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Evans: Nation on Path to Bankruptcy

Editorial from Rep. Joshua Evans, R-Greenbrier; July 6, 2012:  

Throughout this week of celebrating our Independence, I hope that, in addition to the fireworks and the barbecues, each of us takes the time to reflect on the system that our Founding Fathers so wisely developed. Influenced by the experiences of other nations where citizens struggled beneath all-powerful monarchs, overly-influential legislative bodies, and historic social barriers that stood in the way of true individual involvement in the state, our government was created to give voice to the citizens of our nation.

This time of reflection is essential today because we have a presidential administration that is acting with impunity – resembling the all-powerful monarchs that our governing system was designed to resist.

First, the administration argues before Congress that Obamacare is not a tax. This argument protected Congressmen who were afraid to explain to their constituents why they had voted for the largest tax increase in American history.

Then, the administration goes before the Supreme Court and argues that Obamacare is indeed a tax and thus constitutional. So – for all of you keeping score at home – for political expediency, the bill is not a tax, yet for Constitutional expediency, it is a tax.

In his recent proclamation that created a path to amnesty for many who are in our nation illegally, the President belied his apparent belief that members of congress are simply obstructions and side-stepped them and their collective authority.

And for good measure, when Congress dared to call into question the Department of Justice and its egregious failures through the Fast and Furious operation, the President invoked executive privilege, protecting a number of documents that could potentially reveal the implicit – or even explicit – support of the administration in these illegal activities.

These are three examples – all of them recent – of an administration acting in a manner where it appears as if all others are irrelevant or at best bit-players in the administration’s larger production.

Unfortunately for the American taxpayer, the price-tag for the President’s actions is growing by the day. The projected cost of Obamacare has already grown from $800 billion to $1.7 trillion. In addition, the EPA now has more regulations in the approval pipeline than the Agency generated in its entire 40 year existence. These regulations contribute to $1.75 trillion in costs to the American taxpayer while also killing jobs and stifling business growth.

We are on a path that will bankrupt this great nation. This fall, however, we have the opportunity again to exercise our freedoms to shift the direction of the country and to place us back on a path to prosperity.

In the 2010 elections, the American people expressed their displeasure with Obamacare, voting the Republican Party into 63 democrat-held seats in Congress – and 680 seats shifted to the Republican Party in state legislatures across the country. This was an historic shift, and voters have a similar opportunity this year.

The power of your votes is clearly evident in our General Assembly. Through the repeal of the Death Tax, through ongoing Tort-Reform efforts, through the strengthening of our right-to-work laws in Tennessee, through the passage of business-friendly, job-creating statutes, and through our extensive education reform efforts, we have navigated our state into a position where businesses and individuals in Tennessee have greater opportunities to be successful.

We are blessed to live in a nation where through our votes we are given the opportunity to steer our course, directing us – as we have in Tennessee – to prosperity. So as we celebrate our Independence and look forward to the elections ahead, I implore you to remember the privilege that we share in our ability to vote and the responsibility we share to exercise that privilege.

U.S. Labor Dept. Backs Off Child Farm-Work Restrictions

Press release from the United States Department of Labor; April 26, 2012:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:

“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.

“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

“Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders — such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H — to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”

Big Apple-Bound Again

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will do double duty in New York early this week, working on job creation while also appearing at the NBC event called the Education Nation Summit.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and a small team from ECD will be along for the trip in an effort much like the jobs trek the governor made to California in early September.

“We’ve asked our ECD folks — Commissioner Hagerty and others — to put together three or four different groups of both site selection people and some existing businesses, so again we can continue to sell Tennessee,” Haslam said.

Hagerty said the New York trip will run Monday-Wednesday. Haslam is scheduled to appear at a Tennessee Downtown Partnership event Wednesday in Nashville at noon. First Lady Crissy Haslam is scheduled to join her husband at the education summit.

The NBC education event kicks off with a teachers’ town hall on Sunday and concludes with a session with former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday. Haslam said he would be part of two panels at the summit, one on K-12 education and another on completing college.

Hagerty said the Tennessee contingent got a positive reception when it traveled to California and that the group will meet in New York with companies that have private equity investments in Tennessee as well as companies that have not made investments in the state yet.

