May 6 TN News Digest

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

Announcement expected from Governor Haslam (WBIR-TV Knoxville)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is expected to make an announcement at McGhee Tyson Airport Wednesday morning. Few details are available, but the event is scheduled for 9 a.m. A Minnesota newspaper reports it is likely that Cirrus Aircraft will announce a delivery center at McGhee Tyson. Cirrus Aircraft makes small, recreational planes. The governor, along with Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd,will make a “significant economic development announcement.” No word on what that entails, but in recent months, Governor Haslam and Commissioner Boyd have made other announcements around the state.


Haslam,  Boyd to make economic development announcement in Alcoa (WATE)

Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd are expected to make an economic development announcement on Wednesday morning. A report from Duluth News Tribune says Cirrus Aircraft, a Minnesota-based company, will be starting up a new facility in East Tennessee. Haslam is expected to make the official announcement at 9 a.m. at Tyson-McGhee Airport in Alcoa.


Cirrus Aircraft will open delivery center at McGhee Tyson (NS/Williams)

A Minnesota-based manufacturer of small airplanes — including a new “personal jet” that is about to be introduced — plans to open a facility at Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport to deliver the planes to its buyers and conduct basic flight training in the aircraft. Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to make an announcement this morning at the airport that Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minn., will open the facility on the airport’s west side. Cirrus currently makes a line of single-engine propeller-driven four-passenger airplanes that are popular with recreational pilots, and is nearing production of a small single-engine jet — called the Vision SF50 — that carries up to seven passengers.


Cirrus Aircraft expected to announce new Tennessee facility (Duluth News Tribune)

Representatives of Cirrus Aircraft will be joined by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam at the McGhee Tyson Airport outside Knoxville on Wednesday morning to make “a significant economic development announcement,” according to a news release issued Tuesday. Bill King, vice president of business administration for the Duluth-based company, would not disclose the nature of the trip to the Knoxville airport when contacted by the News Tribune on Tuesday. But in response to a question about whether the pending announcement involved the future location of a manufacturing facility for the Vision SF50, Cirrus’ soon-to-be-launched jet aircraft, King responded emphatically: “It is not about jet production.”


Gov. Haslam says Chattanooga prayer breakfast unique among events (TFP/Hardy)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam attends plenty of festivals, events and celebrations across the state. He’s been to strawberry festivals, the World’s Biggest Fish Fry in Paris and Mule Day in Columbia. But what he saw walking to the Chattanooga Convention Center early Tuesday morning was unique, he said. There, more than 1,600 local business leaders, politicians and religious leaders gathered for a breakfast of biscuits, eggs and prayer. “I don’t know of anything that compares to that across the state,” Haslam told the crowd at the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast. “And I go to a lot of events.”


High school students can enroll in Vol State classes for free (Tennessean)

High school students who want to get a head-start on their college career have one more incentive: free classes. Dual enrollment classes are Volunteer State Community College courses held in local high schools, online or on the college’s campuses, so that high school juniors and seniors can get both high school and college credit at the same time. A new program just announced by Vol State now makes it possible for many high school students to get up to four college classes for free thanks to a last dollar scholarship. The general education courses can transfer to universities and colleges across the country. Students can take Vol State dual enrollment classes at high schools in Sumner, Davidson, Robertson, Wilson, Macon, Trousdale, Putnam, Overton, Pickett, Smith, Jackson and Clay counties.


Tennessee Board to examine Historic Places nominations (Associated Press)

The State Review Board will meet on May 20 to examine Tennessee’s proposed nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The meeting will be held at the Tennessee Historical Commission office at 9 a.m. and is open to the public. The board will vote on seven nominations from across the state. They are: the RCA Victor Studios Building in Davidson County; Ravenscroft in White County; Fall Creek Falls Fire Lookout Tower in Bledsoe County; Old Grainger County Jail and Rutledge Presbyterian Church; and Gay Street Historic District and Murphy Springs Farm in Knox County. For additional information, contact Claudette Stager at (615) 770-1089, or


TN Supreme Court to hear electric chair case (Tennessean/Barchenger)

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that will determine whether a group of death row inmates can continue with their claim that the electric chair is an unconstitutional method of execution. The electric chair is Tennessee’s backup. Law says it will only be used if an inmate chooses it or if the primary method, lethal injection, is declared unconstitutional or the chemicals are not available. No condemned inmates are scheduled to die. The Tennessee Attorney General’s office argues that the inmates’ pending challenge relies on a hypothetical situation. Because of that, the state says, the claim is not valid and should be dismissed.


Tenn. high court to hear challenge to execution law in Knoxville (N-S/Satterfield)

Call this challenge to a new state law resurrecting electrocution in capital murder cases the test before the test. When the Tennessee Supreme Court convenes today in Knoxville, the high court will not be pondering whether the 2014 law passes constitutional muster. Instead, the panel will hear arguments on whether it is too soon for the 34 death row inmates suing the state over all manner of death penalty protocols to mount a challenge at all. The Legislature voted to reinstate use of the electric chair in the event the state Department of Correction is unable to procure lethal injection drugs. The state does not have any such drugs but insists the agency can still get them.


