January 18 TN News Digest

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

Haslam sworn in for second term (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Locker)
Gov. Bill Haslam was inaugurated to a second term Saturday, asking Tennesseans to “seize on the momentum and the hard work of our teachers and students to continue the progress we’re making” in education. With the State Capitol towering behind under a crisp clear-blue January sky, the 56-year-old Republican governor and former Knoxville mayor — who swept all 95 counties in a landslide re-election in November — took the oath of office from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee, a Democrat who also won a new term last year.

Haslam Sworn In To 2nd Term As Tennessee Governor (Associated Press)
Republican Bill Haslam has been sworn into his second term as Tennessee governor. State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee administered the oath to Haslam in a ceremony outside the state Capitol in Nashville on Saturday. Haslam won 70 percent of the vote in his re-election bid last November against nominal Democratic opposition, carrying all 95 counties in the process. The unity theme of Haslam’s inauguration is already being put to the test by wrangling over his proposal to extend health coverage to 200,000 low-income Tennesseans. Text of Address Here.

Haslam sworn in to 2nd term as Tennessee Governor (WKRN-TV Nashville)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was sworn in for his second term as the 49th governor of the state. The inaugural events began Saturday with a prayer service at 8:30 a.m. at the Ryman Auditorium. Guests were serenaded by a gospel choir and performances by Jars of Clay, Amy Grant, Ricky Skaggs and Nicole C. Mullen. The swearing-in ceremony followed at 11 a.m. at Legislative Plaza. Haslam said his goals for the coming year include job creation, education and more efficiency in the state government.

Gov. Bill Haslam sworn in for second term (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
Gov. Bill Haslam (R) began his second term in office on Saturday after a landslide re-election in November. The full day of inauguration events began at 8:30 a.m. CST with a prayer service at the Ryman Auditorium. The inaugural ceremony, during which Haslam took the oath of office, began at 11:30 a.m. CST in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. Following the ceremony, visitors could take tours of the state capitol building. Haslam and his wife, Crissy Haslam, will celebrate the beginning of his second term with a celebration dinner and dance at the Omni Nashville Hotel at 6:30 p.m., followed by the inaugural ball at 8 p.m.

Haslam stresses unity theme in inauguration to 2nd term (Associated Press)
The unity theme of Gov. Bill Haslam’s inauguration to second term as governor is already being put to the test by wrangling over his proposal to extend health coverage to 200,000 low-income Tennesseans. Haslam won 70 percent of the vote in his re-election bid last November against nominal Democratic opposition, carrying all 95 counties in the process. The motto of Haslam’s inauguration celebration is “Together for Tennessee,” and the governor has said his goals for the next four years include job creation, education and more efficiency in state government.

As Haslam officially sworn in, battles await (Tennessean/Boucher)
As Bill Haslam officially embarked Saturday on his second term as Tennessee’s governor, he faces battles on health, education and finances that could shape both his future and his legacy. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee issued the oath of office Saturday morning during Haslam’s inauguration ceremony at Legislative Plaza, with more than 1,000 people attending. The event is an official joint session of the General Assembly and followed a prayer service at Ryman Auditorium. Haslam focused on education during his 11-minute speech, touting the state’s improvements in standardized test scores and more students graduating high school prepared for college or a job.

Haslam sworn in for 2nd term, promises action (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Locker)
Gov. Bill Haslam was sworn in Saturday to a second term as Tennessee’s 49th governor in an inaugural ceremony on War Memorial Plaza. With the State Capitol towering behind under a clear BLUE January sky, the Republican governor and former Knoxville mayor who won a landslide re-election in November — sweeping all 95 counties — took the oath of office from Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee, a Democrat who also won a new term last year. The governor promised an active second four years, and indeed faces an immediate challenge winning state legislative approval of his hybrid health insurance plan — an alternative to expansion of traditional Medicaid provided for under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Haslam Calls Tennessee Complacent In Inaugural Speech (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Gov. Bill Haslam stressed his accomplishments but accused Tennesseans of complacency as he promised a vigorous agenda in his second term. The Tennessee Republican said the state had made vast improvements in education and job creation over the past four years. But he said the state’s standards have been far too low. “We haven’t had nearly high enough expectations of ourselves,” he said. “In many ways, we’ve settled and haven’t lived up to our full potential. So, one thing I can guarantee you that we are not going to do in the next four years is coast to the finish line.”

