Friday, October 30

Free community college program boosting minority enrollment (Houston Chronicle) President Barack Obama wants to make community college free, in part to help low-income and minority students — who historically have a harder time in college — earn degrees, and a Tennessee program his proposal is modeled is showing signs that it is succeeding. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said this week that there are early signs the program there, which covers two years of college tuition for high school graduates, is responsible for more black students enrolling in post-secondary education, according to a report by the Tennessean.

Gov. Haslam Discusses Health Care Costs (WTVF) Tennesseans will see some hefty price increases when they enroll next week in the Affordable Care Act. Our state has seen some of the highest spikes in the nation, with some plans seeing 20% increases. NewsChannel 5 asked Governor Bill Haslam tonight if there was anything his administration could do to help lower costs in our state. “One of the things were working hard to do is change the way we’re buying health care services to make sure that were not just paying on a fee per service, but paying for outcomes which long term, I think is where the health care market will go,” said Haslam

Orgill to build new world headquarters in Collierville (AP) Hardware and home improvement products distributor Orgill Inc. says it is investing $15 million in a new world headquarters in the Memphis suburb of Collierville. The company and Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday that the new 100,000-square foot office building is expected to create 115 jobs. Construction is expected to begin in 2016, and the company expects to move into the facility in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Orgill Inc. moving world headquarters to Collierville (Commercial Appeal) Collierville landed its fourth headquarters company Thursday when hardware wholesaler Orgill Inc. announced it would relocate from Germantown. Orgill will employ about 380 workers in a 100,000-square-foot building scheduled to go up by 2018 on Houston Levee south of Winchester.

Orgill to Build New World HQ in Collierville (Memphis Daily News) Memphis-based Orgill is the world’s largest independently owned hardlines distributor, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. To provide support to its six North American distribution centers, Orgill plans to move operations from Germantown and construct a new 100,000-square-foot office building on the east side of House Levee between Winchester and Tenn. 385.

Orgill to build world headquarters in Collierville (Memphis Business Journal) A Memphis-based company with a more than 150-year history will make a $21 million investment in Collierville. Gov. Bill Haslam and Randy Boyd, Economic and Community Development commissioner, announced that Orgill Inc. plans to build its new world headquarters in Collierville. Situated on the east side of Houston Levee Road between Winchester Road and Highway 385, the 100,000-square-foot building will create 115 new jobs with average salaries of $65,000. An additional 300 employees will relocate from Germantown to Collierville with annual salaries of more than $80,000.

Intermedix to open innovation lab in Nashville (Lebanon Democrat) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, along with Intermedix Corporation officials announced the company would locate new operations in Nashville. Intermedix, a provider of analytics and technology-enabled solutions for global health and safety, will invest in an innovation lab and executive offices and create 116 new jobs in Davidson County. “I want to thank Intermedix for their investment in Tennessee and for creating more than 100 jobs in Davidson County,” Haslam said.

Volkswagen Finds UAW Election Timing ‘Unfortunate’ (Politico) Volkswagen will maintain neutrality during an upcoming election over whether to organize 165 skilled trades employees at its Chattanooga plant. But the company isn’t thrilled about the election. The automaker told staff that it didn’t appreciate the UAW conducting its drive while VW struggles to recover from a scandal over its emissions cheating. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam sounded a similar note Tuesday when he told reporters that the company should be allowed to address the emissions scandal before it has to deal with the union drive.

St. Jude seeks state’s ‘skin in the game’ in expansion efforts, Haslam says (Commercial Appeal) Gov. Bill Haslam said leaders of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with whom he met Wednesday afternoon in Memphis, would like the state’s “help” with its massive plans for expanding its Downtown campus. “They would like us to have some sort of skin in the game with them,” Haslam told The Commercial Appeal Thursday. “I’m sure the city and the county, too. I don’t know yet what that will look like. We’re not that far down the road.” Haslam characterized the meeting as largely informational and preliminary as it concerned the high-profile children’s cancer hospital’s expansion plans, which are large in scope.

Unfunded Tennessee Road Projects Are Stacking Up (WDEF) From widening the I-24 / I-75 interchange to adding lanes on the Olgiati Bridge, projects have been given the green light, but there’s no money to pay for them. “Our funding sources are flat,” said Jennifer Flynn with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “The gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1989 and we’re just looking at potential solutions to address the huge back log of projects that we have throughout the state.”

The road to a funding problem (Times-News) A three-member panel was like a pastor preaching to the choir Thursday by presenting the challenges of Tennessee’s transportation funding system to a room full of highway and local elected officials. “The General Assembly is going to have to be convinced and the public is going to have to be convinced there’s a (funding) problem,” state Sen. Jim Tracy, the panel’s chair and chair of the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee, said at a field hearing held at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education.

Tennessee to launch 911 texting in 2017 (AP) In two years, Tennessee residents will have the option to text their emergencies to 911. Tennessee Emergency Communications Board Executive Director Curtis Sutton told WMC-TV that texting will be included as part of a statewide upgrade of 911 communications expected in 2017. Sutton says the new capabilities will help those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as well as people who may be unable or afraid to speak. States are updating their 911 systems in response to a Federal Communications Commission order issued August 2014.

Tennessee residents may soon be able to text an emergency to 911 (AP) In two years Tennessee residents will have the option to text an emergency to 911. The Tennessee Communications Board says that in 2017 texting will be included in a statewide upgrade system of 911 communications. The function is designed to help those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or someone who may be unable to speak at the time. States are updating their 911 systems as part of a Federal Communications Commission order that was issued in August 2014.

ETSU unveils design, property for new arts center (Johnson City Press) Like many massive things, East Tennessee State University’s proposed fine and performing arts center took a lot of effort to get off the ground, and once it started moving, it was slow-going, university Chief of Staff Jeremy Ross said. “This has been talked about for 30 years, but now, in the last two-and-a-half years, it seems like it’s finally going to become a reality,” Ross said at an event Thursday at the Millennium Centre to unveil architect’s renderings of the building and to announce the transfer of the land needed for it.

UT students march to raise awareness for domestic violence (WBIR) UT students gathered to raise awareness for domestic violence Thursday evening. The event, which is held yearly, is called Take Back the Night. It aims to create a supportive space for survivors and teach others about domestic violence. This year, nearly two hundred students participated. Coordinator Abbey Geater hopes her efforts will help students understand the reality of domestic violence.”Three women a day are murdered by their male partners and so I think it’s just really kind of important that we understand that this is a far reaching issue,” she said.

Group rallies against Haslam’s outsourcing initiative (WJHL) A group of folks in the Tri-Cities want Governor Bill Haslam to know they are against an initiative that would allow private companies to manage state-owned buildings. Members of East Tennessee State University’s faculty and staff met with a representative from the United Campus Workers of America to discuss their concerns about Haslam’s plan. Haslam argues it will save the state money, but people at Wednesday’s meeting said they don’t think the savings will be worth the impact. For example, out-sourcing custodial work will reduce those positions to 28 hours a week at minimum wage with no benefits, a big cut from what custodians at the university are now making.

Hafner email gives legislators ‘big picture’ on privatization (News-Sentinel) Leslie Hafner, senior advisor to Gov. Bill Haslam who has served as his chief legislative liaison, has sent all state legislators her reply to an email she received from Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, on the governor’s outsourcing efforts — which one report described as “blistering.” It’s passed along by a recipient who notes it does not address Holt’s asking of the question “where are the independent, third-party reports showing that this actually saves the state money?”

State ECD commissioner plans to buy first Chattanooga-made SUV (Times-Free Press) The state’s top economic developer said today he plans to be the first buyer of the sport utility vehicle that Volkswagen plans to make in Chattanooga. Randy Boyd, the state’s commissioner of economic and community development, said he planned to put down a deposit at Village Volkswagen in Chattanooga to buy the SUV this afternoon. “I came up with the idea one day randomly,” he said. The SUV’s production is slated to start in Chattanooga in late 2016.

VW pledges to Chattanooga expansion, SUV (Times-Free Press) State legislators lauded Volkswagen’s pledge to its Chattanooga plant on Thursday as the carmaker calmed concerns the emissions-cheating scandal would derail its new production and hiring plans. And Tennessee’s top economic developer offered a vote of confidence in the automaker, forking out a $5,000 down payment at a Chattanooga dealership for the first sport utility vehicle that comes off the assembly line in late 2016.

Tennessee, VW aim to assure public of company’s future in state (Tennessean) Volkswagen officials and state economic development administrators assured lawmakers Thursday that the impact of the German automaker’s emissions cheating scandal will not deter a massive expansion or the existing facility in Chattanooga. The assurances echo previous statements from Tennessee and the automaker in the wake of U.S. officials discovering millions of Volkswagen cars programmed with software that allows the diesel vehicles to cheat during emissions tests.

VW Commits To Chattanooga Plant As Tennessee Lawmakers Heap Praise On Troubled Automaker (WPLN) Volkswagen officials took their lumps when they appeared before Congress this month, but a legislative hearing in Tennessee Thursday turned into a love-fest by comparison. Instead of questions about deceiving regulators, Tennessee lawmakers are concerned what effect the worldwide scandal might have on VW’s only U.S. plant, which is in Chattanooga. There are certainly angry Volkswagen customers scattered around the world.

Volkswagen Tells Lawmakers Plant Expansion Will Continue (WDEF) Tennessee lawmakers had every reason to be concerned about Volkswagen’s problems. The legislature came up with 165.7 million dollars in incentives to encourage V-W to build it’s new 7 passenger SUV here in Chattanooga. State Senator “Bo” Watson brought the senate finance sub-committee here to hold a formal hearing on the future of that expansion. SEN. “BO” WATSON, (R) HIXSON “Today, members..I hope we can establish the confidence of our people that we have protected their investment and have used their resources wisely.”

Tenn. officials rally behind VW after state plans reaffirmed (AP) A legislative hearing called by a leading Volkswagen critic just days after news of a diesel emissions cheating scheme broke last month turned into more of a pep rally than a grilling in the city that is home to the German automaker’s lone U.S. plant on Thursday. A top Republican in the state House said he expects the scandal will turn out to be a “small bump in the road;” a former governor said critics were doing a disservice to more than 3,000 workers at the plant; and the state’s economic development chief went to a nearby dealership to put a $5,000 deposit on a new SUV to be made at the factory next year.

VW: Up to quarter of sedans made in Tenn. were diesels (AP) The head of Volkswagen’s lone U.S. plant in Tennessee told state lawmakers that the German automaker’s plans for the factory remain intact despite the fallout from the company’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. Christian Koch, the plant’s president and CEO, said that diesels made up between 20 percent and 25 percent of the midsized Passat sedans produced in Chattanooga before sales were halted following the revelations. The plant has made more than 500,000 Passats since 2011.

Black Caucus considering sentencing commission proposal (AP) Members of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators said Thursday they’re considering legislative proposals that would revive a sentencing commission, as well as loosen sentencing guidelines for drug offenders in certain cases. The group sponsored a town hall meeting to discuss mass incarceration and its impact on the community. The caucus heard from a number of speakers, including Nashville criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor David Raybin, who was a member of the sentencing commission that was dissolved in 1995.

Tennessee legislator to take state-mandated test alongside students (News-Sentinel) A state legislator from West Tennessee has heard enough teachers complain about the state’s new standardized tests that he decided to take one himself, alongside children in an elementary school classroom in his district Friday. State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, will join students at Hillcrest Elementary School in Troy, Tenn., as they take the online practice test for the new TN Ready English language arts exam that they’ll take for real in early 2016. State-mandated student assessments are in transition this year, with TNReady replacing the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, in grades 3 through 11.

Dispelling the Tax Cut Myth (Governing) Many conservatives have long favored supply-side economics. But a new report suggests there is no evidence that income tax cuts lead to economic growth. About 40 years ago, the economist Arthur Laffer drew a backwards “c” on a napkin to illustrate to his dinner companions — Donald Rumsfeld, then-chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, and Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld’s deputy — the trade-off between tax rates and government tax revenues. The outer peak of the curve represented the top tax rate that would yield the most revenue. As Laffer explained, a higher rate would stifle economic activity and thus lower government revenue, and a tax rate below the peak would simply result in less revenue.

TVA says Boone Dam sinkhole remediation complete; public hearing on environmental impact set for next week (Johnson City Press) The public is invited to a National Environmental Policy Act meeting about repairs to Boone Dam on Thursday, Nov. 5. Described as an “informational open house” hosted by TVA, the meeting is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Daniel Boone High School, 1440 Suncrest Dr. A 210-page draft environmental assessment (pdf) on the impacts of the Boone Dam Project to make repairs — necessary to end seepage — was released today for public review and comment. According to TVA’s most recent weekly update of work at the dam, remediation of a sinkhole is now complete, marking the completion of the test grouting program.

Open enrollment for ACA providers begins Nov. 1 (WBIR) Open enrollment for insurance providers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins Nov. 1, 2015. After recent rate hikes for coverage providers on the federally run exchange, Tennessee health insurance premiums are now among the highest in the country. Our partners at The Tennessean report there are just five states with increases higher than Tennessee. Oklahoma leads the country with a 35.7% increase. Montana will have a 34.5% increase, Alaska a 31.5% increase, New Mexico a 25.8% increase and a 24.7% increase in South Dakota.

What’s on BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s horizon (Tennessean slide show) Looking at the horizon.

Beleaguered Healthways restructures, looks to save millions (Nashville Business Journal) Franklin-based Healthways is shaking things up as it brings on a new CEO. The well-being company, which has spent the past few years battling an activist investor and undergoing an executive leadership transition, has announced plans to shift from a focus on five “customer end-markets” to two primary businesses: population health services and network solutions. It’s an effort the company expects to cost $20 to $25 million in the near-term, but eventually yield savings well above that.

One Nashville Hospital Gets A Failing Grade On Safety Report Card (WPLN) Hospitals in Tennessee are generally pretty good at protecting patients from injuries, accidents and infections, according to a new hospital safety report card from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group. It gave most facilities in the state As and Bs. But it did fail one: Nashville General Hospital. The facility’s score was bumped down in part because it had higher-than-average rates of patients falling and getting infections in the blood and urinary tract.

CCA deal boosts investment in half-way houses (Tennessean) With its latest acquisition, the nation’s largest private prisons operator has overnight become a much bigger player in the niche market of helping inmates transition back into society. Corrections Corporation of America now also touts itself as the largest domestic owner of community corrections beds after buying Oklahoma-based halfway house operator Avalon Correctional Services on Thursday. With that $157.5 million deal, CCA now operates 17 re-entry facilities totaling 4,365 beds.

Nashville’s thriving tech culture attracts companies (Tennessean) Nashville is emerging as a national leader in technology innovation — and has established Music City as a thriving, evolving and vibrant tech culture that is stimulating entrepreneurship, fueling job growth and positioning the city for a bright economic future. In the past five years, technology and computers have added almost 6,500 new jobs, growing from 16,988 in 2010 to 23,400 this year, according to the Nashville Technology Council. The top tech business sectors are in health care, IT management, education, and defense and military contracting.

Q&A: How Bohan Advertising created a globally recognized workplace culture (Nashville Business Journal) If you’ve been down on Broadway this week, you may have seen the digital billboard with words and phrases like ‘Alpacas,’ ‘Kegs on Tap,’ ‘Cornhole’ and ‘Balcony Soirees.’ Bohan Advertising is behind the billboard. Rather than promoting its clients, this campaign is about Bohan – specifically, Bohan’s workplace culture. Nashville’s third-largest advertising agency was recently recognized by AdAge for having one of the best cultures among ad agencies across the globe – winning a silver award for its culture in the international competition.

Why Colorado Might Lose the Money It Made From Marijuana (Governing) Because of a unique part of Colorado law, voters will decide whether the profits go to the state or the taxpayers. Thanks to an odd feature in Colorado’s unique taxpayer bill of rights, the state may have to hand back all of the roughly $60 million it collected last year in marijuana taxes. The fate of that revenue is in the hands of voters, who will decide on Nov. 3 whether they want to divvy up the money or let the state keep it. That’s because Colorado is home to the nation’s only Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR, a constitutional measure that limits the annual growth in state revenues and spending.


Editorial: Economic news good for state, East Tennessee (News-Sentinel) Recent announcements of jobs coming to East Tennessee are great news for state officials as well as civic and business leaders who still might be dealing with any sluggishness in the region’s economy. There is the outstanding news of Regal Entertainment, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, relocating to the south side of Fort Loudoun Lake. The widely anticipated announcement on Oct. 23 came amid state and local efforts to negotiate a $12.5 million incentive package to keep the company in Knoxville, moving its headquarters from Halls to the South Waterfront. As Gov. Bill Haslam noted after the announcement, “When the largest anything is in your hometown, that’s a big deal.”

Mark Harmon: Government should not be businesslike (News-Sentinel) Veteran political reporter Tom Humphrey has heard a lot of candidates, certainly many Republicans but also some Democrats, in his words, “reciting that old campaign trail mantra about making government run more like a business.” Certainly our billionaire Gov. Bill Haslam, beneficiary of the Pilot Corp. empire, has taken that perspective and muttered that mantra. Several of our current GOP presidential candidates also have taken up that phrase. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop the business mantra, especially when we look at the business failure rates.

Editorial: Haslam, as usual, defends prisons chief (Tennessean) “The burden is on the governor to explain why he has faith in the commissioner’s ability to turn things around,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, as the General Assembly gets more restive over what is happening in the state’s prisons. “I’m not sure how anyone has confidence in the direction and leadership of the department, given the severity of the problems that we keep learning about,” Yarbro added Wednesday, and called for a another investigation into the death of Elbert Thornton, an inmate whose mysterious death was recently chronicled in The Tennessean.

Guest column: Domestic violence has an impact on the entire family (Tennessean) The problem of violence in the home and its effect on children cannot be understated. Approximately 3 million children in the United States witness domestic violence each year, and children who live in homes where domestic violence is present also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (by 30 to 60 percent). In domestic violence shelters across the nation, nearly two-thirds of residents are children. As the CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee, whose mission is to prevent the abuse and neglect of children, I see the response to child abuse and domestic violence as intricately linked.

A C Wharton: Enroll now for quality health care (Commercial Appeal) On Sunday, enrollment through the Affordable Care Act — sometimes referred to as “Obamacare” — will open for the third time. During the first two enrollment periods, nearly 32,000 Shelby County residents have enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. These are undeniably historic gains for our community.

Pam Sohn: Why candidates and lawmakers love to hate the media (Times-Free Press) When the GOP candidates are asked a question they don’t want to answer, they blame the media. That was the take-away from Wednesday night’s GOP debate. The Los Angeles Times pegged it: “Attacking the questioner is a long-standing get-out-of jail device in debates — particularly on the Republican side, where resentment of the ‘liberal’ media is a perennial grievance,” wrote Noah Bierman. Sen. Ted Cruz, asked if his opposition to the just-reached congressional deal raising the debt limit shows that he’s not the kind of problem-solver Americans want, opted instead to demonstrate his deflection and note-taking skills by parroting back some of the debate questions intended to get the candidates talking about themselves and explaining their stands.

Thursday, October 29

Haslam: TN education gains still tops in the nation (Nashville Business Journal) Tennessee continues to be the fastest-improving state for primary education attainment in the county, Gov. Bill Haslam said today in a news release. The governor’s office pointed to the state’s national position in the newly released 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, commonly known as the “nation’s report card.” With this same report, Haslam two years ago touted the gains being made in state education. The state’s jump in national rankings this go-around is a bit different.

Despite lack of growth, Haslam says Tennessee education scores a reason to celebrate (Commercial Appeal) Despite the most recent data from the National Assessment for Education Progress showing no significant growth in students’ test scores — and actually a percentage-point decline in two categories — Gov. Bill Haslam says there is still reason to celebrate. “We’re distinguishing ourselves as one of the states to watch when it comes to education results,” Haslam said in a speech at Riverwood Elementary in Cordova on Wednesday. Haslam and state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen came to Memphis to celebrate student successes on the NAEP test.

State leaders tout test score growths, but a closer look shows otherwise (WHBQ) Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen chose Memphis to announce Tennessee’s growth in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card. While they celebrated growth, a closer look at the scores tells a different story. The national test is given every two years to fourth, eight and 12th graders. Haslam announced the state rose to 25th in the nation for fourth grade math, jumped four spots to 30th for eighth grade reading and jumped from 43rd to 37th in eighth grade math.

Haslam: Tennessee Promise helping minorities reach college (Tennessean) Gov. Bill Haslam used an appearance in Washington on Wednesday to promote Tennessee Promise as a tool for improving college graduation rates for minority students. Haslam said there are early signs the program that lets Tennessee high-school graduates attend two-year college tuition-free already is responsible for more black students enrolling in post-secondary education.

Amid criticism, Haslam defends TN prison chief (Tennessean) A leading Tennessee Democrat who’s remained critical of the Tennessee prison system doesn’t believe the current prison chief can make the needed changes in his department. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said Wednesday that Commissioner Derrick Schofield can’t or won’t fix the problems facing the Tennessee Department of Correction. It would take more than Schofield resigning to address those concerns, Schofield said. “Frankly, I think that could just be changing deck chairs on the Titanic,” Stewart said, regarding Schofield stepping down.

First Horizon executive joining Gov. Haslam group (Memphis Business Journal) Bryan Jordan, the chairman, president and CEO of First Horizon National Corp., has been added to the board of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness. Funded by a combination of public and private sources, the nonprofit group is part of an effort led by Gov. Bill Haslam to help Tennesseans live healthier lives. In addition to Jordan, Girls Scouts of Middle Tennessee president and CEO Agenia Clark and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee chief medical officer Andrea Willis were also asked to join the board.

Mayor Reed joins panel at National Urban League’s National Higher Education Summit in Washington (Atlanta Daily World) Mayor Kasim Reed joined a panel discussion this morning as part of the National Urban League’s National Higher Education Summit in the nation’s Capitol. The summit brought together nearly 200 education, business and government leaders to discuss the urgent need to enhance college and career success for students of color and low-income students and to prepare these students to meet the challenges of the 21st century workforce. Mayor Reed joined Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam … to discuss the role elected officials can play in addressing these important challenges.

ETSU employees voice concerns over possible privatization of state jobs (WCYB) Talks of privatization of state jobs in Nashville has some local state workers worried for their jobs. Back in August, Governor Bill Haslam requested information on outsourcing management jobs across the state, which led to a public forum at ETSU on Wednesday. News 5 first met Teresa Mowery at a rally against privatization organized by the union, United Campus Workers, at ETSU in September. “We’re the lowest paid people here,” Mowery said. Less than a month later, she said she’s applying for a new job. “I can’t wait to see what happens,” Mowery said on Wednesday.

Group rallies against Haslam’s outsourcing initiative (WJHL) A group of folks in the Tri-Cities want Governor Bill Haslam to know they are against an initiative that would allow private companies to manage state-owned buildings. Members of East Tennessee State University’s faculty and staff met with a representative from the United Campus Workers of America to discuss their concerns about Haslam’s plan. Haslam argues it will save the state money, but people at Wednesday’s meeting said they don’t think the savings will be worth the impact.

Mentors needed to help Tennessee Promise students succeed (Times-Free Press) This spring, Blake Bozarth sent texts reminding four seniors at the Howard School to fill out their college scholarship applications before the deadline. He chatted with the boys about basketball and the music playing from their phones, but he said the real intention behind these interactions was to hold the seniors accountable to walking across the stage at graduation. Bozarth, director of enterprise risk management at Unum, said he knew the opportunity these students had if they graduated and were able to take advantage of Tennessee Promise — becoming the first in their families to attend college.