New law allows for home alcohol delivery (Tennessean/Alfs, Boucher)

The business of home delivery in Tennessee is expanding into an untapped market: liquor. Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law last week that will allow third-party restaurant delivery services, such as GrubHub, OrderUp and Delivery Dudes, to purchase alcoholic beverages from licensed retailers and deliver it straight to consumers’ doors. The law takes effect July 1. Packaged liquor stores are already allowed to deliver directly to consumers after legislation passed last year, but many retailers opt not to provide that service. The new law allows companies that already deliver food products or prepared foods to also deliver alcohol.


Speakers disavow any ‘mandate’ for Tennessee security group (AP/Schelzig)

The speakers of the state House and Senate refute any “mandate” claimed by a private group calling itself the Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security. The group in fundraising literature describes itself as a “non-profit publicly funded and operated body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by various acts of terrorism.” But Kara Owen, a spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, says the group “does not function in any official capacity.” And Adam Kleinheider, a spokesman for Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, said it would be “erroneous” to claim the group had been endorsed by the General Assembly.


Donna Barrett begins new term on state Election Commission (Daily News Journal)

The state Election Commission, including Donna Barrett of Murfreesboro, held its first meeting in Nashville Monday for the four-year term that began May 1, according to the secretary of state. Members of the State Election Commission are elected by the General Assembly, officials said. The commission is responsible for appointing local election commissioners in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, then monitoring the activities and performance of those individual county election commissions. The commission also reviews and certifies voting systems prior to their use in Tennessee, officials said.


How Chuck Fleischmann overcomes the odds (Times Free-Press/Kennedy)

Let the record show: only four left-handers since 1950 have played second base in Major League Baseball. There are good reasons for this. The mechanics of baseball dictate that infielders catch the ball, plant their feet and throw in a smooth confluence of motions. Anything that adds a millisecond to this process throws off the Swiss-watch precision of the game and makes put-outs at first base more difficult. A left-handed second baseman will often find himself in the untenable position of having to turn his back on first base to stab at a ground ball and then spin and replant his feet to make a balanced throw to first. Meanwhile, a fast base-runner will take advantage of this tangled chain of events. The word that best describes left-handed second basemen is “awkward.”


States Look to Boost Taxes (Wall Street Journal)

About a dozen states—including several led by Republican governors—are considering significant tax increases this year, despite the success of antitax conservatives in the 2014 elections. In the latest round of the debate, Michigan voters on Tuesday rejected a plan advanced by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder to raise the state’s sales tax to fund highway work and other needs. State revenues generally have returned to prerecession levels, adjusted for inflation. But a number of governors and legislatures are wrestling with how to address growing demands for services in areas of the budget that were squeezed during the downturn. Proposals for tax increases are proliferating, in particular, efforts to fund transportation and education, as lawmakers prepare to adopt budgets for the fiscal year that in most states begins July 1.


TVA awaits decision on getting fuel made from surplus warheads (TFP/Flessner)

The U.S. military appears to be backing off from its plans to produce plutonium fuel (MOX) for TVA nuclear plants derived from surplus bomb materials from America’s nuclear arsenal. After delays and cost overruns at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the U.S. Department of Energy has dropped its earlier preference to produce MOX fuel for commercial nuclear power plants from old and decaying nuclear bombs. In a new environmental assessment of the multibillion-dollar project released last week, DOE said that it “has no preferred alternative” for disposing of 14.4 tons of surplus plutonium from U.S. nuclear warheads.


Knox school superintendent’s evaluation process being considered (NS/McCoy)

The evaluation process for Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre remains under review, including a proposal submitted by a resident. The proposal, submitted by Brenda Owensby, would look at outcomes based on the school system’s currently adopted strategic plan and other areas currently in the superintendent’s evaluation process, such as his effective use of resources. The committee did not make any decisions Tuesday about the proposal, noting only what members liked and didn’t like about it. Committee members Patti Bounds and Terry Hill said they liked that a part of Owensby’s proposal was aligned with the school system’s current strategic plan.

CMCSS budget goes to courthouse (Leaf Chronicle)

Wednesday at 1 p.m., the lion’s share of the Montgomery County Commission’s annual budget consideration will be formally laid in the hands of the county Budget Committee for line-by-line consideration and scrutiny. Early indications are, there will be plenty of both happening when Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools System Director B.J. Worthington and his staff come calling on the third floor of the Courthouse, for what could be a long, afternoon schools budget hearing. Wednesday’s CMCSS budget hearing highlights an ongoing series of county departmental budget hearings in advance of the 2015-16 fiscal year that officially arrives July 1.