Haslam and Hagerty have repeatedly said the state is interested in growing businesses that already exist in the state as well as those they would like to attract to Tennessee.

The education summit is expected to include governors Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Nathan Deal of Georgia; Mary Fallin of Oklahoma; John Hickenlooper of Colorado; Paul LePage of Maine; Jack Markell of Delaware; Bob McDonnell of Virginia; Sean Parnell of Arkansas; and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Haslam is expected on Monday to participate in a discussion called “The State of Education: The Governor’s Perspective.” That session is expected to cover a variety of educational issues and include questions from teachers, principals, parents and students.

Haslam was invited to introduce President Barack Obama last Friday at the White House for the president’s announcement of a new approach to the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Obama is scheduled to give his third annual “Back To School” speech on Wednesday at a high school in Washington.

Tennessee Favored In No Child Left Behind Announcement

Gov. Bill Haslam got the first real sign that Tennessee will get what it wants on the No Child Left Behind law when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called him last Friday about attending an event in Washington.

The event, it turns out, was a White House ceremony Friday where Haslam introduced President Barack Obama, who announced changes on NCLB. Tennessee requested a waiver from the law in July.

Deciding whether to accept an invitation to the White House would normally be a no-brainer for a governor, but Haslam had a little scheduling conflict. His daughter, Annie, is getting married. The wedding was planned for Saturday in the front yard of the Tennessee Residence — with the governor himself performing the ceremony.

“I said, ‘I’ve got a little issue. I’ve got a wedding going on that week, and I’ve got to make sure my boss says it’s OK,'” Haslam said Friday in Nashville. He didn’t say exactly who the boss was he was referring to, although presumably it is First Lady Crissy Haslam. The rehearsal dinner was scheduled Friday night.

“Once I knew I could do it logistically, I said I would be glad to, because I think they’re doing the right thing,” Haslam said of the trip.

The governor wasn’t allowing many details about the wedding, but he was happy Friday to talk about his visit to Washington, the return from which delayed him from his appointment to speak in Nashville at the Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development. A luncheon crowd of hundreds of people waited for him in the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel.

Haslam, who usually keeps a full but tight schedule, apologized repeatedly for being late when he finally got to the podium. Weather had delayed his return. He didn’t speak long. But the journey to Washington spoke volumes about Tennessee’s place in education reform in the Obama administration’s eyes.

Obama announced a new flexibility plan on NCLB for states engaged in education reform. The criteria to receive that flexibility fall in line with the reform effort going on in Tennessee, begun under former Gov. Phil Bredesen. Duncan gave high praise to Tennessee’s efforts when he appeared in Nashville in August at West End Middle School and at the offices of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.

Obama is seeking reforms that still include standards that will make students college-ready and career-ready, accountability in the education system and evaluating teachers and principals on their effectiveness. But the White House move appears to be an agreement that expectations in NCLB have proved to be simply impossible to reach.

So on Friday morning, Haslam stood in the East Room of the White House, thanking Duncan, saying while he doesn’t always agree with Obama there should be action when Republicans and Democrats do agree, and introducing the president. No one guaranteed Haslam would get what he wants on NCLB, but the sight of the East Room appeared to say he would.

“When they said, ‘Do you want to come?’ I said, ‘Well, please don’t ask us up there if you’re going to embarrass us down the road,'” Haslam said. “I think the message was: ‘We like the path that you’re on.'”

States across the country have complained about the standards required in the law as being unrealistic and not achievable. The Obama administration seems to agree. Tennessee has been involved in education reform that won $501 million in the first round of the federal Race to the Top competition, showing the Obama administration likes what the state is doing.

The Obama administration issued criteria Friday that will give states that are working on reform the flexibility they seek. The White House noted that many states have adopted college- and career-ready standards and are implementing reforms in teacher and principal evaluations.

Obama said Friday a fresh approach will give states the opportunity to improve but will not serve as a reprieve from the spirit of the No Child Left Behind Law, which was adopted under former President George W. Bush.

Haslam said in his remarks at the White House that Tennessee is most qualified to make its own decisions about how to make progress in education. Tennessee’s efforts and the federal government’s position seem to match.

