This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Career school programs, perceptions changing (Knoxville News-Sentinel/McCoy)
On Friday, students with the Career Magnet Academy checked their schedules and made their way to the next class and on to meet the next teacher. They are the pioneers, as officials called them at the ribbon-cutting for Knox County Schools’ newest high school — not just in the county, but in the state. The school, which will be officially named at a later date, is located on the Strawberry Plains campus of Pellissippi Sate Community College. It’s opening with 127 students and is the latest school that will include one-to-one technology for both teachers and students. The first day of classes for Knox County students is Monday.
Prayer event draws parents, students across Middle Tennessee (Tenn/Walters)
Jack Phillips is just 18 months old and still too small for a school backpack, but his mother, Amanda Phillips, is already praying about his academic future. “I hope he gets lots of wisdom,” said Phillips, 29. “That’s the most important thing you can pray for, and that he makes the right choices.” Phillips joined about 30 parents Sunday afternoon at Nashville’s Granbery Elementary as part of the first statewide “Day of Prayer Over Students Across Tennessee” event. Her son Jack is slated to eventually attend Granbery. Created by the proclamation of Gov. Bill Haslam, the public prayer event drew hundreds of parents, teachers and students at more than 80 campuses across the six-county Middle Tennessee region and elsewhere across Tennessee.
THP uses pilot program to increase traffic safety (Associated Press)
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is testing a software system that aims to increase the safety of motorists and decrease the number of crashes. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the agency has been piloting a system called Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History, or CRASH, over the last six months. The software helps analysts predict the spots where crashes are likely to occur. The system has been accurate about three-fourths of the time in the six months that THP has been using it. With the program in use, the THP can send troopers to spots where problems have been predicted and they can either stop them from happening or be on hand immediately to help. The agency also has started a model aimed at predicting when and where to find intoxicated drivers. Each day, the program predicts where the greatest traffic risks are in different blocks of the state.
PAC wars: Results mixed in new aggressive campaign support (N-S/Humphrey)
Six incumbent Republican legislators were defeated in last week’s primary elections and several others survived aggressive challenges funded by political action committees, possibly creating new animosities that could intensify ideological warfare within the General Assembly’s supermajority. “I think we can still come together as a (House Republican) Caucus, if we communicate,” said House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, acknowledging the new wave of independent expenditures by PACs in primaries — much of it devoted to attack advertising — has created some unease. “No politician likes the idea of somebody coming in and spending thousands and thousands of dollars against you,” he said.
DesJarlais, Tracy campaigns seek legal counsel (Associated Press)
The campaign of scandal-battered U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais said it’s consulting with election attorneys in case the incumbent’s 35-vote lead over his opponent in the Republican primary is challenged. “We want to protect the integrity of the process and when it’s a close election like this, we don’t know what the other party is going to do in this case,” DesJarlais told WKRN-TV over the weekend. “Unfortunately you have to reach out to make sure you are properly represented.” DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson told the television station the campaign is taking “every precaution to preserve the integrity of this result, and if that means bringing in legal counsel, we are prepared to do that.”
4th District Democratic nominee, Sherrell, off and running (Times Free-Press/Sher)
While the Republican candidates lawyer up to determine who won their squeaker of a 4th Congressional District GOP primary, Democratic nominee Lenda Sherrell is happily off and running to the Nov. 4 general election. “Once the [GOP] primary is decided we’re ready to take on whoever it is,” Sherrell said in an interview Friday. “I’m ready to challenge [the winner] to a series of debates so that voters have the necessary information to choose the best candidate.” Today, the Monteagle resident kicks off a “listening tour” of the district, which includes all or parts of 16 counties including Bradley, Rhea, Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie, Warren, Franklin and Rutherford.
CoverKids funding runs out in September 2015 (Tennessean/Wilemon)
Money that provides health insurance to 68,000 children in Tennessee through CoverKids ends in September unless Congress renews funding for the program. It’s a program that many working parents with moderate incomes depend upon to keep their children healthy. CoverKids, which is Tennessee’s verison of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is available for a family of four making up to $59,628 a year. Ron Pollack, president of Families USA, said he’s worried that political gridlock in Congress could put health coverage in jeopardy for as many as 2 million children. It could cost a family as much as $16,000 a year to buy coverage on the private market, he said.