UT to break ground on science building in Fort Sanders (News-Sentinel) The University of Tennessee will break ground Thursday on a new science building on the former site of three historic houses in Fort Sanders. The building and a corresponding lecture series are named for late UT alumni Ken and Blaire Mossman, who met at UT as students in 1968 and had careers in science. The new $102.5 million science building will have six floors of classroom and laboratory space for microbiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, psychology and nutrition. It is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

Tennessee Veterans Memorial coming to UT in November (AP) A new Tennessee Veterans Memorial is coming to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for the month of November. The Remembering Our Fallen tribute will arrive on the campus Nov. 3 and will remain until Nov. 28. It will be part of the campus’ fifth annual National Day of Remembrance and Roll Call event on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

South College symposium focuses on domestic violence (News-Sentinel) A candlelight vigil Wednesday at South College’s West campus off Parkside Drive honored the memory of former student Angela Burchell and other victims of domestic violence. Burchell, a South College graduate, was shot to death by her estranged husband in Sevier County last year, authorities said. For more than 90 minutes beforehand, the school also tried to shine a light on the issue in the form of a panel discussion that focused on everything from warning signs of domestic violence to how to get help. According to 4th Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan, the most common causes of domestic abuse are substance abuse, mental health problems and money.

Tennessee lawmakers to hear from Volkswagen on Thursday (AP) Tennessee lawmakers are holding a hearing in Chattanooga on Thursday about Volkswagen’s efforts to recover from a diesel emissions cheating scandal. The hearing was called by Republican Sen. Bo Watson, who has said he wants to ensure that the state’s hundreds of millions of incentive dollars are being spent wisely by the German automaker. Watson has long been a vocal critic of Volkswagen for not doing more to prevent the United Auto Workers union from gaining a foothold at the plant. Thursday’s hearing comes less than a week after maintenance workers at the plant petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a new union vote.

Politicians discuss transportation needs for Tennessee (Times-Free Press) Tennessee’s gas tax hasn’t gone up since 1989. The cost of building roads has, though. Considerably. “Is there any phase of this that’s cheaper than 1989? Designing a road today — is it cheaper? I can tell you it’s not,” state Sen. Jim Tracy, Senate Transportation and Safety Committee chairman, said Wednesday in Chattanooga. “If you think you can buy right-of-way cheaper today than you could in 1989, I’ve got some oceanfront property right here in Chattanooga I can sell you. Or I’ll run a 4.3 40.” Tracy, along with Susan Mattson, principal legislative research analyst for the state comptroller, and Bill Moore, chairman of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance, were in Chattanooga to talk about Tennessee’s roads and transportation needs. The presentation was the eighth of nine meetings the trio is hosting around the state.

Lawmakers call for new investigation into TDOC (WSMV) Two state lawmakers are calling for Gov. Bill Haslam to take over the state’s prison system. The commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Corrections has come under fire for mismanagement. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, a frequent critic of TDOC, and Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, held a news conference Wednesday. The lawmakers presented documents showing how female correctional officers were assaulted in prison. Jones said they found at least 21 assaults on female corrections officers that were not properly documented.

Town hall meeting to focus mass incarceration (AP) The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the NAACP State Conference will host a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss mass incarceration and its impact on the community. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 29 of the Legislative Plaza. It’s open to the public. The daylong symposium will focus on the results of mass incarceration in overall society, particularly in the African-American community. It will also examine President Barack Obama’s Recommendation concerning prisons, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam’s Task Force Recommendation on Incarceration.

Legislators: Female correction officers assaulted (News-Sentinel) Changes in prison policies instituted by Tennessee Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield have resulted in sexual assaults by inmates against female correctional officers being classified and reported as “provocations” rather than assaults, two Democratic state legislators said Wednesday. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart and Rep. Sherry Jones, both of Nashville, also said the Department of Correction refuses to turn over information requested by lawmakers and the public, and that Gov. Bill Haslam should take responsibility for the prison system’s problems.

Ramsey: Anyone Can Have A Tahoe If They Work Hard Enough (Nashville Scene) With Gov. Bill Haslam’s attempt to sell the public on resetting gas taxes for the sake of the state’s roads puttering to a halt, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he knows all too well why the tax structure eventually needs to change. He used to drive one Chevrolet Tahoe that got 13 miles to the gallon, he says. But in his new one, he gets 28 mpg (although Chevrolet says they typically get 23 mpg) and thus pays half the tax, he told reporters after a Senate Republican day-long retreat Tuesday.

Andy Holt announces re-election bid (Jackson Sun) West Tennessee Rep. Andy Holt announced he is running for re-election Wednesday. Holt, a Republican from Dresden, will kick off his campaign in Union City Nov. 3, according to a press release. Holt listed dozens of reasons for running for re-election including keeping the federal government out of Tennessee, standing up against Planned Parenthood, Common Core and Obamacare and keeping state government officials accountable.

Tenn. GOP chair at ringside for presidential candidates’ debate (News-Sentinel) Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes said Wednesday the GOP presidential candidates are more reflective of America than the Democrats’ choices, and he believes their message is resonating with voters. “Republicans are in a prime position to take back the presidency,” he said, pointing out many states are like Tennessee, where the governor and majority in the state Legislature are Republicans. “The messages of (President Barack) Obama and Hillary Clinton are not resonating. Democrats obviously are going to coronate Hillary Clinton without much discussion.”

Judges void 182 Knoxville annexations (News-Sentinel) In accord with a state law passed last year that generally prohibits involuntary annexations, Knox County judges have voided 182 annexation efforts by the City of Knoxville that had been challenged in lawsuits — some initiated many years ago. Here’s a news release on the development from Citizens for Home Rule, an anti-annexation group:

ORNL seeks $1.5B expansion of neutron source (News-Sentinel) Oak Ridge National Laboratory is pushing hard for an expansion of the Spallation Neutron Source, which would double the research capabilities and further establish the Oak Ridge lab as a world leader in neutron science and a destination point for scientists eager to use the streams of neutrons to perform experiments with materials. The project would cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, according to current estimates, and it has the Department of Energy’s blessing and support, although the timetable will likely depend on the mood of Congress and the availability of funding for big science endeavors.

Public hearing on environmental impact of repairs at Boone Dam is next week in Gray (Times-News) The public is invited to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) meeting about repairs to Boone Dam on Thursday, Nov. 5. Described as an “informational open house” hosted by TVA, the meeting is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Daniel Boone High School, 1440 Suncrest Dr. A draft environmental assessment on the impacts of the Boone Dam Project to make repairs — necessary to end seepage — was released today (Wednesday, Oct. 28) for public review and comment.

TVA releases key Boone Dam repair study (WJHL) The Tennessee Valley Authority released a draft version of its environmental assessment on the Boone Dam Repair Project Wednesday afternoon. The assessment is required by federal law, and it’s one of the final tasks for TVA as it moves toward approval of its plan to repair the dam starting early next year. TVA plans to spend 5 to 7 years and as much as $300 million to stop the flow of water under and through the earth portion of Boone Dam, a problem first detected in October 2014 when a sinkhole appeared at the base of the dam. The draft examines a wide-range of environmental impacts of either pursuing no action or pursuing the TVA’s planned 5 year repair that will require Boone Reservoir to remain at below-normal levels.

How super low natural gas prices are reshaping how we get our power (Washington Post) Oil isn’t the only fossil fuel that is selling at quite cheap levels at the moment, at least in the United States. This week, U.S. natural gas prices plunged briefly below $ 2 per million Btu (British thermal units), lower than they have been since early 2012. It’s part of a long term price drop that is closely tied to the fracking and shale gas boom, but also more immediately to high levels of natural gas storage and warm weather. Meanwhile, Duke Energy, the nation’s single largest utility company by market capitalization, purchased Piedmont Natural Gas for $ 4.9 billion, paying a premium for the natural gas distributor.

J.D. Hickey tackles healthy challenge as BCBST’s new CEO (Tennessean) Dr. J.D. Hickey moved to the corner office of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee on Sept. 1, taking the reins of a company that is navigating change in nearly every aspect of its industry. Hickey is tasked with running the insurer at a time when reforms, and consumer demand, are reshaping the way nearly everyone pays for — and accesses — health care and insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act set out to reform much of the health care landscape. The impact on health insurers is immense. The companies sell more directly to members while trying to work with providers to keep medical costs down.

Wellmont reports a solid financial year (Times-News) Wellmont Health System reported Wednesday that an audit showed a 38 percent increase in the health system’s operating income and a 143 percent growth in net income for the fiscal year ending June 30. The system announced its organizational overview shows $773 million in annual revenue, with 5,800 full-time employees, and more than 780 staffed beds. The audit also showed a 6.4 percent increase in net patient service revenue.

Gateway Medical wins battle for satellite ER (Leaf-Chronicle) Clarksville-based Gateway Medical Center has gained state permission to build a satellite emergency facility near Exit 11 of Interstate 24, while a similar request for a satellite ER near Exit 11 coming from Springfield-based NorthCrest Medical Center has been denied. In a prepared statement issued Wednesday shortly after the state’s decision was conveyed, Gateway officials said they are “pleased that the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency (HSDA) has approved our application to build a new satellite emergency department in the Sango area of Montgomery County.”

Knoxville area hospitals mostly rate high on safety (News-Sentinel) Report cards varied, but overall, local hospitals got A’s, B’s and C’s when the Leapfrog Group issued its Fall 2015 Hospital Safety Scores on Wednesday. Twice annually, the national nonprofit rates 2,530 U.S. hospitals on patient safety and preventing errors. As many as 46 percent of those hospitals saw “significant” grade changes this time, the group said, because of a “considerable data upload” before analyzing them. But there wasn’t as much variation among local facilities. “A” grades went to Fort Loudoun Medical Center, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and Morristown-Hamblem Healthcare System, all which had received A’s during the spring 2015 ratings.

Some new doctors are working 30-hour shifts at hospitals around the U.S. (Washington Post) Some first-year doctors are working 30 hours in a row at dozens of hospitals around the country in a test of work-hour limits that were imposed in 2011 because of fears that inexperienced, sleep-deprived physicians might jeopardize patients. The arrangement is reviving one of the oldest debates in the education of physicians: whether they learn best when subjected to brutally long and difficult working conditions, whether their patients have a right to know about it, and whether physicians and patients can be kept safe.

Tiremaker to open North American headquarters in Middle Tennessee (Nashville Business Journal) A Chinese tiremaker is planning to to open its North American headquarters in Franklin. According to The Tennessean, Triangle Tire North America LLS will be moving into a 3,150-square-foot space at Dover Centre office complex. Triangle makes tires for passenger cars, sports cars, trucks and construction equipment. Staff is expected to be added, though specific numbers were not given.

Nashville tech company named one of the best by Entrepreneur (Nashville Business Journal) A Nashville-based tech company made the cut of 10,000 to be named one of the best entrepreneur companies in America. Concept Technology was listed as one of Entrepreneur magazine’s Best Practicers for 2015. Best Practicers are awarded for being “the kinds of companies that execute on everything you read about in management textbooks, from meeting aggressive growth targets to taking appropriate risk to attracting the best employees. They would be voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school. Their competitors are jealous of their good looks.”

Test shows chemicals found in river near Gallatin Water Treatment Plant (WKRN) Test results released this month by the state show dangerous chemicals was found in the Cumberland River near the Gallatin Water Treatment Plant. The Southern Environmental Law Center is suing the Tennessee Valley Authority because it says, the power company is responsible for the chemicals presence in the water. The Tennessee Valley Authority has a fossil plant in Gallatin that the SELC says, dumps coal ash into unlined pits near the Cumberland River.

Your job is literally ‘killing’ you (Washington Post) People often like to groan about how their job is “killing” them. Tragically, for some groups of people in the U.S., that statement appears to be true. A new study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford has quantified just how much a stressful workplace may be shaving off of Americans’ life spans. It suggests that the amount of life lost to stress varies significantly for people of different races, educational levels and genders, and ranges up to nearly three years of life lost for some groups.


Sam Stockard: Bipartisan Brakes for Governor Haslam’s Privatization Push (Memphis Daily News) Plans to put Tennessee’s real estate and government operations in the hands of private business are much further along than Gov. Bill Haslam would like people to think. A master of downplaying big issues, Haslam says he’s simply looking for ways to make government run more efficiently and save money. But with a 75-page report surfacing and the media obtaining a raft of emails about the need to “build momentum” and “compress” the timeline for privatization, state lawmakers are taking a jaded approach to the governor’s efforts to de-emphasize all things outsourcing.

Editorial: Against privatization: Why we won’t just wait and see (UT Daily Beacon) This week, students, workers and organizers across the state are protesting the privatization of state jobs, unified under one slogan: #TNisnotforsale. We at the Daily Beacon want to add our voice to this resistance. Back in August, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that his administration was looking into a plan to privatize the management of state buildings, including hospitals, universities, state parks, prisons and more. While this was presented as a way to save money for the state, in reality, it represents a drastic overhaul at the expense of thousands of state workers.

Wednesday, October 28

Haslam: Let VW address emissions scandal before union vote (AP) Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says Volkswagen should be allowed to address the fallout from its emissions cheating scandal before taking up another union vote at its Tennessee plant. Maintenance workers at the German automaker’s lone U.S. plant in Chattanooga last week petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on representation by the United Auto Workers for collective bargaining purposes. Haslam has long opposed the UAW gaining a foothold at the plant and told reporters Tuesday that Volkswagen faces major issues in emerging from the emissions scandal. In Haslam’s words: “Let’s get those addressed first.”

Haslam: ‘Timing isn’t great’ for UAW at VW Chattanooga (Times-Free Press) Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday the “timing isn’t great” for maintenance workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant to pursue a new election on exclusive representation by the United Auto Workers given the German manufacturer’s struggles with a world-wide diesel-emissions cheating scandal. “Obviously, Volkswagen is struggling with a lot of issues right now,” the Republican governor told reporters today. “It feels like to me the right time is for everybody to focus on addressing issues that VW has had and then turning around to producing great cars.”

Haslam urges patience as GOP leans toward pre-K cuts (Commercial Appeal) Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican lawmakers may be at odds over whether to roll back Tennessee’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program in the wake of a Vanderbilt University study that raises questions about the long-term impacts of the $85 million program. The governor told the state Senate Republican Caucus Tuesday that he’d prefer to examine whether Tennessee’s program lacks the quality needed to have lasting academic impacts on disadvantaged children or if the questions raised by the study released last month are more systemic.

Haslam: Let’s Spend Another Year On Pre-K (Nashville Scene) After years of kicking the can down the road on whether to expand or scale back the state’s pre-K program for low-income children, the governor says he wants one more year to figure it out. A recent study by Vanderbilt University found that the initial academic boost children get from the state’s pre-K program fades so much by second or third grade that children fall behind their peers. The study stresses results are inconsistent throughout the state and that quality varies by classroom, an issue Gov. Bill Haslam says he wants to further study.

Haslam Says Withheld Records Wouldn’t Show Any Decisions On Outsourcing (WPLN) Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s not hiding any decisions about whether to privatize more jobs in state government, but he’s defending his right to withhold communications between him and his staff about the effort. The governor told reporters Tuesday that the three documents his administration has held back related to outsourcing contain no significant information. But he added that releasing them would give Tennesseans a false impression of how far along outsourcing is. “They’re things like agendas. They’re part of the whole deliberative process,” he said. “I can assure you, there’s nothing that’s part of that process that would be news in any way to you.”

Gov. Bill Haslam continues to face pushback over privatization (Times-Free Press) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam got an earful of concerns from some fellow Republicans in the state Senate on Tuesday over his administration’s continued examination of privatizing management and operations of more state buildings. “I just want to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples,” Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, told the governor as she raised concerns about outsourcing facilities during a Senate GOP Caucus retreat. Duncan Massey said she’s especially concerned about outsourcing at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities. While Haslam has said that would be optional for them, Duncan Massey said, “I just hope their arms aren’t twisted.”

Transparency a key concern among opponents of Haslam’s outsourcing plans (Johnson City Press) Politicians, activists and state employees reached an overwhelming consensus during a town hall style phone meeting Monday night about Gov. Bill Haslam’s exploration into outsourcing state jobs: There needs to be more transparency. The event was organized by members of United Campus Workers, a union of college staff that opposes Haslam’s plans, and it featured state senators Sara Kyle, D-Memphis and Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville. “There isn’t the transparency we need,” Kyle said, “and there has been no official plans submitted to the legislature. We were told in an open hearing that there had been no moneys paid for consultation, and we discovered through leaked emails that there has been $600,000 paid.”

Lawmakers Plan Fact-Finding Trip At UTC To Discuss Outsourcing (Chattanoogan) State lawmakers will hear directly from campus employees, students and faculty at University of Tennessee Chattanooga next week as part of a fact-finding trip to learn more about the effects of outsourcing state jobs. Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris and state Representative John Ray Clemmons, joined by state Representative JoAnn Favors, will hear from the United Campus Workers, the Tennessee State Employees Association, UT Chattanooga College Democrats and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM).

Ramsey springs to Haslam’s aid on Tennessee outsourcing talk (AP) Gov. Bill Haslam’s examination of privatizing operations in state government has raised concerns among some Republican state senators attending a caucus retreat in Nashville. But Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey quickly rallied to the Republican governor’s side and urged his colleagues not to be swayed by “squeaky wheels” in their districts. The Haslam administration is mulling over outsourcing operations at state parks and facilities management at public colleges and state buildings.

Sen. Ketron expresses concern over privatizing operations (Murfreesboro Post) State Sen. Bill Ketron is raising concerns about the potential impact of privatizing operations at Tennessee universities as Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration puts together a report delving into cost savings mainly by outsourcing jobs. Ketron, a Murfreesboro Republican who co-chairs the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, said he understands shifting to private companies for management of state buildings in Nashville. Chicago-based Jones Lang Lasalle already oversees 10 percent of state properties. “But when we start getting into the college campuses, like at (University of Tennessee) and the Board of Regents, I think it’s going to be a long, hard look,” Ketron said. “They’ve got to be able to prove to us that they can do it cheaper as far as outsourcing is concerned.”

A not-so-private phone call: United Campus Workers, TN lawmakers hold conference call update on privatization (UT Daily Beacon) Late Tuesday night, members of United Campus Workers held a telephone conference to discuss the developing case against the proposed outsourcing of UT’s Facilities Services employees to third party companies. United Campus Workers member Jessica Buttermore proctored the call as three state representatives expressed their dissatisfaction with Haslam’s privatization plan. Their complaints ranged from a lack of transparency from the governor to fears of lower service quality should state facilities be outsourced to a private company. Sen. Richard Briggs of Knoxville called attention to what he said he views as a lack of transparency from Governor Haslam’s plans, stating that he couldn’t speak on what the governor has planned.

FLC recertified as a ThreeStar community (Elk Valley Times) Gov. Bill Haslam and other state officials met with local leaders as they presented Fayetteville and Lincoln County the ThreeStar Award again this year. The ThreeStar program is designed to focus on several areas, all identified as critical to ensuring the success of Tennessee communities. Those areas include jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare.

Chattanooga City Council to Vote Whether to Support Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” (WTVC) Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal is being discussed, but not by the state legislature. A Chattanooga city councilman is pushing for a council vote of support. Councilman Chris Anderson is sponsoring a resolution to support Haslam’s initiative and wants his fellow councilmembers to vote in favor. Insure Tennessee would use federal funds set aside for Tennessee’s Medicaid expansion to cover over 200,000 uninsured Tennesseans. The plan was twice rejected by state Senate committees but Anderson says a council vote could encourage the state to take action.

First Lady of Tenn. visits Spring Hill (Columbia Daily Herald) Tennessee’s First Lady made her first visit to the Spring Hill Public Library to spread her message to families on the importance of reading to a child every day. Crissy Haslam originally planned to visit the library during its summer reading program, but had to reschedule. She said the library’s active participation and membership was one thing that made Spring Hill a place she did not want to miss. “I visit a lot of libraries and talk to young families about the importance of reading, if they’re getting ready for kindergarten or already there,” she said.

State leaders to address the future of Orange Grove on-side job program (WRCB) Tennessee state leaders want to change the way people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are employed in the workforce. Tennessee’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities now says that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities should not be segregated from the rest of the workforce. But that new policy could eliminate the on-site job program, which employees 400 people, at the Orange Grove Center. “Watching Rachel develop these independent relationships has just been terrific,” Heidi Hoffecker said.

Knox moves ahead in competition for $365K grant to address jail crowding (News-Sentinel_ Knox County has won a spot in round two of a statewide competition for a $365,000 grant designed to lower the rising jail population. “We are still in the competitive process,” Knox County Public Defender Mark Stephens said Monday. “I am encouraged.” Stakeholders in Knox County’s judicial system will participate in an interview with officials with the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs as part of the second phase of the competition to snare the grant, which does not require any local matching funds.

Panel addresses domestic violence in East Tennessee (News-Sentinel) Preventing and overcoming domestic violence will be the topic of a Wednesday evening symposium held in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month and a local college graduate killed by her estranged husband in 2014. Angela Burchell, a graduate of South College, was shot to death in Sevier County last year. A candlelight vigil will be held for Burchell following the symposium, hosted by the college’s criminal justice and legal studies programs.

How Much School Funding Is Enough? (Governing) Nearly every state has faced legal battles over school funding. In November, the political battle moves to Mississippi, where voters face two competing (and confusing) ballot questions on the issue. “They say money can’t fix everything,” said Billy Joe Ferguson, superintendent of the Carroll County School District in Mississippi. “But I’ve never had any money, so I wouldn’t know.” Ferguson says his school district, with a little over 1,000 kids, doesn’t have enough money to run effectively. So he officially retired two years ago so the county wouldn’t have to pay for his $80,000 salary and started collecting his $18,000-a-year pension while still going to work every day.

3 appeals judges finalists for Tennessee Supreme Court seat (Tennessean) Three appeals judges who were all appointed to their posts by Gov. Bill Haslam are finalists for an empty seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. After an eight-hour interview process Tuesday, the 11 members of the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments voted to recommend Court of Appeals Judge Thomas “Skip” Frierson II and two Court of Criminal Appeals judges, Roger A. Page and Robert Montgomery Jr., to the governor for appointment to the state’s highest court.

State Supreme Court alters summary judgment standard (Nashville Post) In a ruling handed down late Monday, the Tennessee State Supreme Court set a new standard for summary judgments, aligning the state’s rule with the federal standard and with a statute passed by the legislature in 2011. Since a State Supreme Court decision in Hannan v. Alltell Publishing in 2008, the standard in Tennessee courts had essentially required that a party moving for summary judgment show that the other side could not possibly produce evidence which would prove an essential element of its claim at trial.

State Supreme Court makes it easier for defendants to win dismissals before trial (News-Sentinel) The Tennessee Supreme Court has made it easier for defendants in civil lawsuits to win “summary judgments,” or dismissals of lawsuits before trial — a move criticized by former Chief Justice Gary Wade as undermining the right to a jury trial in the state constitution. In a 3-1 ruling issued Monday afternoon, the state’s high court used a health care liability case filed by a Memphis couple nearly seven years ago to rewrite standards that Tennessee judges must follow in deciding whether to grant motions for summary judgment.

Tennessee Black Caucus to Hold Town Hall on Mass Incarceration (Nashville Scene) The United States of America is the world’s leading incarcerator, with more people in its prisons than any other country on earth. It’s a habit we can’t seem to quit, and one that disproportionately affects Americans of color. On Thursday, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the NAACP State Conference will hold a town hall on that subject from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The meeting will take place in Room 29 at Legislative Plaza.