“We have talked with Secretary Duncan several times over the last five or six days,” Haslam said in Nashville Friday. “We talked about what their criteria are and where Tennessee stacks up.

“I think they feel really good about what we’ve submitted to them and what we’re doing in Tennessee, so I don’t have any final word, but I feel good about our position.”

Haslam was asked if the federal step to give more authority to the states is a weakening of standards.

“Here’s why it’s not weakening the standards,” he said. “No Child Left Behind, while it was about raising standards, it let every state set their own. Until last year, Tennessee set the standard really low. Then it just measured by whether you met your own bar. Tennessee did the right thing and set the bar higher.

“Now all of a sudden we’re on a path (with the original NCLB expectations) where 100 percent of our schools weren’t going to meet the standards. It’s much better to measure improvement.”

Haslam used one of his frequent analogies by comparing the situation to a workout exercise.

“If somebody said, ‘Bill Haslam, you should get in better shape, and I want you to run a four-minute mile next week,’ no way,” he said. “I can get in better shape, but if the goal is to run a four-minute mile, it’s not going to happen. If they measure my improvement, I can do that.

“We basically are going to use the accountability standards that are set out in Race to the Top in our winning application there. It’s one of the reasons we feel good about our application for a waiver. They’re asking states to do the same thing they asked in Race to the Top.”

Haslam viewed the invitation to the White House as acknowledgement of what the state is doing, but he spoke openly of the obvious political consideration in choosing a Republican governor to join the Democratic president in the ceremony.

“The things they are asking us to do, we are doing, in terms of focusing on the achievement gap, in terms of linking student performance to teacher evaluation,” Haslam said. “All the key things that the president talked about are the things we are doing in Tennessee, and I think are the right things to do as well. That’s one of the reasons I decided to go do that.

“I think they do want some states that they can give waivers to, and hopefully quickly, and say this is a state that’s on the right path. Obviously, politically, it doesn’t hurt to have a Republican governor up there with him, just to be truthful about it.”

Obama thanked Duncan, then thanked Haslam for being at the announcement and for “the great work that he’s doing in Tennessee.

“I’m especially appreciative because I found out that his daughter is getting married, and he is doing the ceremony tomorrow, so we’ve got to get him back on time.”

Obama Thanks Haslam; President Also Congratulates TN Governor on Daughter’s Wedding

President Barack Obama on No Child Left Behind Flexibility; Remarks Distributed by the White House Press Office, Sept. 23, 2011:

East Room, 10:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. I see a whole bunch of people who are interested in education, and we are grateful for all the work that you do each and every day.

I want to recognize the person to my right, somebody who I think will end up being considered one of the finest Secretaries of Education we’ve ever had — Arne Duncan. (Applause.) In addition to his passion, probably the finest basketball player ever in the Cabinet. (Laughter.)

I also want to thank Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee for taking the time to be here today, and the great work that he’s doing in Tennessee. I’m especially appreciative because I found that his daughter is getting married, and he is doing the ceremony tomorrow, so we’ve got to get him back on time. (Laughter and applause.) But we really appreciate his presence. Thank you.

And a good friend, somebody who I had the pleasure of serving with during the time that I was in the United States Senate, he is now the Governor of Rhode Island — Lincoln Chafee. It’s wonderful to see Lincoln. (Applause.)

Thank you all for coming. And I do want to acknowledge two guys who’ve just worked tirelessly on behalf of education issues who happen to be in the front row here — from the House, outstanding Congressman, George Miller. (Applause.) And from the Senate, the pride of Iowa, Tom Harkin. (Applause.)

Now, it is an undeniable fact that countries who out-educate us today are going to out-compete us tomorrow. But today, our students are sliding against their peers around the globe. Today, our kids trail too many other countries in math, in science, in reading. And that’s true, by the way, not just in inner-city schools, not just among poor kids; even among what are considered our better-off suburban schools we’re lagging behind where we need to be. Today, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t finishing high school. We have fallen to 16th in the proportion of young people with a college degree, even though we know that 60 percent of new jobs in the coming decade will require more than a high school diploma.

And what this means is if we’re serious about building an economy that lasts –- an economy in which hard work pays off with the opportunity for solid middle-class jobs -– we’ve got to get serious about education. We are going to have to pick up our games and raise our standards.

