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TNSoS: Latest Quaterly Business Report Shows State Economy Growing

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; February 24, 2015:

More than 7,000 new businesses were formed in Tennessee during the final quarter of last year, according to a new economic report. The number of new businesses created during the fourth quarter of 2014 was up 8.8 percent from the same time period during the previous year.

The reports are produced quarterly by the Secretary of State’s office and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Center for Business and Economic Research. They draw on information provided to the Secretary of State’s office regarding business filings and dissolutions, as well as other economic information drawn from other sources.

The report can be found online at http://tn.gov/sos/be_reports/201502.pdf

“The increase in the number of new business filings is a positive sign for the state’s economy,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It is one of several encouraging economic indicators that can be found in our latest report.”

Statewide, personal income growth is up 3.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Total tax revenues grew 4.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year.

Non-farm employment increased 2.4 percent. However, the state’s unemployment rate remains a full percentage point above the national average.

Nationally, there are promising signs as well. The gross domestic product and sales of light vehicles continued to grow, while gasoline prices were at a five-year low.

TSLA’s ‘Heritage Project’ Finalist for National Award

Press release from the office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; February 19, 2015:

A program launched by the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) to produce short documentaries of the people, places and events that make Tennessee distinctive is one of four finalists for a national award. TSLA’s Tennessee State Heritage Project is in the running for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) IDEAS Award.

IDEAS is an acronym for “innovation, dedication, excellence and achievement in service.” The award is given annually to one department of state in recognition of an outstanding program or achievement.

The Heritage Project was launched in 2013 to produce short video documentaries on topics of historical interest in Tennessee. The initial documentary focused on the history of the Tennessee State Capitol, while the project’s second documentary focused on the career of Sen. Douglas Henry, who until his recent retirement was the longest-serving member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

“I congratulate our staff at the State Library and Archives whose tremendous work on the Heritage Project is being nationally recognized,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “These documentaries will complement the vast collection of documents and online resources available at TSLA. It is a great honor to be be among the deserving finalists for the IDEAS Award.”

“NASS members are thrilled that we are once again able to showcase the diverse array of secretary of state office functions through this association award,” said NASS President Elaine Marshall, who also co-chairs the NASS Awards Committee. “We are looking forward to our summer conference in Maine, where the finalist offices can showcase their innovative approaches to governing.”

NASS is the oldest, nonpartisan professional organization of public officials in the United States. Members represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. NASS serves as a medium for the exchange of information between its members and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy.

Required Workplace Compliance Posters Available Free from State

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development; Sept. 1, 2014:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Secretary of State Tre Hargett want employers to know that required workplace posters are available at no charge from the State of Tennessee at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd.

Employers may have received misleading notices in the mail advising them to update employment posters that are required by law to post. These notices frequently have “labor law compliance alert” or “final notice for compliance” or a similar heading, and then offer to sell the required set of posters. We have recently become aware of an entity called “US Compliance Service” that has circulated a potentially misleading solicitation related to employment posters.

“It’s unfortunate that employers intending to do the right thing by posting laws and regulations in the workplace are taken advantage of,” said Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips. “Once a sale has been made, inevitably there are frequent updates to follow at a significant price. We hope to educate the public that these required postings are always free from state government.”

Secretary Hargett agreed, stating that “the overwhelming majority of people who run businesses in our state want to do the right thing and follow the law. But they need to be aware that there are people out there who might try to take advantage of them.”

Several years ago, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office reached an agreement with a company that was deceptively selling labor law posters in Tennessee. Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., was headquartered in Michigan, but did business in Tennessee as the Tennessee Labor Law Poster Service and the Tennessee Mandatory Poster Agency. The Attorney General’s office alleged that solicitations by the company were deceptive because they appeared to be from a governmental agency and appeared to be from a business located in Tennessee with “an official looking” seal. Businesses that purchased posters from this company were eligible for restitution if they filed a complaint.