Prayer, gospel music precede Haslam inauguration (Tenn/Boucher, Gonzalez)
Prayer and music filled Ryman Auditorium Saturday morning as several hundred people attended a worship service ahead of the inauguration of Gov. Bill Haslam. Haslam, the 49th governor of Tennessee, easily won re-election in November. The Knoxville Republican opted for a Christian prayer service that included Bible readings chosen all by the governor, said Steve Chesney, regional director for Young Tennessee Life. “You’re final legacy, more than the things you accomplish, will be the man you become,” said Scott Sauls, pastor at the Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

Rural health providers hope for boost from Insure TN (Tennessean/Fletcher)
Rural health care providers, who largely haven’t seen an increase in insured patients under the Affordable Care Act, are cautiously optimistic about the impact of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed Insure Tennessee health care program. “I don’t know how the governor came to this idea, but it’s brilliant,” said Dr. Elie Korban, founder of Delta Convenient Care, a cardiology practice in Lexington, Tenn., of the co-pay, premium and incentivized behavior modification elements that are in the proposal. Insure Tennessee is a two-year pilot program that would provide health care to an estimated 200,000 Tennesseans who lack direct access to coverage.

UT president looks to fix ‘broken business model’ (News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
Six months after University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro first declared the university’s business model broken, he’s ready to talk publicly about how to fix it. Expanding out-of-state enrollment, consolidating academic programs and charging businesses that benefit from university services are all on the table, DiPietro said earlier this month in a sit-down interview on campus. “We’re getting greater clarity,” DiPietro said. “It’s late in the brainstorming process, but I don’t think we need to do death by a thousand cuts.”

Effort seeks to increase beef cattle in Tennessee (Associated Press)
Officials have announced a public-private partnership aimed at increasing the number of beef cattle in Tennessee. The Bristol Herald-Courier reports that the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Farmers’ Cooperative have joined forces to reverse the state’s decline in beef cattle. According to the newspaper, 100 heifers consigned by farmers will go to UTIA’s Dairy AgResearch and Education Center in Lewisburg, which will focus on improving procedures for animal production including nutrition, health, handling and reproductive management.

Tennessee lawmaker wants to require civics test for high school graduation (T-N)
How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have? And in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to what or whom are you pledging? Legislation would require Tennessee high school students to take and pass a multiple-choice civics exam with such questions before they can graduate. But the idea is not getting an automatic “A” from officials of Sullivan County and Kingsport public schools, who cite logistical scheduling concerns. The test would be the same one people seeking to become naturalized citizens must take and pass.

Ketron, Tracy receive Senate committee appointments (Daily News Journal)
Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy, who represent Rutherford County in the state Senate, have received their Senate committee assignments, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey announced today. The announcement came as the 109th General Assembly concluded its organizational session in Nashville today. Ketron, a Murfreesboro Republican, will serve on the Senate Finance Committee, which holds the purse strings for all of state government, Ramsey said, while Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican, has been reappointed as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Sen. Jackson appointed vice chairman of senate committee (Jackson Sun)
State Sen. Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) has been appointed 1st Vice-Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as the 109th General Assembly concluded their organizational session in Nashville on Saturday, according to a news release. The Senate Government Operations Committee oversees legislation to create, reauthorize, reorganize or sunset departments, commissions, boards, agencies and councils of state government. The committee also hears bills regarding licensing and certification of occupational and professional groups, as well as reviewing regulations promulgated by state government entities, the release said.