We’re in the midst of an ongoing enormous economic challenge. And I spend a lot of my time thinking immediately about how we can put folks back to work and how we can stabilize the world financial markets. And those things are all important. But the economic challenges we face now are economic challenges that have been building for decades now, and the most important thing we can do is to make sure that our kids are prepared for this new economy. That’s the single-most important thing we can do. (Applause.) So even as we focus on the near term and what we’ve got to do to put folks back to work, we’ve got to be thinking a little bit ahead and start making the tough decisions now to make sure that our schools are working the way they need to work.

Now, we all now that schools can’t do it alone. As parents, the task begins at home. It begins by turning off the TV and helping with homework, and encouraging a love of learning from the very start of our children’s lives. And I’m speaking from experience now. (Laughter.) Malia and Sasha would often rather be watching American Idol or Sponge Bob, but Michelle and I know that our first job, our first responsibility, is instilling a sense of learning, a sense of a love of learning in our kids. And so there are no shortcuts there; we have to do that job. And we can’t just blame teachers and schools if we’re not instilling that commitment, that dedication to learning, in our kids.

But as a nation, we also have an obligation to make sure that all of our children have the resources they need to learn, because they’re spending a lot of time outside of the household. They’re spending the bulk of their waking hours in school. And that means that we’ve got to make sure we’ve got quality schools, good teachers, the latest textbooks, the right technology. And that, by the way, is something we can do something about right away. That’s why I sent the jobs bill to Congress that would put thousands of teachers back to work all across the country and modernize at least 35,000 schools. (Applause.)

Congress should pass that bill right now. We’ve got too many schools that are under-resourced, too many teachers who want to be in the classroom who aren’t because of budget constraints, not because they can’t do the job.

So parents have a role and schools need more resources. But money alone won’t solve our education problems. I’ve said this before, I will repeat it: Money alone is not enough. We also need reform. We’ve got to make sure that every classroom is a place of high expectations and high performance. And that’s been our vision since taking office. That’s why instead of just pouring money into the system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. And to all 50 states — to governors, to schools districts — we said, show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement; we’ll show you the money. We want to provide you more resources, but there’s also got to be a commitment on your part to make the changes that are necessary so that we can see actual results.

And for less than 1 percent of what we spend on education each year, Race to the Top, under Arne’s leadership, has led states across the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And, by the way, these standards that we’re talking about — these high standards that we’re talking about were not developed here in Washington. They were developed by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country — essentially as a peer group, a peer review system where everybody traded best practices and said, here’s what seems to work, and let’s hold all of our schools to these high standards. And since that Race to the Top has been launched, we’ve seen what’s possible when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate but the work of local teachers and principals and school boards and communities working together to develop better standards.

This is why, in my State of the Union address this year, I said that Congress should reform the No Child Left Behind law based on the principles that have guided Race to the Top.

And I want to say the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, and President Bush deserves credit for that. Higher standards are the right goal. Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we’ve got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that, in it’s implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them. Teachers too often are being forced to teach to the test. Subjects like history and science have been squeezed out. And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states, perversely, have actually had to lower their standards in a race to the bottom instead of a Race to the Top. They don’t want to get penalized? Let’s make sure that the standards are so low that we’re not going to be seen failing to meet them. That makes no sense.

And these problems have been obvious to parents and educators all over the country for years now. Despite the good intentions of some — two of them are sitting right here, Tom and George — Congress has not been able to fix these flaws so far. I’ve urged Congress for a while now, let’s get a bipartisan effort, let’s fix this. Congress hasn’t been able to do it. So I will. Our kids only get one shot at a decent education. They cannot afford to wait any longer. So, given that Congress cannot act, I am acting. (Applause.)

So starting today, we’ll be giving states more flexibility to meet high standards. Keep in mind, the change we’re making is not lowering standards; we’re saying we’re going to give you more flexibility to meet high standards. We’re going to let states, schools and teachers come up with innovative ways to give our children the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Because what works in Rhode Island may not be the same thing that works in Tennessee -– but every student should have the same opportunity to learn and grow, no matter what state they live in.