All required posters are available free from the following Internet address: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd. Directly below the state poster listings is a link to the required federal (U.S. Department of Labor) posters, which can also be downloaded free.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has also developed an all-in-one poster containing all of the state requirements. That poster is also free and can be received by sending a request to ron.hammontree@tn.gov.

If you hear that a company is pressuring employers to buy posters, please obtain as much identifying information as possible and e-mail Melinda.williams@tn.gov or call (615) 253-6674.

Tracy Concedes to DesJarlais in 4th District

Letter from State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville; August 25, 2014:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am announcing my decision about whether or not to file a contest of the August 7th Republican Primary for the Fourth Congressional District. When I started this campaign, my goal was to offer the citizens of the 4th District a choice in who to represent them in Congress. I presented my plan to offer conservative, effective leadership, and my opponents offered theirs. And after over 75,000 votes were cast in the Republican Primary, less than 40 votes separated the incumbent Congressman and me.

Our campaign staff and volunteers have been diligently gathering and analyzing information from all 16 counties in the District. Through the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as directly, we have communicated with the County Election Commissions. Our staff has attended many of the meetings at which Election Commissions counted provisional ballots, as well the meetings at which the Election Commissions certified the votes in all of the August 7th elections. A great deal of information has come to me through formal and informal sources.

For example, there were votes by people who were not on the rolls and should have cast provisional ballots, but voted on machines so there was no way to determine whether those were legal votes. There were voters who were not given ballots for the primary election, but only for the General Election. There are counties that are split between the Fourth District and a different district, either the Seventh or the Third, and we know of at least one voter who was given a ballot for the wrong Congressional District. We know of a voter who was told that he had already voted, when he had not, which leads to the inference that other voters were told the same thing and did not take the time to assert their rights.

We have consulted with knowledgeable people, and I have consulted with my family and, most importantly I have prayed for guidance. In the end, the decision of whether or not to file a contest was mine and mine alone.

I have decided to refrain from contesting this election. I am not willing to put the State Republican Primary Board, the Secretary of State’s Office and Division of Elections, the County Election Commissions, the campaign staff, my volunteers, my family and the public through additional weeks of litigation, with uncertainty as to who the nominee will be.

State law provides that ballots must be ready to send out to military, overseas and other absentee voters 45 days before the November election, and I am not willing to put them in a difficult position. A contest would not be the right thing for the Republican Party and the conservative cause in Tennessee. Contests of primary elections are extremely compressed. The Fourth District is geographically widespread. Under state law, if there is a recount, all votes in every county must be recounted, even in counties where we are confident that the counts were accurate. A recount does not uncover votes that were illegal or that were illegally kept from being cast. These factors weigh against a contest.

I assure the public that the Secretary of State’s office, and the Division of Elections in that office, have been responsive, fair and objective and have done their job in an exemplary way. That office is in the best of hands. Chairman Chris Devaney, the staff and the counsel for the Tennessee Republican Primary Board went into action immediately after Election Night to prepare for a contest, and I thank them. I am forever grateful to my family, staff, volunteers, contributors, and the voters who placed their faith in me and have encouraged me throughout the campaign and in this decision-making period. I also want to comment that the press has reported fairly, neutrally and calmly, and I sincerely appreciate their demeanor.

I have called Rep. DesJarlais to inform him of my decision to concede and congratulated him. One reason why I am at peace about my decision is that I am devoted to my service as the Senator from the Fourteenth Senatorial District of Tennessee. Serving the people of the Fourteenth District and helping to make Tennessee a better place to live, work, do business and go to school is a high honor. I will continue to serve in the Senate with dedication, energy and integrity. Much is at stake for our country and our state; I look forward to helping us meet the challenges ahead.

God bless and Thank you,

Jim Tracy

Long-lost McGavock Civil War Diary Returned to Tennessee

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State; August 19, 2014:

The long-lost diary of a prominent Nashvillian has been returned to Tennessee by a California woman. Andrea Shearn, a retired science teacher, found the diary while helping her parents move into an assisted living facility.

