This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Haslam to visit southeast Tenn. before NGA meeting (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam will be in southeast Tennessee early in the week then return to Nashville to host the National Governors Association summer meeting July 10-13. On Tuesday, the Republican governor will visit Pikeville, Dunlap and Monteagle to make agriculture and transportation grant announcements. He is scheduled to be back in Nashville by Thursday for the beginning of the NGA meeting being held at the Omni Hotel. Vice President Joe Biden is also scheduled to attend the opening session of the meeting, which concludes on Sunday.
Drug summit coming to Chattanooga (Associated Press)
Top state substance abuse officials will meet in Chattanooga on Thursday to discuss the problem of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee. The public is invited to attend. E. Douglas Varney, commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, will join Criminal Court Judge Caroll Ross of the 10th Judicial District Recovery Court, Paul Fuchcar of CADAS and others at 2 p.m. at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s University Center, 642 E. Fifth St. According to a news release, nearly 70,000 Tennesseans are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.
Differing guidelines leave agencies for disabled with questions (Tenn/Manskar)
Tennessee agencies that care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are struggling to help those they care for achieve life goals, according to a court-appointed review panel. Each of the 19 service providers evaluated in the latest round of biannual quality reports published at the end of May was rated noncompliant in helping people meet goals such as doing dishes or checking the mail. But the panel’s results don’t mean these 19 agencies are doing a bad job in the state’s eyes. All were found partially or fully compliant with individual planning standards in the most recent quality reports from the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Center Hill Lake drowning probed by authorities (Associated Press)
Authorities are investigating a drowning at Center Hill Lake in DeKalb County. According to media reports, a man drowned in an area of the lake near Cove Hollow Marina on Saturday. The identity of the man has not been released. Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said the man was sitting on the back of his personal watercraft, when he somehow fell off the back of it and never resurfaced. Authorities began searching for his body around 4 p.m. and found it a few hours later about a mile-and-a-half downstream. Officials are also investigating the drowning of a 27-year-old man in Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville on Friday.
Marion Commission votes to help TDOT with turning lane for campus (TFP/Lewis)
As the new Marion County Regional Institute of Technical Excellence prepares to open its first building this fall, state officials are preparing to construct a new turning lane for it along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn. County Mayor John Graham said the county is “getting close” to utilizing the first building on the new campus, but before it’s opened, a turning lane must be installed to help with traffic along the busy two-lane road. He said Tennessee Department of Transportation officials discovered a small problem while doing some preliminary work on the site recently.
Campfield exception to group’s nod to incumbents (News-Sentinel/Humphrey)
Once upon a time, business engagement in campaigns for seats in the state Legislature was often a matter of choosing among self-described “conservative, pro-business Democrats” in primary elections. Then, a few years later, often it was a matter of backing a Republican over a Democrat in general elections. Today we find the focus on Republican primary elections, as illustrated by the National Federation of Independent Business’ lineup of endorsements in the Aug. 7 election. The list from the group’s political arm also illustrates apparent contentment with the business-friendliness of the reigning GOP supermajority despite internal strife between what may be categorized as the establishment wing and the tea party wing.
Corker to visit Cleveland, Chattanooga on Monday (Associated Press)
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will be in Cleveland and Chattanooga on Monday. The Tennessee Republican will begin the day in Cleveland, where he will meet with business and community leaders before heading to Chattanooga to meet with local entrepreneurs. Corker is a former Tennessee commissioner of finance and Chattanooga mayor. In 2012, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to his second term in the U.S. Senate, where he is a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Duncan reiterates stance to military intervention (News-Sentinel/Collins)
In these hyper-partisan times, it’s not often you hear a Republican quote a Democratic president to make a point. But U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has never been the typical Republican when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan. One of just seven GOP members of Congress to vote against going to war with Iraq and one of the first to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, Duncan recently delivered another one-minute lecture on the House floor about U.S. involvement in those Asian countries. He used the words of former President John F. Kennedy to help make his case. “There cannot be an American solution to every world problem,” Duncan said, recalling the precise language Kennedy spoke at the University of Washington in 1961.
Ad wars add up in U.S. Senate race (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)
It’s often said that talk is cheap, but that isn’t always the case when it comes to getting your message across to voters in a U.S. Senate race. So far, Tennessee’s three Republican candidates and one of the two major Democrats running, collectively have plunked down at least three-quarters of a million dollars for television broadcast and cable TV ad buys, according to figures obtained by the Times Free Press. Before all the shouting is over and done with, the totals in the Aug. 7 primaries’ “ad wars” are expected to rise far higher as candidates engage in self-promotion, attack rivals, defend themselves and counter-attack.
DOE: It’ll cost $12 billion to complete Oak Ridge cleanup (News-Sentinel/Munger)
The government has invested extraordinary resources over the past 30 years to deal with environmental legacies of the nuclear weapons program, which began with the World War II Manhattan Project. Mountains of radioactive waste have been moved, and a lot of cleanup has been accomplished. But a lot remains to be done — and it won’t be cheap. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates it will need $12 billion to finish the Oak Ridge cleanup work by 2046, the completion date DOE negotiated with environmental regulators. The completion date and the overall cost could be affected by how much funding Congress appropriates for the cleanup program and how wisely and efficiently the money is spent.
Technical jobs pay more but hard to fill (Times Free-Press/Flessner)
Even with more than 20,000 unemployed Chattanoogans looking for work, local employers still had trouble filling many technical jobs requiring science, math and engineering backgrounds last year, according to a new study of job vacancies by the Brookings Institute. Filling such technical jobs last year took more than twice as long as it took to fill other job vacancies even though STEM (science, technical, engineering and math) jobs paid nearly twice as much as non-technical jobs. The Brookings study found STEM jobs comprised more than one of every three job vacancies in Chattanooga last year and paid annual salaries, on average, of $53,949.
Most Hamilton schools to offer free lunch for all (Times Free-Press/Hardy)
Put away the lunch money. Come August, students at two-thirds of Hamilton County’s schools will be offered free breakfast and lunch daily. The school system qualified for a federal lunch program that gives taxpayer-subsidized meals to all students in 47 schools — regardless of family income. School officials see many benefits of the program: Parents can save money, upwards of $700 per year for a student who eats breakfast and lunch daily. Students should have more time to eat instead of fumbling with payment at the cash register.