Let me repeat: This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. In fact, the way we’ve structured this, if states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards, that prove they’re serious about meeting them.

And already, 44 states –- led by some of the people on this stage –- have set higher standards and proposed new ways to get there — because that’s what’s critical. They know what’s at stake here.

Ricky Hall is the principal of a charter school in Worcester, Massachusetts. Where’s Ricky? Oh, Ricky’s not here. (Laughter.) He was — there he is. Ricky — I wasn’t sure if he was behind me. Good. Thank you. (Applause.) Every single student who graduated from Ricky’s school in the last three years went on to college. Every single one. (Applause.) His school ranks in the top quarter of all schools in Massachusetts — and as you know, Massachusetts’ schools rank very high among the 50 states. But because Ricky’s school did not meet all the technical standards of No Child Left Behind, his school was labeled a failure last year. That’s not right. That needs to change. What we’re doing today will encourage the progress at schools like Ricky’s.

Is John Becker here? He is? All right, here’s John. (Laughter.) I didn’t think you were John. (Laughter.) John teaches at one of the highest-performing middle schools in D.C., and now with these changes we’re making he’s going to be able to focus on teaching his 4th-graders math in a way that improves their performance instead of just teaching to a test. (Applause.)

We have superintendents like David Estrop from Springfield, Ohio — right here. (Applause.) Dave will be able to focus on improving teaching and learning in his district instead of spending all his time on bureaucratic mandates from Washington that don’t actually produce results.

So this isn’t just the right thing to do for our kids -– it’s the right thing to do for our country. We can’t afford to wait for an education system that is not doing everything it needs to do for our kids. We can’t let another generation of young people fall behind because we didn’t have the courage to recognize what doesn’t work, admit it, and replace it with something that does. We’ve got to act now. (Applause.) We’ve got to act now and harness all the good ideas coming out of our states, out of our schools. We can’t be tied up with ideology. We can’t be worrying about partisanship. We just have to make sure that we figure out what works, and we hold ourselves to those high standards. Because now is the time to give our children the skills that they need to compete in this global economy.

We’ve got a couple of students up on stage who are doing outstanding work because somebody in their schools is dedicated and committed every single day to making sure that they’ve got a chance to succeed. But I don’t want them to be the exception. I want them to be the rule. Now is the time to make our education system the best in the world, the envy of the world. (Applause.) It used to be. It is going to be again, thanks to the people in this room.

God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Norris Tweets Dig at Dems on Solyndra Setback

Everything under the sun seems to be open to squabbles over jobs between Republicans and Democrats in the Tennessee Legislature. Now it’s solar panels.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris tweeted Tuesday night, “Solyndra’s shadow as Dems plan to tour Bredesen’s solar farm.” Norris linked to a recent Nashville Business Journal article noting that solar businesses either seem to be starting up or fading away.

Solyndra, based in Fremont, Calif., specializes in rooftop solar power systems. The company received a loan of $535 million in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus package and has been lauded by the Obama administration as an example of the nation’s energy future.

But the company has shut down, laid off hundreds of workers and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company also faces a federal investigation. The House Energy and Commerce oversight committee is scheduled to begin hearings on Solyndra on Wednesday, but Solyndra executives have postponed their appearance, citing the bankruptcy proceedings. A column posted Tuesday night on Politico called the Solyndra venture “corporate favoritism” and “Chicago-style deal-making.”

Norris picked up on the Solyndra news as a further dig at Democrats, who plan to make the West Tennessee Solar Farm with Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith part of their jobs tour Sept. 19-24.

The Solar Farm is on the first day of the Democrats’ tour, right after a tour of the vacant West Tennessee megasite. The solar farm, near Interstate 40, is part of the Volunteer State Solar Initiative of former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Norris responded to the Democrats’ jobs tour announcement early this month by calling it the “Obama Apology Tour.”

But in February, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam expressed his pleasure that the U.S. Department of Energy had cleared the path for the solar farm, citing Tennessee’s commitment to a clean energy future.

“It’s a tangible demonstration that jobs and investment in this fast-growing sector of our economy are welcome in Tennessee,” Haslam said in a formal statement at the time.