Barry, Ramsey Bond Over Families, Pheasant Hunting (Nashville Scene) Sitting at a quiet, private table inside the historic Hermitage Hotel across from the Legislative Plaza, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry met Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for the first time. Well, for the first time in her role as mayor. “We just didn’t want it to be Mayor and Governor. We wanted it to be Megan and Ron and I think that’s what a meeting like this accomplished. No issues at all,” Ramsey said Monday night.

VW future, emissions fallout weighed in hearing (Times-Free Press) Sam McMillan says that while there’s no evidence the workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant knew about the automaker’s emissions scandal, he worries about the fallout. “It’s all the jobs that potentially could be lost,” the Chattanooga resident said outside of Warehouse Row on Tuesday. In a rare state Senate hearing in Chattanooga on Thursday, legislators are expected to learn more about how VW plans to move ahead in the wake of the diesel vehicle emissions cheating that has rocked the German car company.

Fincher scores victory with Ex-Im Bank vote (Commercial Appeal) The debate over reopening the U.S. Export-Import Bank had been raging for close to an hour Tuesday afternoon when U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher finally walked onto the House floor and began to speak. The Crockett County Republican, who the day before had managed to use a rare parliamentary tool to force a vote on the 81-year-old federal agency’s future, had listened as one after another of his fellow Republicans had blasted the agency as an institution of corruption and cronyism.

BABC adds trio to real estate, litigation, health care groups (Nashville Post) Bradley Arant Boult Cummings has recruited three associates to various practice groups in its Nashville office. Coming on board at BABC are the following: Brooke Baird, who has joined the firm’s real estate practice group and is working on commercial leasing, real estate acquisitions and dispositions and real estate finance. Previously, she was with Green Hills firm Morgan Akins & Clark. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University ad her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Economists pull back on growth expectations for late 2015 (Nashville Business Journal) Economists are optimistic about economic growth in the remainder of 2015, but expectations are rolled back from last quarter, a new survey of members of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) shows. NABE’s latest national Business Conditions Survey reflects the views of 106 NABE members and industry economists. “The panel continues to have a positive outlook, but third-quarter performance and fourth-quarter expectations softened across most indicators,” said survey chair Jim Diffley, senior director at IHS Inc., a market analytics company based in Douglas County.

Nissan making refreshed Altima sedan at Tenn., Miss. Plants (AP) Nissan is launching production of an updated version of the midsized Altima sedan at assembly plants in Smyrna, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi. The Japanese automaker’s U.S. plants have combined to make more than 5.5 million Altimas since 1992. The Smyrna plant – which is North America’s highest-producing auto factory – began making the updated Altima on Monday. Canton is scheduled to follow suit next week.

What Bridgestone’s Purchase Of Pep Boys Means For Nashville (WPLN) Bridgestone’s purchase of the struggling Pep Boys auto store chain almost certainly means job growth for Nashville, where Bridgestone Americas is based. The $835 million deal would likely result in the relocation of the Pep Boys headquarters, which is in Philadelphia. Bridgestone has not made its plans public, but analysts believe there’s very little chance the tire-maker would keep hundreds of administrative staffers working in Pennsylvania. And Bridgestone is already building a new, larger headquarters in downtown Nashville.

Chinese tiremaker plans North American HQ in Franklin (Tennessean) A major Chinese tiremaker is planning to open its North American headquarters in Franklin. The executive team for Triangle Tire North America LLC will occupy a roughly 3,150-square-foot space at the Dover Centre office complex in Cool Springs. The handful of executive roles will include positions overseeing marketing, sales, engineering, finance and customer service.

Knoxville councilman seeks more details in Regal deal (News-Sentinel) A city councilman Tuesday said he wants more information on the city’s plan to spend $9 million to bring Regal Entertainment to the South Knoxville Waterfront. “There’s two sides to the coin, and one of them is of course it’s great to have good business like Regal in our downtown … the other is sort of the economic wisdom of putting out 9 million bucks to make that happen on the city’s part,” Nick Della Volpe said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Coliseum, Chilhowee Park employees 60 days guaranteed with contractor (News-Sentinel) The 33 city employees who work at Chilhowee Park and Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum likely will remain in their jobs for at least 60 days after a new company takes over management. After that, whichever company wins the bid will have the leeway to make staffing changes, said Christi Branscom, deputy to the mayor and chief operations officer. The terms are among those that will be written in the city’s requests for proposals when it outsources the management of the two public assembly facilities.

Dura-Line to invest $25M, create 70 jobs in Clinton (News-Sentinel) Dura-Line, maker of electric conduit products, announced Tuesday it will invest $25 million in a new manufacturing facility in Clinton, creating 70 jobs. The company, which has a headquarters in Knoxville, will use an empty 86,800 square-foot building in Carden Farm Industrial Park for an operation making high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conduit pipe. Such pipe is used by the telecommunications industry to house fiber-optic cable.

Knoxville’s TeamHealth buys three Las Vegas medical groups (News-Sentinel) TeamHealth, a Knoxville-based physician services provider, has acquired three emergency department medical groups in Las Vegas. The three, Fremont Emergency Services, Advanced Care Emergency Services and Advanced Care Emergency Specialists, “have strong reputations of delivering high-quality care to patients and their families,” said Michael Snow, president and CEO of TeamHealth.

Tennessee farmers, rural small businesses net $2M in USDA grants (News-Sentinel) Dry Ridge Farm’s solar project in Loudon County is one of 34 such efforts in Tennessee to benefit from nearly $2 million in grants from U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department’s Rural Energy for America Program funds energy efficiency improvements and renewable-energy systems for rural small businesses and agricultural producers.

Déjà vu: Streetcar options and revisiting transit on West End Avenue (Nashville Business Journal) Let’s zero back in on transit in Nashville’s core – particularly the West End Avenue corridor where all this recent discussion started. In the past several months, the transit conversation has been predominantly regional in nature – following the death of the Amp there were calls from mayoral candidates and business groups to look at a region-wide system. Last week we told you where transit officials are exploring light-rail options, which would potentially focus on the region’s major commuting arteries (we highlighted the biggest spikes in highway traffic counts during the past decade in a recent cover story).

Sycamore Shoals to hold auction to support museum (Johnson City Press) After decades of having a large but empty room in the Visitors Center at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, the park now has a state-of-the-art exhibit and museum. Now the park is inviting people to help improve the exhibit by participating in an auction and fundraising to be held Nov. 13. Doors will open at 6 p.m. to allow bidders and contributors to view the items to be auctioned. Since its opening in June, 2013, the Sycamore Shoals Exhibits have become a showcase for the community. It continues to attract new visitors to experience the rich history of Sycamore Shoals.

Hackers Don’t Just Steal Data, They Manipulate It (Government Technology) Computer hackers could do more damage than just stealing the information they find online, the nation’s top cybersecurity official said in Pittsburgh Monday. Computer thieves already hit U.S. companies daily, looking for trade secrets, bank account information and the inner-workings of operating systems, said Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. “What happens when nation-states, groups, individuals no longer want to steal data [but] they want to manipulate data — and suddenly we can’t believe what we’re seeing?” Rogers said at the University of Pittsburgh.


Columnist: Remember The Ammo Shortage? It Has Quietly Fueled A Manufacturing Revival (Forbes) Two years ago I investigated ammunition shortages in the U.S. At the time many stores and gun ranges were rationing everything from .22 LR to 9mm to .223 Rem. ammunition. The shortage became so severe that rumors spread over Internet that the federal government was buying up ammo to purposely cause the shortages. Last week, for example,Advanced Munitions International (AMI) announced it will build a new ammo-making plant in Maryville, Tenn., that will employee about 600 people. This is a $553 million development project that is expected to be completed in late 2018. Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam said, “This is an industry leader creating jobs that require a highly skilled workforce and it’s the kind of company that makes it obvious we’re moving toward a simple goal for Tennessee: becoming the number-one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.”

Columnist: We must all share the cost (Crossville Chronicle) I’d like to discuss the political situation which exists in the state of Tennessee and in this nation. Many people see government as trying to control them and take their riches away from them in the form of taxes. This explains why those people hate government and want it smaller and less powerful. Those same people, however, often fail to see how they depend upon government. The wealthy, in particular, seldom acknowledge that they benefit from government services (roads and other infrastructure, the legal system and subsidies). Instead they see themselves as self-sufficient, even calling themselves the job creators.

Pam Sohn: As UAW tries again, track unions and income (Times-Free Press) Watching how the newly announced bid plays out for a second United Auto Workers union election at Volkswagen should prove interesting. UAW lost the first vote on Valentine’s Day 2014 by a 712 to 626 vote after the state’s Republican politicians piled on with scare tactics insinuating that VW’s new SUV would not be built here and the plant would not expand if the union won. The politicians were able to do that because they controlled the pay stream for VW incentives. Now that particular threat — and extortion opportunity — is past.

Clint Cooper: UAW Desperate For VW Toehold (Times-Free Press) If the United Auto Workers is confident of the support of the 55 percent of blue-collar workers the union says it has signed up at the Volkswagen plant, why wouldn’t it request a vote of all blue-collar workers for representation? Instead, the union’s Local 42 says it wants a vote of only the 164 full- and part-time maintenance, or skilled trades, workers at the plant. It has asked the National Labor Relations Board for such a vote on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.

Pam Sohn: There is no good answer for storing nuclear waste (Times-Free Press) A Tennessee anti-nuclear group on Tuesday released a map showing the heart of Chattanooga on a likely route for the transport of nuclear waste on its way to Nevada if the on-again, off-again Yucca Mountain repository is pursued once more by Congress — something currently pondered. The Tennessee Environmental Council says the map shows highly radioactive waste from 30 nuclear reactors at 16 power plants in eight states plus the Savannah River Site would pass through Tennessee by rail — much of it through Chattanooga and most of it through Atlanta and Nashville.

Tuesday, October 27

National Higher Education Summit (Louisiana Weekly) Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will join dozens of other elected officials, university presidents and education experts for an unprecedented national summit , presented by the National Urban League and USA Funds, to confront the issues of higher education completion and – most importantly – affordability. Even as millions of America’s young people are desperate to find work, the nation’s employers could be scrambling to find qualified candidates to fill millions of jobs in the next five years.

Regal Entertainment Group To Locate Corporate Headquarters In Knoxville, Tennessee (Area Development) Regal Entertainment Group, a company that operates the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. theater circuit, will locate its new corporate headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. The company plans to create 75 jobs in the city’s South Waterfront. “We want to congratulate and thank Regal Entertainment Group on their long-term commitment to Tennessee and the new jobs that will be created in Knoxville,” Governor Bill Haslam said. “

Tennessee’s Magic Moments (RFDTV) Tennessee is launching a new campaign to promote agriculture by focusing on the magic found in every day agriculture. “Magic Moments” kicks-off today and is part of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam‘s 10- year Strategic Rural Challenge. The goal is to reach the non-agricultural audience with the message of how agriculture impacts daily life from food to shelter to clothing. The social media campaign and speaking engagements will allow consumers to create and share images that capture the magic in agriculture through the hashtag #TNMagicMoments.

South Knoxville residents have high hopes for waterfront project (WATE) The next step in the South Knoxville Waterfront Redevelopment Project was up for a vote Monday night at County Commission. Commissioners decided to approve a $1.5 million tax incentive package for the highly-anticipated move. The $1.5 million would cover renovations both inside and outside of the new Regal Entertainment Group building. Knoxville City Council will vote on a $9 million investment, while the state of Tennessee will also invest $1.5 million for improvements, pending approval from the State Funding Board. Gov. Bill Haslam confirmed Friday what many suspected – Regal Entertainment Group plans to bring its headquarters to one part of the former Baptist Hospital site, which sits now as a rocky, blank canvas.

Tennessee group says state needs $25.7 billion in transportation improvements (Equipment World) A public-private advisory consortium says in a new report Tennessee needs $25.7 billion in transportation infrastructure improvements by 2018, an increase of $4.2 billion or 19.5 percent over the group’s previous yearly estimate. 2015_InfraCoverThe Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations’ (TACIR) annual report covers all infrastructure needs across the state, including transportation and utilities, education, health safety and welfare, recreation and culture, general government and economic development. Transportation accounted for the majority of the $43.3 billion TACIR says is needed in all categories.

Outsourcing concerns GOP lawmakers representing UT campuses (Tennessean) While Republican legislative leaders are generally supportive of Gov. Bill Haslam exploring privatizing facilities management, a pair of GOP lawmakers are concerned about the potential negative effects any move could have on public universities in their districts. Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, and Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, said they’ve heard from public university employees in their districts who are scared and nervous. Both lawmakers agree it’s important for the governor to make sure the state is spending its money wisely. But at this time, they’re not sure privatization would offer any benefits to their constituents at the University of Tennessee at Martin or the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Opponents Of Haslam’s Outsourcing Plan Include Member Of His Own Party (WPLN) Campus workers in Tennessee are making a week-long show of force against Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan that could outsource many of their jobs. One of the lawmakers encouraging the resistance is a member of the governor’s own party. To start the week of action, which concludes with a protest in Nashville on Friday, the United Campus Workers held a telephone town hall meeting Monday night. The first speaker was state Sen. Richard Briggs, a Republican from Knoxville who says he’s looking out for the staff at the University of Tennessee.

Campus workers protest possible outsourcing at rally (Daily Helmsman) Employees and students from the UT Health Science Center and the University of Memphis banded together to show their disapproval of Governor Haslam’s proposal of outsourcing state jobs on the corner of Union Avenue and East Street during Thursday’s protest. Car horns could be heard from a mile away as more than 40 campus workers rallied chanting “Tennessee is not for sale” and “Hey, hey, Governor Haslam’s got to go.” “I came to the rally because outsourcing would be horrible for both our campus workers and our campus,” said Alex Uhlmann, a recent graduate of the U of M.

Republican lawmaker wants ‘independent’ verification of Jones Lang LaSalle outsourcing savings (Times-Free Press) Citing fears of constituents who work in public higher education, a conservative GOP lawmaker sent a blistering email to a top aide to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, demanding to know what the administration’s plans are on future privatization of state building management services. In his email last week to Leslie Hafner, a Haslam adviser, Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, said he has been contacted by more than 30 employees at the University of Tennessee at Martin, which is located in his West Tennessee district.

Knoxville to outsource Coliseum, Chilhowee Park management (News-Sentinel) City officials announced Monday they have outsourced the management of Chilhowee Park and the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum to SMG, the firm that currently operates the city’s convention center. The city hired the international venue management company on an emergency contract after three coliseum employees were fired this month and the general manager retired following an investigation into payroll fraud. The company will manage the 30 city employees already working at the two venues and book events until the city drafts a request for proposals for a long-term “comprehensive contract” to manage the city’s public assembly facilities.

Knoxville hires company to oversee Coliseum & Chilhowee Park (WBIR) The City of Knoxville has hired international venue management company SMG to temporarily oversee daily operations at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and Chilhowee Park, and by the end of the year, city officials will issue a Request for Proposals for a company to permanently take over these venues. During the interim contract, SMG will oversee about 30 city employees and manage event booking and daily operations for the facilities. SMG already manages the Knoxville Convention Center, which averages 240 events per year and has welcomed more than 3 million visitors since it opened in 2002.

Hamilton County Man Charged With TennCare Fraud (WDEF) The Office of Inspector General announces the arrest of a Soddy Daisy man for TennCare fraud. 22-year old Casey w. Millsaps faces eight counts of fraud involving doctor shopping. He was indicted in Rhea County on two counts of fraudulently getting the painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. Doctor shopping is the practice of going to multiple physicians in a short period of time into order to get multiple prescriptions.

Hamilton County Man Charged 2nd Time with TennCare Fraud (WTVC) A Hamilton County man is charged a second time with TennCare fraud in a case involving prescription drugs. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Rhea County Sheriff’s Office, announced Monday the arrest of Casey W. Millsaps, 22, of Soddy Daisy. He is charged in a Rhea County indictment with two counts of fraudulently obtaining the painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone by doctor shopping, or going to multiple doctors in a short period of time in order to obtain prescription drugs, using TennCare as payment for the office visit or the prescription.

TN Supreme Court candidates set for public hearing (Tennessean) Nine men vying for a seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court are expected to appear at public hearing Tuesday in hopes of landing on a list of three names headed to Gov. Bill Haslam. The candidates are looking to fill the seat vacated by former Justice Gary Wade, who retired in September after 28 years on the bench. The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments will interview the candidates after the public hearing, and then send three recommendations to the governor for appointment. Haslam can select a name for the list or ask for more options.

State attorney general says federal laws have pre-empted Tennessee legislation (Times-Free Press) Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery on Monday called the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision an issue for the states, saying in a speech in Chattanooga that a handful of federal decrees have pre-empted the “very good, well-run” systems in Tennessee. “It seems like we deal with it every time we turn the corner,” Slatery said to roughly 50 members of the Pachyderm Club. “This is a states’ issue. This shouldn’t be a federal issue.”

State A.G. Says Federal Government Not Recognizing States’ Rights (WDEF) The Tennessee Attorney General told a Chattanooga group today that the federal government is ignoring the rights vested in each state to determine some of the most controversial issues of the day. Herbert Slatery told the Pachyderm club that Tennessee will seek to exercise its 10th amendment rights in dealing with them. It’s been a controversial subject since the civil war–where is the power of the federal end and states’ rights begin?

Tennessee’s ACA rate hikes are among highest in U.S. (Tennessean) The health insurance premium increases for 2016 on the federally run exchange for Tennesseans are among the highest in the country. The second-lowest cost silver plan is set to go up 23.4 percent, while the national average is 7.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In Tennessee the benchmark plan on the exchange established by the Affordable Care Act cost $203 in 2015, according to Kaiser Health Foundation. That plan would be $250.50 in 2016, for the 23.4 percent increase. The state’s benchmark plan in 2014 was $188.

Cost of benchmark coverage in Tennessee soars 23% for 2016 (Commercial Appeal) The cost of a benchmark health coverage plan sold by insurers through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace is rising 23.4 percent in Tennessee for 2016, which is three times the national average, according to a federal report released Monday. The increase in Tennessee compares with an average increase of 7.5 percent among all 37 states where open enrollment begins Nov. 1 to sign up for “Obamacare” health insurance offered online through

Surprise: Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores (NY Times) When the Education Department releases its biennial scorecard of reading and math scores for all 50 states this week, Florida and Texas are likely to look pretty mediocre. In 2013, the last time that scores were released, Florida ranked 30th on the tests, which are given to fourth and eighth graders, and Texas ranked 32nd. Florida showed the 11th-largest gain, and Texas the 12th. The largest gain was in Nevada, followed by Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Tennessee and New Jersey.

Ex-councilman Maynard refers to TSU as ‘Thug State University’ (Tennessean) Former Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard sounded off on Tennessee State University in a recent radio appearance, calling for TSU President Glenda Glover to “clean house” and referring to the school as “Thug State University.” Maynard, a former two-term at-large councilman whose home is next to the TSU campus, made those comments Sunday on “Let’s Talk with Ernie Allen” on 92Q. He was reacting to an on-campus shooting Thursday night that left one person dead, 19-year-old Cameron Selmon, who was not a TSU student. The shooting injured three freshman women. The shooting stemmed from a dice game, police said.

Cybersecurity Summit Seeks to Subdue One of Government’s Most Cumbersome Beasts (Government Technology) Citizens don’t care if cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated —they want their data safe and services kept operational. On Oct. 26, a crowd of about 500 gathered at the 2015 North American International Cyber Summit (NAICS) to listen to security experts, watch live exercises and compare notes on how to subdue one of government’s most cumbersome beasts. The event was hosted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who warned that today’s world is rife with cyberthreats that range from every room of the home to the most secure government facilities.

State’s transportation needs highlight Thursday hearing (Times-News) Tennessee Senate Transportation and Safety Committee Chairman Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, will host a hearing in Kingsport Thursday as he travels across the state for meetings to discuss the state’s roads and transportation needs. The meeting will be at 10 a.m. at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education. During a recent stop in Kingsport, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tennessee has $6 billion in unfunded transportation needs. The state’s 21.4-cent gas tax hasn’t gone up since 1989. In a release prepared by the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Tracy said he wants to get input from a wide variety of citizens and community leaders regarding solutions to the challenges the state faces in funding Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure.

Ron Ramsey answers questions about Facebook post on gun ownership (WKRN) Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey answered questions about his controversial Facebook post about gun ownership. After the deadly mass shooting at an Oregon Community College, Ramsey urged Christians to arm themselves. “While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare,” Ramsey wrote. “I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit.” Some survivors of the Umpqua Community College Shooting told authorities the gunman demanded at least some of the victims state their religion before shooting them.

TMA releases legislative priorities (Nashville Post) The Tennessee Medical Association will seek to limit insurance companies’ ability to adjust physician reimbursements mid-contract during the 2016 legislative session. The physicians’ professional association on Monday released its 2016 legislative priorities, which includes the Healthcare Provider Stability Act, sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Rep. John Lundberg (R-Bristol). The act will limit how often insurers can change their fee schedules and payment policies. “It’s impossible for a physician to make sure the business side of a practice runs smoothly when health plans can cut reimbursement mid-contract with no recourse for the physician,” Dr. John Hale, TMA president, said in a release.

U.S. Sen. Alexander calls for breakthrough treatment of medical devices on Memphis visit (Commercial Appeal) U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander toured a Smith & Nephew plant in Memphis Monday and called for a speedier federal process for approving promising medical devices, similar to a 2012 law passed for breakthrough drugs. “We’d like to have a breakthrough for devices,” the Tennessee Republican said following a tour of a manufacturing facility for the London-based medical device maker.–337159291.html

Sen. Alexander wants to ease medical device regulations (Video) (Memphis Business Journal)

Water near TVA plant tests positive for contaminant (WSMV) Residents near the TVA Gallatin Fossil Plant are getting confirmation of news that cancer-causing contaminants are leaking into their drinking water and into the Cumberland River. Robert Presley said he and his family have been fishing at the Old Hickory Lake and Cumberland River for as long as he can remember. When Presley came to check the lines Monday, he said he was shocked to find out the waters have tested positive for known carcinogens. “I’m just thinking about all these fish we’ve been eating out of this lake all these years and wondering if they’ve been poisoned,” Presley said.

Chemicals found in wells near TVA power plant (AP) Albert Hudson worries about the water coming from the well on his property near the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal-fired power plant in Gallatin. Hudson received a letter recently from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation notifying him that tests found a harmful chemical in his water called hexavalent chromium The Tennessean reported. The state agency told Hudson his well water meets overall national standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but said the levels of hexavalent chromium are “slightly above” the EPA risk levels. Hexavalent chromium is typically the result of an industrial process.

Tennessee goes nuclear (Memphis Business Journal) The Tennessee Valley Authority has the green light to operate a new East Tennessee nuclear reactor, the first operator license issued since 1996. The TVA has finally completed the Watts Bar 2 reactor, which has been in the works for more than 40 years. Construction on the site near Spring City was suspended in 1985 but then restarted in 2007. The U.S. revised its nuclear reactor safety standards after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and the Watts Bar 2 reactor is the first reactor to meet the new safety standards.

