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Bredesen Names Gayle Ray to Lead Department of Correction

State of Tennessee Press Release, Dec. 04, 2009:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today appointed Gayle Ray to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Correction.

Ray will assume her new role on January 1, 2010, following the departure of current Correction Commissioner George Little, who earlier this week announced he will leave Bredesen’s cabinet on December 31 to become chief administrative officer for newly-elected Memphis Mayor AC Wharton. Ray currently serves as deputy commissioner in the Department of Correction.

“I’m pleased to appoint Gayle to this position and appreciate her willingness to serve our state in this important role,” Bredesen said. “Her experience in corrections and law enforcement includes service at the state and local levels, and she is the right person to assume leadership of our efforts to the department.”

Tennessee’s Department of Correction is responsible for supervising and rehabilitating convicted offenders. The department operates 14 prisons and correctional facilities across the state that house more than 19,000 inmates. The department also operates the Tennessee Correctional Academy in Tullahoma, which serves as the state’s primary training and staff development program for correction workers.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve Governor Bredesen and the State of Tennessee as commissioner,” Ray said. “Under the leadership of Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Little, the department has made great strides to ensure public safety by better preparing prisoners for a successful return to the community, and I intend to continue leading the department toward this important goal.”

Ray served as sheriff of Davidson County from 1994 to 2002, during which time the Metro jail system became the first jail system in the country to be fully accredited. She also developed systems to help offenders with mental illness, initiated graduated sanctions and started a number of rehabilitative programs to help offenders re-enter the community.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master’s of Business Administration from Belmont University. Ray is a recipient of the Athena Award, the YWCA Academy for Women of Achievement Award and the Public Relations Society of America’s Apollo Award.

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Brig. Gen. Haston Appointed TN Adjutant General

State of Tennessee Press Release, Dec. 4, 2009:

Gov. Phil Bredesen today appointed Brigadier General Terry M. “Max” Haston as Tennessee’s 75th Adjutant General. Haston will replace Major General Gus L. Hargett, Jr., who announced his retirement earlier this year. Haston is currently the Assistant Adjutant General, Army, Tennessee National Guard.

“I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Max Haston as Tennessee’s Adjutant General,” said Bredesen. “His years of experience as a commander and staff officer are vital to the continued professional leadership of our Tennessee Guard. I am confident that under his leadership, our soldiers and airmen will continue to uphold the time honored tradition set forth by the generations of Tennesseans who have served our state and nation.”

“I also want to express my appreciation once again to his predecessor, General Gus Hargett, for his service to our country and the state of Tennessee,” Bredesen continued. “He has been a trusted advisor to me and a true leader for Tennessee.”

Haston is a native of McMinnville and currently resides in Knoxville. He was commissioned in 1979 as an Armor Officer in the U.S. Army from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

“I’m honored to receive this appointment from Governor Bredesen,” said Haston. “The Tennessee National Guard leads the way both here at home and abroad, and I look forward to serving the state soldiers and airmen in this new appointment.”

After completing a tour on active duty at Ft. Hood, Texas, Haston joined the Tennessee Army National Guard in 1983. He has served in numerous command and leadership positions within the National Guard, including Armor Company Commander, Squadron and Regimental Training Officer, and Squadron Commander.

In 2001, Haston assumed command as the seventh Colonel of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Knoxville. Following command of the 278th, he was assigned as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and J-3, Joint Forces Headquarters, Tennessee. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Penn.

In May 2005, Haston mobilized and deployed as the Chief of Reserve Components, Multi-National Corps Iraq (XVIII Airborne Corps). Upon completion of his tour in the Middle East, he returned as the J-3, JFHQ TN. He was appointed the Assistant Adjutant General, Army, on May 6, 2008.

“Governor Bredesen could not have picked a more qualified person to command, train, mentor and serve with the outstanding and professional men and women of our Tennessee Guard,” said Hargett.

The Tennessee Army and Air National Guard stands at almost 17,000 officers and enlisted personnel. The Military Department oversees a total budget, including state and federal funds of over $400 million. The Adjutant General, a constitutional officer of the state appointed by the Governor, is responsible for the leadership and command of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Bureau of War Records.

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WLAC Radio & Gill Show to Host Dec. 8 Nashville Convention Center Forum

Press Release from “The Steve Gill Show,” Dec. 4, 2009:

Nashville based, nationally syndicated talk show host Steve Gill will moderate a Townhall Forum focused on the proposed Music City Convention Center on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 from 6-8 pm at the Union Station Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Representatives from Nashville’s Priorities, a group formed in opposition to the proposed new convention center, and the Music City Center Coalition, which has been advocating the construction of a new $585 million facility, will participate in a panel discussion of the project. Mayor Karl Dean has also been invited to participate in the forum.

