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July 23 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of political headlines assembled from Tennessee news organizations by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Olin marks construction start on $160 million facility (Times Free-Press/Higgins)

Olin Chlor Alkali Products, a major employer here for almost 50 years, broke ground Friday on new manufacturing facilities valued at $160 million. When the work is completed in 2012, the site will produce chlorine, caustic soda and related products with a 200,000-ton annual capacity, company officials said…Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement that established Tennessee companies such as Olin “provide a solid foundation on which our state’s economy will continue to grow.”

Olin Chlor Alkali Products Charleston Plant Breaks Ground (PR Newswire)

Cleveland-based Olin Chlor Alkali Products, a division of Olin Corporation (NYSE: OLN), broke ground today at its plant in Charleston, TN, for a new state-of-the-art membrane cell manufacturing facility. Olin is investing $160 million in the new facility, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

Haslam’s Cabinet limits out-of-state travel (Associated Press)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s Cabinet members have taken fewer out-of-state trips this year than their predecessors did in their last six months of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration. Haslam’s Cabinet members have made 18 trips outside the state between Jan. 20 and July 1, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, which compared reports posted on the Department of Finance and Administration’s website.

Reading Fundamentals a Focus of Rural Education Summit (TN Report)

Early childhood learning received considerable attention at a conference on rural education in Nashville Wednesday. Its importance to the overall success a student achieves in school was emphatically stated by many of the policy experts and advocates on hand for the event.

Tennessee Lottery brings in record amount for public schools (N. Biz Journal)

A record amount of educational funding is reaching students through the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp , one piece in the multi-faceted puzzle bankrolling public schools in the state. This fiscal year $293.5 million in the fund’s money is going toward education in the state, a record amount, according to the corporation.

Tennessee lottery takes in more than $1 billion (Tennessean/Young)

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. released record-breaking year-end results Monday with nearly $300 million going to education in the state this year. The lottery also reports $1.19 billion in total sales, a 4.2 percent increase over the previous year. Since ticket sales began in January 2004, the lottery has given $2.07 billion to education.

Tennessee among 28 states that saw unemployment rate rise in June (C. Appeal)

Unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states in June, evidence that slower hiring is affecting many parts of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates in 28 states and Washington increased last month.

College radio plays on in TN (Tennessean/Andrews)

In the wake of several college radio station sales and closings locally and nationally — including an announcement about Brown University’s station going online-only next week — advocates are planning an event to defend the stations’ relevance. At the same time, Middle Tennessee State University is touting its investment in radio.

Rhea group seeks courthouse repair grant (Times Free-Press/McMillian)

The Rhea County Historical and Genealogy Society is seeking up to $25,000 from the state to help repair and preserve the county’s historic courthouse. Chairman Tom Davis wrote a letter to County Executive George Thacker’s office earlier this month requesting estimates on the cost of labor and materials in order to submit a grant application to the state.

As clinic closes, patients wonder about future (Times Free-Press/Carroll)

Jennifer Bryan already juggles many worlds. An unemployed single mom using student loans for living expenses, Bryan runs errands for her mother for extra cash, lives in a cramped apartment in Cleveland, Tenn., and cares for Caleb, her 9-year-old autistic son.

State archives looking for Civil War heirlooms (Times Free-Press/Johns)

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is hoping to expand its collection of Civil War photos, letters and other documents by asking local residents to bring family heirlooms to be digitized. On Tuesday at the Hunter Museum of American Art, archivists will scan the documents and post them online in hopes that researchers can use them to better understand the war in the Volunteer State.

State Supreme Court remeasures height of discovery hurdle (Nash. Post/Nannie)

Employers take note. The good news is the state’s highest court didn’t make it easier for an employee to sue a company. The bad news is it didn’t make it any harder, either.

Lawsuit filed by man who had gun at Radnor Park is dismissed (Tennessean/Haas)

A Brentwood man who walked through Radnor Lake State Park with a loaded gun did not have his rights violated when park officials seized the weapon, according to a federal court ruling. Leonard Embody had sued the state, saying his constitutional right to bear arms and his right against illegal searches and seizures were violated.

Republican Leader Questions Democrats’ “Relief Plan” (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey accused Democrats of posturing when they unveiled a plan Thursday on how to use money from a recent uptick in state revenues. In a statement, the Republican leader said when Democrats were in control of the legislature, they had to be “dragged kicking and screaming to approve just a one-half percent decrease in the food tax.”

Improving Revenues Prompt House Democrats to Float Food-Tax Cut (TN Report)

Tennessee House Democrats have seized on the recent string of positive revenue collections and see them as a way to reduce the state sales tax on food and provide more college scholarships — at a time the economy overall continues to sputter and Gov. Bill Haslam has warned of less money coming from Washington. Democrats held a press conference at Legislative Plaza on Thursday to announce a bill meant to bring economic relief to families struggling to buy groceries and pay for burdensome college tuition rates.

Phil Bredesen adds to Holleman’s mounting political opposition (CP/Garrison)

Two days ago, it was Mayor Karl Dean. Now, former Tennessee governor and Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen — as had been expected — is featured on a campaign mail-piece for attorney Sarah Lodge Tally, the well-connected election challenger of District 24 Metro Councilman Jason Holleman. Bredesen’s appearance simply reinforces what was clear from the list of names who signed Tally’s qualifying petition several weeks ago: Holleman must stave off much of Nashville’s Democratic Party establishment — and Dean — to win a second term serving his West Nashville, Sylvan-Park-area constituents.

FEC deadlocks on penalizing Fincher (Associated Press)

Members of the Federal Election Commission agreed West Tennessee U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher improperly reported a loan for his campaign last year but deadlocked on whether he should be penalized. Fincher, a first-term Republican, was accused of misreporting the source of a $250,000 loan as coming from his personal funds, rather than from Gates Banking and Trust Company. He later filed new information showing the loan was obtained from the bank.

Records: FEC members deadlocked over Fincher’s disclosure (CA/Sullivan)

All six Federal Election Commission members endorsed a finding that U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s campaign violated campaign disclosure requirements, records released Friday reveal. But they did it in separate 3-3 votes and it takes four votes to pass a motion.

Fincher violated law, FEC decides (Jackson Sun)

No penalty handed down; panel split on punishment The Federal Election Commission has decided that U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher violated election laws regulating campaign finance disclosures during his bid for the 8th Congressional District seat, but the commission could not agree on a penalty for the infraction, according to records released Friday. The decision settles a complaint filed last year with the FEC by state Sen. Roy Herron, who was Fincher’s opponent in his 2010 election bid to replace former U.S. Rep. John Tanner.

Corker to speak to Knoxville Economics Forum (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Fresh from the debt ceiling debates in Washington, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will speak to the Knoxville Economics Forum on Aug. 8. The event is open to the public. It will be held at 11:30 a.m. at Club LeConte in the First Tennessee Building at 800 S. Gay St. Reservations are required and can be made online at http://www.knoxvilleeconomicsforum.org.

 

Project that aids TVA solar program hits bump (Tennessean/Paine)

Fewer customers pay extra on bills to fund program TVA’s popular Generation Partners program that pays incentives to install solar and other forms of renewable energy is drawing national attention and growing quickly, but a sister project that helps fund it is flagging. A $4 million to $5 million gap exists in the money coming in through what’s called the Green Power Switch program, which asks customers to voluntarily pay extra on their utility bills, and what’s going out through the other.

Green initiative outpaces subsidies (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sohn)

TVA’s effort to entice customers to generate their own power with renewable sources such as the sun and wind was so successful, the utility is ending the current program and revamping it. Again. TVA will close the program, which paid power-generating homeowners and businesses a 12-cent premium per kilowatthour for solar power, as soon as TVA develops a replacement program, said Bob Balzar, vice president for TVA’s Energy Efficiency and Demand Response.

Survey: Back-to-school spending flat (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

The second biggest retail event of the year is here – back-to-school spending. K-12 and college spending is expected to reach $68.8 billion a year, the National Retail Federation reported Thursday.

Middle Tennessee schools expand offerings online (Nashville Business Journal)

From advanced-placement art history to Chinese to multi-variable calculus, area schools are ramping up the bandwidth on online learning. Just as the Internet is connecting people in consistently new ways, so too is it linking students in the Nashville area with teachers, students and subjects.

Last-minute changes slow Memphis City Schools funding resolution (CA/Roberts)

The funding deal Mayor AC Wharton offered the city schools changed dramatically in midstream late Thursday. Ten minutes after the City Council committee convened, Wharton and board president Martavius Jones tore up Plan A and started over, sharing details with the school board attorney in the aisle of the council chambers minutes before Wharton made them public.

Schools Funding Compromise Must Overcome Distrust (Memphis Daily News)

The city of Memphis and the Memphis City Schools system have some time – but not a lot – to see if a very tentative school funding compromise can grow roots. But downtime has never been the friend of either side in the three-year dispute that began when the then-newly elected council cut funding to MCS in April 2008.

Charter leader cites unfair rules to guide threatened closure (CA/Bryson)

The second of three charter schools in danger of being shut down by the city school board has come forward to say the threats of closure are both unfair and counterproductive to the educational process in Memphis. Administrators at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering in the Medical Center area said the current system for measuring student progress is flawed, and seems to be weighted against the charter schools who are tasked with educating some of the city’s most at-risk kids.

OPINION

Guest columnist: U.S. schools shun proven reform models abroad (Tennessean)

Current trends in education are galvanizing me to express my thoughts on the future of education policy in America. Tennessee is one among many states that is changing teacher evaluation procedures.

Free-Press Editorial: Sen. Corker right on debt (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

President Barack Obama and many lawmakers in Washington are tying our country in knots with proposals to spend too much, tax too much and add to our national debt. Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga has a more sensible view.

Editorial: GOP’s zeal to reverse health care reform has faded (K. News-Sentinel)

When Republicans took over the House of Representatives in January, it seemed all you heard was the chant, “Repeal and replace.” What they wanted repealed and replaced was the Affordable Care Act — which they derisively called Obamacare.

 

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