TVA ranks third among largest nuclear utilities in the nation (Times-Free Press) The diversified utilities with the greater power generating capacity from nuclear power in the United States are: 1. Exelon — 17,047 megawatts; 2. Entergy — 10,219 megawatts; 3. Tennessee Valley Authority — 7,930 mega- watts*; 4. Dominion — 5,852 megawatts; 5. Next Era Energy — 5,493 megawatts.

Duke Energy to Acquire Piedmont for $4.9 Billion (NY Times) Duke Energy, which provides electric power for 7.3 million customers in the Southeast and Midwest, agreed to acquire Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion. Piedmont shareholders will receive $60 in cash a share, representing a 40 percent premium to the closing price on Oct. 23, according to a statement Monday. Duke Energy will also assume about $1.8 billion in Piedmont’s existing debt. Duke Energy will add about one million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Local Trout Unlimited chapter makes donation to park’s brook trout project (News-Sentinel) A decades-long project to restore native brook trout to select streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has received a helping hand from a local chapter of Trout Unlimited. The Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited recently presented the park with $24,000 to be divided among projects aimed at preserving brook trout, the only trout species native to the Southern Appalachians.

VW loses global sales lead to Toyota (Times-Free Press) Volkswagen AG lost the lead in global auto sales to Toyota Motor Corp. after claiming the No. 1 spot three months ago, as the German carmaker braces for consumer blowback from a widening emissions-cheating scandal, according to Bloomberg. Toyota said today it sold 7.49 million vehicles this year through September, topping the 7.43 million that Volkswagen reported earlier this month. Deliveries declined 1.5 percent for both Toyota and Volkswagen.

Financial incentives draw business to East Tennessee (WBIR) Big tax breaks and other financial deals are drawing several businesses to East Tennessee, while others put down deeper roots. Ammo-maker Advanced Munitions International announced the plan to move to Blount County last week, building a $553 million headquarters. Bryan Daniels, president and CEO of the Blount Partnership, said that’s a huge deal for the area. “There’s several benefits to the average person,” Daniels said. “The first is jobs, jobs it creates, and income, income people live their lives by. It’s also tax revenue for our local governments.”

Bridgestone buying Pep Boys in $835M deal (Nashville Post) Bridgestone will pay $535 million to acquire national auto parts chain Pep Boys, the company announced Monday. The acquisition of Philadelphia-headquartered Pep Boys will expand the reach of Bridgestone’s aftermarket auto parts retail operation by more than 35 percent. With the merger, Bridgestone adds Pep Boys’ 800 retail locations and its distribution network. “Bridgestone and Pep Boys are two leading companies that share a proud heritage in the American automotive services industry,” said Gary Garfield, CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas.

Bridgestone to buy national auto parts chain in $835M deal (Nashville Business Journal) Bridgestone Americas Inc. is set to buy The Pep Boys (NYSE: PBY) in an all-cash deal valued at $835 million, or $15 per share, according to a news release. The deal will add about 800 Pep Boys locations to Bridgestone Retail Operations’ network of 2,200 service centers. “This transaction delivers a significant premium for Pep Boys’ shareholders and offers new opportunities for our employees across a bigger business. We look forward to working with the Bridgestone team for a smooth and successful transition,” Pep Boys CEO Scott Sider said in the release. The deal is expected to close at the beginning of 2016.

Chattanooga’s roads stink, survey says (Times-Free Press) Chattanooga has a lot of things going for it, but getting around town isn’t one of them. A new survey released Monday by Chattanooga’s internal auditor shows that residents have a low opinion of the city’s roads and transportation network. In fact, road ratings are one of the few aspects rated in a recent survey that went down in some cases instead of up. The report, which polled about 2,000 residents, found that most have a negative opinion of the city’s streets, with just 2 percent rating the smoothness of city streets as “very good.”

Is ‘Telemedicine’ Virtually Identical to the Examination Room? (Stateline) A California doctor waits to confer with a doctor at another hospital whose image is displayed on a monitor. States have taken different approaches to regulating telemedicine. Telemedicine has been praised as a cost-effective way to link doctors and patients, enabling physicians to monitor their medical conditions and consult with specialists in a way that overcomes time and distance. But despite a half-century of technological advances, the ready availability of interactive devices, and the full-throated encouragement of the Obama administration, advocates say telemedicine has failed to reach its full potential, due largely to policies in some states that make it difficult to practice, and pay for, such care.

Women’s Suffrage Monument Taking Shape As Organizers Try To Decide Where To Put It (WPLN) A memorial to the women who fought for the vote in Tennessee nearly a hundred years ago will get an unveiling of sorts this week. The monument has been four years in the making, and its final home still hasn’t been determined. In 1920, by a margin of just one vote, this state’s legislature became the linchpin to ratifying the 19th amendment. Paula Casey puts it succinctly: “All American women vote today thanks to Tennessee.” By the centennial anniversary of that vote, Casey hopes to have statues of suffragist leaders in major cities across the state. She’s in charge of the efforts to raise money and find locations for the monuments.

Summit touts benefits of workplace diversity (Tennessean) When Rashed Fakhruddin was hired by Nashville Electric Service as an engineer, he said he would not be able to attend meetings from 1 to 2 p.m. Fridays. That time was for prayer. And during Ramadan, he may move his workday up a few hours to adapt to his fasting schedule. They were small accommodations, but by receiving that support from his supervisors, he felt motivated to go above and beyond for his employer, he said. He has become an engineering supervisor, and last year, he was awarded NES’ President’s Award.

Summit addresses women’s economic inequality (Tennessean) From closing the wage gap to making caregiving an equal value, there is an unfinished revolution in advancing women’s rights. That was the message at the heart of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and founder of The Conversation Project Ellen Goodman’s speech to dozens of women during the annual Tennessee Economic Summit for Women held Monday at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

South College hosting domestic violence symposium (WATE) South College is hosting a free domestic violence symposium this week to help educate the community on how to prevent and overcome domestic violence. The event, hosting by South College’s Justice and Legal Studies programs will honor the memory of Angela Burchell, a 2014 graduate who was killed by her estranged husband. The symposium will be followed by a candlelight vigil for Burchell. The event is Wednesday, October 28, at the college’s west campus, 400 Goody’s Lane, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Photographer seeks couple behind Fall Creek Falls engagement photos (WSMV) A photographer is asking for help in finding a couple who got engaged in one of Tennessee’s state parks. “I could take my camera out in the woods for a month and never talk to a human being and have a blast,” said Donald Harris, a professional photographer. Harris spent last weekend with his wife at Fall Creek Falls. “We were just going to see the autumn leaves changing,” he said. But Harris ended up finding his best pictures by chance. “My wife said … ‘Is he proposing to her?’ And I said, ‘Who are you talking about?’ She said, ‘At the bottom of the falls, is he proposing to her?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, let me look.’

Ole Miss concludes days of debate by removing state flag (Commercial Appeal) Like scores of other Ole Miss students, Barrett Teller couldn’t help glancing up at the flagpole in Lyceum Circle as he walked to class Monday morning. “I guess it’s gone,” said the 20-year-old sophomore from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Teller was among those who had to see for themselves the effects of a historic step by the university early Monday.


Guest column: How Hospitals Coddle the Rich (NY Times) WHEN I saw my first red blanket as a young medical student, I thought little of it. One morning, as I rushed around a hospital in California on my daily rounds, I spotted an old man who lay in bed beneath a scarlet cover, a sharp contrast to the white linens wrapped around the other patients. He looked unremarkable, and I assumed he brought the blanket from home. So I moved on. He wasn’t my patient, anyway. That afternoon, I overheard a discussion about the patient between two physicians. Instead of identifying him in the usual manner — age, gender, medical problems — one of the doctors said, “This is a red blanket patient.”

Guest column: The elusive goal of tax fairness (Washington Post) The other day, some folks asked me to talk to them about “tax fairness.” My first thought was, “what’s tax fairness?” So I looked at some polls and took a convenience sample (asked a bunch of people, from my 16-year-old to fellow D.C. wonks) and came up with this: to most people, tax fairness means a progressive tax system (where rates rise with income) without tax avoidance or evasion (avoidance is legal; evasion is not).

Editorial: Tax incentives to keep Regal in county justified (News-Sentinel) The tax incentive package for Regal Entertainment to move its headquarters to the South Knoxville waterfront is a slightly unorthodox but valid way to keep the nation’s largest movie theater chain based in Knox County. The city of Knoxville is putting up the lion’s share of more than $12 million in public funds for the $16-17 million project to buy and renovate a nine-story office building at the east end of the former Baptist Hospital site. In return, Regal would spend $4-5 million on remodeling, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual lease payments and parking space rent.

Monday, October 26

Treasury Auctions Set for the Week of Oct. 26 (NY Times) The Treasury’s schedule of financing this week includes Monday’s auction of new three- and six-month bills and an auction of four-week bills on Tuesday. ONE DAY DURING THE WEEK: Tennessee, $414 million of general obligation bonds. Morgan Stanley.

Tennessee Outlook Revised To Positive On Improved Financial Performance And Growing Reserves (S&P) Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has revised its outlook to positive from stable and affirmed its ‘AA+’ general obligation (GO) rating on Tennessee. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s assigned its ‘AA+’ GO rating, with a positive outlook, to the state’s series. 2015A GO bonds and series 2015B GO refunding bonds. “The revised outlook reflects what we view as an improvement to the state’s short-term and long-term financial performance as evidenced by the state’s growing reserves and positive year-to-date performance,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst John Sugden. “The outlook revision also reflects the state’s continuous sound management of long-term liabilities,” added Mr. Sugden.

Fitch Rates Tennessee’s $425MM GOs ‘AAA’; Outlook Stable (Fitch Ratings) Fitch Ratings has assigned an ‘AAA’ rating to the State of Tennessee’s approximately $425 million general obligation (GO) bonds consisting of: –$320,000,000 GO bonds 2015 series A; –$105,000,000 GO bonds 2015 refunding series B. The Rating Outlook is Stable.The state’s debt profile is very conservative, with low debt ratios, swift amortization, few non-general obligation commitments, and strong security provisions. The state has fully funded its pension contributions for four decades. The rating is sensitive to continued maintenance of the state’s conservative debt and fiscal management practices. Tennessee’s ‘AAA’ GO rating reflects its low debt levels, among the lowest of any state, and an ongoing commitment to budget balance.

Moody’s assigns Aaa to $425M Ser. 2015 GO bonds and affirms Tennessee’s Aaa GO rating; outlook stable ( has $2.0B net tax-supported debt outstanding. Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Aaa rating on the Tennessee’s general obligation bonds, the P-1 rating on Tennessee’s general obligation commercial paper, and the Aa1 rating on the Tennessee State School Bond Authority’s Higher Education Intercept Program. At the same time, Moody’s Investors Service has assigned Aaa ratings to Tennessee’s General Obligation Bonds, 2015 Series A and General Obligation bonds, 2015 Refunding Series B. The Series 2015 bonds are expected to be sold on October 26.–PR_337041

Crissy Haslam to visit Spring Hill Library on Tuesday (Columbia Daily Herald) The First Lady of Tennessee will visit the Spring Hill Public Library on Tuesday to share stories with families and to teach the importance of reading on a daily basis. Crissy Haslam’s Read20 Book Club is a program, launched in 2012, which challenges families to read together for at least 20 minutes every day. The club’s overall goals are to encourage reading for enjoyment, for families to establish a steady reading habit with their children, to promote school readiness and proficiency, and to help parents become more engaged with their child’s academic learning.

Rule orders Orange Grove to move programs off its campus, into community (Times-Free Press) When Antoinette Jackson got a letter from Orange Grove Center saying it would have to change its day programs for the intellectually disabled or lose federal funding, she was worried. Her 28-year-old daughter is involved in all kinds of activities in Orange Grove’s day programs, from bowling to singing in the Chattanooga facility’s acclaimed choir. Jackson doesn’t see any reason or benefit from a new rule ordering centers that serve the intellectually disabled to switch day programs from campus to community-based services. She worries for her daughter’s safety and security outside the protection of Orange Grove.

Boyd stresses importance of education in speech to Arnold Community Council (Tullahoma News) Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Randy Boyd brought a message of statewide teamwork to the Arnold Community Council (ACC) Thursday during the group’s annual fundraising dinner at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center. In front of roughly 260 military and business guests, Boyd spoke to the importance of the “Team Tennessee” concept introduced at last week’s Governor’s Conference in Nashville.

Early Release: How Many Drug Felons Each US State Can Expect (NY Times) About 6,000 federal drug felons are set for early release around Nov. 1 because of new sentencing guidelines. A total of 4,131 are destined for various points in the U.S. and its territories, while the rest are expected to be deported. Here are how many inmates each state and territory can expect, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Numbers are as of Sept. 26. Tennessee: 150.

Taxing the Cloud: States Are Looking at How to Do It (Stateline) There’s an old saying in the military: “If it moves, salute it.” As states scramble for revenue in an increasingly Internet-based society, their expression might be: “If its electrons move, tax it.” With sales of computer software CDs declining, and consumers downloading more programs and storing more files on the Internet, many states are looking to the “cloud” as a new source of tax revenue. Think of it like this: DVD sales have plummeted, but streaming video is easy and cheap; thumb drive sales have dropped, while many people are storing data in the cloud. And when the sales of physical goods decline, so does state sales tax revenue.

State fix sought for Bradley County erosion problem (Times-Free Press) A pair of Bradley County commissioners are pushing for the state to provide a resolution to a months-long erosion concern for a property owner. Commissioner Bobby Goins and Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber have publicly championed the cause of Jo Ann Hawkins, who alleges that she has lost a swath of property measuring 14 feet wide by 70 feet long because of nearby development. The county has no authority over the property, which is located near Grand View Drive. Instead, it falls under the governance of the state’s stormwater program through the Division of Water Resources of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Erwin utility points to broadband success, contrasting cable lobbyist’s statements (Johnson City Press) A cable company lobbyist’s claims last week that government-owned broadband services in Tennessee are doing poorly have been refuted by utility administrators across the state, including some in Northeast Tennessee. Speaking Wednesday to a fact-finding panel of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, John Farris, attorney for the Tennessee Cable and Telecommunications Association, said “these communities that have gone into this business have done very poorly.” He specifically noted a failed venture in Memphis and the levels of debt undertaken by Chattanooga and Jackson to build their high-speed communications networks.

Attorney General: Mystery tax break unconstitutional (Times-Free Press) For at least 20 years, no one apparently realized Tennessee lawmakers had changed state law to give rural electric cooperatives a temporary, four-year property tax break on their investments in new facilities and plants. But the state’s 23 nonprofit rural power distributors certainly do now. And after discovering the provision earlier this year — and with at least two co-ops already invoking it and more expected to follow — the legal and political sparks are flying. Panicky county mayors and property assessors fear it will put a damper on local tax collections.

Broadband Funding: It’s There for Those Who Know Where to Look (Government Technology) Even in the lean times, hustlers get ahead. It’s the communities with ingenuity that manage to fund beyond-the-budget projects like municipal broadband. And a new report — Show Me the (Hidden) Money for Community Broadband — shows communities seeking broadband funding where to look. The report taps into the experience of Craig Settles, host of live podcast Gigabit Nation and director of Communities United for Broadband. “When we look at some of the stories of how communities got broadband, some of them found unconventional methods of finding money,” Settles said, adding that he’s been tracking these stories for years, and now hopes that condensing some of the lessons into a report can be of help.

Is Volkswagen so complicated only insiders can fix it? (AP) Volkswagen’s effort to fix its emissions scandal will be largely led by company insiders. Some experts say it’s the only way, given the German carmaker’s unusually complicated structure and power groups. Others, however, argue the company is just compounding its risks if it does not bring an outsider to change its ways. Volkswagen has named a new CEO and chairman since the scandal became known Sept. 18. Both are longtime employees. The effort to find the guilty and prevent a recurrence is in the hands of new CEO Matthias Mueller, who has been with the group for almost three decades.

Volkswagen Inquiry’s Focus to Include Managers Who Turned a Blind Eye (NY Times) A widening internal investigation at Volkswagen is focusing not only on who was responsible for installing illegal software designed to fool emissions testers, but also on which managers may have learned of the deception and failed to take appropriate action, a person briefed on the inquiry said. The failure of people inside the carmaker to sound warnings about illegal engine software has emerged as a crucial element of the scandal, in which 11 million cars were programmed to produce far fewer emissions during laboratory testing than they did under normal driving conditions.

New Sullivan County radio system goes live (Times-News) Emergency responders in Sullivan County are the first in Northeast Tennessee to convert to a state-of-the art, more reliable communications system, which in turn has ushered Kingsport central dispatch into a spacious new facility. On Oct. 13, the proverbial switch was flipped from the former analog format to the new digital, 800 megahertz set-up. Police, fire and EMS agencies throughout the county, including the municipalities contained within it, are now working their way on to the network.

MHA Stops Lipscomb’s Paycheck (Memphis Flyer) The Memphis Housing Authority [MHA] agreed to stop paying Robert Lipscomb, its embattled director, but will not yet fire him. Lipscomb was accused of rape on August 30. On September 2, the MHA board voted to suspend Lipscomb but agreed to continue to pay him as the investigation into the allegation continued. The board appointed Maura Black Sullivan, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer, as MHA’s interim director. The MHA board unanimously stripped Lipscomb’s paycheck in a meeting Thursday but will allow his suspension to continue.

Fall foliage helps bring in record numbers to GSMNP (WBIR) The falling leaves in the Smoky Mountains helped bring in more visitors than the park has seen in 15 years. “Every October is a high visitation period. This year seems to be extremely high for us because the fall foliage is quite spectacular for this year,” said National Park Service Park Ranger George Luther. Last year, the park saw the highest numbers since the year 2000. This year, there is a 5.5 percent boost in tourism even from 2014. Visitors like 89-year-old Mary Wright visit from all over the country. Wright came with four different generations of her family to see the fall colors. It’s a rare opportunity for the entire family to get together.


Robert Houk: Boss Hill tries his hand at economic development (Johnson City Press) State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, was on a roll last week after being mostly silent since the General Assembly wrapped up its business in the spring. He squired state House Speaker Beth Harwell around Washington County on Tuesday, ending the day at a fundraiser at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. The fundraiser, by the way, was for Boss Hill. It’s not all that unusual for the speaker to attend a fundraising event for one of her members. That’s part of her job — to get Republicans elected to office and help them raise to money to remain there. Even so, it was hard to imagine just two years ago that Harwell would be helping Hill raise cash for his campaign coffers.

Guest column: Fairgrounds can be as successful as Ascend Amphitheater (Tennessean) We have all watched over the last few months as the new Ascend Amphitheater has drawn crowds of music fans downtown to see some of the top acts from across all musical genres. Many of these acts have not performed in Nashville for some time, because we did not have a venue to meet their needs. Bridgestone Arena is too large for some of these acts, and the aging Municipal Auditorium is simply not the venue it once was. Now that we have a first-rate venue to meet their needs, musical acts are lining up to visit Nashville.

Editorial: The Concealed-Carry Fantasy (NY Times) The more that sensational gun violence afflicts the nation, the more that the myth of the vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon, fully prepared to stop the next mass shooter in his tracks, is promoted. This foolhardy notion of quick-draw resistance, however, is dramatically contradicted by a research project showing that, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings that did not involve self-defense.

Sunday, October 25

Haslam: Regal to move HQ to South Waterfront, create 75 jobs (News-Sentinel) State and local officials, in a widely anticipated announcement made Friday, said they have negotiated a $12.5-million incentive package to keep Regal Entertainment in Knoxville by moving the company’s Halls headquarters to the South Waterfront. Under the unique deal, the city would purchase a former Baptist Hospital office building for $6 million and the lease it back to Regal, the country’s largest movie theater chain. “When the largest anything is in your hometown, that’s a big deal,” said Gov. Bill Haslam after the formal announcement atop a parking garage on the waterfront.

Regal headquarters moving to South Knoxville waterfront (WBIR) Gov. Bill Haslam and state leaders announced on Friday afternoon plans for the relocation of the site of Regal Entertainment Group’s headquarters to the South Knoxville waterfront. The company’s headquarters are currently located 10 miles away from that, in the Halls community. Haslam said Regal has the intentions of adding approximately 70 new jobs with its relocation. Local and state government are set to give a combined $12 million as part of the move.

Crissy Haslam promotes craft week in TN (News-Sentinel) Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam got to enjoy some East Tennessee craft mastery Friday, and even take part in the creation of some of it herself. Haslam, who is serving as honorary chairwoman of Tennessee Craft Week, visited with crafts people at Dollywood, which was holding its National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration. She watched as Dollywood glassblower Joe Deanda heated a glass blob in his kiln and brought it to the point at which she would supply the air to help it expand to become a Christmas ornament.

Vitter barely makes Louisiana governor runoff (Politico) David Vitter barely survived months of attacks — including explicit references to his 2007 prostitution scandal — to outlast two other Republicans in Saturday’s Louisiana gubernatorial primary and earn a spot in a runoff election next month. “As a dedicated leader for Louisiana, David Vitter has been committed to making government work better for the people by cutting wasteful spending and fighting back against President Obama’s executive overreach,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the RGA chairman, said in a statement. “His record of reform shows that he knows what it takes to solve Louisiana’s most pressing issues.”

Amy Grant to be inducted into Nashville Business Hall of Fame (Tennessean) Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee will induct Amy Grant into the Nashville Business Hall of Fame on Thursday for her strong business practices and extensive involvement in the community. Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam will speak briefly on behalf of Grant at her induction into the Nashville Business Hall of Fame.

Area Realtors told to weigh in on possible gas tax hike (Times-News) Even Realtors will have to give their input on whether Tennessee has a gas tax increase next year. That’s what a room full of Realtors heard Friday during a legislative luncheon held at the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR). Tennessee’s 21.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax was last boosted in 1989. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, traveled the state this past summer to generate public awareness about the state’s $6 billion backlog in unfunded transportation projects.

Governor’s office releases some outsourcing documents, withholds others (Commercial Appeal) Gov. Bill Haslam’s office has declined to release three documents relating to his controversial building-management outsourcing project, citing a “deliberative process privilege” for high government officials as an exemption to the state’s public records law. In response to a public records request, the governor’s office released 72 pages of copies of emails to and from Greg Adams, the state’s chief operating officer. But an accompanying letter from the governor’s deputy legal counsel said the office is withholding three Adams documents based on the exemption cited in four state and federal court rulings.

Tennessee Promise gets ‘refined’ in year 2 (Tennessean) Abby Rottman is a dreamer. The 17-year-old wants to be a chemist, and she hopes that journey will begin with a four-year degree from Austin Peay State University. But Rottman is a pragmatist, too. She knows that plans she makes during the fall semester of her senior year at Antioch High School could change dramatically in a matter of months. So she has a plan B.

Chattanooga doctor becomes ‘world’s first’ 10 gig residential customer (Times-Free Press) Dr. Jim Busch got bragging rights Tuesday as the first person in the world to have a 10- gigabit-per-second residential Internet connection installed in his home. At least, that’s what EPB announced Friday, exactly one week after the Chattanooga utility announced it would amp up the speed of its single-gig Internet service to 10 gigs for residents willing to shell out $299 a month. Busch, a radiologist and entrepreneur who has an 1800s-era home in Battery Place, a downtown Chattanooga neighborhood overlooking the Tennessee River, was the first to bite.

Memphis advocates and officials work to combat domestic violence (Commercial Appeal) Tennessee ranks sixth in the nation in the Violence Policy Center’s recent “When Men Murder Women” study which tracks the number of women who die at the hands of men each year. The average age of victims in Tennessee was 39, and 98 percent of the women were killed by their boyfriends or spouses or someone else they know, according to analysis of 2013 homicide data by the Washington-based anti-gun violence research and advocacy group.

Domestic violence, a ‘crime against us all’ (Jackson Sun) The streets of East Jackson filled with supporters rallying to end domestic violence on Saturday for the first ever Domestic Violence Walk. Following a 1.7 mile route through the neighborhoods around Lane College, the walk was held in honor of Mary Ann Greer, a domestic abuse survivor who was recently released from the hospital. “I wanted to bring everybody together today and go on this walk just to honor Mary Ann,” said organizer Latanza Kidd.

Chasing a high: Prescription drug abuse (Jackson Sun) At 17, Zachary Brown became addicted to painkillers. After breaking into a family member’s home almost a year ago, the 29-year-old found himself in drug treatment court with Judge Blake Anderson. “They (the pills) were really easy to get and they’re cheap,” Brown said of his opiate addiction. “Then you get sick from not having them. Even that young, I knew something wasn’t right.” Brown said the addiction started when he was in high school and could find pills easily. But eventually he needed more and more of his choice opiates to get the same high.

Tennessee’s Lt. Governor will not enter 2018 gubernatorial race (WJHL) Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor has made his decision about running for the state’s top government job. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he will not enter the next gubernatorial race. Governor Bill Haslam’s second term as governor ends in 2018. Since Tennessee law does not allow him to seek more than two terms, people are starting to wonder which of the state’s current lawmakers will step forward. Ramsey put to rest any rumors about his candidacy. He said, “Absolutely positively not. I tried running for governor one time. I had a great time, but I got outspent to say the least.” Ramsey also said he’s happy being the Lt. Governor.

Time limit on legislation originally designed for Tri-Cities Crossing (WJHL) It’s still unclear what’s next for a development site in the Tri-Cities region, but we now know the clock is ticking. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey says the “Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act” passed back in 2011. That law was specifically created for the Tri-Cities Crossing development located at the intersection of interstates 26 and 81. The legislation encourages the development of retail and tourism facilities in Tennessee. The local community would also benefit from special distribution of state sales and tax revenue. Sullivan County currently is not getting rewarded for the empty development at the Tri-Cities crossing.

Hillary Clinton to no longer accept CCA, private prison money (Tennessean) Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton will no longer accept campaign contributions from lobbyists associated with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America or any other private prison company. In fact, the campaign for the former U.S. secretary of state announced Clinton will entirely do away with private prisons if elected president.

Bill Frist’s new mission: Making Nashville healthier (Tennessean) The former senator wants you to look at a group of kids on a playground and think about this: nearly one out of three lives in poverty. That’s going to drag down the city’s future workforce. The Nashville that earned it-city status with its construction cranes, craft cocktails and rocketing housing sales is competing with another Nashville — one with a dire health problem.

Former aide Saltsman vindicated by Tennessee Court of Appeals (Times-Free Press) The Tennessee Court of Appeals last week upheld the dismissal of a nearly 5-year-old defamation lawsuit filed by former state GOP Executive Director Mark Winslow against U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and his 2010 campaign manager, John “Chip” Saltsman. The suit grew out of the 3rd Congressional District’s bitter 2010 GOP primary, a multicandidate slugfest in which Winslow managed the campaign of former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Robin Smith. Fleischmann eked out a victory over Smith. In January 2011, Winslow filed suit against Saltsman and the state Republican Party.

States reliant on fossil fuels sue over new clean air rules (Times-Free Press) Industry groups and states dependent on fossil fuels, including the attorneys general in Alabama and Georgia, began filing court challenges Friday to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents of the plan were expected to file a flurry of lawsuits at the U.S. Court of Appeals as the Environmental Protection Agency published its final version of the new regulations. Tennessee is not among the states initially challenging the new EPA rules, although U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate subcommittee on energy and water resources, has denounced the EPA rules.

Chemicals Found In Wells Near TVA Power Plant (AP) Albert Hudson has worried about the water coming from the well on his property near the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal-fired power plant in Gallatin. According to reports, Hudson received a letter recently from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation notifying him that tests found a harmful chemical in his water called hexavalent chromium. The agency told Hudson his well water meets overall national standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but said the levels of hexavalent chromium have been “slightly above” the EPA risk levels.

Chemicals found in wells near Gallatin power plant (Tennessean) Odom’s Bend is the last turn before you get to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal-fired power plant in Gallatin. From Albert Hudson’s nearby yard, trees hide the plant’s smokestacks, despite the close proximity. The paint on his house is fractured into thousands of tiny flakes. One side is bare wood. And his drinking water is pulled into his house by a pump over his well.

Public can provide feedback on Boone Dam Environmental Report (WJHL) Tennessee Valley Authority is set to release a draft environmental assessment on the impacts of the Boone Dam Project to the public on Oct. 28. TVA is proposing to fix the dam’s seepage problem by drilling holes in the dam, filling them with grout, and then building a massive concrete wall. But before the major work can begin, an environmental assessment is required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The report will review the potential environmental effects of TVA’s proposal. “It is about the project in terms of the environment,” said Mary Ellen Miller, TVA Boone project public relations program manager.

Forbes’ best states for business: See how far down (!) Tennessee ranks (Nashville Business Journal) Tennessee officials tout job growth and the recent slate of economic development deals the state has landed in recent years. Such efforts to bring new companies into the state has garnered national attention for Tennessee, which in the past two years has been named the top state in the country for economic development by Business Facilities magazine, a corporate site selection publication. Yet even with this type of momentum, Tennessee didn’t crack the top 10 of Forbes’ best states for business and careers. Tennessee ranked No. 19 on Forbes’ list. That’s at least an improvement over last year, when Tennessee ranked No. 21.

UAW seeks new vote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant (Times-Free Press) The United Auto Workers on Friday sought a new election at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen assembly plant, but this time for a smaller unit of employees than in early 2014. A filing with the National Labor Relations Board says that UAW Local 42 will seek an election on Nov. 5 and 6. The election will involve only the 164 full- and part-time maintenance, or skilled trades, employees at the plant.If approved by the National Labor Relations Board, VW’s 164 maintenance workers will vote Nov. 5 and 6 at the plant’s conference center to be represented by the UAW for collective bargaining purposes.

New Daisy owner blasts TN Dept. of Revenue for tax closure (Memphis Business Journal) In a letter under the header “Padlock Gate – The Blues on Beale Street,” the New Daisy’s ownership is weighing in on the tax issue that recently closed the Beale Street club briefly this week. The club was padlocked on Oct. 20 for unpaid taxes, but by the following afternoon, the issue had been resolved and the club was reopened. Owner Steve Adelman released an open letter outlining what happened. He says that The Tennessee Department of Revenue maintains that it was unable to contact anyone at the New Daisy and was then required to seize the business.

AMI plant will be well-regulated (News-Sentinel) Ammunition manufacturing plants, such as the one about to locate in Blount County, are heavily regulated enterprises, said a spokesman with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. When it opens in late 2018, the Advanced Munitions International global headquarters and manufacturing facility will face numerous tiers of regulation, including at the county, state and federal levels, said Michael Knight, special agent/public information officer with the Nashville Field Division of the ATF. “As far as the public is concerned, even though this is a facility that makes ammunition, this is a well-regulated industry,” he said.

Express Scripts invests millions in Accredo in Memphis (Commercial Appeal) Thirty-eight months ago, an email mistakenly sent to the wrong people raised alarm that Memphis-based Accredo Health Group could be closed or at least diminished. Last week, a much different kind of document — a building permit — raised nothing but strong expectations for the specialty pharmacy’s future in Memphis.

Alpha Natural Resources to sell at least 16 closed mines (Washington Post) One of the country’s biggest coal producers, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is getting ready to sell at 16 inactive mines in four states. Alpha Natural Resources is planning to sell shuttered mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, according to documents filed this week in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia. The company, which is headquartered in Bristol, Virginia, wants bids to be placed by Jan. 20, 2016. The sale procedures will be considered during a Nov. 5 hearing.

MHA board votes to continue Lipscomb’s suspension without pay (Commercial Appeal) The Memphis Housing Authority board of commissioners voted unanimously Friday to continue executive director Robert Lipscomb’s suspension, but without pay. In an emotional hearing in which board chairman Ian Randolph brushed away tears, the seven-member board voted to suspend Lipscomb without pay after another motion to fire Lipscomb failed to receive the support of four or more commissioners.

Beyond the raise: Extending IT tenure (Nashville Business Journal) “Money talks” is a sure fire way to keep your IT talent, right? Well … not so fast. Technology employees tend to stay in the same position an average of 18 months. Companies have tried to counter this number by offering significant raises and/or bonuses. However, a recent study showed “the average employee stays with his/her employer less than a year after accepting a counteroffer.” That’s if they accept a counteroffer, which may be hard to justify if the problem runs deeper than money.

Lessons Given On How To Save The Monarch Butterfly Population (WTVF) It was an initiative to help save a very popular insect. Folks gathered at the milk-weed garden in Fort Negley Park to learn just how they could help save the majestic Monarch butterfly population. The Monarchs have been at an all-time low, but researchers have said the species can be saved by the milkweed plant. According to researchers, 90 percent of all Monarch butterflies in the U.S. are gone, and it’s directly related to the plant.

Florida inmate asks to be executed by electric chair rather than lethal injection (Washington Post) A death-row inmate in Florida has asked the state to execute him by electrocution rather than lethal injection, the state’s default way to carry out executions, in what is believed to be the first such request under a state law allowing inmates to pick the electric chair over a fatal dose of drugs. If his request is granted and his execution carried out, Wayne Doty, who was sentenced to death for killing another inmate, would become the first Florida inmate executed by electrocution since the 2000 law letting inmates to choose between two methods was signed by former governor Jeb Bush.

See where Tennessee ranks among states with the rudest drivers (Nashville Business Journal) Maybe you’ve been honked at while sitting in Nashville traffic — or maybe you do the honking (C’mon; what would your mother say?) — but compared to other states, Tennessee drivers are pretty civil. That’s according to a new ranking of states according to the rudeness of their drivers. Washington, D.C., and 36 states are more rude when it comes to drivers, according to a new survey. A recent report by, described here by the Weather Channel, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on the results of a survey of 2,000 drivers across the U.S.


Tennessee corrections chief should resign (Tennessean) The issues involving lack of safety, transparency and poor financial practices call into question the competence of the leadership at the Tennessee Department of Correction. However, in response to scrutiny, TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield has shown defiance in the face of questions from lawmakers and the media. “You assume that we just have to change something. In a review we’ll look and say, ‘Is there a need to change?’ ” Schofield told reporters after a state legislative hearing Wednesday

Guest column: More diversity at UT benefits all Tennesseans (News-Sentinel) Recent events centered on diversity have been swirling around the University of Tennessee that hide a dark underside of attitudes on race in American society. Witness the furor of the last few weeks regarding the use of pronouns designed to create a more welcoming and learning environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff at UT. What gets lost in this hullabaloo is that LGBT issues are part of the broader issue of diversity, which also includes women, people with disabilities, older and international students and faculty.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher: Fighting for West Tennessee jobs (Commercial Appeal) Opportunity, wage growth and more well-paying jobs — that is what folks in Tennessee and across our country are demanding, and it is why I’m working to reform the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank provides more than 1,000 jobs to my constituents in Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District and more than 8,300 jobs across our great state. Nationwide, the Ex-Im Bank has supported more than 1 million jobs in the last six years alone. In addition, the bank actually returns money to the U.S. Treasury each year — netting a profit for American taxpayers.

AFP Columnist: Putting special interests ahead of Tennessee’s interests (Commercial Appeal) Want to know why no one trusts Washington? Simply look at Tennessee’s Eighth District U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher. For the past month, he has been leading the charge in Congress to put special interests above Tennessee’s interests. He has now persuaded more 200 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives to take up a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank — a corrupt federal agency that is a case study in corporate welfare.

Guest column: Family caregiving in Tennessee: $10 billion industry (Tennessean) I was pleased to see that Tennessee has recently been awarded a federal grant of almost $200,000 to study various forms of paid leave for caregiving. Paid leave seems like a simple term, yet it is really quite complex. Paid leave is generally considered the longer-term leave needed for employees who are caring for a friend or family member with a longer-term illness. Paid leave is different than sick leave; sick leave is normally considered time employees take for an illness or for caring for a child/family member with a short-term illness.

Analysis: An Obamacare failure — but who’s to blame? (Times-Free Press) The announcement last week that Tennessee’s only health insurance cooperative would close its doors leaves thousands of consumers statewide looking for another insurer and raises questions about how much — if any — of the $73 million the federal government loaned to the co-op will be paid back. That cooperative, the Community Health Alliance, is not the only one in trouble. Of the initial 23 cooperatives — federally funded insurers established under the Affordable Care Act to give competition to established private health insurers — nine have folded and several more are in trouble.

Columnist: Global warming despotism (News-Sentinel) Science works through status quo challenges, through checking and rechecking, through producing evidence to counter other evidence and constantly arriving at reconsidered conclusions. Societies, in similar fashion, work best by being open and free, getting it that, in a contest between discourse and dictate, it’s time and again discourse that provides the needed wisdom. All of this and more is why it is so astonishing and dismaying — but also revealing — to see a group of 20 alarmed climatologists wanting to curtail debate on global warming by shutting up the opposition, and hardly by gentle means. They want to employ tactics fashioned to go after gangsters.

Columnist: Rules won’t help public health but will sabotage recovery (News-Sentinel) Yellowstone’s Old Faithful may need to apply for a permit. New ozone regulations announced by the Environmental Protection Agency are so strict that even pristine areas with no business activity, like national parks, barely make the grade. Even though ozone levels are down — dropping 18 percent since just 2000 — and experts say tightening the standards isn’t necessary to protect public health, the Obama administration is forging ahead with a new mandate, lowering the permissible level of ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb.

Columnist: New ozone regulations are easily met and will protect millions (News-Sentinel) On Oct. 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revised the national standards for ground-level ozone, one of the primary components of photochemical smog. This was a modest action but one that will help protect the health of many Americans. Ground-level ozone is formed through chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds emitted from transportation, energy production and industrial activities.

Friday, October 23

Company expansion brings 500 jobs (WVLT) Governor Bill Haslam announced 500 new jobs are headed to Loudon County. It’s the second announcement bringing hundreds of jobs to our area this week. The company is called Morgan Olson and they’re opening a 300,000 square foot facility in Loudon County. “The fact that they chose right here in Tennessee means a lot to us, so we’re excited to have their investment,” said Governor Haslam. “Anytime we can add 500 new jobs in Tennessee, we’re thrilled about it.”

Delivery van maker sets up shop in Loudon, bringing up to 500 jobs (News-Sentinel) Governor Bill Haslam along with local officials joined executives and customers of delivery van maker Morgan Olson LLC Thursday to celebrate the opening of a new manufacturing facility in Loudon. The opening of the facility in Loudon — expected to create 400 jobs initially and 500 or more over the next few years – is evidence Tennessee is able to attract the most-advanced manufacturing companies, Haslam said. “We’ve become one of the leading states in automotive production,” he said.

Morgan Olson opens new manufacturing facility in Loudon County (WATE) One of the leading automotive manufacturers in the country is opening a new warehouse in Loudon County. The $45 million investment by Morgan Olson at their new facility, located at 9600 Corporate Park Drive, is expected to create 400-500 new jobs. Loudon County commissioners met Wednesday to agree to consider a 10 year payment without taxes for the project. The company makes trucks for such companies as UPS, Coca-Cola and Sara Lee. Mike Ownbey, the company’s president and CEO, has East Tennessee roots. He’s from Cleveland in Bradley County.

Truck manufacturer adding at least 400 jobs in Loudon County (WBIR) A new manufacturing facility will be creating hundreds of jobs in Loudon County. Morgan Olson LLC announced plans Thursday to open a new walk-in van manufacturing plant in Loudon. The Michigan-based company builds delivery trucks for UPS, the postal service, FedEx, and others. The company plans to initially hire 400 workers, but that number could grow to 500 or more. The plant includes more than 300,000 square feet of production area.

Details on Regal deal expected today (News-Sentinel) Gov. Bill Haslam will be on hand this afternoon to announce a multimillion-dollar deal to move Regal Entertainment, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, to a vacant medical office building on the South Waterfront, according to sources familiar with the deal but who were not allowed to speak about it publicly. The details should come at a news conference billed to the media as an “economic development announcement”at 1:30 p.m. atop a South Knoxville parking garage across the street from the office building.

Companies announce more than 1,200 new East TN jobs this week (WBIR) Over the past three days, companies expanding in East Tennessee have announced the intent to create more than 1,200 jobs in the area. Morgan Olson LLC, a Michigan-based delivery truck manufacturing company, revealed on Thursday it plans to employ at least 400 people at its new 300,000 square foot Tennessee plant. “It’s an honor to be able to bring economic progress to the county, and to occupy such a lovely facility as we found right here and the workforce we expect to find around the corner surrounding the plant,” said J.B. Poindexter, who owns the parent company of Morgan Olson LLC.

New Rural Economic Development Fund announced (Elk Valley Times) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced last week the state is investing $8 million in a new Rural Economic Development Fund to build capacity for transformative economic development strategies in rural Tennessee. The Rural Economic Development Fund will provide an initial $6 million for Site Development Grants for communities to help move economic development sites to shovel-ready status as part of the state’s nationally recognized Select Tennessee Site Certification program. Fayetteville – Lincoln County Industrial Park is among the certified sites in Tennessee.

Clarksville lawyer appointed to fill new judicial seat (News-Sentinel) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Jill Bartee Ayers of Clarksville as Circuit Court Judge for Division IV of the 19th Judicial District, a position created by the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year. The 19th Judicial District serves Montgomery and Robertson counties. “We are fortunate to have someone with Jill’s legal experience to fill this important position,” Haslam said. “Citizens of the 19th Judicial District will be well served by her appointment.” Ayers, 48, has been a partner at the Batson Nolan law firm in Clarksville since 1997 and has worked at the firm since 1993.

New Partnership Hopes To See Increased Early Enrollment In ‘Imagination Library’ (Greenville Sun) The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and the Niswonger Foundation announced Wednesday their new partnership aimed at increasing early enrollment of Northeast Tennessee children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. Parents who enroll newborns before leaving the hospital will be given the first book, “The Little Engine That Could,” as an incentive to begin reading aloud with their children beginning at birth, an activity proven to support early childhood literacy.

US chamber ranks Tennessee No. 7 in trade and transportation (News-Sentinel) Tennessee ranked No. 7 among the 50 states for the quality of its transportation and trade and stood out for high-tech job growth, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s survey of states. Georgia ranked even higher than Tennessee at No. 4 in transportation and trade, which was measured in terms of the states quality of roads and bridges — infrastructure that included access to broadband Internet services as well as the state’s trade enhancement programs.

Shelby County Commissioners commit $145K to W. Tenn. Veterans Home (Commercial Appeal) A gift of $80,000 to the West Tennessee Veterans Home grew on Wednesday to $145,000, as members of the Shelby County Commission stepped up to help fund the planned 144-bed skilled care facility for Shelby, Fayette and Tipton county vets. “Your votes today on this resolution really mean the world to us,” said Holly Swogger, president of the fundraising organization. “You have no idea how hard we work to raise this money.”

Tennessee Promise 4,000 mentors short of goal (Tennessean) With less than a month to go before the deadline to recruit volunteer mentors for the second year of Tennessee Promise, officials say they are 4,000 short of their goal. So far, about 5,000 Tennessee adults have applied to be mentors statewide. Recruiters are scrambling to attract 9,000 volunteers by Nov. 20. Mike Krause, Tennessee Promise executive director, said his focus will shift exclusively to mentors after students’ Nov. 2 application deadline. “There’s a lot of work ahead on mentor recruitment,” Krause said.

More than 44,000 sign up for Tennessee Promise year 2 (Tennessean) More than 44,000 high school seniors have applied for the second year of Tennessee Promise, and officials think new applicants will eclipse last year’s participation before the deadline. Eligible students have until Nov. 2 to apply for the scholarship program, which provides for two years tuition-free at state community or technical colleges.

Students finding opportunities via Tennessee Promise (TN Ledger) Siegel High School graduate Davione Williamson wasn’t quite sure he was college material when he entered Motlow State Community College in Smyrna this August on a Tennessee Promise scholarship. But after going through the mentoring and community service requirements, in addition to working with Motlow completion coach Sidney McPhee, Williamson is confident he can earn an associate’s degree and more.

Tennessee universities embrace online courses (TN Ledger) When MOOCs (massive open online courses) hit the Internet three years ago, they promised to bring the resources of the world’s top universities to the furthest corners of the globe – at least those with Internet access. Enticing would-be learners with free online classes in everything from Roman architecture to cloud computing, websites like and enrolled millions of people – 25 million, in fact – since 2012.

University of Memphis economist: “We still need a lot more jobs.” (Commercial Appeal) The unemployment rate in Greater Memphis for September was 6.4 percent, government data showed on Thursday, better than the 7.6 percent a year ago and the best for the month since 2007, before the Great Recession. Still, University of Memphis labor economist John Gnuschke, director of the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research, keeps coming back to one word: Jobs.–335981781.html

UT raising money to spruce up ‘Smokey’ mascot (WATE) The University of Tennessee is raising money online to spruce up the Vols mascot Smokey. Smokey has been the beloved mascot of UT for decades but the Bluetick Coonhound’s physical appearance is getting worn and weathered. Smokey is most noticeable at athletic events, but also visits numerous events around the community and brings smiles to patients’ faces at local hospitals. UT says Smokey’s paws are in the most need of repair, as are his nose, snout and feet. Officials want to restore his fur and features to original quality.

TSU part of consortium to improve nation’s cyber security (AP) Tennessee State University is joining a consortium of 11 universities and national laboratories to improve the nation’s cyber security. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the five-year, $28.1 million initiative seeks to improve the resilience and security of cyber networks. These networks serve as the backbone of the infrastructure that delivers energy to the nation for the electric power, oil and gas industries.

Tennessee Advisory Commission Considers Role of Utilities Offering Broadband (Government Technology) A Tennessee cable industry lobbyist asserted Wednesday that government-owned electric utilities like Chattanooga’s EPB are failing with their offerings of lightning-fast broadband service to customers. But John Farris’ claim later prompted Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, to charge he was peddling “lies” on behalf of investor-owned companies like Comcast and AT&T who fear competition in the rural market. The firms are battling renewed efforts by municipally owned utilities to extend their broadband Internet offerings and other telecommunication services outside their service areas.

Attorney General: No Tax Break For Tennessee Electric Co-Ops (WPLN) The Tennessee attorney general says the state’s rural electric cooperatives are not entitled to a tax break on new investments. In an opinion finalized Wednesday, the attorney general says cooperatives are neither government agencies nor charities. As a result, the state constitution doesn’t let them get a break on their property taxes. The break has been on the books since the late 1980s. It entitles them to an exemption from local property taxes for the first four years after building a new facility or plant.

Sens. Norris, Gardenhire speaking Friday at ceremony marking Chattanooga State as VETS-friendly campus (Times-Free Press) State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, will be among speakers on Friday marking the designation of Chattanooga State Community College as a VETS Campus, which recognizes the school’s support of veteran students. Norris sponsored the Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages college enrollment of veterans and seeks to remove barriers impeding their success in graduating.

Tennessee Democrats to hold annual fundraiser on Friday (AP) The Tennessee Democratic Party holds its annual Jackson Day fundraiser in Nashville on Friday. The event is headlined by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. It is the first annual fundraiser for state Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini, who was elected to the position in January.

Roe predicts Ryan will take House speaker’s job (Times-News) U.S. Rep. Phil Roe predicted on Thursday Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin should cruise to victory next week in his bid to be the next House speaker. Roe, in a conference call with reporters, said Ryan has asked for endorsements from moderate Republicans as well as from those on the House Republican Study Committee. Roe is a member of that committee.

National government will establish Manhattan Project National Historical Park in November (WBIR) The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will officially be established on November 10 of this year. The three-state national park, planned predominantly by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Energy, will celebrate the history of the atomic bomb. The park will have three locations, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, New Mexico and Hanford, Washington.

Y-12 contractor faces $33,000 penalty (WBIR) Y-12’s managing contractor is facing a $33,000 penalty for shipping too much radioactive material in July. Federal officials issued civil penalties against consolidated nuclear security, according to paperwork from the US Department of Transportation. Those documents show CNS shipped 10 times the amount of highly enriched uranium than originally planned. The company was also penalized for not adequately re-training its hazardous material employees every three years as required.

Feds Grant Operating License To Revived Tennessee Nuclear Reactor (WPLN) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted its first operating license to run a reactor in nearly 20 years. The Tennessee Valley Authority will soon begin loading radioactive fuel, which is already being stored on site, into a protective vault. The Watts Bar power plant, on a remote site in Spring City, has been under construction for more than 40 years. Work was abandoned in 1988 as public fears surged surrounding nuclear power. CEO Bill Johnson addressed those lingering concerns standing outside the TVA plant at a press conference Thursday.

Watts Bar Unit Two Now Has An Operating License (WDEF) After years of preparation and construction, Watts Bar Unit 2 is now just months away from becoming the first nuclear generation in the 21st century. TVA announced this morning that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license for the new unit. It’s a milestone, but it’ll be a few more months before that electricity arrives at your home.

Watts Bar Unit 2 By The Numbers (WDEF) Here are some key numbers from the NRC about the new nuclear unit at Watts Bar. 1st new unit approved in the United States since 1996. The operating license is for 40 years. Work began on unit two back in 2007, so it should take nine years for them to bring it online.

Watts Bar Unit 2 ready to be fueled by year’s end (Times-Free Press) Nearly 43 years after construction began, the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant got an operating license Thursday to become the first new American nuclear power plant added to the electric grid in nearly two decades. The staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the TVA unit is ready to load nuclear fuel and begin power generation by the end of the year. The startup of a second reactor at Watts Bar, which comes 19 years after America’s last new nuclear unit began power generation also at Watts Bar, cost TVA more than $6 billion over four decades of starts and stops during its construction.

Alexander, Corker react to Watts Bar news (News-Sentinel) U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker released the following statements on the announcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it has issued the Tennessee Valley Authority a 40-year operating license for Watts Bar Unit 2: Alexander: “Watts Bar Unit 2 is the country’s first new reactor built in the 21st Century, and I am very pleased to see it is ready to go online. Soon, it will bring cheap, clean and reliable energy, as well as good-paying jobs, to the Tennessee Valley.”

Government Gives TVA License To Operate New Nuclear Reactor (AP) The Spring City reactor that will be the nation’s first new nuclear generating plant of the 21st century has gotten the go-ahead from the federal government. Those with the Tennessee Valley Authority said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an operating license for Watts Bar Unit 2 on Thursday. Speaking at a news conference at the plant, TVA President Bill Johnson said the reactor will provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy. Nuclear reactors do not produce greenhouse gases, although some environmentalists have disputed the “clean” label because reactors produce radioactive waste.

VW doesn’t want emissions lawsuits heard in Chattanooga (Times-Free Press) Volkswagen AG is maneuvering to steer hundreds of class-action lawsuits over its emissions-cheating software to the court nearest its current U.S. headquarters or to Detroit, its former location, according to Bloomberg. Some had believed that Chattanooga might be the site to hear the suits since its only U.S. production plant is located in the Scenic City. The automaker asked a panel of federal judges to combine the more than 350 lawsuits against it in federal court in Alexandria, Va., a venue known for moving cases quickly and also the one closest to its U.S. headquarters in Herndon.

Erlanger revenues higher than expected, CEO gets raise (Times-Free Press) Erlanger Health System’s board of directors approved raising the salary of CEO Kevin Spiegel by 7 percent Thursday, bringing his total compensation to more than $1 million. Spiegel will earn $800,386 for fiscal year 2016, retroactive to July 1. He was awarded a $244,966 bonus in September for meeting performance goals in several areas. During the board’s meeting Thursday, Erlanger Chief Financial Officer Britt Tabor said the hospital had a net income of $4.3 million in the first quarter, compared to a budgeted $1.8 million.

Why A Tennessee Health Care Company Turned Down A $7.8 Billion Buyout Offer (WPLN) Nearly $8 billion wasn’t enough to convince one Tennessee health care company to merge with another this week. Nashville-based Amsurg made the offer to TeamHealth, a company based in Knoxville. TeamHealth’s specialty is physician outsourcing — hiring and managing doctors for hospitals — while Amsurg is in a different line of work: It owns hundreds of surgical centers across the country. But Amsurg got into the physician outsourcing business last year, when it acquired a smaller competitor of TeamHealth.

CHS stock plummets on rough earnings preview (Nashville Business Journal) It has not been a good day for Franklin-based Community Health Systems. As of market close, the company’s shares were down 35.14 percent on the day, having set a new 52-week low of $25.36. Like its Nashville neighbor HCA Holdings Inc. did last week, CHS (NYSE: CYH) previewed its third-quarter earnings after the market closed Wednesday. And like HCA’s, those earnings fell short of expectations, leading to drops in share prices for both CHS and its peers.

Is CHS’ credibility now on the line? (Nashville Post) As market beatdowns of local stocks go, this one will take some beating. Following a profit warning citing various factors, shares of Community Health Systems (Ticker: CYH) were off 36 percent Thursday afternoon to $26., their lowest point since August 2012. The move has wiped out almost $1.7 billion in market value. Volume was massive, with more than 22 million shares changing hands versus a daily average of a little more than two million. With more than an hour of trading remaining, that volume amounted to more than 18 percent of CHS’ shares outstanding.

Vanderbilt testing new treatment for Alzheimer’s (WSMV) Researchers say a new drug is on the horizon to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and they’re testing it right here in Middle Tennessee. It’s called the NOBLE Study of “T-817,” a Phase II clinical trial to determine the correct dosage of one of the first new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in more than a decade.

Tech company announces downtown Nashville ‘innovation lab,’ more than 100 jobs (Nashville Business Journal) More than one hundred new health-tech jobs are headed for downtown Nashville. Intermedix Corporation, a Florida-based health-tech firm, is establishing an innovation lab and executive offices in the Fifth Third Center, the company and state officials said in a news release Thursday. The firm’s new Nashville operations will create 116 jobs and bring the firm’s top executives to Nashville.

Salute to Excellence awards nonprofit leaders (Tennessean) Local nonprofits were honored Thursday night in the country’s largest nonprofit awards ceremony, the 23rd annual Salute to Excellence. The Center for Nonprofit Management gave a record number of 13 awards, totaling $279,000, to leaders and organizations in Middle Tennessee’s nonprofit community. The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence won the Baptist Healing Trust Access to Care Award for developing statewide partnerships and effective programs, and for serving as advocates for social change to end domestic and sexual violence.

Park records highest September visitation in history (News-Sentinel) The Great Smoky Mountains National Park recorded the highest September visitation in its history, and more than 8 million visitors have been to the park so far this year. Visitors were up 5.5 percent — 1,081,773. That’s the highest number in September since the park began recording visitation in 1979, according to a park news release Thursday. The park also set a record in May with more than 1 million visitors. “The Smokies continue to be one of the premier destinations in the southeastern United States,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. It is the country’s most-visited national park, averaging more than 9 million visitors annually.

Budget Battle Casualties (Governing) Illinois became the worst-rated state this week when Fitch ratings agency slapped it with a credit downgrade to BBB+ for its extended budget impasse. Illinois’ Democrat-led legislature has been deadlocked with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner pretty much since Rauner took office this year. The two sides can’t agree on how to make the spending cuts for fiscal year 2016 that Illinois needs so it can begin to pay down its ever-growing long-term liabilities — most notably its sizeable pension debt. Illinois has one of the worst-funded state pension systems in the country and a recent court ruling blocked the state from making some benefits changes that would have reduced its liability.

Ole Miss faculty vote to support removing state flag (Commercial Appeal) The University of Mississippi’s Faculty Senate Thursday evening overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling for removal of the state flag from campus because of the flag’s inclusion of the Confederate battle emblem. With no discussion, the group approved the resolution 41-1, adding its support to that of the Associated Student Body and the Staff Council. Both those bodies approved the resolution Tuesday.

Documents: Arizona Tried to Illegally Import Execution Drug (AP) Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug that’s not approved in the U.S. but never obtained it after federal agents stopped the shipment at the Phoenix airport, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain legal execution drugs for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental. Other states are working around the drug shortage. Tennessee reinstated the electric chair for use if it can’t obtain lethal drugs, and Utah has reinstated the firing squad as a backup method.


Guest column: Tennessee Promise (Huffington Post) Tennessee Promise, the state’s free community college initiative, appears to be off to a great start. Statewide, community college enrollment is up 14 percent. Students had to fill out the financial application for student aid, meet with a volunteer mentor and sign up for eight hours of community service in order to qualify. More than 22,000 students met the August deadline for eligibility. Tennessee wanted to make it as easy as possible to apply. To keep receiving Tennessee Promise dollars, students must maintain at least a C average, be enrolled full-time and continue doing community service.

Guest column: Religious doctrine bill throws all faiths out of school (Tennessean) State Rep. Sheila Butt’s bill HB1418 will delay teaching “religious doctrine” in Tennessee’s public schools until the 10th grade. The bill was introduced after a series of questionable reports have surfaced claiming Islamic indoctrination is occurring in Tennessee schools. But is this legislation good for our students? Is it really about indoctrination? If passed, HB1418 will prevent middle school students from acquiring basic knowledge of the world’s great religions, which also would disrupt social studies, geography and world history courses. In fact, even Gov. Bill Haslam has questioned the bill’s unintended consequences.

Mark Harmon: Dunn ignores pre-K programs’ benefits (News-Sentinel) State Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, for several years now has conducted something of an “anti-pre-K” horror show. The content of this show hasn’t changed much in recent years. It relies heavily on one portion of a study of Tennessee’s pre-K program, TN-VPK, showing the cognitive advantages of participating children fade by the third grade. Dunn didn’t even wait for the finished report; for years he’d been selectively quoting a preliminary version. Now the actual first wave has been released and the data are roughly the same as the preliminary report. Pre-K does achieve its primary purpose of getting children ready for schooling.

Greg Johnson: Poor management, market killed CHA (News-Sentinel) In the end, Community Health Alliance simply could not compete. The Knoxville-based Consumer Oriented and Operated nonprofit health insurance company, created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and funded by millions in federal loans backed by taxpayers, was formed to compete with other health insurers and, in theory, drive down health insurance costs. Instead, market forces and horrendous management drove CHA out of business.

Guest column: Family caregiving in Tennessee: $10 billion industry (Tennessean) I was pleased to see that Tennessee has recently been awarded a federal grant of almost $200,000 to study various forms of paid leave for caregiving. Paid leave seems like a simple term, yet it is really quite complex. Paid leave is generally considered the longer-term leave needed for employees who are caring for a friend or family member with a longer-term illness.

Editorial: Ole Miss students’ leading role on state flag is gratifying (Commercial Appeal) It was gratifying to learn this week that conscientious college students can still march in the front in a worthy cause, especially at the University of Mississippi, which has not finished ridding its campus of racist and oppressive symbols. The Ole Miss student government association earned the support of the university and forward-thinking Mississippians when it voted to get rid of the state flag until it is redesigned to eliminate the Confederate battle flag.

Editorial: Armstrong’s Hill acquisition adds to green legacy (News-Sentinel) If a city can be judged by how well it takes care of its green space in an urban environment, Knoxville — with the help of interested parties — is doing quite well and should grade high. The city is just a few weeks away from taking control of 69 acres of wilderness on Armstrong’s Hill on the South Knoxville bluff. The city plans to develop the property into hiking trails across old battle sites dating to the Civil War.

Thursday, October 22

Haslam, Boyd to make ‘significant’ announcement at former Baptist Hospital site (WBIR) Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner Randy Boyd are set Friday afternoon to make a “significant” economic development announcement at the former Baptist Hospital, the reported site of Regal Entertainment Group’s future home. Haslam and Boyd, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, will appear 1:30 p.m. Friday at 140 E. Blount Ave., according to an announcement released Wednesday by the economic development office. An earlier report that it would be Thursday was incorrect.

State officials to announce ‘significant economic development’ at Knoxville’s south waterfront (WATE) Gov. Bill Haslam and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd are set to announce what they are calling a significant economic development Friday at Knoxville’s south waterfront Friday afternoon. The announcement will take place on Blount Avenue on the waterfront parking garage, across from the site of the old Baptist Hospital. Talks have been underway to relocate the corporate headquarters of Regal Entertainment Group there. County Commission voted Monday to take up a resolution to put $1.5 million into an unnamed economic development project at the site.

Regal announcement expected Friday (News-Sentinel) Regal Entertainment’s plans to stay in Knoxville are expected to be outlined in a news conference Friday announcing millions of tax dollars tied to keeping the company here, according to sources familiar with the funding but who were not allowed to speak publicly about the deal. On Wednesday the office of Gov. Bill Haslam sent a media notice of a economic development announcement within sight of the former Baptist Hospital in downtown Knoxville.

Haslam appoints Jill Ayers to judgeship (Leaf-Chronicle) Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Jill Bartee Ayers of Clarksville as Circuit Court judge for Division IV of the 19th Judicial District, a position created by the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year. The 19th Judicial District serves Montgomery and Robertson counties. “We are fortunate to have someone with Jill’s legal experience to fill this important position,” Haslam said in a news release. “Citizens of the 19th Judicial District will be well served by her appointment.” Ayers, 48, has been a partner at the Batson Nolan law

GOP governors push to question 2016 candidates at next Fox debate (NJ Advance Media) Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he is pushing to have several Republican governors — himself included — ask Gov. Chris Christie and the other GOP presidential candidates questions on-air during a Fox News presidential primary debate in January. The two governors discussed Herbert’s idea with Gov. William Haslam (R- Tennessee), who succeeded Christie as the chair of the Republican Governors Association last November.

Higher Education As Passport To Increased Earning Power And Success (Black Star News) As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Next week, Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will join dozens of other elected officials, university presidents and education experts for an unprecedented national summit , presented by the National Urban League and USA Funds, to confront the issues of higher education completion and – most importantly – affordability.

Students Find Options via Tennessee Promise (Memphis Daily News) Siegel High School graduate Davione Williamson wasn’t quite sure he was college material when he entered Motlow State Community College in Smyrna this August on a Tennessee Promise scholarship. But after going through the mentoring and community service requirements, in addition to working with Motlow completion coach Sidney McPhee, Williamson is confident he can earn an associate’s degree and more.

State employees protest privatization plans (WMC) State employees protesting possible privatization plans took their concerns to the street Wednesday night. “Tennessee is not for sale!” a crowd shouted along Union Avenue. A number of UTHSC and other state employees demanded a “remedy” to Governor Bill Haslam’s proposal to privatize many operations at state-owned buildings, college campuses, and other facilities. “Outsourcing is not a good thing,” UTHSC employee Santonio Patton said. “And right now if they outsource us, they’re taking all of our benefits away.”

Privatization plan two-fold for Tennessee state parks (Times-Free Press) With talk of privatization in the news almost every day in Tennessee, it can be hard to decipher exactly what it might mean for various state agencies. The matter gets even more tangled when it comes to Tennessee State Parks. That’s because the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees the state’s parks, was already exploring the possibility of privatizing state park hospitality services before Gov. Bill Haslam began considering the privatization of facilities management for state buildings.

The Atlantic slams Tennessee’s tax code (Nashville Business Journal) The Atlantic has some seething feelings about Tennessee’s tax code – you know, the one where we don’t pay income tax and pay a stiff tax rate on our groceries. In a story Wednesday, The Atlantic slammed Tennessee’s tax system for being the most regressive in the country (under the snarky title: “Congratulations Tennessee”). The Atlantic points out a new study by economists at the Federal Reserve that looks at state tax codes. What the report by the Fed finds doesn’t really come as a surprise: States like Tennessee that forego an income tax and impose higher sales tax have more regressive tax structures than those that have income taxes.

Congratulations Tennessee: You’ve Got the Most Regressive Tax System in America (The Atlantic) With no income tax and high sales taxes, the state is asking poor people to pay far more than their fair share.The federal tax system is, on the whole, progressive. Higher-income households pay a higher share of their income in taxes. But some states have done all they can to reverse that. According to a study by economists at the Federal Reserve, Tennessee, Mississippi, and West Virginia have structured their tax codes so that middle and lower-income families pay a bigger share of their incomes than wealthy families do.

The Role of Taxes in Mitigating Income Inequality Across the U.S. States (Federal Reserve Report)

New suitor for Hemlock site in Clarksville (Leaf-Chronicle) Talks regarding a possible new industry for the Hemlock Semiconductor site are apparently ongoing, but officials at the courthouse and in economic development circles remain tight-lipped when it comes to identifying the industrial prospect or the nature or scope of its operations. Wednesday afternoon, the Montgomery County Budget Committee swiftly forwarded a resolution to the full County Commission for consideration next month, that, if approved, would authorize a “site location and development agreement between the state of Tennessee, the Industrial Development Board of Montgomery County,” as well as the county and city.

UPS to Return $4 Million in 14-State Settlement Over Pricing (AP) New York state and some of its local governments will receive $1.2 million from UPS Inc. as part of a multistate settlement following allegations that the shipping company overcharged government customers in 14 states. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the agreement Wednesday. The overall $4 million settlement covers 13 other states and the cities of Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago.The other states are California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Report: Boozing cost Tennessee $4.6 billion (Nashville Business Journal) That long night out drinking with your friends probably costs a lot more than your bar tab would indicate. That’s according to a recent study published in the American Society for Preventative Medicine Journal that attempted to grasp the full cost of excessive and binge drinking. In order to determine the cost, the authors of the paper tracked costs such as the criminal-justice fees for alcohol-related crimes and medical bills for alcohol-related illness and treatments and the estimated the loss of productivity. The largest cost in their study came from hungover workers being significantly less productive while trying to recover.

Push on prescription epidemic partly rooted in TN (News-Sentinel) President Barack Obama may have picked West Virginia as the place to bring up the country’s prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic, but U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said the president’s address Wednesday was a direct result of concerns that came up in Knoxville last month. In September, Alexander, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and Tennessee Department of Health Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, led a roundtable discussion in Knoxville on opiate abuse, on the heels of a CDC announcement that Tennessee would get a four-year, $3.4 million grant to fight it.

President’s plan confronts ET, national prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic (WBIR) A new national plan aims to take on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic sweeping the country. In West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon, President Obama unveiled a plan that addresses both health care providers and the shortage of available treatment for addicts. It requires training for federal health care professionals who prescribe opiates. It also directs federal departments and agencies to examine the barriers that are keeping people from receiving medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

State lawmaker concerned about Medicare survey, prescription pill abuse (WATE) President Obama is moving ahead with plans to tackle the prescription drug abuse problem in our country. He was in West Virginia Wednesday talking about ways to address the issue on a federal level. State Rep. Bill Dunn said the prescription drug problem in the area is at an “epidemic” level, which is why he joined a drug task force in Knox County. Dunn’s biggest concern is the patient satisfaction survey, which allows patients to rate the quality of service a doctor gives.

TN prison chief concedes some mistakes in incident reports (Tennessean) While Tennessee’s prison chief says the state is committed to making its system for reporting violent incidents more effective, he has given no indication of how it would define or report violent incidents differently. Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield told lawmakers Wednesday the department satisfied concerns listed in a 2012 state audit as to how the violent incidents are documented and described.

Lawmakers blast Tennessee prison food program (Tennessean) A lack of basic financial safeguards — like a contract or complete financial statements — calls in to question the future of the Tennessee prison food program and the agency that oversees that program. With lawmakers promising to craft legislation to address mismanagement at the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction (TRICOR), documents obtained by The Tennessean show the Department of Correction is already prepared to look elsewhere for its prison meals.

Dispute Over Price Of Prison Meals Draws Scrutiny To Tennessee’s Inmate Labor Agency (WPLN) An accounting dispute is threatening Tennessee’s prison labor agency. State auditors say the organization, TRICOR, was misleading about how much money it was getting to prepare meals for inmates. Officials from TRICOR, the agency that puts state prisoners to work, acknowledged at a hearing Wednesday that they had failed for more than a year to tell lawmakers and members of their own board about a long-running dispute with their main partner, the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Audit finds prison program mishandled millions in taxpayer money (WSMV) A recent state audit found an agency tasked with helping and feeding inmates has been mishandling millions of taxpayer dollars. The program reported more than $4 million in losses, according to an audit with the state comptroller’s office. TRICOR gives inmates real-life job experience, but investigators found a mismanaged program where staffers allegedly failed to report accurate financial information. “I’m sorry, but this is completely unacceptable,” said Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield.

Audit Finds $4Mill Lost In Prison Food Service; Lawmakers Consider Replacing Board (WTVF) State lawmakers began the debate of whether or not to replace the board of directors for TRICOR, a company that provides meals to state prisons, because of its loss of millions of taxpayer dollars. State officials made the learned of the issue from an audit that showed the money was being lost from the company’s prison food program. Before the Government Operations Joint Subcommittee on Judiciary and Government State Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson told state lawmakers, “This is a serious audit.”

Rep. Hill now says no Costco agreement in works (WJHL) Less than 24 hours after Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough said a Costco warehouse made a verbal agreement to come to our region, he now says he may have done a poor job communicating what he meant to say. The development in question is a 100-acre property located off Exit 17 in the Boone’s Creek area. Yesterday, Hill said “Costco has not given a written commitment, but they have given, negotiated verbal commitment that they would be the anchor for a very large … what would be a very prosperous development.” On Wednesday, Hill backed away from that statement and said that a verbal agreement is not established.

Tennessee panel mulls role of utilities offering broadband (Times-Free Press) A Tennessee cable industry lobbyist asserted Wednesday that government-owned electric utilities like Chattanooga’s EPB are failing with their offerings of lightning-fast broadband service to customers. But John Farris’ claim later prompted Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, to charge he was peddling “lies” on behalf of investor-owned companies like Comcast and AT&T who fear competition in the rural market. The firms are battling renewed efforts by municipally owned utilities to extend their broadband Internet offerings and other telecommunication services outside their service areas.

Panel mulls role of utilities offering broadband in Tenn. (AP) A lobbyist for the state’s cable industry on Wednesday declared all government-owned broadband services in Tennessee to be a failure. Representatives of the Chattanooga electric utility that recently unveiled the nation’s first 10-gigabit Internet service available to all electric customers begged to differ.

Corker to be honored by Chattanooga History Center (Times-Free Press) U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, will be given an award by the Chattanooga History Center next month for his work throughout the city. The History Makers Award recognizes local individuals who have made significant contributions to Chattanooga, the region, the state or country, according to a news release from the center. This is the 10th time the award has been given. “As an entrepreneur, businessman, volunteer and elected official, Senator Corker’s commitment to hard work and service has had a positive and lasting influence on our community,” said Jo Coke, president of Chattanooga History Center Board of Directors, in the release.

N.Y. firm reported mistake on U-235 shipment from Y-12 (News-Sentinel) An executive with Mirion Technologies Corp., which earlier this year received a greater-than-expected load of highly enriched uranium from Y-12, says the company followed proper protocols in reporting the error and did not break any laws or regulations. Seth B. Rosen, Mirion’s executive vice president and general counsel, released a statement following multiple requests for comment about the event.

Vanderbilt, BCBST hit Medicare Advantage impasse (Tennessean) Vanderbilt University Medical Center and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee are at a stalemate over whether the hospital system will be covered in the 2016 Medicare Advantage network. Both the health system and insurer have sent letters to Medicare Advantage patients in recent weeks warning that people may have to switch doctors to keep BCBST, or switch insurers to keep Vanderbilt physicians. Medicare Advantage is a health insurance program that substitutes for Medicare Parts A and B benefits for people ages 65 and older.

Nationwide FluMist Shortage Has Local Demand High (WTVF) With flu season already beginning, a nationwide shortage in FluMist has created a higher than normal demand in local pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Flu season has only just begun, but pediatric hospitalist Dr. Deanna Bell has already treated kids for it at Tri-Star Centennial Children’s Hospital. “We’re already seeing some flu circulate in the community,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of Influenza A already,” said Bell.

VW diesel auction prices drop (Times-Free Press) Average auction prices for Volkswagen’s beleaguered diesel vehicles have dropped nearly 16 percent in the four weeks since the emissions issue, according to Kelley Blue Book. Also, the car valuation and information site said that new-car shopping activity for the vehicles have dropped on by 2.4 percent. In addition, the average auction price for the brand’s gasoline-powered vehicles declined by 2.9 percent, Kelley said.

Volkswagen Investigating if Diesel Emissions Deception Was More Extensive (NY Times) Volkswagen said on Thursday that it was investigating whether substantially more vehicles than previously disclosed were equipped with software intended to deceive emissions tests, raising the possibility of even greater damage to the company’s reputation and finances. The automaker admitted last month that 11 million cars and light commercial vehicles equipped with a diesel motor line known as the EA 189 had the illegal software.

As appetite for electricity soars, the world keeps turning to coal (Washington Post) Despite growing attention to cleaner energy, two-thirds of the world’s electricity is still produced by burning fossil fuels, mostly coal — a proportion that hasn’t budged for 35 years. Emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants have more than doubled since 1980 as the world’s demand for electricity keeps rising. This graphic is based on detailed annual analysis of electric generation and emissions by the International Energy Agency. The most recent year for which there are complete figures is 2012, but the relatively small changes since then have had little effect on overall trends. Read the related story, “U.S. exports it greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Kingsport mayor says odor problem being handled by area companies (WJHL) Phil Goins has lived in Kingsport for more than two decades- he knows all too well just how rancid the smell of several industrial plants in the area can be. About a month ago the stink hit a new level. It was so bad that some people told us they could barely go about their daily lives. Now Phil says things are smelling a bit better. “Now i’ve noticed within the last couple of days it has been a lot cleaner and a lot easier to breathe,” Phil Goins said.

Friends’ Celebrate Highlights New Tract (Grundy Co. Herald) The Friends of South Cumberland State Park’s Land Preservation Celebration on October 11 provided a chance to view a recently acquired tract of land across from Stone Door, followed by a program at the historic Beersheba Springs Hotel. Joining the festivities were over 100 guests including Sen. Janice Bowling, State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath and State Naturalist Emeritus Mack Prichard, who enjoyed lovely fall weather, festive food and the music of Bazzania.

Center opens for victims of domestic violence, assault (Jackson Sun) James Ross had reunited with his high school friend Virginia Dorris early in 2015 to discuss her return to school to work in the medical field. The two talked just a month before Dorris’ death in March. On Wednesday, Ross, vice president and chief operating officer at West Tennessee Healthcare, remembered that meeting during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Safe Hope Center, a haven for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and survivors to meet with advocates, police, legal services and nurses.

Sweeping study claims that rising temperatures will sharply cut economic productivity (Washington Post) In a sweeping new study published Wednesday in Nature, a team of researchers say there is a strong relationship between a region’s average temperature and its economic productivity — adding another potential cost to a warming climate. Culling together economic and temperature data for over 100 wealthy and poorer countries alike over 50 years, the researchers assert that the optimum temperature for human productivity is seems to be around 13 degrees Celsius or roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit, as an annual average for a particular place.

Controversy over use of Confederate symbols continues in the South (Washington Post) Tennessee county shoots down flag proposal: A proposal to display the Confederate battle flag at the Greene County Courthouse in Tennessee received support from only the commissioner who had proposed it; his 20 colleagues voted against it Monday evening, according to the Guardian. The display of the flag didn’t fit very well with the history of the county, which had not supported secession in 1861. When the state joined the Confederacy, Greene County residents tried to secede from the state.

One Guy May Be Selling Execution Drugs to a Lot of States (Governing) Eight thousand miles from the execution chamber at the Nebraska State Penitentiary is Salt Lake City — a planned satellite town in Kolkata, the capital city of India’s West Bengal state. It’s a modern mecca of swanky office complexes, colleges, shopping malls, and restaurants. Here, on the eighth floor of a plush glass building overlooking a lake, is an office where Nebraska’s lethal injection drug supplier says he makes his drugs. A laminated paper sign stuck on the door of room 818 reads “Harris Pharma – manufacturer and distribution.” The office, with powder-blue walls and a frosted glass facade, is one of 61 spaces on the floor rented out to various companies.

TripAdvisor: Tennessee a top spot for Thanksgiving travel (WBIR) A lot of folks will be heading to the Volunteeer State for Thanksgiving. TripAdvisor ranks Tennessee the second most popular destination for travel during the weeks before and after Thanksgiving. The travel site credits Tennessee’s southern hospitality and beautiful fall mountain views for the high interest. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville were the most popular cities in the state that were searched on the site.


Editorial: Guns on campus not solution to mass shootings (News-Sentinel) In response to the Oct. 1 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Tennessee state Sen. Mike Bell is floating the idea of filing a bill to allow college faculty and employees with handgun permits to bring their firearms on campuses in the state. The Riceville Republican told the Times Free Press he also is considering making notification of campus police or security forces a requirement of the exemption to current state law that only allows professors and other campus workers to keep guns locked in their vehicles. He made his remarks after a Senate Higher Education Subcommittee meeting last week focusing on campus safety.

Editorial: State lawmaker Butting in to school curriculum (Times-News) Imagine an elementary classroom in Tennessee where students are learning about the Pilgrims coming to America in search of religious freedom, but are told they’ll have to wait until high school for further details. That’s how State Rep. Sheila Butt wants it. Ms. Butt has sponsored a bill that prevents students from learning anything about American history or any other subject where religious doctrine is involved. And of course, American history cannot be adequately taught, otherwise.

David Plazas: Should Marsha Blackburn run for Speaker of the House? (Tennessean) Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is the top contender to succeed Speaker of the House John Boehner, but he’s in the race conditionally. If he doesn’t get support from a majority of the Republican factions in the House by the end of the week, he’s out of the race, he told fellow members of Congress and the media.

Wednesday, October 21

Haslam Expresses Hope Of Luring VW Headquarters To Tennessee (AP) Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is expressing hopes that Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal won’t hurt Tennessee’s efforts to lure the German automaker’s North American headquarters to the state. Haslam said during a question-and-answer session at the Southern Automotive Conference in Nashville on Tuesday he has been in close contact with officials in Germany and at Volkswagen’s lone U.S. plant in Chattanooga. Haslam said he has conveyed the message that Tennessee stands behind workers and executives at the factory who “have done nothing wrong.”

Haslam speaks on proposal to ban teaching of ‘religious doctrine’ (WKRN) Governor Bill Haslam spoke Tuesday on a proposal to ban the teaching of “religious doctrine” in Tennessee public schools. The bill comes after parents in several districts raised concerns about curriculum on world religions that includes Islam. “I understand the concern, but the point I’d like to make is we’re not supposed to be teaching doctrine as truth anyway,” Haslam said. “But to not teach doctrine at all, and what the issues are around that doctrine, would leave out some of the fundamental reasons why people started this country.

Tenn. Guv Skeptical Of Bill To Remove Islamic ‘Indoctrination’ From Schools (Talking Points Memo) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) may not be on board with a bill offered earlier this month that would keep elementary and middle school students from learning about religion. The legislation was proposed amidst complaints from parents and lawmakers that students were learning about too much about Islam. “I don’t know how you talk about the founding of America, and what became of the United States, without talking about religious doctrine,” Haslam told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “Now, that’s very different than indoctrinating, or teaching that doctrine as truth.”

All Haslam Will Say About Republican Presidential Field Is That He Likes Governors (WPLN) Multiple audiences have asked Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam who he supports in the presidential race, and he’s reiterated that he won’t endorse at the moment because he’s chairman of the Republican Governors Association. “I have a little bias toward governors, obviously,” Haslam told leaders in the aluminum industry gathered in Nashville on Tuesday. He does say he’s watched every minute of both the GOP and Democratic debates and disliked the focus on scoring political points. “What a horrible way to decide who should be in the most important job in the world,” Haslam said.

Ammunition manufacturing company to build global headquarters in Alcoa, creates 605 jobs (WATE) Advanced Munitions International announced on Tuesday the company will build a global headquarters and manufacturing facility in Alcoa’s Partnership Park. Gov. Bill Haslam was joined by Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and other local officials for the announcement made during a press conference at 8 a.m. AMI will invest $553 million in a new campus for distribution and research and development operation. This will create 605 new jobs in the area.

AMI to build $553M plant (News-Sentinel) Arizona-based Advanced Munitions International (AMI) will build a global headquarters and state-of-the-art munitions manufacturing facility in Alcoa’s Partnership Park, creating 605 new jobs, state and company officials announced Tuesday. Blount Partnership President and CEO Bryan Daniels said the announcement marked a continuation of a winning streak for the county, which has added nearly 4,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in capital investment over the last five years. AMI expects to break ground on the 235-acre site this spring and to open in the fourth quarter of 2018. “The quality of these jobs is very high,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Munitions company bringing more than 600 jobs to Alcoa (WVLT) More than 600 jobs are coming to Blount County as a munitions facility announced it’s setting up shop in Alcoa. Advanced Munitions International plans to invest $553 million and will build a new facility in Alcoa’s Partnership Park. The company expects to break ground on the 235-acre site this spring and to open in late 2018. “I want to thank AMI for their substantial investment in Tennessee and for the more than 600 jobs they will create in Blount County,” Gov. Haslam said.

Push to Pump Up State Gas-Tax Lacks Political Octane (TN Report) The latest Tennessee government tax collection tallies that came out last week suggest state government is, for the time being anyway, awash in unanticipated revenues. While the budget year is still young, not yet three months old, early indications are that significantly more money is coming in than lawmakers and the governor were expecting when they plotted out the state’s spending plan last winter.

Eyeing Major Settlement, US States Move Quickly in VW Case (AP) With billions of dollars at stake in restitution and penalties, U.S. states are moving quickly to try to hold Volkswagen accountable for its emissions-cheating scandal. Forty-five states and D.C. have joined a multistate investigation led by attorneys general, which is determining how VW was able to game emissions tests to hide that its “Clean Diesel” cars emitted smog-causing exhaust up to 40 times dirtier than the law allows.Washington and five other states have assumed leadership roles in the multistate investigation, which could mean a slightly better deal for their residents in the end. The others are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Tennessee, where VW operates a U.S. manufacturing plant.

SGA Senate takes stance on privativation (UT Daily Beacon) As the student body returned from fall break, the SGA student senate convened this Tuesday night in order to address the many issues surrounding the campus and its many enrollees. Tristan Smith, the SGA’s sergeant-at-arms and author of the resolution, touched on the fact that privatization didn’t work when UT tried it in the ’90s, and also presented research showing that privatization did not work for other universities in Tennessee. “I think Governor Haslam has this idea that privatization is always the better option, but there’s tons of information out there that states the opposite,” Smith says.

State facilities face privatization, effects seen on Tech’s campus (Tn Tech Oracle) Tennessee is experiencing something unique in its history, and that is facing the privatization of nearly every state-ran facility in measures to reduce maintenance costs. Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is the group driving the operation. A group that has been vocal in its fight against Haslam’s plan is United Campus Workers. Cassie Watters has been an East Tennessee organizer with UCW for four years. “United Campus Workers is Tennessee’s public education union. It is made up of educators, faculty members, and many other people who work in the Tennessee educational system,” Watters said. “We have over 1,600 members across 16 campuses.”

Fall Creek Falls Could Become Privatized, State Officials Say (WTVC) The state of Tennessee now says changes could be coming to Fall Creek Falls State Park. It’s one of the state parks that could be affected by Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to outsource government jobs. Haslam is trying to cut costs by exploring the idea of privatizing jobs like with state-owned hospitals, universities and state parks. Tuesday night, Van Buren county citizens met to discuss the fate of Fall Creek Falls. Although some are in favor of privatizing state parks, none of them were at the meeting. Citizens from Bledsoe and Van Buren counties were among the 75 people who attended the meeting.

U.S. Chamber ranks Tennessee No. 7 in trade and transportation (Times-Free Press) Tennessee ranked No. 7 among the 50 states for the quality of its transportation and trade and stood out for high-tech job growth, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s survey of states. Georgia ranked even higher than Tennessee at No. 4 in transportation and trade, which was measured in terms of the states quality of roads and bridges — infrastructure that included access to broadband Internet services as well as the state’s trade enhancement programs.

 Benton Co. woman faces TennCare fraud (Jackson Sun) A Benton County woman is charged with TennCare drug fraud in nearby Montgomery County. According to a new release, The Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Aleisha L. Wagner, 31, of Holladay. Wagner is charged with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping — going to multiple providers in a short period of time to obtain the same or similar controlled substances, the release said.

Motlow enrollment exploding thanks to Tennessee Promise (Murfreesboro Post) Just two years after opening a new classroom building, Motlow State Community College’s Smyrna site already needs more space to meet student growth, largely driven by Tennessee Promise, the college’s president says. Enrollment reached 2,300 this fall at Motlow in Smyrna where the full-time equivalent number is up 60 percent, 70 percent of which is attributable to Gov. Bill Haslam’s no-cost college program, according to Motlow State President Anthony Kinkel.Haslam set up a Drive to 55 program designed to have 55 percent of Tennesseans earn a degree or certificate by 2025.

UT hopes to raise $1 million through social media campaign (WATE) The University of Tennessee hopes to raise $1 million in five days as part of its social media-based campaign “Big Orange Give.” Last year, nearly 1,600 donors contributed more than $765,000 to the campaign, which included $19,000 raised for band scholarships. The money also meant increased funds available to the Black Alumni Scholarship, Tennessee Pledge Scholarship Gift Fund and the Young Alumni Scholarship. The campaign helped raise nearly $10,000 for University Libraries to acquire a collection of work by UT alumnus and iconic writer David Madden, supported students’ travel to national conferences and helped fund Center for Career Development programs.

Tennessee school district that shut down over funding looks to join BEP lawsuit (Times-Free Press) The superintendent of a tiny school district that shut down temporarily last week over funding problems is revisiting the lawsuit the Hamilton County Department of Education filed against the state over a lack of funding. “I used to think the problem was about equity,” Clay County Superintendent Jerry Strong said. “But it’s about adequacy.” The school board in his northern Middle Tennessee county voted last week to cancel school in the rural district, saying the Clay County Commission has not provided it with a budget large enough to offset education mandates handed down by the state.

State board recommends overturning Nashville charter denial (Tennessean) The Tennessee State Board of Education should ignore the Metro School Board and approve KIPP Nashville’s appeal to open two new charter schools, in the opinion of the Tennessee State Board of Education’s executive director. In denying KIPP’s applications, the Metro school board acted against the best interest of students, the school district and the community, according to recommendation reports from state board Executive Director Sara Heyburn.

Audit finds major issues in TN prison food program (Tennessean) Financial mismanagement that led to the firing of at least two officials and the loss of millions of dollars is also jeopardizing the future of the Tennessee prison food program, according to an extensive new audit. The Tennessee Comptroller’s 84-page audit outlines months of problems between the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board (TRICOR) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), including allegations TRICOR staff tried to mislead its board about the agency’s finances. Documents obtained by the auditors also allude to concerns with both the size and healthiness of meals served in prison.

Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board audit reveals concerns (WSMV) An audit has revealed some concerns at the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board. Tricor provides occupational and life skills for inmates through job training. Auditors found that Tricor failed to accurately report financial information, saying that management and staff lack the knowledge of governmental and state accounting policies. Auditors also found that Tricor is operating the Tennessee Cook Chill program, which is their food processing plant in Nashville, without an executed agreement with any of its customers.

TBI open to making police investigations public record (Tennessean) An attorney for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told lawmakers this week that agency leaders would not oppose making their investigations of police shootings and other uses of deadly force public records. Jimmy Musice, an attorney for TBI, testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Monday. Lawmakers foreshadowed two efforts coming down the pike in next year’s session of the Tennessee General Assembly: to increase payments to families of police killed on-duty and to give TBI authority to investigate all police uses of deadly force.

After Memphis Embraces TBI Reviews Of Police Shootings, Lawmakers Weigh Statewide Requirement (WPLN) Tennessee lawmakers are considering making a TBI investigation mandatory for any fatal police shooting, like that of Michael Brown last year in Ferguson, Missouri. And many law enforcement officials say they’re open to the proposal. At a hearing Monday, the TBI and the leader of the state district attorney’s association said they could accept a bill that would require a state investigation anytime someone in Tennessee is shot and killed by police.

Chattanooga Reclaims Crown For Tennessee’s Fastest Internet, With 10-Gigabit Speeds (WPLN) Call it a battle of internet speeds. The public utility in Chattanooga is now offering 10-gigabit Internet, which is 10 times faster than Google Fiber and AT&T Gigapower and five times faster than Comcast’s speediest option. In 2010, when Chattanooga’s power company, EPB, started offering gigabit speed, it touted itself as the first city in the country to have such fast connectivity. But this year, it was dethroned by Comcast, which started rolling out 2-gig Internet to Chattanooga residents. EPB decided to upgrade to 10-gig this month in part to maintain bragging rights.

Veterans Cemetery steps closer to $6M (Jackson Sun) The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced its intentions to give the state approximately $6 million to cover construction costs of the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads. Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder visited Parkers Crossroads on Monday and announced the state had received a letter of intent from the federal government, but that it couldn’t promise the funds until Congress passes the 2016 budget.

State shuts New Daisy over tax issue (Commercial Appeal) The state padlocked the New Daisy Theatre early Tuesday, apparently for nonpayment of taxes, but operators said they resolved the issue and will reopen the music venue Wednesday. “We met [with Tennessee Revenue Department officials],” New Daisy co-owner Steve Adelman said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s all good now and we will be back open tomorrow. There’s really no story otherwise.”

New Daisy Padlocked by Tennessee Revenue Department (Memphis Daily News) Less than a week after its grand reopening, the New Daisy Theatre is currently padlocked with a notice on the front door announcing that it’s been seized for nonpayment of state taxes. A Tennessee Department of Revenue spokeswoman said state law prohibits her from commenting on the situations of individual taxpayers. The notice on the front door of the venue reads:

Officials: New Daisy Will Open Tomorrow (Memphis Flyer) Officials with the New Daisy theater said on Facebook today that the venue will be open for tomorrow night’s Cannibal Corpse show. The Beale Street theater was chained and locked Tuesday with large posters noting that the property had been seized by the Tennessee Department of Revenue for failure to pay taxes. “Mikey” Glenn, son of former Daisy owner Mike Glenn, said to Facebook friends Tuesday that the situation was a “misunderstanding.”

New Daisy closure ends as quickly as it began (Memphis Business Journal) The recently renovated New Daisy Theater on Beale Street was shuttered by the state Tuesday for unpaid taxes, but by Wednesday morning, visitors likely won’t know anything happened at all. The Tennessee Department of Revenue chained the club’s doors closed and posted closure notices on the building just three days after the venue held a rededication event to honor its recent renovation.

State’s top court sends damage-cap award lawsuit back to Hamilton County judge (Times-Free Press) The Tennessee Supreme Court has set aside last March’s decision by a Hamilton County judge who ruled a 2011 state law capping certain personal injury damages at $750,000 is unconstitutional. In their ruling dated Friday, justices said the case simply was not “ripe” enough, that is, the lawsuit had not proceeded far enough for a ruling on its constitutionality. They remanded the case back to Circuit Judge W. Neil Thomas. The case involved Thomas’ ruling on a $22 million-plus negligence lawsuit filed by Donald and Beverly Clark against several divisions of AT&T and one of its employees, Aimee Cain.

TN Supreme Court vacates trial court ruling on damage caps (AP) The Tennessee Supreme Court has vacated a Hamilton County trial court’s ruling that a state law capping certain personal injury damages is unconstitutional. The high court’s decision did not consider the constitutionality of the cap, but overturned the lower court on more technical grounds. The case is a negligence lawsuit by Donald and Beverly Clark following an automobile accident that injured Donald Clark. In the suit, the couple sought a ruling on the constitutionality of the law that caps non-economic damages at $750,000 for certain personal injury cases.

John Jay Hooker asks state’s top court to hear aid-in-dying case (Tennessean) Political activist and dying cancer patient John Jay Hooker is appealing to the state’s highest court to allow his doctors to prescribe him life-ending medication without facing criminal consequences. The octogenarian says he does not have time to wait for the normal appeals process and wants the Tennessee Supreme Court to step in and take the case from the intermediate court, the Tennessee Court of Appeals.–dying-case/74298444/

Harwell greeted by pro-Insure Tennessee demonstration (Johnson City Press) Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell was greeted in Johnson City by a small group of protestors calling for the state Legislature to approve Gov. Bill Haslam’s medicaid expansion proposal, Insure Tennessee. The demonstrators lined State of Franklin Road in front of the Carnegie Hotel, where Harwell was scheduled to speak at a Republican fundraiser. (Sam Watson/Johnson City Press)

House Speaker attends Hill fundraiser; tours area (Johnson City Press) Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell made several stops in Johnson City Tuesday, with the visit culminating in a fundraiser for state Rep. Matthew Hill at the Carnegie Hotel. The Republicans visited East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland, Niswonger Children’s Hospital and the Johnson City-Washington County Veteran’s Memorial, and also toured Washington County’s Boones Creek corridor. Their day began, however, at Cherokee Elementary School with a brief media session followed by a closed-door meeting with a group of area teachers.

Costco coming to the Tri-Cities? (WJHL) Is Costco coming to the Tri-Cities? State Representative Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) said Tuesday he’s aware of a possible deal, but it won’t happen until certain conditions are met. During a tour of Washington County with House Speaker Beth Harwell, Rep. Hill said there’s nothing official, but the global retailer has a “verbal commitment” to come to the county as part of large retail development.

Y-12 shipped 10 times too much U-235 (News-Sentinel) A July 13 shipment from the Y-12 National Security Complex to a company in New York contained 10 times the intended amount of bomb-grade uranium, violating multiple regulations and resulting in a $33,620 fine. According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the shipment contained 1,000 grams of highly enriched uranium — more than 93 percent U-235, the fissionable isotope — instead of the intended 100 grams.

Study finds value of solar power less than what TVA pays (Times-Free Press) The Tennessee Valley Authority, which has cut the premiums it pays for small-scale solar power in each of the past four years, could again trim what it pays customers who generate electricity from the sun next year based upon a new assessment of the value of solar power. TVA on Tuesday released a 32-page analysis of solar power and distributed energy that concludes that the overall value of solar power is 40 percent less than what TVA has been paying some solar producers.

No charges filed against mowing contractor who caused sewage spill (Times-News) There will be no criminal charge filed against a state contracted mower who struck a Surgoinsville sewer pressure valve last week and then fled the scene without reporting the accident. Surgoinsville Police Chief James Hammonds told the Times-News Monday he believes about 5,000 gallons of sewer line “gray water” spilled into a spring on Main Street just east of the Virginia Hills subdivision last Tuesday afternoon.

Insurers say research is key for ACA choices (Tennessean) Open enrollment for 2016 health insurance on the federally run exchange is right around the corner, and even the insurers say the key to understanding your plan is researching and understanding the network of providers you’re getting. Representatives from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare presented overviews of their plans at a forum hosted by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance designed to give those who help people enroll in plans a preview of the offerings.

Hundreds Demand School Board Step Down For Textbook With Islamic Teachings (WTVF) Mom Frances Davis brought her kids to a packed church Tuesday all because of a book. “When I first read the syllabus about what’s she was going to be studying, red flags were everywhere because it was all about Islam,” she said, talking about her 7th grade daughter’s social studies class. Davis and more than 200 of her neighbors are upset about the curriculum. At the town hall meeting they circulated a petition asking school board members to step down after refusing to get rid of the class’s textbook.

White County group claims Islamic indoctrination (Tennessean) A White County group expects hundreds of people at a town hall meeting against Islamic “indoctrination” in schools Tuesday night. The new group, White County Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination, joins others in the state concerned about pro-Islamic bias in middle school social studies classes.

Confederate flag won’t fly over Greene County (WBIR) Tennessee’s Greene County Commission voted 20-1 on Monday night against adopting a resolution that would have allowed the Confederate flag to fly from the historic courthouse in downtown Greeneville. Outside, protesters both in support of and against the idea gathered on the lawn. “I think it’s time to let the racism part of this flag go and know our history,” said Chris Ward, a flag supporter. Donnie Barnett, however, said the flag should not be resurrected.

A Plan to Honor Martin Luther King at a Southern Civil War Symbol (NY Times) The idea is suffused with a simple poetry: A bell would be placed atop Stone Mountain, the massive granite outcropping east of Atlanta invoked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech — one of the places from which, as Dr. King imagined it, a nation no longer divided by racism might “Let freedom ring.” But this “Freedom Bell” proposal, unveiled this month by a state government authority as a tribute to the civil rights leader, has become mired in complications and controversy, the latest skirmish over Southern symbols prompted by the racially motivated massacre of nine black churchgoers this summer in Charleston, S.C.

4 Middle TN counties among top growing in the country (WSMV) Nashville is expected to overtake Memphis as the biggest metropolitan area in Tennessee in the coming years. As fast as Nashville is growing, the surrounding counties are growing even faster. Four middle Tennessee counties are among the top 100 fastest growing in the country. Since 2010, Williamson County has grown 12 percent, making it the 34th fastest growing county in America. Matthew Hill, redistricting supervisor with the state comptroller’s office, is in charge of making all the numbers make sense.

Officials: Here’s where Nashville could build light rail (Nashville Business Journal) One takeaway I had during the Amp debate: A great deal of Nashvillians clamor over light rail. As Nashville’s transit conversation has morphed from wrangling over that specific project to a broader discussion of what service is needed in the region, there’s an undeniable fixation around light rail. Light rail often costs more than $100 million per mile to build. In their newest report released Tuesday, transit officials in Middle Tennessee have identified a few corridors for possible light-rail service in the region. There are the logical routes along the interstates where traffic counts are currently swelling at all-time highs: Interstate 65 south to Franklin and Interstate 24 southeast to Murfreesboro.

Execution Drug Shortage Makes Some Think of Firing Squads (AP) Ohio’s decision to delay executions another full year while it hunts for lethal injection drugs highlights an ongoing dilemma faced by the remaining death penalty states. Although support for capital punishment continues, states are struggling to find a legal means to carry it out, and that has created an opening for opponents hoping to end the death penalty permanently. Two years ago, a federal appeals court ruled in a case brought by death row inmates in Tennessee, Arizona and California that the FDA was wrong to allow sodium thiopental to be imported for use in executions.

Let’s Talk About Sex … and Senior Citizens (Governing) As STD rates rise among the elderly, health-care providers and public health departments continue to shy away from discussing their sexual health. Is it time for a sexual revolution? Health-care providers often don’t ask seniors about their sexual health even though many of them are still sexually active. People face many health issues as they age: loss of hearing and sight, sore joints, memory loss. Many of those are common (and commonly discussed), but medical providers often sweep health issues related to sex under the rug — and it’s hurting the growing population of seniors.


Editorial: Proposed archives building would honor Tennessee legacy (Tennessean) No doubt that Tennessee’s history is worth preserving. The Volunteer State became this nation’s 16th state on June 1, 1796, and the state and its people have been pivotal in the events of U.S. history: the War of 1812, the Civil War, three presidents and historic commitment to moderating extremes at the national political level. The Tennessee State Library and Archives houses the records of the people and events that formed this state and its communities, but its location is running out of space in the building that has housed it since 1952.

Editorial: A New Attack on Health Care Reform (NY Times) In recent months, several nonprofit insurance plans that were created to compete with for-profit insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act have run into financial difficulties. Republicans and other critics of health care reform are cynically pointing to their problems as evidence that the whole reform effort is a waste of money that ought to be repealed. Co-ops have been created in 23 states, enrolling more than a million people as of March 25. However, eight of these co-ops — in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Nevada, Tennessee and Oregon — have announced this year that they are closing, and many of the remaining co-ops are losing money, too.

Editorial: Public should hear good and bad on issue of untested rape kits (Commercial Appeal) It is good to know, according to state Sen. Mark Norris, that Memphis has become a model for other cities on how to deal with the tremendous backlog of untested rape kits. On the opposite of side of that good news is the fact that a summit here on how to deal with backlogs was closed to the public. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton defended a decision to close the summit, saying representatives of 13 cities shared strategies for catching sexual predators, not “jolly, jolly war stories.”

Greg Johnson: TBI sting spotlights dark world of human trafficking (News-Sentinel) It can happen here. It does happen here. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with Chattanooga-area law enforcement, arrested 20 men last week on prostitution-related charges. The TBI arrested a painter, an engineer, a truck driver, a landscaper, a waiter, a student and a construction worker. But these were not ordinary “johns.” Some were targeted as part of the TBI’s anti-human trafficking effort, “Operation Someone Like Me.”

Tuesday, October 20

Two big announcements expected in Blount County on Tuesday (WBIR) Two big announcements are expected in Blount County on Tuesday morning. One could bring several hundred jobs to the area, and another is part of a project that could draw tens of thousands of visitors. For the first time in 16 years, the Smoky Mountain Air Show will return to East Tennessee in April at McGee Tyson. Also in Blount County, another visitor is expected Tuesday morning – Gov. Bill Haslam. He’ll be at what officials say will be a special announcement at a Blount Partnership event.

Haslam rolls his sleeves to advocate for seasonal flu vaccine (Johnson City Press) Gov. Bill Haslam made a stop in Johnson City Monday afternoon to roll up his sleeves for the seasonal flu vaccine. With flu season on the horizon, Sen. Rusty Crowe and Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner joined Haslam in advocating for this year’s flu vaccine, all while receiving one for themselves for the season at the Northeast Regional Health Office. Dreyzehner said in a press release that the flu appears to be starting early this year, and said he recommends the public get a vaccine as soon as possible to help stop the spread of the virus.

Gov. Haslam gets flu shot, encourages you to do the same (WBIR) Tennessee’s governor is hoping you will follow his example, and get a flu shot this year. Governor Bill Haslam rolled up his sleeve at the Tennessee Department of Health Northeast Regional Health Office in Johnson City on Monday. “It only takes a few minutes to get the vaccine through an injection or nasal spray and it is available in every county of Tennessee,” Governor Haslam said. “When a person gets immunized, he or she helps create a flu barrier that can help stop the spread of influenza to others.”

Gov. Haslam gets flu shot, urges others to follow suit (WATE) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam rolled up his sleeve in Johnson City Monday to receive his flu shot and is urging other Tennesseans to do the same. Haslam stopped at the Tennessee Department of Health Northeast Regional Health Office to receive his shot. “It only takes a few minutes to get the vaccine through an injection or nasal spray and it is available in every county of Tennessee,” Gov. Haslam said. “When a person gets immunized, he or she helps create a flu barrier that can help stop the spread of influenza to others.”

Tenn. Gov. Haslam emphasizes importance of flu shot (Bristol Herald-Courier) State leaders emphasized the importance of getting a flu vaccine Monday by receiving theirs at a media event. Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, all received their vaccines at the Northeast Regional Health Office in Johnson City. “Flu shots matter,” Haslam said. “They keep you healthy and as importantly they keep the people around you healthy. And if you think, ‘Well, I don’t ever get the flu,’ Well people around you do and you certainly don’t want to be the one that takes that to folks who are more vulnerable than you are.”

Governor visits, gets shot in the arm to fight influenza (WCYB) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam rolled up his sleeve and got his annual flu shot, while on a visit to Johnson City.Nurse Beth Denney injected the governor during his Monday stop at the Tennessee Department of Health’s Northeast Regional Health Office. Health officials says doing so is an important step in protecting yourself, your friends, family members and others from getting influenza.

Gov. Haslam: Cost-cutting not an attempt to ‘outsource the entire state’ (Times-Free Press) Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that critics are drawing the wrong conclusion from his administration’s ongoing efforts to save money and that he’s “not trying to outsource the entire state.” “It’s like I said, not even close to realistic,” Haslam said. “Are there things we’re always going to look at that say is the state doing this now and are we the best people to be doing that? Sure, we’re always going to do that. And that’s something we should be doing.”

Haslam family acquires CVS´ stake of Pilot Flying J (Petrol Plaza) Pilot Flying J CEO James Haslam and his relatives have acquired all shares that private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners held in the truckstop company, the largest in the country. CVC had acquired a 47.5% of the shares of Pilot Travel Centers in 2008, as Marathon Oil Corp sold their stake. In 2010, Pilot Travel Centers bought rival Flying J Inc, reported The Wall Street Journal.

State scholarships enable students to prepare for jobs in manufacturing (Times-Free Press) When Travis Stutz finishes his shift at a local factory, his day is not over. Each weekday, he leaves his full-time job and heads to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga State and clocks in for six-and-a-half hours of class. Stutz, a recent Ooltewah High School graduate, began studying machine tool technology this fall because he believes this year of training will expand his opportunities and fatten his wallet. “I’ll probably get a job working on machines next,” Stutz said. “It’ll be a better job [than I have now] and I’ll get more pay.”

Shelby County woman charged with TennCare fraud (WHBQ) A Shelby County woman has been charged with TennCare fraud involving forgery. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of Memphis Police, today announced the arrest of Gloria Neal, 33, of Memphis. A Shelby County Grand Jury charged Neal with TennCare fraud and four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Charges accuse her of altering legitimate prescriptions on four separate occasions by either changing the quantity or adding a controlled substance to the legitimate prescriptions. The drugs were obtained by using TennCare benefits.

Experts say longer sentences don’t reduce crime (Tennessean) Sending someone to prison longer is no indication they’ll be less likely to commit a crime once they’re released, and longer sentences don’t dissuade others from committing that crime, experts told lawmakers Monday. In fact those legal and corrections experts said states that have reduced their prison populations the most have also seen a drop in the crime rate.

Insure Tennessee debate weighs opposing views (Tennessean) Representatives of two vocal organizations that fall on opposite sides of the Insure Tennessee debate hashed out the pros and cons of the proposal Monday before Nashville leaders. Gordon Bonnyman, staff attorney and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center, advocated for the passage of Insure Tennessee while Justin Owen, president and chief executive officer of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, stood firmly against it during the panel discussion hosted by the Rotary Club of Nashville.

Law enforcement rejects effort to revise state forfeiture law (Times-Free Press) Alarmed that Tennessee lawmakers may move to curb police agencies’ ability to self-fund through seizures of cash and vehicles without actual criminal convictions, law enforcement sought to paint the loss of money in the starkest of terms on Monday. “If you do want to make a difference for our communities, take away criminal-proceeds forfeiture funding,” said a sarcastic Steve Jones, who is assistant prosecutor with the West Tennessee Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. “You’ll make a huge difference. It just won’t be a positive difference.

DA To Senators: ‘Criminals Will Thank You’ For Forfeiture Reforms (WTVF) Don’t take away our ability to make money! That was the message that Tennessee law enforcement delivered Monday to a Tennessee legislative committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee, as part of a day-long hearing that delved into number hot-button criminal justice issues, heard testimony about whether they should make it illegal for police to take cash off of drivers without charging them with a crime. It follows a series of disclosures by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

Keep asset forfeiture law intact, Tennessee lawmakers urged (AP) Law enforcement officials on Monday urged Tennessee lawmakers not to join other states in dialing back police powers to seize cash and vehicles without first gaining criminal convictions. While police defend civil asset forfeiture as a way to weaken lucrative criminal operations while funding crime-fighting efforts, opponents argue that the practice has become an overused tactic that violates citizens’ private property rights — especially when there’s insufficient evidence of a crime.

Tennessee Lawmakers Take Aim At Police Seizures Of Cash, Cars And More From Suspects (WPLN) The laws that let police seize cash and other property from suspected drug dealers are coming under fire from Tennessee legislators. Some want to make it harder for police to seize people’s property without a trial. Asset forfeiture laws let police take cash, cars and other property from suspects — often drug traffickers — and then spend the proceeds on law enforcement. But investigations around the country have uncovered possible abuse by police. Agencies have been accused of taking massive amounts of money from innocent people. Asset-forfeiture laws then require the owners to show that they were not involved in criminal activity.

TN legislators discuss constitutional convention (Leaf-Chronicle) A couple hundred Tennesseans gathered at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel on Monday night to hear several state legislators discuss legislation seeking a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the power of the federal government. “We face a cliff that either we pull back from the brink of no return or we return ourselves to the land of liberty,” said Scott Williams, the Tennessee state director for the Convention of the States. “For too long we have given this up for Friday night football, we have given it up for parties and Little League, and we’re going to miss a few of those games. We’re going to have to put this country first until we get back on the right track.”

Sen. Norris: Memphis now model for assault kit handling (Commercial Appeal) Memphis has gone from a cautionary tale for its handling of untested sexual assault kits to a model for other cities, state Sen. Mark Norris said at a summit on the issue Monday. Following his address at the second annual Sexual Assault Kit Summit for Cities at the Cook Convention Center, Norris said the more than 12,000 untested sexual assault kits Memphis had at its peak were a “prologue, not a backlog.”

Tennessee legislators discuss TBI investigations for officer-involved shootings (Commercial Appeal) The local agreement announced last week for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to probe officer-involved shootings by Memphis police and Shelby County sheriff’s officers leaves Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville as the biggest Tennessee cities where local authorities will conduct such investigations on their own, state lawmakers were told Monday.–334372081.html

Duncan, Cohen seek change in how Social Security raises are calculated (Commercial Appeal) U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has tried so many times to get the federal government to change the way it calculates cost-of-living expenses for seniors that he’d about given up. But the announcement last week that Social Security recipients won’t get an increase in their benefits next year might strengthen his case.

Lawsuits could force VW to buy back cheating diesels (Times-Free Press) Volkswagen almost inevitably will have to compensate owners of diesel cars equipped with emissions-rigging software. Some legal experts say the automaker could be forced to buy back the cars altogether. Many of the more than 200 lawsuits filed in the past few weeks allege that for seven years VW marketed four-cylinder diesel Golfs, Jettas, Beetles and Passats as clean alternatives to gas engines, knowing all along that the cars were spewing pollution that far exceeded legal limits.

Is Nashville Emerging As The Auto Industry’s Southern Hub? (WPLN) As the auto industry continues to grow in Tennessee and other southern states, Nashville is emerging as a business hub. The city is playing host to a growing number of industry gatherings. This week it’s the Southern Automotive Conference. Last week, 150 senior leaders of Nissan, Toyota, General Motors and others spent a day in a corner of the Music City Center with bankers and analysts looking at what’s on the horizon.

Asurion looking to hire 100 new employees (Nashville Business Journal) Nashville-based technology company Asurion is holding a job fair this week to find 100 support technicians to add to its team. The recruitment push comes a little less than a year after the company cut nearly 200 positions, primarily serving retired technology platforms. At that time, the company also noted its had nearly 140 positions open in Middle Tennessee, indicating that despite one-time technology-related cuts, Asurion’s commitment to employing a large Middle Tennessee workforce remained.

New coal ash storage rules in place; TVA says it’s ready (WBIR) New federal rules took effect Monday on the storage of coal ash, a direct result of a 2008 environmental disaster at a TVA storage facility in Kingston. The Environmental Protection Agency rules, prepared after years of debate, address how coal ash is stored and disposed of at power plants. They require utilities that have old coal ash storage ponds to start inspecting them immediately and put those results online. They’re also required immediately to keep stray dust from blowing away, and they have a month to post online exactly how they’re doing it.

CSX mails notice to state: 277 layoffs at Erwin Terminal (WJHL) CSX Transportation, Inc. expects to lay off more than 270 employees at its Erwin yard, according to a notice mailed to the state. WJHL obtained the notice through a public records request. The notice, part of the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, was sent by overnight mail Oct. 14 to the Tennessee Department of Labor Dislocated Worker Unit. The company announced the plan to furlough most workers at the Erwin terminal the next day.

Old Hickory Quarry In Trouble With State Regulators For Starting Construction Early (WPLN) A company that wants to open a quarry in Old Hickory is facing questions from state officials. The state Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has announced its intent to revoke two permits after an inspection found unauthorized construction beginning on land off Burnett Road, according to state records made public on Monday. Residents near the proposed site are already celebrating the latest move. Many didn’t want the limestone quarry nearby, fearing that blasting could disturb their homes, wildlife, and the Old Hickory Dam.

Prescribed burns planned in Great Smoky Mountains (AP) Fire management officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are planning prescribed burns in the Canadian Top project area and within the Cades Cove area. Burn operations could begin as early as Monday and may continue intermittently through early to mid-November. The Canadian Top project area is adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina. The 600-acre burn unit is located on Bald Top and Jesse Ridge. The controlled burns are intended to restore the oak woodlands on the area’s upper slopes and ridges and improve forage for elk over time.

Shelby County submits $70 million disaster resilience grant request to HUD (Commercial Appeal) This flood didn’t bring national television news personalities to Memphis to wade in the rising waters of the Mississippi River. But the flooding in April 2011 that affected areas of Millington, Raleigh, Frayser and Southwest Memphis could bring millions of dollars in federal grant money to Shelby County.

FCC commissioner visits Nashville (Nashville Business Journal) Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai is in Nashville Monday and Tuesday. According to a news release, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn invited the commissioner to “see Nashville at its best.” Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai will be in the Nashville area today and Tuesday. Pai will be making several stops during his visit, including a tour of the Nissan plant and Brentwood’s 911 Call Center and a visit with local entrepreneurs at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.

Greene County commissioners vote down flag resolution (News-Sentinel) Greene County commissioners Monday night roundly rejected a resolution to fly the Confederate battle flag at the county courthouse. Nearly 100 people — bearing flags on both sides of the divisive issue — crowded the courthouse steps outside, where news of the 20-1 vote was met mostly with cheers and chants of “USA!” “This diversion, this circus, is a waste of our county commission,” said Greene County schoolteacher Collette Parkins, who was among those gathered ahead of the vote. “It’s very disappointing that they would take this energy on this issue.”

Greene County Commission turns back Confederate flag resolution (WBIR) Greene County Commission voted 20-1 on Monday night against adopting a resolution that would have allowed the Confederate flag to fly from the historic courthouse downtown. Protesters on both sides of the issue gathered Monday in Greene County over a resolution calling for display of the Confederate flag at the county courthouse. Citizens packed the Greene County Commission meeting to address the divisive topic. Officials took the vote about 7 p.m. Commissioner James Randolph, who sponsored the resolution, was the only yes vote for the confederate flag resolution. He told reporters he’d suspected it would fail.

Debt, Growth Concerns Rain on Deficit Parade (Wall St. Journal) The U.S. budget deficit is lower than before the 2008 financial crisis. But the good news is tempered by concerns on two fronts, one about the nation’s debt load and the other about the economy. Deficit hawks are concerned that the improvement will lead both parties to overlook the red ink set to rise later this decade from a surge in spending on health care and retirement benefits for the baby-boom generation.

What went wrong with the Deep South? (Washington Post) Five states in the South are much worse off on economic and social measures than the majority of the country. Here’s how the region compares, broken down by county. The region is home to some of the lowest life expectancies for both men and women. In many counties of the Mississippi Delta, the average male dies before 70. Experts say that these troubles stem from the region’s difficulty adapting to an increasingly ­technology-based economy that has displaced traditional blue-collar jobs and put a premium on high-skill positions.

For Offenders Who Can’t Pay, It’s a Pint of Blood or Jail Time (NY Times) Marion, Alabama Judge Marvin Wiggins’s courtroom was packed on a September morning. The docket listed hundreds of offenders who owed fines or fees for a wide variety of crimes — hunting after dark, assault, drug possession and passing bad checks among them. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” began Judge Wiggins, a circuit judge here in rural Alabama since 1999. “For your consideration, there’s a blood drive outside,” he continued, according to a recording of the hearing. “If you don’t have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.”


Charlie Daniels Cartoon: College faculty armed? (News-Sentinel)

Guest column: Medical board seeks to protect Tennesseans’ health (Tennessean) As one of the of 12 Tennesseans who serve on our state’s Board of Medical Examiners, I can readily confirm the responsibility for licensure, regulation and discipline of medical doctors in Tennessee is significant. Nine of us are medical doctors and three are consumer members; all are dedicated to ensuring the nearly 22,000 licensed medical doctors in Tennessee meet necessary qualifications and provide safe, quality care for every patient.

Guest column: Medicare for all would solve many health problems (Tennessean) Just over a year ago, Sharon, a fast food worker from Middle Tennessee, walked into the Vanderbilt emergency department in the worst pain of her life. Stones had formed in her gallbladder. Fortunately, this common and excruciatingly painful condition can be easily treated with surgery. Sharon, however, did not have health insurance and could not afford the surgery.

Editorial: A New Attack on Health Care Reform (NY Times) In recent months, several nonprofit insurance plans that were created to compete with for-profit insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act have run into financial difficulties. Republicans and other critics of health care reform are cynically pointing to their problems as evidence that the whole reform effort is a waste of money that ought to be repealed. They neglect to mention that the nonprofit plans, known as health insurance cooperatives, were created as a weak, underfunded alternative to a much stronger option that the Republicans blocked from passage.

Editorial: Do you fear religious indoctrination in schools? (Johnson City Press) A state lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would ban Tennessee schools from teaching “religious doctrine” earlier than the 10th grade. State Rep. Shelia Butt, R-Columbia, says she filed the bill in response to complaints from parents who fear world history lessons now being taught on Islam in middle school could lead to indoctrination. The legislation would delay the teaching of religious doctrine, as determined by the state Board of Education, until 10th, 11th and 12th grades.