The Townhall forum will air live on NewsRadio 1510 am WLAC and will include questions from the audience. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

“This is a major project and it will have huge implications for Nashville in the decades to come,” noted Steve Gill. “Before the Metro Council makes its decision about the project the citizens of Nashville should be fully educated on all the details and have a chance to make their voices heard. We are happy to help in that process.”

On Thursday, Mayor Dean announced the proposed finance package for the project. Music City Center would be one of the largest municipal projects in state history and the Metro Council is expected to make a determination on the project in January, 2010.

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TCPR: Medicaid Expansion Would Wreak Havoc on State

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Dec. 3. 2009:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research today sent a brief to state lawmakers outlining the potential costs the proposed healthcare reform bills in Congress will have on the state. Both the House and Senate bills expand Medicaid eligibility, potentially devastating Tennessee’s budget. As a result, TennCare—the state’s Medicaid program—could become the health insurance option of nearly one in four Tennesseans.

According to the brief, titled “The Oncoming Tsunami of TennCare Costs” (pdf), the additional TennCare enrollees could cost Tennesseans as much as $1.4 billion. Governor Phil Bredesen (D), has properly referred to this expansion as “the mother of all unfunded mandates.”

TennCare already eats up a larger portion of the state budget than nearly every other state’s Medicaid program, and the proposed expansions would cause it to consume even more taxpayer money.

“The current rate of TennCare enrollment is unsustainable without a significant tax increase,” noted Justin Owen, the director of policy at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Opening the door to even more enrollees by expanding eligibility would wreak havoc on an already troubled program and the state budget.”

Rather than add to the TennCare rolls, Owen suggests free market alternatives that would reduce TennCare recipients’ dependence on government and protect taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

The brief offers two simple, yet effective solutions to the problem. First, the Tennessee General Assembly should seek a Medicaid waiver that would allow TennCare enrollees to take more control of their healthcare costs. Second, the state’s congressional delegation should urge Congress to replace the current Medicaid matching system with block grant funding.

“Congress successfully reformed welfare in the 1990s by moving to a block grant program, and they should do the same now to fix the Medicaid debacle,” said Owen. “The move would eliminate states’ incentive to throw more money at the problem rather than find real solutions to provide healthcare coverage to those unable to afford it.”

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AccessTN Expands Eligibility to Include Children

State of Tennessee Press Release: Dec 03, 2009

NASHVILLE – The AccessTN board of directors today approved a new policy to allow uninsurable children with chronic and acute medical conditions to enroll in the state-administered health insurance plan. The change will take effect immediately.

As Tennessee’s high risk health insurance plan, AccessTN has provided comprehensive coverage since 2007 for adults who have been denied insurance coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. Until recently, CoverKids had provided coverage to children in similar situations, but suspended new enrollment in November 2009 due to budget limitations.

“With enrollment for new members in CoverKids closed, uninsured children with chronic conditions have fewer options for coverage,” said David Hilley, director of AccessTN. “The AccessTN board voted to expand the program to include children to ensure viable options remain for families with sick children.”

With a current enrollment of more than 3,800 members, each of whom pays a monthly premium for coverage, AccessTN provides comprehensive health insurance to individuals younger than 19, while still managing within its set budget.

Premiums for children will be based on the lowest premium level charged to AccessTN enrollees and will range from $284 to $410 per month. Premium assistance is an option for some families earning less than $75,000. This aid can cover up to 60 percent of the monthly premium, depending on family income, and is subject to available funding.

“Prior to the CoverKids enrollment suspension, families with uninsurable children could buy into that program by paying monthly premiums because they exceeded the income limits to qualify for free coverage,” Hilley added. “Now that enrollment for CoverKids has closed, this keeps a buy-in option open for those families who still need coverage for their children.”

To qualify for AccessTN, an individual must be a Tennessee resident, U.S. citizen or qualified legal alien and be considered uninsurable due to pre-existing health conditions. In addition, applicants must be uninsured for at least three months, though special exclusions apply for those finishing COBRA or TennCare policies, or for those whose employer has cancelled group coverage.

AccessTN is a program of Cover Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen’s initiative to address the health care needs of Tennessee’s uninsured. Cover Tennessee offers three other programs, including CoverTN, a limited benefit health plan for the working uninsured. CoverKids provides free comprehensive health insurance for qualifying children 18-years-old and younger. CoverRx provides Tennesseans who lack pharmacy benefits with access to affordable prescriptions.

New enrollment in CoverKids suspended Dec. 1, 2009. The last day to pre-qualify for CoverTN was Nov. 30. Any businesses or individuals who prequalified for coverage have until Dec. 31, 2009, to enroll with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Both programs are temporarily closing enrollment as a result of limits in the state budget.

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DOE Approves TN’s Appliance Rebate Program

State of Tennessee News Release, Dec 02, 2009:

Eligible Appliances Include Heating and Cooling Units; Program Slated to Launch on Earth Day 2010

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today announced approval by U.S. Department of Energy for Tennessee’s State Energy and Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP). Tennessee will receive $5.9 million for the program’s rebates and administrative costs and will be funded by federal dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program will be administered at the state level through ECD.

“This funding provided by the Recovery Act will help Tennessee families lower their utility bills and have a positive impact on the environment,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This will be a welcome addition to Tennessee’s ongoing energy conservation initiatives.”

Eligible appliances will include air source heat pumps, central air conditioners and room air conditioners with the Energy Star® designation. A rebate of $250 will be available for the air source heat pumps and central air conditioners, while room air conditioners will be eligible for a $40 rebate. The target date for the launch of the program is Earth Day, April 22, 2010.

“Tennessee has one of the highest per capita rates of residential electricity consumption in the U.S.,” said Matt Kisber, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “By encouraging the use of Energy Star® heating and cooling systems, we’ll help Tennessee families reduce their energy use and save on their heating and cooling bills each month.”

Statewide, the estimated energy savings for delivery and installation of qualified heating and cooling products is approximately 16 million kilowatt hours per year. A reduction in energy use of that size translates to a yearly savings of almost $1.4 million in energy costs for Tennesseans and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by 32 million pounds annually.

The state of Tennessee plans to partner with the Tennessee Valley Authority on the program to reduce administrative and processing costs, as well as to help market and promote SEEARP. The collaboration will allow the state of Tennessee to focus the majority of the ARRA funding on consumer rebates. Consumers receiving rebates under the state’s program may also be eligible for additional financial assistance through TVA’s existing residential efficiency programs.

“With this approach, we can improve residential energy efficiency and reduce peak energy demand on the TVA grid,” said Ryan Gooch, energy policy director for the Department of Economic and Community Development. “Helping consumers purchase more efficient heating and cooling systems will produce significant energy savings and have the biggest positive impact on the environment.”

More details on how consumers can take advantage of the rebates will be available in the coming months.

Only qualifying Energy Star® heating and cooling units purchased after the program launch will be eligible and rebates will not be retroactive. For the latest updates go here.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in July 2009 that $300 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would be made available to states and territories to promote the purchase of Energy Star® qualified appliances. Energy Star® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, visit Energy Star®.

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TDEC Releases Advisory Board Report on TVA Kingston Failure

State of Tennessee Press Release: Dec 01, 2009

Report Outlines Areas in Need of Improvement; Provides Recommendations

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke and Deputy Commissioner Paul Sloan announced today the receipt of a report by the Advisory Board put in place by Environment and Conservation following the TVA Kingston coal ash spill.

The report is titled, “Lessons Learned from the TVA Kingston Dredge Cell Containment Facility Failure: TDEC Advisory Board Recommendations for Safe Performance.” It outlines the primary issues found at the TVA Kingston facility, discusses the ongoing evaluation of other TVA facilities, weighs in on the Root Cause Analysis initially published by AECOM in June 2009, and makes several recommendations for future management of coal ash in Tennessee.

“Immediately following the Kingston spill, Governor Bredesen directed us to review all regulations regarding coal ash management in Tennessee to determine how they need to evolve,” said Fyke. “The recommendations made by this group will assist the department as we continue to move forward in that effort. We appreciate their expertise and dedicated service to our state.”

Advisory Board members include:

  • Lyle Bentley, TDEC Division of Water Supply – Safe Dams Program, P.E.
  • Steve Jacoby, Benham Consultants, P.E.
  • Richard Kramer, Benham Consultants, P.E.
  • Glen Pugh, TDEC Division of Solid Waste Management
  • Saya Qualls, TDEC Division of Water Pollution Control, P.E.
  • Karrie Jo Shell, Environmental Protection Agency – Region IV, P.E.
  • Dr. Bruce Tschantz, Professor Emeritus, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, P.E.

Members reviewed available information regarding the Kingston failure, attended TVA briefings, performed site visits and assessed TVA processes to establish lessons learned and develop the recommendations outlined in the report.

“The department is reviewing our rules and regulations regarding coal ash management with an eye toward the Advisory Board’s recommendations,” said Sloan. “We will use this information, as well as any new federal regulations put in place by EPA, to meet the Governor’s directive and ensure coal ash is safely managed in Tennessee into the future.”

The TDEC Advisory Board’s report and recommendations can be found on Environment and Conservation’s TVA Kingston Update.

TDEC Releases Advisory Board Report on TVA Kingston Failure
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Tennessee Tops States in Activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week

State of Tennessee Press Release, Nov. 12, 2009:

NASHVILLE — The state of Tennessee currently leads the nation in the number of events planned for Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 16-22, which celebrates the vital role entrepreneurs play in innovation, job creation and economic recovery. To date, Tennessee has confirmed more than 60 events, leading all other states in the nation by 19 activities. Tennessee also ranks in the top ten for partners, with more than 50 organizations across the state joining in to make 2009’s celebration a success.

“Entrepreneurs provide the foundation that great companies and communities are built upon,” said Matt Kisber, commissioner Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “To have so many willing participants and activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week is a testament to the passionate, creative individuals we have living in our state. I am proud that Tennessee is standing tall amongst the nation and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow and share their skills.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide event intended to inspire, connect, mentor and engage young people with the desire to change the world. Partners include universities, high schools, non-profit organizations, successful entrepreneurs and government agencies.

Activities across Tennessee range from pitch contests and launch challenges to speaker series’ and panels from various industries. The week officially kicks off tomorrow in Chattanooga with 48Hour Launch, a high-octane event at which entrepreneurs gather and try to launch as many tech companies as possible in a 48-hour period.

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America’s Future Foundation event: Former TennCare director to discuss health care reform

Join America’s Future Foundation in Nashville as Brian Lapps, a former TennCare director, shares his perspective on national healthcare reform.

  • Date: Monday, November 16, 2009
  • Time: Cocktail hour at 6:30 pm, Brian Lapps speaks at 7:30 pm with Q&A immediately following
  • Place: Hampton Inn Green Hills, Belle Meade Room ( 2324 Crestmoor Road, 37215)
  • Hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages will be provided.

About Brian Lapps:

As the former director and assistant commissioner of the TennCare Bureau in Nashville, Brian Lapps developed and initiated a comprehensive reform plan for the $4.3 billion program. At the time, TennCare was the most comprehensive and difficult Medicaid Managed Care program in the United States. Mr. Lapps interacted with state and federal officials, nine managed care organizations (HMO’s), providers and multiple constituencies to reign in the program. He has nearly 4 decades of experience in the healthcare industry, including executive positions at several Nashville-area hospitals and healthcare organizations. He is currently a managing director with Harpeth Consulting, a business management consulting firm focused on commercial for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare providers and payers and federal, state and local government healthcare agencies.

Price Rainer (email)

Executive Director — Nashville America’s Future Foundation (Facebook) (Twitter)

http://www.americasfuture.org/nashville-chapter/


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Press Releases

America’s Future Foundation event: Former TennCare director to discuss health care reform

Join America’s Future Foundation as Brian Lapps, a former TennCare director, shares his perspective on national healthcare reform.

  • Date: Monday, November 16, 2009
  • Time: Cocktail hour at 6:30 pm, Brian Lapps speaks at 7:30 pm with Q&A immediately following
  • Place: Hampton Inn Green Hills, Belle Meade Room ( 2324 Crestmoor Road, 37215)
  • Hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages will be provided.

About Brian Lapps:

As the former director and assistant commissioner of the TennCare Bureau in Nashville, Brian Lapps developed and initiated a comprehensive reform plan for the $4.3 billion program. At the time, TennCare was the most comprehensive and difficult Medicaid Managed Care program in the United States. Mr. Lapps interacted with state and federal officials, nine managed care organizations (HMO’s), providers and multiple constituencies to reign in the program. He has nearly 4 decades of experience in the healthcare industry, including executive positions at several Nashville-area hospitals and healthcare organizations. He is currently a managing director with Harpeth Consulting, a business management consulting firm focused on commercial for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare providers and payers and federal, state and local government healthcare agencies.

****************************** ****************************

Price Rainer (price@americasfuture.org)
Executive Director — Nashville America’s Future Foundation

http://www.americasfuture.org/

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