This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Editorial: Veterans cemetery on its way to reality (Jackson Sun)
We are excited about the progress being made on the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads. Work has been going on to establish and find a location for the cemetery for years, but Gov. Bill Haslam was in Parkers Crossroads last week for an official announcement on plans for the cemetery. This is good news for West Tennessee! The cemetery will be on 132 acres and will be available for the more than 45,000 veterans in a multi-county area around Parkers Crossroads, which is in Henderson County. Haslam said the cemetery should meet the needs for veteran burials for 150 years. The cemetery could open as soon as the fall of 2016 if state and federal guidelines are met. There will be no charge for veterans to be buried at the cemetery.
Haslam sends Obama letter about unaccompanied immigrant minors (TFP)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is upset that federal officials have brought 760 refugee migrant children to the state without notifying his administration. The children are among the 30,000 or more, mostly from Central America, believed to have crossed the nation’s southern border so far this year. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been placing children in states across the country while they await court action on their cases. In a July 25 letter to President Barack Obama, Haslam said wrote: “It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge.”
Haslam blasts Feds on placement of immigrant kids in TN (TNReport)
In response to the U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services placing hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant children in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday shot off a letter to President Barack Obama complaining that the state wasn’t appropriately consulted about the federal government’s decision ahead of time. “It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge,” the letter from Haslam states.
Governors chafe at quiet dispersion of child border crossers (Chr. Science Monitor)
Atlanta — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is hardly alone in his complaints Friday that the Obama administration is sending child migrants in the country illegally to small towns and cities without notifying state authorities – a scenario that Governor Haslam says “creates confusion and could be very problematic.” Gov. Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey said US border authorities releasing captured migrant children to relatives who themselves are in the US illegally is “illogical,” and Gov. Phil Bryant (R) of Mississippi charged that an “overreaching federal government” was involved in “covert immigration practices.”
U of M seeks to create high-level teacher residency. (Commercial Appeal)
Memphis – For more than six months, University of Memphis leaders have been working with local and national philanthropists, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to position Memphis as the premier city in the nation for talented undergraduates who want to teach. By the earliest drafts, the university is envisioning a stand-alone program — separate from its college of education — that would turn out up to 225 seniors a year — ready to teach at a high level on Day One in poor, struggling Memphis schools. In a confidential draft of its proposal dated July 2, the university estimates the cost of the expense-paid residency at $28,000.
New president of TEA takes the reins during July (Lebanon Democrat/PNS)
July 1 was the first official day on the job for the new head of the Tennessee Education Association, who lists among her goals an increase in teacher pay. The salary of a starting teacher in the state is well below the national average, and TEA President Barbara Gray said Gov. Bill Haslam needs to keep his word on changing that. “The governor had promised a pay raise and said that Tennessee was going to be the fastest-improving state in teacher salary,” said Gray. “And we need that, to help recruit and retain the best teachers that we can get.”
Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday runs Friday-Sunday (Daily News Journal)
The favorite holiday for Tennessee shoppers is quickly approaching. Next weekend bargain hunters across the state can take advantage of the state’s Sales Tax Holiday from 12:01 a.m. Friday and until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3. Over the three-day weekend, Tennessee shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on clothing, school supplies and computers. “This holiday offers Tennesseans great savings on important back-to-school items, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. During the weekend, consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost less than $100 per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.
Get ready for Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday weekend, Aug. 1-3 (Leaf Chronicle)
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Eight years of Tennessee Sales Tax Holidays have adequately established that back-to-school shopping throughout the Volunteer State is now traditionally built around the annual weekend event. In the Clarksville area, shoppers will once again have an opportunity to avoid paying the 9.5 percent combined state and local sales tax rate on clothing, school supplies and computers, when the next Sales Tax Holiday weekend rolls around, Aug. 1-3. At the city’s regional shopping mall, Governor’s Square on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard, many stores are gearing up for the Sales Tax Holiday that’s now about one week away.
Hoyer, Dunn lend support to horse-soring bill (Tennessean/Barton)
WASHINGTON – The second-ranking Democrat in the House and a former Tennessee governor are the latest to endorse legislation protecting Tennessee Walking Horses from soring, the office of Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky said Friday. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House minority whip, became the 305th to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act. Whitfield, a Republican, is the lead sponsor. That means 70 percent of the House is now behind the bill, although it is stuck in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, is vice chair. Blackburn opposes the bill.
Gun makers’ exodus benefits Tennessee (Tennessean/Williams)
For more than a century, the stretch of New England along the Connecticut River has been known as “Gun Valley” for its heavy concentration of firearms manufacturers. “The gun industry was founded in New Haven, Conn., by Eli Whitney even before he made his cotton gin,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the U.S. firearms industry. “There are companies all up and down the Connecticut River that make guns, ammunition, parts and supplies.”
Enterprise South could see 2,000 more supplier jobs, officials say (TFP)
Some 300 acres that Volkswagen is freeing up at Enterprise South industrial park in Chattanooga for potential suppliers ultimately could add another 20 companies and 2,000 jobs, economic developers say. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from auto suppliers,” said Nick Wilkinson, the city’s deputy administrator for economic development, in the wake of VW’s planned $600 million investment to make a new vehicle and hire 2,000 more workers at its Chattanooga plant. Enterprise South emerged from the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, which provided the U.S. Army with ammo going back to World War II.
Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals (Stateline)
For the 8 million people who persevered through all the software trapdoors in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enrollment begins. Seems like good news after all the headaches consumers endured after the program’s launch last year. Except that renewing the same policy may not be the best choice. Many may end up paying far more than they need to and with policies that don’t best fit their individual circumstances.
Patients, doctors seek remedy for confusion Blue Cross Network E (TFP/Harrison)
Over the last seven months, shoppers in the new health insurance marketplace have become patients, using their new plans for the first time. Roughly 52,800 Tennesseans looking at some of cheapest plans in the country chose a brand-new BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee network, dubbed “E.” For many, the transition from shopper to Network E patient has been satisfying. They have access to quality doctors, many for the first time, at a good price. Others, though, are reckoning — sometimes painfully — with the fact that Network E coverage is cheaper for a reason: There is a much narrower field of doctors to choose from.
Long ballot still worth it, Nashville early voters say (Tennessean/Wilson)
Democrat or Republican, people voting at the Madison Library on Saturday could all agree on one thing: the length of the ballot. State officials encouraged people to vote early this election cycle specifically because of the size of the ballot, one of the longest in recent memory. Saturday was the first day early voting was open at 10 satellite centers around Davidson County, including libraries in Bordeaux, Green Hills, Hermitage and on Edmondson Pike. Voters cited the dozens of local and state judicial elections to explain why their ballots took longer than usual to cast. “It was tedious,” said Pam Jordan of Goodlettsville, who took 15 minutes to complete her Democratic ballot. She quickly added that the process wasn’t overwhelming and was worth the effort.
Hundreds of people gathered at Englewood Baptist Church Saturday evening to support the “Vote Yes on 1” campaign in Tennessee. “Yes on 1” is a community-based outreach to raise awareness of the proposed constitutional Amendment 1, which would change wording in the Tennessee constitution regarding abortion. The amendment is slated for public vote on Nov. 4. Before the speakers took to the stage, a video was shown to quickly explain what happened to the abortion industry in Tennessee 14 years ago. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on a decision, Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist, in 2000.
Fleischmann, Wamp swing at each other in rematch (Knoxville News Sentinel)
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann likes to think of himself as a “great optimist” and a “positive person,” even after four years in Congress. But that’s not the person Weston Wamp sees. “I feel like I’m sitting across the table from an angry congressman,” Wamp quipped earlier this month during a combative debate that saw Fleischmann at times raising his voice and pointing his finger at his young challenger. Other political races in Tennessee may be getting bigger headlines, but the rematch in the 3rd Congressional District between the two-term Republican congressman and the 27-year-old upstart with a pedigree in politics has turned into one of the more colorful and confrontational campaigns leading up to the Aug. 7 primary.
Sen. hopeful Brandon Dodds talks business, Constitution (Jackson Sun)
Four years ago Brandon Dodds put his name on the ballot for governor of Tennessee. Dodds ran as an independent, as did 14 other candidates. Every candidate was soundly defeated by current Gov. Bill Haslam, but Dodds gathered the second most votes of any independent candidate, totaling more than 4,700 votes. Now Dodds, a 39-year-old Dyer County commissioner, is trying his hand at the District 27 state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Lowe Finney, a much smaller campaign ground compared with the 95 counties Dodds tried to win over in 2010.
Sen. Corker: An open letter to Chattanoogans (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Dear Chattanoogans, Companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence in Tennessee. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies and engaged citizenry. That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s first automotive research and development center in Chattanooga was possible. I could not be more excited about Volkswagen’s deepened commitment to our state and for the thousands of Tennesseans who will benefit from the high-quality jobs that will be added. I will never forget the moment in 2008 when I got the call from Volkswagen officials with news that the company would come to Chattanooga.