This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
In a major policy move, Gov. Bill Haslam has announced the new Insure Tennessee plan, a two-year pilot program that would provide health care coverage to tens of thousands of Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options. The plan would be leveraged with federal dollars, said Haslam, who has been working for more than a year on a Medicaid expansion plan that could gain approval from both federal officials and the Republican-dominated state legislature. “We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said. “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution. Our approach is responsible and reasonable, and I truly believe that it can be a catalyst to fundamentally changing health care in Tennessee,” Haslam said.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled his proposed alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion, a two-year pilot program dubbed “Insure Tennessee.” Haslam said the program “rewards healthy behaviors,” and “incentivizes choosing preventative and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms.” “We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said in a prepared statement. “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution.” The Insure Tennessee program will set up two new coverage options for Tennesseeans below 138 percent of poverty — which is $16,100 for an individual and $27,300 for a family of three.
Tennesseans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford their own health insurance could be eligible for a new health-coverage plan proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam, if the state Legislature approves it in early 2015. The governor on Monday unveiled the alternative approach to Medicaid expansion that he negotiated with President Obama’s administration: a two-year pilot program he’s calling Insure Tennessee that could include up to 200,000 low-income working Tennesseans now without health insurance. At the end of two years, state officials would evaluate its performance and costs and decide whether to seek an extension from the federal government, which will pay most of its costs. Haslam and federal health officials agreed on the plan Friday, he said, after nearly two years of off-and-on discussions.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that he has reached a deal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee after more than a year of discussions with federal officials. The Republican’s administration touted the plan as an alternative deal with federal officials. The two-year pilot program, dubbed Insure Tennessee, would provide coverage for the state’s uninsured without creating new taxes for Tennesseans. “Our approach is responsible and reasonable, and I truly believe that it can be a catalyst to fundamentally changing health care in Tennessee,” Haslam said. The program offers several options of coverage for individuals below 138 percent of the federal poverty level – which works out to $16,100 for an individual and $27,300 for a family of three.
Gov. Bill Haslam isn’t asking for commitments from legislators yet — nor has he filed an official waiver with the federal government — but he has a plan for expanding health care coverage to more than 200,000 low-income people in Tennessee. His plan includes a two-year pilot program to reap millions of available federal dollars to create two new private market choices for people who are either not eligible for TennCare, not eligible for tax credits for buy health insurance on the federal marketplace or who cannot afford coverage. “Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I think you can agree that we’re not going to contain costs in our health care system until incentives are better aligned than they are now,” Haslam said at an announcement Monday.
Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that he’s reached a deal with the Obama administration to allow the state to access hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to subsidize health coverage for lower-income Tennesseans. For nearly two years the Republican governor’s administration has been working on a Tennessee-specific proposal to draw down federal Medicaid expansion funds under Obamacare. Haslam has said he’s uninterested in simply expanding the rolls of Tennesseans dependent on government-financed health care. He’s said he instead wants to “promote personal responsibility” by encouraging healthy behaviors and smart medical care decisions. Haslam said Monday at the Capitol that what they have come up with is “a plan that would leverage those federal dollars and really begin the work of fixing what is wrong with our health care system, to better align incentives between providers and consumers.”
Leaders with the region’s two health care system’s applauded Gov. Bill Haslam’s announcement Monday that he has reached a deal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee after more than a year of discussions with federal officials. The Republican’s administration touted the plan as an alternative deal with federal officials. The two-year pilot program, dubbed Insure Tennessee, would provide coverage for the state’s uninsured without creating new taxes for Tennesseans. “Our approach is responsible and reasonable, and I truly believe that it can be a catalyst to fundamentally changing health care in Tennessee,” Haslam said. Alan Levine, CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance, said that while details are still being worked out, “we are encouraged that the governor and legislature, rather than expanding a flawed program, have chosen a path toward a market-based solution that puts consumers in control of their families’ health care decisions, and engages them as participants in their care …”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his proposal for a two-year pilot program to expand health insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of state residents using federal dollars provided through the Affordable Care Act. In a called press conference, Haslam outlined the two points of the plan that he intends to propose to state lawmakers during a special session of the legislature early next year. Under what he calls Insure Tennessee, residents with a yearly salary below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, under $16,100 for individuals and less than $27,300 for a family of three, can enroll in coverage through one of two options.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday unveiled a two-year pilot program to provide health care coverage to Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options. Called Insure Tennessee, the program rewards healthy behaviors, prepares members to transition to private coverage, promotes personal responsibility and incentivizes choosing preventative and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms. The governor announced that he plans to call a special session to focus on the proposal after the 109th General Assembly convenes in January. “We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said. “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution.”