Middle Tennessee project draws federal funding (Associated Press)
A project in Middle Tennessee is among those receiving $14 million in federal funding.cThe U.S. Forest Service will award the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for seven Forest Legacy Program projects.cIn Tennessee, $1.87 million is going to the Carter Mountain Working Forest Conservation Easement. The U.S. Agriculture Department says the project will protect 4,800 acres of prime developable forest land. According to a news release, the property includes diverse and highly productive forests, more than 10 miles of scenic bluff views, two federally endangered species, 10 vernal pool wetlands and more than 10 miles of headwater streams.
Midterms Give Parties Chance for Sweeping Control of States (New York Times)
It was over 100 degrees here the other evening, but inside a buzzing office tucked away on a stretch of gun stores and pornography shops, Democrats were staring into computer screens and talking urgently into cellphones. The stakes were high: The Nevada Senate, which Democrats control by a single seat, could very well shift into Republican hands after November. “Hi, this is Justin Jones; I’m your state senator,” said Mr. Jones, a Democrat who won by only 301 votes two years ago. “We have a really important election campaign coming up this fall. I wanted to see if I could count on your support.” Pause. “Great, Ronald, that’s fantastic.”
TVA faces challenge as customers become energy sufficient (N-S/Marcum)
TVA faces challenge as customers become energy sufficient It used to be, the electrons only went in one direction — from TVA to its customers — but now it’s not so simple, said Joe Hoagland, TVA vice president for stakeholder relations More and more, the electrons are coming back to TVA as well, as more people install solar panels, companies use gas-powered generators and people use technology to become electrically self-sufficient and sell power back to the power company. This practice is called distributed generation. It’s a trend that many homeowners, businesses and environmentalists love, but some see it as a growing threat to the business model of electric utilities such as TVA.
Nashville Rent Increases Have Residents Singing the Blues (Wall Street Journal)
Lydia Harrell worries it is only a matter of time before she gets priced out of the red-hot apartment market here. Since she moved to the heart of the country-music scene two years ago, her monthly rent has risen 22% from $750 to just over $900. A few months ago, she and her roommate considered moving to a different building, but they discovered that similar downtown apartments were renting for well over $1,000. “It’s starting to get a little crazy. If it gets any higher we’ll have to go somewhere else,” said Ms. Harrell, a 24-year-old graphic designer at a health-care-technology firm. “It’s not New York, but it’s going in that direction.”
Districts to muddle through Common Core confusion (News-Sentinel/McCoy)
Last year, school districts across the state, including Knox County, were preparing to switch from taking TCAPs to the new testing that is supposed to be aligned with new Common Core state standards — from updating infrastructures of school for online testing to scheduling practice assessments. But a move during Legislature’s session earlier this year put a halt on the new assessment, known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, leaving school systems with new standards and an old test for at least another year, if not longer.
Editorial: Campfield’s ouster clears way for more dignified politics (N-S)
State Sen. Stacey Campfield has been barred from joining the Legislature’s Black Caucus, escorted by police out of Neyland Stadium and booted from the Bistro at the Bijou restaurant; now Republican voters have kicked the controversial lawmaker out of office. Dr. Richard Briggs trounced Campfield for the Republican nomination for the 7th District Senate seat on Thursday. A heart surgeon, Knox County commissioner and decorated war veteran, Briggs will be a serious candidate for a serious position in the November general election. Briggs garnered 67 percent of the vote in unofficial results, while Campfield finished with a mere 28 percent.
Editorial: A credibility fix for county elections (Commercial Appeal)
Voting machines that produce a verifiable paper trail would go a long way toward reinforcing confidence in the Shelby County Election Commission and should become a top priority of the commission before the next major federal and state elections roll around in 2016. The money is there for what are known as optical scan voting machines, which would replace the current touch-screen machines used in Shelby County. Documented cases in such diverse locations as New York, Ohio, Arkansas and here in Tennessee have demonstrated that the equipment in use here today is more vulnerable than optical scan machines to malfunction or sabotage. The Shelby County Commission has set aside $1.2 million for the purchase of better equipment.