This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Bill Haslam: Volkswagen to expand in Chattanooga (Lebanon Democrat)
Last month, Volkswagen Group of America announced it will expand its sole U.S. manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, adding a manufacturing line and creating the company’s National Research & Development and Planning Center right here in Tennessee. This $600 million investment to create 2,000 new jobs is exciting news, not just for Chattanooga, but also for all of Tennessee. The impact of this announcement goes far beyond these new jobs because of the large multiplier effect of the automotive industry, and adding a manufacturing line and the National Research & Development and Planning Center sends a clear signal that Tennessee can compete with anyone in the global marketplace.
Drive to 55 director: Success hinges on ‘culture change’ (Tennessean/Garrison)
Ultimately, Gov. Bill Haslam will be the one graded on making headway with his cornerstone education initiative, but Mike Krause is tasked with leading the way. Since June, Krause has crisscrossed Tennessee — just last week, he met with 61 local school districts — as the new executive director of Drive to 55, Haslam’s highly touted initiative to increase the percentage of college graduates from around 33 percent today to 55 percent by 2025. The governor’s appointment of the 32-year-old Krause, a former member of the 101st Airborne Division and Cookeville native who had already been working on college attainment at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, received universal praise within education circles.
Tennessee touts college savings program tutorial (Associated Press)
State Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. has presented the Anderson County school system with a $2,000 check for getting parents to complete an online tutorial about the importance of saving for college. School officials received the money in exchange for getting parents of children who attend their schools to participate in the tutorial. The tutorial provides information about the TNStars 529 College Savings Program. People who open accounts with TNStars can choose from different investment options ranging from conservative to aggressive.
Haslam appoints Lynn to state Workforce Development Board (Lebanon Democrat)
Gov. Bill Haslam appointed state Rep. Susan Lynn to the state Workforce Development Board as one of only two members of the state legislature who may be assigned to serve on the board, according to statute. Lynn’s appointment will run through June 30, 2016. “The Workforce Development Board is an interesting board on which to serve, and I am very honored to have been chosen by Gov. Haslam,” said Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. “The board aids the governor and provides him with opinions on issues concerning the expansion of employment opportunities in Tennessee and on ways to help businesses flourish.”
Church Hill awarded matching grant (Rogersville Review)
City Hall received some good news at Church Hill on Tuesday when Gov. Bill Haslam’s office and the TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation awarded them with a $183,000 for the purchase of 65 acres of land off Holliston Mills Road for use as a future park and recreation area. Part of more than $6.6M in funds for local parks and recreation projects across Tennessee, the money requires a 50 percent match from Church Hill, and will be used, officials said, to further expand their five-park system into the western end of the city with trails, sports facilities, picnic areas, and more. The funds also may be used for development of trails and projects in parks, natural areas and greenways.
Alexander, Carr make final appeal to voters (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Lakin)
With one day left until the polls close, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Republican primary challenger Joe Carr swept through East Tennessee on Wednesday to get one more shot at voters. “We’re trying to encourage people to make this the largest primary vote in our state’s history,” Alexander said during a campaign stop with Gov. Bill Haslam at Cherokee Mills on Sutherland Avenue. Polls open today at 8 a.m. Alexander, who’s seeking a third term, has made a point of not specifically mentioning his challenger by name. Carr, a state representative from Lascassas in Middle Tennessee, has indicated he hopes to ride a conservative backlash against the party establishment.
U.S. Senate candidates hit the campaign trail Wednesday (WATE-TV Knoxville)
Just hours remain before voters go to the polls, candidates are hitting the campaign trails. You have probably noticed all the political ads on the airwaves. One drawing lots of attention and money is the republican primary for one of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats… We also asked Gov. Haslam what he wants voters to know about his campaign. He says he is focusing on showing the state debt is shrinking and the steps he has taken to make higher education more available to Tennessee students. The polls are opening Thursday morning. 6 News will have complete coverage of the races on air and online.
Republicans stump on election eve (Standard Banner)
Republicans Lamar Alexander, Bill Haslam, and Phil Roe made a whistle stop at the Jefferson County Courthouse late yesterday afternoon on the eve of today’s Primary Election. Introducing the elected officials, Hobart Rice of the local Republican Party pointed out that the occasion represented the first time the county has been visited at the same time by the Republican governor and senior Republican United States Senator. Senator Alexander, in his second term, is the only one of the three with serious opposition in today’s primary. Tea Party-backed challenger Joe Carr is looking to pull off an upset, but is far behind in fund-raising.
One year later: Recovery court helps drug addicts (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
It has been one year since a drug recovery program, aimed at cutting down the number of repeat offenders, opened in East Tennessee. Morgan County is home to the nation’s first state-wide residential recovery court. Since it opened in the end of July 2013, 60 people, who would have otherwise been in prison, have stayed at the Morgan County Residential Recovery Court in Wartburg. After seven years in and out of jail, Barry Cunningham, 29, of Maryville, has spent almost 11 months at the recovery court.
DCS reports 2 hanging deaths at detention facility (Tennessean/Wadhwani)
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the deaths of two teens in separate apparent suicides within a three-week span at a Department of Children’s Services facility that houses delinquent youth from across the state. On Friday, staff at Mountain View Youth Development Center in East Tennessee discovered an unconscious 18-year-old who is believed to have hanged himself by tying a bed sheet to a wall-mounted bracket in his room. He died the next day at a local hospital. DCS officials have not released his name but said he was from White County and that staff were unaware of any previous signs he wanted to harm himself. On July 13, a 16-year-old boy fatally hanged himself in his room as other teens left to shower, according to DCS officials.
TBI asked to probe hanging deaths (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Balloch)
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been asked to look into the separate and apparently unrelated deaths of two teenage inmates at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Dandridge. Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry requested the investigation, a department spokesman confirmed Wednesday. Both victims appear to have taken their own lives by hanging. A 16-year-old inmate apparently hanged himself July 13 and died the following day. On Aug. 1, an 18-year-old resident apparently hanged himself and died the next day.
State to co-sponsor genealogy events next month (Associated Press)
The Tennessee State Library and Archives and Ancestry.com are collaborating on genealogy events in Nashville next month. Beginning Sept. 16, special lectures and research assistance are scheduled each day at TSLA’s building directly west of the state Capitol in downtown Nashville. On Sept. 20, a full day of presentations designed to help family historians trace their roots will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Nashville. Presentations at the event will include information about using “old fashioned” research in libraries and archives, as well as focusing on online resources.
Finney: Jackson residents ‘ready for new leadership’ (Jackson Sun)
State Sen. Lowe Finney told The Jackson Sun on Wednesday that he will run for mayor of Jackson in the May 2015 election. Finney has served as state senator in District 27 for eight years. He is not seeking re-election to the Senate, and his current term will end after a new senator is elected on Nov. 4. Finney said that he and his wife, Tiffany, have been contemplating his running for mayor for several months. He said they both are ready and that they know how to win. “We care about the future of the city,” he said. “We care about this crime problem that is going on, and we want to see that in the years ahead that the next mayor is looking forward to the next 10 to 20 years with that vision.”
Pleasant View to vote on wine in grocery stores (Ashland City Times)
The town of Pleasant View will have the wine in grocery store referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. Similar petitions are still circulating in Ashland City and Kingston Springs. Under the state law, the referendum can only be on the ballot within Tennessee jurisdictions that have passed measures allowing liquor by the drink or package liquor stores. Local petitions must be signed by a number of registered voters in municipalities equal to 10 percent of a city’s registered voters who cast ballots in the last Tennessee gubernatorial election. Cheatham County administrator of elections Sandy Cherry said Pleasant View needed 137 signatures on the petition, and the organizers had 145 good signatures to place the referendum on the ballot.
New Channon Christian law invoked for first time (News-Sentinel/Satterfield)
A new law passed in honor of a torture-slaying victim and designed to protect the good name of the innocent was invoked Wednesday — for the first time in the state — to shield the bad reputation of an alleged gang member. Knox County Assistant District Attorney General TaKisha Fitzgerald used the recently enacted Channon Christian Act to try to block a defense attorney from delving into the violent past of slaying victim Adairus Boatwright, also known as Adairus Sligh. The move came at a preliminary hearing in General Sessions Court for Marquail Patterson, 35, the alleged gunman in a July 26 shooting in a courtyard of a Cumberland Avenue dance club in which Boatwright was killed and four others wounded.
U.S. Senate, state Supreme Court and local elections highlight voting (CA/Locker)
Tennessee voters decide Thursday whether to retain or replace three state Supreme Court judges, whether U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander survives a tea-party challenge and whether several incumbent state legislators return to the statehouse. That’s in addition to the crowded county general and local judicial elections also on the ballot across the state. The election holds significance inside and outside Tennessee. It’s the tea party’s last chance at unseating an “establishment” Republican senator in this year’s GOP primaries, after repeated failures elsewhere: against Sens. John Cornyn in Texas, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Thad Cochran in Mississippi and Pat Roberts in Kansas.
Party heads hope for big turnout in Hamilton County election (TFP/Brogdon)
Area Republicans today will choose whether to back new blood in Congress or to give the incumbent another chance in November. The Hamilton County Commission primary upset that rocked District 1 could be derailed by an impromptu write-in campaign. And the same-sex domestic partnership debate will be settled — at least for Chattanooga, at least for now. Election day today features a big ballot and much at stake. Regionally, voters will decide to keep, ditch or pick party candidates for governor, U.S. senator and two congressmen.
Corker lights into Obama foreign policy (Tennessean/Barton)
Calling President Barack Obama’s foreign policy “hard to watch,” Sen. Bob Corker blasted it Wednesday in The Washington Post, saying Obama consistently fails to back up tough talk with action. Corker, from Tennessee and the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote an article that appeared on the newspaper’s op-ed page. “More often than not, the president doesn’t hit singles and doubles; he just balks,” he said. Corker reviewed Obama’s actions in a series of foreign policy crises dating back to the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 2011.
Sen. Alexander faces tea party-styled challengers (Associated Press)
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, a 40-year veteran of Tennessee politics, is facing a challenge Thursday from two tea party-styled candidates who have tried to cast him as out of touch with the state’s increasingly conservative electorate. Should state Rep. Joe Carr or Memphis radio station owner George Flinn prevail against Alexander on Thursday, they would be the first challenger to knock off an incumbent U.S. senator in this year’s midterm elections. So far this year, the argument that sitting senators have lost their connection with voters hasn’t been a winner. In Kentucky, the ultimate Senate insider, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had no trouble holding back tea party challenger Matt Bevin.
Carr or Lamar? Mindblowing Upset or Run-of-the-Mill Blowout? (TN Report)
Just hours before election day the GOP primary contest between incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tea-Party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr is still a tough call. Both candidates claim the winds of momentum are blowing in their favor, and there’s fair reason to conclude at this late hour that anything can still happen. Although a poll released last week by the Alexander campaign showed the longtime politician besting his closest opponent by more than two-to-one, Carr contended at a “Beat Lamar” rally in East Ridge over the weekend that the race is “very, very, very close.”
Fewer Uninsured Face Fines as Health Law’s Exemptions Swell (Wall St. Journal)
Almost 90% of the nation’s 30 million uninsured won’t pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 because of a growing batch of exemptions to the health-coverage requirement. The architects of the health law wanted most Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty. But an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said most of the uninsured will qualify for one or more exemptions. Daphne Gaines expects to be one of them. She said recently she got an electricity shut-off notice, which is one way Americans can get out of paying a fine.
TVA board to pick wind, solar or natural gas to replace Allen plant (TFP/Flessner)
The Tennessee Valley Authority will continue to move away from the coal-fired generation that once supplied most of its power when it likely shuts down the Allen Steam Plant in Memphis by 2018. But in deciding this month the fate of the three-unit coal plant in Memphis, TVA directors also will be asked to pick what type of power will replace the aging coal plant on the western edge of TVA’s seven-state region. The choice has sparked one of the most aggressive statewide campaigns in years by the Sierra Club of Tennessee and could generate a rare display of division among TVA’s board when utility directors next meet in Knoxville on Aug. 21 to adopt the fiscal 2015 budget.
Shelby County Schools raises bar for high-performing teachers (CA/Roberts)
In a few weeks, public school teachers will start having their first classroom observations, the formal review that counts up to half of their job review. In an era where pay and retention are tied to performance, teachers’ stomachs tighten at the prospect. The procedures in Shelby County Schools will look different this year. Teachers new to the profession will have four classroom visits instead of six, three of them unannounced. And to streamline the process, teachers will no longer be required to write self-observations or have pre-conference meetings with their principals. They will also be able to see how their principal scored the visit before the two meet to discuss the results, a change people on both sides say should lead to better discussions.
Editorial: Ouster campaign just political ploy (Daily News Journal)
If first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. That’s seems to be the motto of some legislative Republicans as they try to find some way to ensure selection of a state attorney general from the GOP ranks. Currently the state constitution stipulates that the state Supreme Court selects the attorney general So far, proposals have come for state voters’ direct election of the attorney general and for the two houses of the General Assembly, now with Republican supermajorities in each, to make the selection. Earlier this year, the first proposal failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate for passage.