This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Prescription laws begin taking hold (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Belz)
Three years ago, it was pretty easy for a patient to walk into a doctor’s office in Tennessee needing help with pain or anxiety, then walk back out with a prescription for a 90-day supply of Vicodin or Xanax. But today, patients who require regular refills of painkillers, anti-anxiety medicine and other controlled substances often face a series of hoops to get them. First, their drug history has to be checked in a statewide database. Every few months, they may be asked to take a urine sample for a drug screen. And even after all this, they will likely have to return to the doctor each time they need a 30-day refill.
Pellissippi offers sessions on Tennessee Promise (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
Pellissippi State Community College is offering more than a dozen information sessions to high school seniors interested in pursuing a degree through Tennessee Promise, the state’s new last-dollar scholarship program The free information sessions will take place over the next two months at each of the school’s five campuses. The first session is 6-7 p.m. today at the Goins Building Auditorium on the main Hardin Valley campus. Pellissippi staff will offer prospective students and their families details about the program requirements, various deadlines and the education offerings at the college…Tennessee Promise is modeled after a similar program that began in Knoxville several years ago.
Books from Birth anniversary tour rolls into Amazon Tuesday (Daily Banner)
The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) has launched its “Books from Birth 10th Anniversary Tour” visiting some 50 counties across the state in a 45-foot decorated touring coach. It will make a stop in Bradley County at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Charleston from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The “Books from Birth 10th Anniversary Tour” is being made possible in part through the generous support of the program’s bus tour partner, Delta Dental of Tennessee. The purpose of the “Books from Birth 10th Anniversary Tour” is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee and the more than 20 million books mailed to children since the program began.
UT Space Institute celebrates 50 years (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
The Tullahoma-based University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding this week. The graduate education and research facility was founded in 1964 to support Arnold Engineering Development Center and the nearby Arnold Air Force Base. AEDC is the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world. Officials say they plan to celebrate the “golden jubilee” with two days of events including tours, entertainment, fireworks, food and fun. Events kick off with a run/walk on Thursday.
UT wants to keep tax funds on ticket sales (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Witt)
Sports programs at the University of Tennessee would benefit by keeping tax revenue the school collects for Knoxville, according to a news release from the athletics department. Knoxville officials, however, said the city does not expect to give up money collected in amusement taxes each year. On Thursday, the athletics department sent a release titled “The Facts on the ‘Amusement Tax’ ” that called the tax “an annual $1.6 million financial burden to Tennessee athletics.” The amusement tax is a fee that the city receives from ticket sales to local amusements, including movie theaters and some UT athletics events.
Democrats Choose State Senate Nominee (Memphis Daily News)
When Shelby County Democratic Party leaders gather Monday, Sept. 8, to pick their party’s nominee in the November special general election for state Senate District 30, it will also be an indication of how deep the wounds run from the party’s disastrous August election outing. A group of executive committee members for the Shelby County Democratic Party will be picking the party’s nominee for the state Senate seat Democrat Jim Kyle gave up when he took office this month as a Shelby County Chancery Court judge. Republican steering committee members chose former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn Thursday as the Republican nominee.
Tennessee hasn’t inspected tobacco farms since 2006 (Tennessean/Wadhwani)
On a hot summer day last year, a 17-year-old migrant worker named Ivan Alavez was assigned to pull trays of tobacco seedlings from a makeshift shearing machine welded from an old lawnmower blade. But Alavez didn’t work quickly enough. The blade created to prune the new shoots instead sliced off three fingers of his right hand. Doctors couldn’t reattach them. Alavez, who had been living and working at the Macon County farm full time for seven months, was given a check for $100 and sent on his way. For the next few months, he was homeless. The lawsuit that an attorney for Alavez and six other teenage tobacco workers ultimately filed against Marty Coley Farms describes the accident.
‘Mobile’ Schools Use Technology to Break Free of the Classroom (Wall St. Journal)
Summer vacation is over for students at Houston’s A+ Unlimited Potential school, but they won’t be stuck in a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom all day. Instead, the middle school’s students will have class in places such as coffee shops, tapping into free wireless networks to collaboratively edit texts, or visit city parks to photograph wildflowers before researching them online. They will spend roughly half their time out and about, and the rest at a rented space in the heart of Houston’s Museum District. The private school of about 40 students, in its second year, is part of a range of experiments around the country that have students spending less time in classrooms, or even dismiss traditional classroom instruction altogether—pushing the boundaries of where, when and how students learn.
Political Shift Stalls Efforts to Overhaul Immigration (New York Times)
By the time Senator Angus King called the White House to warn President Obama against taking executive action to overhaul the immigration system, officials were well aware they had a problem on their hands. What had once looked like a clear political imperative for both parties — action to grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants — had morphed instead into what appeared to be a risky move that could cost Democrats their majority in the November midterm congressional elections. But Mr. King, a Maine independent who is a member of the Democratic caucus, warned Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, of yet another nightmare scenario: Unilateral action by the president might undermine the prospects for bipartisan agreement on a broad immigration overhaul for years to come.
Editorial: The Ebb and Flow of Health Spending (New York Times)
The latest federal estimates of health care spending offer some good news: The growth rate for spending in 2013 will remain at a low level for the fifth straight year. But the bad news is, spending is expected to rise faster than growth in the economy over the next 10 years. The big unanswered question is what role the Affordable Care Act has played and will play in prodding the health care system to adopt more efficient practices. The act uses competition among insurers and providers to hold costs down, offers free preventive services to head off more serious illnesses, and has started pilot projects to test new ways of paying doctors to manage a patient’s care, which will likely reduce needless hospitalizations and emergency room visits.