Governor Bill Haslam just announced a two-year pilot program for health care coverage. Haslam has been working on a Medicaid expansion for several years. The governor announced that he plans to call a special session to focus on the proposal in January. “We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said in a statement. “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution. This plan leverages federal dollars to provide health care coverage to more Tennesseans, to give people a choice in their coverage, and to address the cost of health care, better health outcomes and personal responsibility.
Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a plan on Monday to pursue federal Medicaid expansion dollars to provide health coverage to more Tennesseans. The proposal comes a year and a half after the governor rejected the funds while his administration devised a Tennessee-specific plan. One key reason Haslam is touting the plan is that the Tennessee Hospital Association, not state taxpayers, will pay for the percentage of the program not covered by the federal government. It’s an arrangement that has not been tested in other states. Under President Obama’s healthcare law, the federal government covers the entire cost of the program for the first three years — and there’s about 18 months remaining — and from there, at least 90 percent of the program is paid for federally.
Tennessee is the latest conservative state to pursue Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. It just doesn’t want to call it that. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a proposal Monday morning to expand coverage up to 138 percent of the poverty level as spelled out in the federal health law, opening the door to billions of dollars in federal funding through the Affordable Care Act. Yet like several Republican governors before him, Haslam faces uncertain prospects as he tries to secure legislative approval in 2015 for the plan, called Insure Tennessee. His state is not eager to embrace the president’s health law, or even its language. “We aren’t expanding Medicaid,” Haslam spokeswoman Laura Herzog said.
Tennessee has struck a tentative deal with the federal government to become the latest red state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) announced Monday. Haslam said he has received “verbal approval” from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to move forward with a new pilot plan to help about 200,000 low-income Tennesseans gain coverage. The state’s plan veers from the traditional route of expanding Medicaid, and is on track to receive a windfall of federal dollars. “We believe Tennessee has generally described an approach that could be approvable,” an HHS spokesman told The Hill. The Republican governor said he will call a special legislative session early next year because “something this important to this many Tennesseans should have its own focus.” “I truly believe Ensure Tennessee can be a catalyst to fundamentally changing healthcare in Tennessee,” Haslam said in a briefing Monday about one month after he coasted through reelection.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday became the latest Republican governor to announce support of the health-care law’s Medicaid expansion — and the third since Republicans gained more power at the state and federal levels in the November midterm elections. Like most other Republican governors who want to take the Affordable Care Act’s generous federal funding, Haslam is offering a plan that deviates from the Medicaid expansion envisioned under the law. Haslam, who made the announcement almost a month after his reelection, said the Obama administration has verbally approved the approach.
Under mounting pressure from financially strapped hospitals, Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee proposed on Monday an alternative plan for expanding Medicaid that he said would bring health coverage to tens of thousands more poor residents of his state without following traditional Medicaid rules. Mr. Haslam, a Republican, made clear that he still opposed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which encourages states to expand Medicaid to everyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,105 for a single person. Nonetheless, he proposed using federal Medicaid funds available under the law to cover some 200,000 low-income residents through their employer’s health insurance plan or the state’s Medicaid program.
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday announced a plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in a deal aimed at extending insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of poor residents. The news comes after months of wrestling between Mr. Haslam and the Obama administration. If finalized, it would make Tennessee the 28th state to expand Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, to residents with incomes near the federal poverty level. The expansion must be approved by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, and requires a final signoff by the Obama administration. Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who leads the state senate, praised the plan Monday, saying it had “conservative principles” and was “an opportunity that must be taken seriously.”
The more red-state governors embrace Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, the harder it is for the dead-enders to rationalize their obstinacy. Take Tennessee, for example, where the Commercial Appeal in Memphis reports this morning on another step forward for the policy. Gov. Bill Haslam plans to introduce his Insure Tennessee plan, an alternative to expanding the state’s Medicaid program, at a special session of the legislature in January. Monday, the governor’s administration described a two-year pilot program that “rewards healthy behaviors, prepares members to transition to private coverage, promotes personal responsibility and incentivizes choosing preventative and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms.”
When Gov. Bill Haslam announced his plan for Medicaid expansion in Tennessee on Monday morning, he was surrounded by some of the area’s biggest health care players: HCA Holdings CEO Milton Johnson, LifePoint Hospitals CEO Bill Carpenter and Saint Thomas Health CEO Mike Schatzlein, along with many others. The crew of health care heavyweights represented both the groups that, through the Tennessee Hospital Association, will financially support Haslam’s plan if it incurs costs beyond what’s covered by federal funding, but also those poised to immediately benefit from a potential influx of newly insured patients. For months, the heads of Nashville’s publicly traded hospital companies have spent time on investor conference calls celebrating the benefits of reform on their bottom lines, especially in states that expanded Medicaid.
Insure Tennessee continues to win new fans, even if all of the details aren’t out yet. The plan, which was announced by Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday, is expected to insure at least 200,000 currently uninsured Tennesseans. Increasing the insurance rolls would be a huge benefit for Regional One Health, one of several reasons why Reginald Coopwood, the hospital’s president and CEO, was in Nashville for the announcement. “We support this action as it increases access to health care in the Memphis area and across Tennessee,” Coopwood said. “This approach will help us work with patients to manage their health and make sure they receive the right care in the right setting.”
Although details are yet to come, health care executives and policy experts in Memphis applauded Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for crafting a pilot program that could allow the state to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. “I guess I would put it as a win-win for everybody involved, if the legislature will pass it,” said Paige Powell, assistant professor of health systems management and police at the University of Memphis School of Public Health. “Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Plan is innovative and fiscally responsible,” said Cyril Chang, economics professor at the U of M Fogelman College of Business and Economics and director of Methodist Le Bonheur Center for Healthcare Economics.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee received bipartisan support Monday from West Tennessee legislators. Bobby Arnold, president and chief executive officer of West Tennessee Healthcare, also said he was pleased and thankful for Haslam’s proposal. State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge and state Sen.-elect Ed Jackson, Republicans from Jackson, and State Rep. Johnny Shaw, a Democrat from Bolivar, said they would likely vote for the plan. “At this point I’d say yes I am,” Eldridge said. “But we still have to get into the details of it. From what I know now, it’s something I can vote and support, absolutely.” “It’s a good start,” Shaw said. “I’m not sure what it will all amount to in the end. … But, above all, I praise the governor for a job well done.”
Gov. Bill Haslam had to devise a plan that would satisfy federal guidelines for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, he needs approval from state lawmakers opposed to Obamacare. The task is made harder by Tennessee’s history of having tried and failed to expand its Medicaid program. 1994: Tennessee launches an ambitious expansion of its Medicaid program under Gov. Ned McWherter, a Democrat. The new program is christened TennCare. 1997: Managed Care Organizations that contract with the state to administer care of TennCare recipients begin to lose money. 2003: Huge cost overruns force the state to start limiting access. 2005-2010: TennCare enrollment plunges by 190,000 people as the state forces people off the rolls. March 2010: President Obama signs into law the Affordable Care Act, which gives states little choice other than to expand Medicaid eligibility to people who have been excluded in the past. States that do not expand would lose existing Medicaid funding.
Low-wage workers: People who cannot afford to buy into their employer-based health insurance get vouchers through the Volunteer Plan for premiums and co-pays. Unemployed and others: Tennessee would expand coverage to people who have been excluded in the past, such as adults without Medicaid-eligible children. Now adults without children and those without disabilities would qualify for the Healthy Incentives Plan, which encourages people to take preventive health actions and use emergency rooms appropriately. Tennessee taxpayers: Governor Haslam’s plan for expanded health coverage will cost Tennessee taxpayers no additional money, nor will any of the money for expanded coverage come from state coffers. Hospitals: Tennessee hospitals would pick up the state’s share of the cost for expanding coverage because they get $9 back from the federal government for every $1 they spend as opposed to getting nothing for caring for the uninsured. Hospitals would send tens of millions of dollars to the state through an expansion of the “enhanced coverage fee,” which is a similar to a bed tax.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” proposal to expand Medicaid sets the state apart from most of its neighbors. Of the eight states that surround Tennessee only two — Arkansas and Kentucky — have implemented a Medicaid expansion. Haslam’s plan has features similar to programs in Indiana and Utah although each state, as expected, has an individual recipe. Here’s what Tennessee’s neighbors are doing: Alabama – Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, said to state legislators on Dec. 11 that he is open to expanding the state’s Medicaid program if the plan is designed by the state and requires people to work. Arkansas – Expansion took effect Jan. 1, 2014. An amendment for 2015 has been on the table. Georgia – No expansion plans at this time Kentucky – Expansion took effect Jan. 1, 2014. Mississippi – No expansion plans at this time Missouri – No expansion plans at this time.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday plans to expand Medicaid in Tennessee through a new program called Insure Tennessee. The program expands Medicaid coverage to households with income up to 138 percent of the poverty level. Insure Tennessee is a two-track approach where eligible individuals can either receive federal funding to purchase private plans managed by insurance companies, or earn money in a health savings account to pay for premiums and copays by completing risk assessments and receiving preventative care. Here are some reactions following the news.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais expressed the following reservations about Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam‘s proposal to expand Medicaid: “I am reading through the governor’s proposal now,” said DesJarlais, a physician and a fellow Republican from South Pittsburg. “But I will say I am extremely apprehensive of any plan that relies on federal taxpayer dollars derived from ObamaCare.”
Gov. Bill Haslam hopes to announce his replacement for the department–and controversial–state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman by Christmas. “I hope to have somebody announced by Christmas. We’re in late discussions there,” Haslam told The Tennessean editorial board Monday. The governor provided few other details about the ongoing process to pick a new education chief. Haslam announced in November Huffman would not return for the governor’s second term. Huffman served throughout Haslam’s first term: while the state made gains on standardized test scores during his tenure, some of the reforms and strategies he implemented angered teachers unions, superintendents and at times both Republicans and Democrats.
Yamaha Jet Boat Manufacturing USA is expanding its production facility in East Tennessee, creating 150 new jobs. The company announced it will spend about $18 million to buy a 36,000-square-foot building next to its current plant in Vonore that will be used for offices and production. The company plans to begin operating in the new location by the end of next year, with production scheduled to begin in the second half of 2016. State economic development officials planned to seek approval from the State Funding Board on Tuesday for a Fast Track grant of $870,000 for Yamaha to expand. Yamaha is the largest manufacturer of 19- to 24-foot sport boats in the United States.
America’s biggest manufacturer of midsize sports boats is riding the rising economic tide with plans for a $17.7 million expansion of its boat production plant in Vonore, Tenn. Yamaha Jet Boat Manufacturing USA announced Monday it will buy a building adjacent to its current facility in Monroe County and add 150 jobs by the end of next year. The new production site should be operational by the end of 2015 and boat building should begin in mid- to late-2016.
Target Corp. was awarded $2.2 million worth of state incentives for its proposed 462-employee Memphis distribution center, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development said Monday. Target last week announced it would open a $52 million online fulfillment center in a 900,000-squre-foot building near the airport and ramp up to full employment within five years. Wages would average $15.60 per hour for all 462 hourly and salaried workers. The company is expected to receive property tax abatement from Memphis and Shelby County on the building. The state grant would assist Target with construction.
Memphis and Shelby County are offering generous tax incentives to attract and retain hundreds of jobs. Discount retailer Target and Cummins Inc. are seeking tax breaks for projects that total 1,429 jobs. Target could receive a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-tax abatement, or PILOT, for a $52 million online fulfillment center that will employ 462 people. The PILOT would save Target around $12 million over 15 years while producing a local tax benefit of $27.2 million, according to the city-county Economic Development Growth Engine. The average annual wage for the jobs would be $28,456. Target announced Thursday, Dec. 11, that it plans on leasing the 900,000-square-foot building at 5461 Davidson Road in Southeast Memphis for the fulfillment center.
A new multi-state lottery game aimed at doling out more $1 million prizes is being suspended after just two months because of lower-than-expected ticket sales, officials announced Monday. The Monopoly Millionaires’ Club game was suspended indefinitely after state lottery officials decided ticket sales were below industry expectations, said Terry Rich, president of the North American Lottery Group and CEO of the Iowa Lottery. The game’s future was also put into question after the Texas Lottery announced on Thursday that it was suspending ticket sales. “We have a small dedicated group of players who really enjoy the game,” Rich said. “The dilemma is that’s a small dedicated group. It just didn’t meet the sales expectations.”
A Surgoinsville dentist known for placing a massive array of Christmas lights in front of his home every holiday season found himself on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s naughty list Monday. Dr. Ronald David James, 63, 4519 Highway 11-W, Surgoinsville, was arrested Monday afternoon on a 12-count Hawkins County grand jury indictment warrant accusing him of writing narcotic prescriptions for one person when he knew the pills were going to another person. James was named in a sealed Dec. 8 indictment on six counts of TennCare fraud, which are Class E felonies punishable by 1-2 years, and six counts of unlawful dispensing of a controlled substance, which are Class D felonies punishable by 2-4 years. The allegations were brought to the grand jury following a TBI investigation.
TennCare fraud charges have been filed against six people after a Dyer County grand jury issued indictments based on evidence from the Office of Inspector and the Dyersburg Police Department, according to a news release today. The charges involve the resale of prescription drugs paid for with TennCare benefits and doctor shopping. “Local investigators, like those in the Dyersburg P.D., are the key to building cases and helping us make these arrests,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “This operation is a direct result of the time and hard work that Dyersburg officers invested in identifying prescription drug seekers and getting them off the street.
The Tennessee Attorney General is fighting to keep marriage in the Volunteer State between “one man and one woman.” Three gay couples here and those in three other states petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case and reverse a November appeals court decision upholding Tennessee’s ban on gay marriage. The Attorney General responded to that petition on Monday, asking the nation’s highest court not to accept the case. Proponents of gay marriage say a split among appellate courts on the issue means the Supreme Court is likely to decide the issue of gay marriage when it has previously declined to do so. But Tennessee’s legal team says the court regularly declines cases in such circumstances and should do that once again. In court filings, the state argues that the 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act is the same decision that leaves the definition of marriage up to the states.
The Tennessee attorney general has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the validity of the Nov. 4 vote in favor of Amendment 1, a measure giving state lawmakers more authority to enact abortion restrictions. Amendment 1 passed with 53 percent of the vote. Three days after Election Day, opponents of the measure filed a federal lawsuit challenging the method election officials used to count the ballot measure votes. The lawsuit asks the court to intervene to either force a recount of the vote or to invalidate it. The state constitution says voters “must approve and ratify an amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor.”
Despite Republicans’ overwhelming majority in the state legislature, Rep. Sheila Butt feels like her party could be vulnerable. The potential culprit, she says, could come from Democrats infiltrating Republican primaries. She says this scenario recently played out in a local mayor’s race in Maury County, and she wants to know if it’s more widespread. “In our family, at home, our family made our decisions,” she said. “I think it might be time in the state of Tennessee for our Republican family and Democratic family to make those decisions.” At a Republican Executive Committee meeting this month, members grew raucous with interruptions and shouts when the issue of closing primaries was raised. Rep. Butt is asking the committee for their recommendation on the matter before she files a bill.
Moments before Xavier McDonald died in a shootout with police, his mother, Natacha McDonald, pleaded with the 16-year-old to surrender. The teen had barricaded himself in the bathroom of a Nashboro Village condo Sunday night when police arrived as part of an investigation into an armed robbery. He had a semiautomatic gun tucked into his waistband, police said. Through the bathroom door, Sgt. Michelle Jones could hear the muffled sound of McDonald’s mother sobbing over a speaker phone, Jones told detectives later. “You need to come on out. Stop doing this. This is not worth it,” Jones heard the mother say, according to her interview with investigators after the shooting.
Tennessee’s two Republican senators came down on opposing sides of the $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed over the weekend. Bob Corker voted against the legislation, saying it set a “regrettable precedent of spending above the budget levels established by the original Budget Control Act without proper offsets elsewhere in the budget.” Lamar Alexander saw the facts a bit differently, saying the legislation does meet the caps set in 2011. He says the budget bill “helps keep spending in check,” while also funding two big projects in the state. They include a proposal to build the world’s fastest supercomputer and at Oak Ridge National Lab and a Uranium Processing Facility at nearby Y-12.
If the first round of open enrollment for Obamacare was any indication, Antioch may have the highest number of people in the state using the federal marketplace to get health insurance. During that first round, which ran from October to March, nearly 2,900 residents living in Antioch and Cane Ridge signed up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act as of April. ZIP code 37013 had more than double the signups of any other ZIP code in the state, except the neighboring 37211. That area also has one of the highest uninsured rates in Tennessee. Jackie Shrago, a volunteer who’s been guiding people through the signup process, said many immigrants living there work multiple part-time jobs without benefits.
UT-Battelle, the partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle that manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, received high performance grades and a fee of $10.53 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. ORNL Director Thom Mason was notified of the performance evaluation in a Dec. 8 letter from Johnny Moore, DOE’s site manager. UT-Battelle, which has managed ORNL since 2000, received an overall performance score of 94 out of 100. That included “A-” grades in multiple categories, such as mission accomplishments, management of science and technology projects, contractor leadership, and facilities maintenance and infrastructure.
TVA is backing off a controversial part of its tree-cutting policy, and some plaintiffs who are suing the agency over that policy see the move as a victory. The Tennessee Valley Authority has dropped a rule calling for the removal of any tree within its power line easements that would be able to grow more than 15 feet high. This was a key point of the conflict between homeowners and TVA, said Vance Sherwood, whose wife, Donna Sherwood, is one of the plaintiffs. “We never expected we would win this thing, but it looks like we actually won,” Vance Sherwood said Monday. TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said Monday that TVA tree-cutting practices have reverted to what they were before the 15-foot rule. This called for limiting vegetation to low-growing plants under the lines. Along the border of the easement, trees might be spared if property owners agreed to keep them trimmed to TVA specifications.
The United Auto Workers’ recent recognition at VW in Tennessee – though short of collective bargaining – may make future unionizing more difficult in the region. That’s the opinion of UAW president Dennis Williams, who briefed reporters Monday. “We believe that every time we organize in the south, it’s going to get more difficult, not easier, because of the outside interests,” Williams said. The UAW expects even more resistance from Republican officials as the union ramps up pressure at Mercedes in Alabama and Nissan in Mississippi. So far, the UAW has not thrown a lot of weight into organizing at the largest foreign-owned plant in the U.S., which is Nissan’s Smyrna facility. It’s been more than a decade since the union held a vote there. Since then, Williams says Nissan has made it more difficult with its heavy use of temporary workers.
Nashville mom allegedly turned violent after she was told she couldn’t have her baby. Police have arrested her for last week’s shooting at the Department of Children’s Services building in downtown Nashville. According to police, 30-year-old Yolanda Trice was told that her baby, who was at Tri-Star Centennial for an unknown reason, was going to be placed into foster care. After becoming angry at the DCS worker, Trice left the DCS building on 2nd Avenue North. She then allegedly came back Thursday night with a gun. A witness reported to police that he heard multiple gunshots being fired at the building, and actually saw the female shooter walk right past him, wearing a white fur-lined winter jacket. . Police were called, but the shooter had fled the scene.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Thursday asked state Auditor Adam Edelen to conduct a performance audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, citing the “significant threat” posed by $13.9 billion in unfunded state pension obligations. “The business community is concerned about the overall financial condition of our state, and we feel like we need to add our voice to some of the conversation that has been going on for some of the last few months,” Chamber president Dave Adkisson told reporters. A fast-growing share of the state budget is being consumed by pension costs even as the system’s debts are damaging the state’s credit rating, making it more expensive for government agencies and other public entities in Kentucky to borrow money, Adkisson said.
In a state with a long history of lousy education, and a bad habit of not paying for it, nowhere is the problem as profound as in this tiny town smack in the middle of Mississippi. Durant Public School teachers spend their nights searching for math and other problems on the Internet because the school can’t afford up-to-date textbooks. School leaders can’t pay for reading coaches. There’s a leaky roof and crumbling ceiling tiles, no marching band and no advanced placement classes to help raise the district’s “D” academic rating. To save money, the number of teachers and their assistants were reduced and administrators took pay cuts. The troubles in this town of 2,700, where the closest Walmart is about 20 miles away, illustrate the pressures across Mississippi.
Add Rhode Island to the growing list of states and localities trying to increase college attendance and graduation rates by giving every child a savings account. Governor-elect Gina Raimondo, also the outgoing state treasurer, announced last week a new initiative that could result in anyone born in Rhode Island after December 2014 receiving $100 to begin saving for college. Raimondo is targeting the high cost of college as part of a larger strategy to tackle the state’s stubborn economic woes. Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains above its pre-recession level, roughly a percentage point higher than the national average. While Raimondo did not campaign on college savings accounts, she said the program fits with her larger message of educating and training her state’s workforce so that they can get jobs.
Gov. Bill Haslam took a bold step forward for the health of Tennesseans by announcing his plan to provide coverage for some 200,000 residents who presently currently can’t afford any or adequate insurance. They may earn too little to pay for insurance, co-pays and/or premiums. Or they may not qualify at all for TennCare, which covers children, pregnant women and people with disabilities. The reality is that access to the health care system for most people, aside from emergencies, requires insurance and the ability to pay for it. These people — whose incomes are below 138 percent of the poverty line ($16,100 for an individual or $27,000 for a family of three) — fall into a gap created when the Supreme Court ruled that while the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was constitutional, requiring states to expand Medicaid programs was not.
We are excited that Gov. Bill Haslam has finalized a plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. Haslam announced his Insure Tennessee plan Monday morning in Nashville. The plan would operate differently than traditional Medicaid, with a focus on providing private market choices for the working poor and others who can’t afford health insurance. The plan is expected to provide coverage for up to 160,000 Tennesseans, but must first be approved by the state legislature during a special session planned for January. Early response to Haslam’s plan was largely positive from Democrats and Republicans. To date, many Republican legislators have opposed Medicaid expansion because of its link to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and due to fears it could end up costing the state millions. Expansion of Medicaid was a key part to the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals agreed to accept lower reimbursements from the federal government with the expectation that those losses would be offset by the expansion of Medicaid, called Tenncare in Tennessee.
If asked in a poll, most Americans — especially in these recent racially charged months — would probably say they are against racial profiling. If asked in a poll, most Americans, however, would probably say they favor profiling. For instance, they would want a suspected rapist described as a tall, thin white teenager wearing a Linkin Park T-shirt stopped and arrested if seen near the scene of the crime. Or if the suspect was a carjacker characterized as a young black man with a red cap and a black hoodie. Or if the perpetrator was a suspected murderer said to be a short Hispanic man with a crew cut and a jeans jacket. Most people of all races don’t understand the difference between profiling and racial profiling. Indeed, the words “racial profiling” have been thrown around by the national media and those in the professional race business so often following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., in August that it’s a wonder anyone can understand what it is and what it isn’t. Racial profiling is the use of a person’s race or ethnicity as the primary reason to suspect that person has broken the law. Profiling is the use of various descriptions of a criminal suspect to help track down the suspect. The problem is the difference between profiling and racial profiling can be narrow.