Hazlewood takes oath (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
Freshman Republican Rep. Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain was officially sworn in as a member of Tennessee’s 109th General Assembly on Wednesday. “We’re very, very proud of you and you’ll be a wonderful member of this body,” House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, told Hazlewood after Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins administered the oath. The General Assembly convened Tuesday. But Hazlewood was unable to attend as a result of the death of her husband, Hal Hazlewood. Services were held last week.

Stakes high for Fort Campbell on Tuesday (Leaf Chronicle)
Perhaps no local issue in recent memory, if ever, has seen such unanimity of agreement among leaders on all sides as the current threat to Fort Campbell. On both sides of Fort Campbell’s gates, at every level of leadership, the prospect of losing half the post’s population has galvanized every sector and cut across turf and party lines in two states, resulting in a single voice that leaders hope will be heard loud and clear on Tuesday night, Jan. 20, at Fort Campbell’s Family Resource Center (FRC). That’s when senior Army leaders will be in town to gauge community support and hear arguments at a listening session that takes place between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

OPINION

Guest columnist: Insure TN promises unique, conservative coverage (Tennessean)
Many of the nation’s governors have been outspoken in their criticism of the Affordable Care Act and extremely skeptical of accepting the offer of Medicaid expansion on the program’s traditional terms. Gov. Bill Haslam was one of the governors who rejected expansion when it was first available nearly two years ago because he believed that expanding a broken, budget-devouring, Washington-driven health care system didn’t make sense. Instead, he insisted that any plan would be market-based and designed specifically for Tennessee, and he went to work to develop proposals that had the potential to gain Tennessee an exception to traditional Medicaid from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Guest columnist: Plan vital for work force, econ development and health care (TFP)
Insure Tennessee, the innovative health insurance proposal Gov. Bill Haslam announced in December, will help secure a healthier future for the Volunteer State. Covering hundreds of thousands of uninsured working Tennesseans will increase access to doctors for preventive care and lead to improved health outcomes. Tennessee ranks a woeful No. 45 in the U.S. in the health of its residents. For decades, we’ve seen a trend of chronically poor health, including high rates of preventable conditions that are devastating to lives, expensive to treat and a threat to our future. Improving health is essential and should be supported by every individual and entity — public and private — that has a stake in the economic progress and quality of life of Tennessee.

Guest columnist: Jobs, revenue and new income among benefits of plan (TFP)
The Center for Business and Economic Research recently examined characteristics of people who would potentially be insured under the Insure Tennessee Plan. The plan would extend eligibility for public health insurance to all working-age adults earning less than 138% of the federal poverty level who are not currently covered by TennCare. In a separate study, we found that cost was the most important reason that Tennesseans lack insurance, particularly among the working poor, and Insure Tennessee reduces this obstacle. About 473,000 working-age adults would become newly eligible for public insurance under Insure Tennessee, and over 200,000 individuals may choose to acquire public insurance.

Editorial: Greene County, TVA officials show contempt (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
Two battles over government openness in Tennessee bear close watching as the new year unfolds. In Greene County, a lawsuit over the approval of a new chemical plant has resulted in a novel — and twisted — interpretation of the state’s Open Meetings Act in court filings. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority has denied this newspaper’s request for details of incentives the federal utility offered a manufacturing company for an expansion of its Clinton plant. In both instances, members of the public thus far have been denied the opportunity to monitor the activities of those making decisions on their behalf.

Editorial: Heart and soul for Fort Campbell (Leaf Chronicle)
OK, folks, here’s the deal. The Department of Defense has been told by Congress that the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as sequestration, will require deep reductions in troop strength across the entire U.S. Army. Since Congress has not acted to change this ill-conceived mandate, the Army must make tough decisions about the future. The stakes are high for Fort Campbell and the nearby communities that support it. In the Army’s worst-case scenario, the post could lose up to 15,200 troops and 800 civilian jobs by 2020. Include an estimated 24,000 military family members, and the population loss to the area – Montgomery and Stewart counties in Tennessee and Christian and Trigg Counties in Kentucky – is estimated at 40,000 persons, or about 14 percent.

Note: The news-clips will resume on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.