In the same announcement, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said, “We’ve seen billions of dollars in capital investment in the solar industry alone in Tennessee. Coupled with the investments we’re seeing in energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and other forms of clean energy, the clean energy sector has the potential to truly become a bright spot for Tennessee in terms of job growth.”

Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander recently visited another Bredesen-linked project, the ethanol-from-switchgrass process in Vonore, Tenn., after which both the governor and the senator expressed support for the business but limited interest in subsidies for it.

Haslam Plans to ‘Accelerate’ Regional Job Creation

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday introduced another new program designed to tackle one of the key issues facing his administration: high unemployment.

Haslam says the focus of the latest initiative is to connect entrepreneurs across the state with the help they need to get up and running and employing people as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The program, called Startup Tennessee, becomes another part of the governor’s JOBS4TN plan in the Department of Economic and Community Development. It also follows the previously announced INCITE initiative.

Haslam’s economic development team will develop “economic accelerators” in each of the state’s nine “jobs base camps,” which are meant to regionalize and customize job creation in specific geographic areas.

The initiative for entrepreneurs is an effort to connect start-up businesses with capital and mentors from business to help those operations grow.

“There are a lot of good ideas and people that need to be brought together that might not be sharing the same building,” Haslam told a group at the Entrepreneur Center in downtown Nashville Tuesday.

Michael Burcham, CEO of the Entrepreneur Center, will head the Startup Tennessee project.

The Department of Economic and Community Development has posted a “request for information” on the ECD website, asking for input on developing a grant process to fund the business accelerators. Haslam said the idea is to create ties between entrepreneurs and various stakeholders that include angel investors, university researchers and business mentors.

“We all know there’s no magic bullet to predict which companies will succeed and which ones will fail,” Haslam said. “Our hope is that Startup Tennessee gives entrepreneurs with a great idea and a burning desire to build a company their best chance at success.”

Haslam said the state project will partner with Startup America, a White House initiative of President Obama. The national organization forms alliances with major corporations, funding, service providers, mentors and advisors to help start-up companies. The program’s CEO, Scott Case, has a notable track record, being involved in the start-up of Priceline, which reached a billion dollars in annual sales in less than two years.

Case attended Tuesday’s event in Nashville and said a variety of capital resources exist, looking for businesses to invest in. He also offered some reminders about the growth of businesses.

“Thomas Edison created GE. It wasn’t always a giant company,” Case said.

Haslam was joined at the event by ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty, who told the audience, “Our thought process here was that there are a tremendous number of assets across the state. What we’re looking for, and what Michael is going to lead, is a mechanism to tie all those together.

“This is a structure that will allow us to connect mentors, capital and entrepreneurs in a way that is unprecedented across the country.”

The governor’s INCITE program stands for innovation, commercialization, investment, technology and entrepreneurship. Its goal is to raise the profile of innovative economic development in the state.

Burcham said in a formal letter to entrepreneurs that the acceleration programs in the nine economic zones in the state can benefit from the practices and experiences of the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tech 20/20 in Knoxville, Company Lab in Chattanooga and Emerge Memphis and Launch Memphis. Burch said each of those facilities bring their own unique strengths to the project.

More Disaster Declaration Requests for Obama from Haslam

Press Release from Bill Haslam, Governor of the State of Tennessee, 7 May 2011:

Requests Assistance for Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Houston, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, Montgomery, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has asked President Obama to declare 15 counties as federal disaster areas due to a series of severe storms, straight-line winds, flash flooding and the record flooding of the Mississippi River, beginning on April 19, 2011.

Should this request for assistance be granted, Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Houston, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, Montgomery, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs.

Haslam may request other counties as damage assessments are completed.

“We have many fine first responders, local leaders and state agencies who have been engaged for many days making sure we can protect and save lives, and protect property, during many severe weather and flooding emergencies,” Haslam said. “Federal assistance would help people restore their lives and help local governments rebuild their infrastructure.”

On April 26, Haslam declared a state of emergency as a precautionary move because of the severe weather and forecast of Mississippi River flooding. Haslam was briefed April 29 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the storms and their effect on water levels along the Mississippi River system, and he toured the levees in Northwest Tennessee with emergency management officials and local mayors May 3.

