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July 21 TN News Digest

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

Editorial: Economic benefits of VW expansion worth investment (News-Sentinel)
Volkswagen’s recent announcement that its Chattanooga plant will be the site of an assembly line for building the company’s new sport utility vehicle will jolt the Tennessee economy in many positive ways. For openers in this win-win scenario, the German manufacturer will invest $600 million in its Chattanooga assembly plant and will create 2,000 more jobs. VW currently employs 2,400 people in Chattanooga. The new workforce will include 1,800 more assembly workers and 200 engineering-related workers who will come to a new North American research, development and planning center that VW will locate in Chattanooga.

Tennesseans have until Aug. 1 to file DRAM claims (Associated Press)
Tennesseans who purchased the memory storage component installed in most electronic devices known as Dynamic Random Access Memory have until Aug. 1 to participate in a $310 million settlement. According to the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, the settlement affects almost every consumer and business in the state who bought computers or other electronic devices between 1998 and 2002. That’s because DRAM come preinstalled in devices like graphics cards, video game consoles, MP3 players, printers, PDAs, DVD players and digital video recorders. The settlement involves price fixing claims.

New state Supreme Court appointees still on ballot for old jobs (CA/Humphrey)
While an intense campaign has developed over whether three Democrat-appointed justices should be retained on Tennessee’s Supreme Court, the combatants on both sides are not taking a stance on two Republicans chosen by Gov. Bill Haslam who are also on the statewide ballot. The voting on Justice Jeff Bivins of Franklin, who was sworn into office last week by Haslam, and Holly Kirby of Memphis, who will take office Sept. 1, comes because of an unusual interaction between the timing of their appointments to the state’s highest court and related state laws, according to Mark Goins, state coordinator of elections.

Sonya custody case drags on as another birthday passes (Tennessean/Haas)
Five years of legal wrangling and blistering social media spats and this is what anyone has to show for it: Sonya McCaul, who celebrated her 10th birthday on Friday, is still technically in state custody. The years-long battle for Sonya, a girl raised by foster parents in Dickson until a court earlier this year ordered her returned to her biological father in Omaha, Neb., has still not been fully settled. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has legal custody of her while she stays with her biological father, John McCaul, in Omaha on a trial basis.

Integrity big issue in Tennessee’s 4th District race (Times Free-Press/Sher)
As he seeks re-election, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., hopes Republican primary voters focus on his staunchly conservative record in Congress and forget, or at least forgive him for, what he once described as the “darkest secrets” of his personal life. But the Jasper physician’s GOP challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy, is counting on voters in the 4th Congressional District’s Aug. 7 primary neither forgetting nor forgiving DesJarlais over the personal abortion revelations from DesJarlais’ long-ago past. The pair are among seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 4th, but DesJarlais and Tracy are far and away the front-runners in terms of name recognition and campaign warchests.

Health care tax credits become tax woes (Tennessean/Wilemon)
If this year’s real-estate market is a good one for Larry Lyons, the federal subsidy that helped him buy health insurance may turn into a huge bill at income tax time. Four months after the Good­lettsville real-estate agent chose a health insurance plan on healthcare.gov, he’s perplexed by a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking him to prove his income and his children’s citizenship. “I have been filing tax returns for years with the IRS,” Lyons said. “Now, I am going to have to send citizenship documentation.” And he’s baffled by the demand for upfront proof of his 2014 income, which can vary widely depending on how many houses he sells and the prices of those homes.

On the front lines of health reform (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Harrison)
Editor’s note: This is the fifth in an occasional series on the 10 essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act. As patients, doctors and health analysts look to see how the Affordable Care Act plays out, the emergency room is one of the closely watched stages. Nationwide, emergency rooms have seen a jump in patients who are newly insured under the law, drawing speculation and debate about whether the law is working as it should. But seven months after new health insurance options, Chattanooga-area hospital officials say they are still unable to gauge the law’s impact on their emergency rooms.

Y-12 keeps the fence, removes the welcome mat (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Munger)
Before dawn on Aug. 6, peace activists will gather near the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant for a solemn “Names and Remembrance Ceremony” in which participants take turns reading the names of those who died in the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. For the second year in a row, the peace group won’t be allowed onto the grassy area near the Y-12 entrance, where protesters traditionally have joined to express their feelings about Hiroshima or nuclear weapons in general. Following a July 28, 2012, break-in by three Plowshares protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, the government erected a new security fence along Scarboro Road that blocked access to the plant’s sign and front yard.

Missouri: Missouri Alone in Resisting Prescription Drug Database (New York Times)
On his office phone at L & S Pharmacy, Richard Logan listened as a doctor’s office detailed how a patient had just left with her third prescription for painkillers in only nine days — and was quite possibly getting more, illegally, elsewhere. Mr. Logan, 61, holstered two guns, slipped on a bulletproof vest and jumped into his truck. Because in his small corner of America’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse, Mr. Logan is no ordinary pharmacist. He is also a sheriff’s deputy who, when alerted to someone acquiring fraudulent drug prescriptions, goes out to catch that person himself. “I’m only one guy, and for every person we get to, there are probably 100 who we can’t,” Mr. Logan said.

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