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October 9 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

TN sets sights on auto plant (Tennessean/Williams)

Audi likeliest catch as 3 carmakers consider expansion The hunt’s already on to land a big auto plant somewhere in Tennessee — but this time there might be at least three automakers to woo, according to recent reports of foreign carmakers considering new U.S. production sites. And Tennessee could be on the fast track for at least one of the three — Audi, a luxury-vehicle subsidiary of Germany’s Volkswagen.

Three Realtors selected for state office (Jackson Sun)

Three members of the Central West Tennessee Association of Realtors have been appointed to serve in state offices, according to a news release. Virginia Ray, association executive, has been appointed by the president of the State Association of Realtors to serve as state association executive.

October Named Disability Employment Awareness Month (Clarksville Online)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is designating October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to generate awareness about the talents and abilities of Tennessee citizens with disabilities. “Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities” is the theme of the 2011 National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Haslam to speak at Legacy Luncheon supporting open space (N-S/McCloskey)

Gov. Bill Haslam is set to return to Knoxville Oct. 14 to address a crowd of at least 500 local business and civil leaders at the Legacy Parks Foundation’s annual Legacy Luncheon. The nonprofit works to create immediate and future natural recreation opportunities in Knoxville and to safeguard East Tennessee’s variety of natural resources.

Tennessee governor refuses to disclose any personal income (NS/Humphrey)

Gov. Bill Haslam, who drew sharp criticism from his gubernatorial campaign opponents by releasing only limited information on the amount of his personal income, has decided to release no information whatsoever now that he is in office. Those who criticized him on the campaign trail, however, were either subdued or expressed a change of heart when asked for comment on his more stalwart silence now.

TN lottery raking in record profits (Tennessean/Wadhwani)

As annual sales approach $1.2 billion, players probably will see even more games Despite the recession, one Tennessee financial institution is having a banner year. The Tennessee Education Lottery is raking in record profits — selling nearly $1.2 billion in scratch-off tickets, nightly drawings and multistate mega-jackpot games in its latest fiscal year.

TN lawmakers want to tell businesses financial impact (Tennessean/Sisk)

A proposal to give lawmakers more information about how their decisions will affect businesses is being greeted with enthusiasm, but there also are significant questions about how to carry the idea off, opponents and supporters say. Business groups are backing a plan to add a statement of the effect bills will have on business to each piece of legislation filed in Tennessee.

Drug companies urge no prescription for cold meds (Associated Press)

Drug companies that produce cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine — a main ingredient in methamphetamine — don’t want Kentucky to require a prescription for the drugs. A representative of companies that produce cold medicines suggested to the Interim Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Friday that lawmakers consider an alternative.

Redrawing Tennessee’s district lines sparks partisan debate (NS/Humphrey)

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey are urging citizens to submit proposals for changing the boundaries for state legislative districts, while the Tennessee League of Women Voters is holding a contest for plans submissions. But there almost certainly will be a big disconnect between any plan that the Republican-controlled Legislature will approve and any plan likely to win part of the $4,000 in prizes offered by the League for the best plans submitted.

Tornadoes’ emotional fallout lingers (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sohn)

When Angela Heisig’s husband saw a tornado bearing down on their brand-new Apison home, the couple scooped up their three children and ran to the basement stairs. They were almost too late. Angela heard the wind screeching.

Son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp runs headlong into criticism (TFP/Sher)

The youthful son of a well-known Tennessee politician declares for public office and runs headlong into criticism about his inexperience and effort to ride the coattails of his famous father. Sound familiar?

Fleischmann raising funds in 3rd District (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Carroll)

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann raised more than $135,000 during the last three months, a figure that could be eclipsed by a single upcoming fundraiser, his staff told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The Republican freshman from Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District finished the July 1-Sept. 30 fundraising quarter with $350,000 on hand for his 2012 re-election bid.

NRC will work with TVA to make Browns Ferry safe (Associated Press)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said on Friday that his agency will help the Tennessee Valley Authority to get its Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in northern Alabama operating more safely. Jaczko made the comment during a telephone conference call with reporters after he toured the plant with Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/qdzzHR).

Parents seek voice on schools (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Hardy)

When trying to address a problem with Hamilton County school zoning several years ago, Jimi Crooks couldn’t seem to get the ear of anyone important. After trying unsuccessfully to bring the issue to school district officials, he tried going to the school board. No luck there.

Inflating the Software Report Card (New York Times)

The Web site of Carnegie Learning, a company started by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University that sells classroom software, trumpets this promise: “Revolutionary Math Curricula. Revolutionary Results.” The pitch has sounded seductive to thousands of schools across the country for more than a decade.

OPINION

Editorial: Haslam masters balancing act in Amazon deal (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s deal with Amazon that will require the online retail giant to collect Tennessee sales taxes beginning in 2014 appears to be a solution the state should embrace. The state isn’t going back on its word, given by former Gov. Phil Bredesen, that Amazon would be exempt from collecting sales taxes once it opens distribution centers in Tennessee.

Editorial: Haslam making best of situation (Leaf Chronicle)

In government, you often have to play the hand you are dealt, and Gov. Bill Haslam has played the Amazon card as well as anyone could. Haslam’s predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen, struck a bargain with the giant online retailer: If Tennessee agreed that Amazon would not have to collect sales tax on goods sold to the state’s residents, Amazon would go forward with plans to open three distribution centers near Chattanooga and Lebanon.

Gail Kerr: Flawed evaluations give good teachers low scores (Tennessean)

Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system needs re-evaluating. If it were just a few grousers weighing in, negative reviews would be easy to shrug off — the new system is designed, after all, to root out bad teachers who have been allowed to continue year after year.

Tom Humphrey: State constitution ain’t broke, don’t need much fixing (N-S)

The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” could be wisely applied to the vast majority of Tennessee’s aging state constitution. There are now 41 resolutions that propose fixes officially awaiting consideration of the 107th General Assembly when it returns in January.

Editorial: Nursing homes headed in wrong direction (Tennessean)

More staffing, more state oversight, not less, is called for Malnutrition. Open, festering sores. Lying in urine and feces. Such has been the plight of a higher number of residents of nursing homes in Tennessee than in almost every other state, as facilities operate with inadequate and underpaid staff, even as the number of elderly people needing nursing homes is increasing.

Guest columnist: TN nursing homes strive for excellence, dedication (Tennessean)

Nursing homes are not perfect. Industries of all sizes face challenges in their efforts to ensure quality, and the long-term care profession is no different. One of the central goals of the Tennessee Health Care Association, in fact, is to create programs to help long-term care facilities provide the best care possible to our state’s elderly and disabled.

Guest columnist: Tort reforms deprive citizens of right to fair jury trial (Tenn)

On Oct. 1, a package of laws mischaracterized as “tort reform” was flung upon an unknowing population. This package is not simply about “torts” nor does it “reform” anything.

Guest columnist: Mentally ill, cut from state care, are turning up in court (TN)

Last year, the Davidson County Mental Health Court celebrated its 10th anniversary. I am the presiding judge of this court as part of my duties as the judge of Division II of the General Sessions Court, a position I have held since 2004.

Free-Press Editorial: ObamaCare and Tennessee (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

When you are not feeling well, even the normal wait time in your doctor’s office can be unpleasant. But get ready to wait longer to see your doctor as the provisions of ObamaCare kick in between now and 2014.

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