In the request, Haslam seeks Individual Assistance for Dyer, Lake, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties, to include the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Food Stamp Program, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid, and Small Businesses Administration disaster loans. The request also seeks assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Haslam also seeks Public Assistance for all the counties in the request for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.

The Department of Military, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment & Conservation, Department of Health (EMS), Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross and Tennessee Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters are responding to the current flooding emergency and providing protective services to help local efforts.

Heavy snow-pack melting and above average rainfall in the Midwest raised the Mississippi River to record flood levels along Tennessee’s western border at the end of April. The rising Mississippi River added to flooding already occurring in many middle and west Tennessee counties due to severe storms and tornadoes in mid-April.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

Damage assessments continue in East Tennessee following the storms and tornadoes that impacted that part of the state last week. Additional counties are expected to be added to the initial declaration from May 2 as those assessments continue.

For more updates regarding the state’s response, visit the TEMA website at www.tnema.org.

TNGOP: Cobb ‘a Student of the Obama/Pelosi School of Political Correctness’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, Sept. 28, 2010:

Ty Cobb Toes Obama Line on Illegal Immigration; Gives Citizenship Status to Undocumented Workers

NASHVILLE, TN – During a debate last night, Democrat State Rep. Ty Cobb made it clear that he doesn’t believe those residing in the United States unlawfully should be referred to as “illegal immigrants,” but instead should be called “undocumented citizens.” Rep. Cobb’s comments were published in the Columbia Daily Herald:

The topic of immigration drew a strong reaction from the crowd, which appeared to be evenly divided between supporters of the two candidates.

Cobb said he prefers to refer to people in the United States illegally as “undocumented citizens.”

“I would say I don’t really like the [word] illegal, because we are all God’s children,” Cobb said, drawing shouts and groans from supporters of his opponent.

“Apparently Ty Cobb is a student of the Obama/Pelosi school of political correctness and believes illegal immigrants have earned the right to be called ‘citizens’,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Plain and simple, those residing in this country unlawfully are illegal immigrants and are such unless they obtain U.S. citizenship through the proper channels. It is troubling Rep. Cobb would refer to illegal immigrants who are knowingly breaking the law as ‘citizens.’”

“The people of District 64 aren’t looking for a representative whose focus on illegal immigration remains on the most politically correct way to talk about the issue,” continued Devaney. “They want a representative who will enforce illegal immigration laws and protect jobs in Maury County – a county plagued by an unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent. The candidate who will work toward those goals is Republican Sheila Butt who believes we have to fight back against illegal immigration in Tennessee.”

New GOP Billboard Seeks to Highlight Mullins-Obama ‘Liberal Agenda’

Press Release from the Republican Party of Tennessee, Sept. 2, 2010:

TNGOP Unveils Billboard Exposing Dem House Candidate Larry Mullins as Delegate to 2008 Barack Obama Nominating Convention

Visit www.larryandbarry.com to view billboard in Hamblen County

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Republican Party today unveiled a billboard in Hamblen County that informs District 10 voters that Democrat State House candidate Larry Mullins isn’t as far removed from liberal Washington politicians as he claims to be. In addition, the state party is also unveiling a website highlighting the billboard and giving voters the opportunity to sign-up to help stop the liberal agenda of Larry Mullins and President Obama.

“It’s no surprise that Larry Mullins repeatedly tries to distance himself from Washington politicians, but the fact is he connected himself to Washington liberals by actively supporting Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “We felt it necessary to make sure Hamblen County voters know exactly who Larry Mullins is and that’s a Democrat who supports liberal politicians advocating policies such as government-run health care, abortion rights, cap-and-trade, gun control, and card check. The people of Hamblen County want a representative who will fight for Tennessee when Washington liberals try to impose their reckless agenda on our state, not someone who will go out of their way to make sure those liberals get elected.

“While Larry may be a nice fellow, he is not a conservative and we’re confident that when voters find out about his support for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they are going to reject his candidacy. The bottom line is he has been an activist Democrat who will not be able to effectively work with our Republican governor to improve the economy in Hamblen County.”

A picture of the billboard located near the intersection of West Morris and Dice Streets in Morristown follows and the website highlighting the billboard can be found here: