon the type built. But that would avoid the need to spend up to $650 million to install required scrubbers on the Allen coal plant to meet air quality standards by the end of 2018 and would avoid other expensive coal ash disposal requirements to maintain the TVA facility. The TVA board will still have to vote on any shut down of the Allen Steam Plant and decide on the size and type of the gas generation replacement.
TVA leadership wants to replace coal-fired Allen power plant (CA/Bailey)
Tennessee Valley Authority management wants to replace the coal-fired Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis with a plant powered by natural gas. The TVA board is to vote Aug. 21 on the management’s recommendation in TVA’s draft environmental assessment for the gas plant that would cost $500 million to $1.3 billion to build. The Allen plant, often a source of criticism because of the pollutants it produces, has 132 employees at the operation that consumes 7,200 tons of coal daily. A natural gas-powered facility would not employ as many people, said TVA spokesman Chris Stanley.
Report: STEM jobs are the hardest to fill in Nashville (Tennessean/Schiraldi)
Despite offers of a high salary and good benefits, science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs are some of the hardest positions to fill in Middle Tennessee. A new report released by the Brookings Institution and produced by Burning Glass, a leader in labor market analytics, shows that employers are having just as much trouble filling these positions now as they were before the recession. The report focuses on all job vacancies advertised nationally and in U.S. metropolitan areas in 2013 on company websites, which totaled 3.3 million advertisements from 52,000 companies. STEM positions now are requiring more valuable skills and higher levels of education, making filling the vacant positions that much more difficult.
STEM Workers Needed In Nashville — With The Right Experience (WPLN-Radio)
When Lisa French graduated college in 2009, she wanted to find a job in marketing. But it was mid-recession, and she wasn’t having any luck. Then she heard about the “wealth of opportunities available in knowing how to program,” she says. Wealth may be the right word. According to a new study from the Brookings Institution, workers in technical fields are in high demand both nationwide and in Nashville, especially compared to demand during the recession. The study found that employers have more difficulty filling jobs in science, technology, engineering or math. With high demand and not enough supply, jobs in STEM fields like programming generally pay more, according to the Brookings study.
Editorial: Will statewide gains in TCAP scores be mirrored locally? (C. Appeal)
Education reform advocates and parents in Memphis and Shelby County will have to wait until later this month to learn whether the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test scores from local schools will reflect statewide improvements in some categories. State education officials said Tuesday that Tennessee students improved on 19 of the 31 separate grade- and subject-level TCAP tests, which measure gains students in grades 3-12 made in the just-concluded school year over the previous year. Local school officials are analyzing the test results, but will not publicly release their students’ scores until later.
Editorial: Tennessee’s new laws: dumb and dumber (Tennessean)
It’s always good to be up to date on the laws in your state. In Tennessee, whose legislators are the butt of national jokes over the bills they propose, it’s absolutely essential. A long list of new laws took effect on July 1, and while some of the worst ideas that the General Assembly had this year did not make the cut, there are several that demand everyone’s attention. For example, as The Tennessean reported on Tuesday, legislators have overridden local ordinances banning switchblade knives with blades 4 inches or longer; thus, giving criminals an additional deadly weapon to use in armed robberies and arguments that in the past might have ended without life-threatening wounds.
Frank Cagle: A High Wire Act (Metro Pulse)
House Speaker Beth Harwell was first elected to the Legislature in 1988. No other current House member has served longer. She spent over two decades as a double minority—a woman and a Republican in a House controlled by Democrats. During her long career she has gotten along by using quiet persuasion and just working hard. She has not been one to push herself forward, be bombastic, or make outrageous statements. This style is how she got to be the first woman Speaker of the House in state history. Her defeat of the better known (outside the chamber) House Caucus Chair Glen Casada for the post surprised a lot of people.
Times Editorial: Bring Chuck Fleischmann home from Washington (TFP)
By his own back-handed admonition in a debate Wednesday, incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann handed a license to 3rd Congressional District voters to yank him out of Washington, D.C., come the Aug. 7 state Republican primary. “Everything the federal government touches, it messes up,” Fleischmann said during the debate with GOP challenger Weston Wamp. “The problem is, this is a broken system.” With complete partisan gridlock in Congress, Fleischmann — who in the debate took every opportunity to point fingers at the Obama administration, Democrats and even other Republicans who simply hint at negotiating with Democrats to find solutions — is absolutely right.
Free-Press Editorial: Wamp’s aggressiveness gives him debate edge (TFP)
Weston Wamp is banking the American people are tired of gridlock. U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is betting they’re not. Wednesday’s debate between the two candidates for Congress in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary — sponsored by host WTCI and the Times Free Press — offered a starkly different look at how one conducts business en route to and in Washington, D.C., in 2014. Fleischmann, the two-term incumbent, declared firmly that he represents a conservative district whose voters liked him saying “no” to President Barack Obama at every turn, did not want anything to do with “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and wanted the federal government out of education “as much as possible.”
Note: The news-clips will resume on Saturday, July 5.