Shearn found the diary in a wooden box on a closet shelf in Cincinnati, where her grandmother had evidently put it in 1963. Neither Shearn nor her parents realized it was there.

Examining the diary, Shearn learned that it had belonged to R.W. McGavock, a Confederate officer with beautiful handwriting. Under McGavock’s name was written: “Captured at Ft. Henry Stewart Co. Middle Tennessee Feb 6th 1862 by Capt. M Wemple Co H 4th Ill Vol Cav Presented to Ms. Lue Wemple.”

Delving into her own genealogy, Shearn discovered that Capt. Myndert Wemple of Illinois was her ancestor. He evidently found the diary after McGavock and his troops evacuated Fort Henry in a battle that was a disaster for the Confederates. Wemple’s descendants preserved the diary and handed it down through the family for the next 100 years, until it disappeared into that closet in Cincinnati.

Shearn transcribed the diary, becoming ever more interested in the writer and his experiences. She was surprised to learn that Randal McGavock was a Harvard-educated lawyer who was elected mayor of Nashville at the age of 32. He was a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Tennessee Regiment of the Confederate Army.

Shearn got in touch with State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill.

“This nice lady from California called and said, ‘I wonder if anyone in Tennessee would be interested in this diary,’” Sherrill recalls. “When she told me it was Randal McGavock’s diary, my first thought was to fly to California and get it before it disappeared again.”

Sherrill and others at the State Library and Archives had long been aware of Randal McGavock and his diaries, as eight volumes of his diary have been housed at there since 1960.

“We had this great set of diaries, but the volume from the beginning of the Civil War was missing,” he said.

Shearn eventually flew to Nashville to visit Two Rivers Mansion, Carnton and other sites associated with Randal McGavock and his family. She and her husband brought the diary with them and generously donated it to the archives.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said: “We are extremely grateful to Andrea Shearn for returning this diary to Tennessee. I know that scholars and McGavock descendants will enjoy the opportunity to read it and fill in the blanks in this soldier’s history.”

TSLA to Hold Workshop on Researching TN Supreme Court Records

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; July 31, 2014:

Among the vast amount of information available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), Tennessee Supreme Court records make up by far the largest single collection. With individual case files that sometimes include hundreds of pages and stretch over several generations, the entire collection takes up most of an entire floor of TSLA’s building.

These records are packed full of valuable information for genealogists and other researchers. And during the next session of TSLA’s free workshop series, State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill will provide tips on navigating through those files.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. August 23 in TSLA’s building, which is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.

“Every county in the state has sent cases to the Supreme Court on appeal,” Mr. Sherrill said. “In some cases, the local records have been lost or destroyed. That means the Supreme Court records are sometimes the only ones still available. The cases cover every aspect of life in old Tennessee, ranging from land disputes to horse stealing, and from moonshining to murder.”

Mr. Sherrill has 30 years of experience as a librarian, archivist and genealogist, and has written more than 20 books on various historical topics. He has served as state librarian and archivist since 2010.

Although the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating in TSLA’s auditorium. To make a reservation, call (615) 741-2764 or e-mail workshop.tsla@tn.gov

Free parking is available in front, beside and behind the TSLA building.

Hargett Premiers TN Capitol History Documentary

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; July 3, 2013:

It has endured an army occupation, the interment of two of its founding fathers, and a car cruising through its hallways. Not to mention its role as the site of many of the most important events in Tennessee’s history. The Tennessee State Capitol building has many great stories to tell – and some of those stories were revealed in a documentary about the building that premiered last week. In attendance were state legislators, department commissioners, representatives from preservation groups and others.

The documentary was created by the staff of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It is the first part of a project that will eventually include a virtual tour of the Capitol building and its grounds, and feature stories about the building and influential people in Tennessee history.

When completed, the entire project will be burned onto DVDs that will be distributed to schools throughout the state.

The project is a result of the Tennessee General Assembly’s approval of Public Chapter No. 557, sponsored by Representative Jim Coley and Senator Ken Yager.

“I appreciate the support of the Tennessee General Assembly in the passage of Public Chapter No. 557, which has led us to the creation of a comprehensive digital record of the Tennessee State Capitol’s history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “That history will be available to people now and in the future – 24 hours a day, seven days a week and free of charge – over the Internet. There are many things about the Capitol’s history that will surprise people. This building doesn’t have its own Trivial Pursuit game, but it could.”

“The mission of the State Library and Archives is to preserve Tennessee’s history for everyone,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “This video draws on some of the vast treasures contained in our archives to tell the story of the Capitol building.”

The original cornerstone of the Capitol building was laid on July 4, 1845. In the 14 years that followed, architect William Strickland – with assistance from Samuel Morgan, Francis Strickland and Harvey Ackroyd – designed and oversaw the building that is still in use today. Although the Capitol has gone through various renovations over nearly 170 years, many of the building’s original characteristics are unchanged. This historical national landmark is one of the nation’s oldest working statehouses still in use.

The documentary and information on the images used in the film are available at www.capitol.tnsos.net. Additionally, the virtual tour, mini-features, and fun stories about the Tennessee State Capitol will be available soon.

TN State Library Hosts Prohibition Exhibit

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; May 2, 2013:

It was the constitutional amendment that tried – often unsuccessfully – to put Americans on the path to sobriety and in the process created a booming market for Tennessee’s providers of illegal moonshine whiskey.

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which launched the Prohibition era in 1920, was called the country’s “noble experiment.” That experiment ended 13 years later with the ratification of the 21st Amendment – the only amendment to repeal another amendment – which halted Prohibition and brought imbibing back out of the shadows.

Now a new exhibit in the lobby of the Tennessee State Library and Archives building chronicles the history surrounding the passage of both amendments.

This exhibit, entitled “The Saloon and Anarchy: Prohibition in Tennessee,” surveys the brewing and distilling industries in Tennessee prior to Prohibition, chronicles the rise of the Temperance Movement in the state and the impact it had on the passage of the 18th Amendment, examines the effect that the 18th Amendment had on moonshining in the state, and recounts the passage of the 21st Amendment.

Drawing on the wealth of material in the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ rich collections, this exhibit features items such as: 19th and 20th Century temperance literature (such as the 1902 temperance tract: The Saloon and Anarchy, the Two Worst Things in the World, Versus the United States of America), temperance songs from the Kenneth D. Rose Sheet Music Collection, the 1908 trademark registration by Lem Motlow (Jack Daniel’s nephew and business partner) for the phrase “Old No. 7,” and various pieces of Prohibition-related legislation from the records of the Tennessee General Assembly.

“The Prohibition era was a very interesting time in our state’s history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “This exhibit gives Tennesseans the opportunity to learn more about that era and the thinking and attitudes that led first to the passage of the 18th Amendment – and then later to its repeal. I encourage those who are in the Nashville area to visit the exhibit at the State Library and Archives. For those who are unable to make the trip to Nashville, please check out the online version of the exhibit on our web site.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours. The Tennessee State Library and Archives is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The library is located at 403 7th Avenue North in downtown Nashville, just west of the State Capitol building. A limited amount of public parking is available around the library building.

The exhibit will remain available for viewing until the end of September.

The online version of the exhibit is available at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/prohibition/index.htm.

Senate Approves ‘Repealer’ to Root Out Bad Laws, Regs

Legislation to create a state Office of the Repealer passed the Senate 30-1-1 Thursday, while the House version still has a couple of committee hurdles to clear next week.

The Repealer’s job would be to go through Tennessee code and make recommendations to the Legislature on laws, rules and regulations that need to be repealed or modified because they are no longer relevant, overly burdensome or outdated.

Democratic Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis cast the only no vote and was the only one to speak out against the legislation. Fellow Democrat, Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville, abstained.

“Simply to explain my vote, it is somewhat ironic that we’re creating an office to try to find duplicitous government agencies and rules when its creation duplicates the work of the Government Operations Committee,” Kyle said.

“To create another branch of government to do exactly what we’re already doing is doubling up and spending money that doesn’t need to be spent,” he continued.

According to Sen. Jack Johnson, sponsor of SB595, there is no fiscal note attached to the legislation, as the position will fill an existing vacant position within the Secretary of State’s office.

Responding to Kyle’s argument, the Franklin Republican said,“There is no single individual in all of state government whose sole responsibility is to try and shrink the green books.” Johnson was referring to the bound issues of the Tennessee Code Annotated.

Johnson said he thinks it “entirely reasonable that we dedicate a single position to meet with our business owners, to meet with citizens across the state, who have to interact with state government day in and day out, and identify things that we don’t need anymore.”

Answering to the Secretary of State, the Repealer would be required to set up an online system to receive recommendations from the public, which he or she would be required to take into consideration. 

The bill sets up the post for four years, “at which time such position will cease to exist.”

Sen. Mike Bell, a Republican from Riceville who chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, offered a single amendment that passed on a voice vote. The amendment adds both chambers’ government operations committees to the list of those receiving recommendations from the Repealer, as well as quarterly updates of his or her actions.

HB 500 is on the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee’s calendar for Wed., April 3.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at amhipps@capitolnewstn.com, on Twitter @CapitolNews_TN or at 615-442-8667.

TN State ‘Constitutional Officers’ Re-elected by General Assembly

Press release from the Tennessee General Assembly; January 9, 2013:

(NASHVILLE) – In a joint session of the Tennessee Senate and the Tennessee House of Representatives today members unanimously re-elected Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. and Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. Secretary Hargett will serve his second four-year term, while Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson will each serve two-year terms. All three were originally elected to their posts by the General Assembly in January, 2009. Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson were re-elected to their second two-year terms in January, 2011.

Senate and House leaders congratulated the Constitutional Officers today, and released the following statements:

“While many Tennesseans don’t know what they do, the constitutional officers are really the unsung heroes of state government. They work – often behind the scenes but sometimes in the harsh glare of the media spotlight – to make sure that our state’s investments are managed properly, that public employees have a financially sound retirement system, that taxpayer money isn’t wasted, stolen or misused at the local or state levels of government, that local governments get the assistance they need to be successful in various levels of their operations, that our elections run smoothly, that our public libraries have the support they need to provide excellent service to Tennesseans. Tennesseans are lucky to have leaders like Comptroller Wilson, Treasurer Lillard and Secretary of State Hargett overseeing these essential services of state government.” –Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey

“Tennessee is in excellent financial condition – and the work of our three constitutional officers has played no small part in that. As members of the State Funding Board, they set revenue estimates that are used by the governor, his staff and members of the General Assembly for budget planning purposes. They also appear regularly before the major rating agencies that determine how strong Tennessee’s credit ratings will be. They also provide helpful advice and information to help members of the General Assembly do their jobs better.” –House Speaker Beth Harwell

“I am very proud of the work Treasurer Lillard, Comptroller Wilson and Secretary of State Hargett have done over the last four years. They have made many major improvements to make Tennessee state government work more efficiently and effectively which benefits all Tennesseans. All three of these public servants are well deserving of another term in office.” –Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris

“Reforming government is something that’s easy to talk about, but difficult to do. These three constitutional officers have spent the last four years challenging traditional thinking about the way their offices should operate and, as a result, their offices are operating more efficiently and effectively than ever before. They have made the offices more accessible by making more services available over the Internet and have found ways to maximize the productivity of their employees.” –House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick