Thursday, June 30

Vilsack, McAuliffe, Haslam convene on drug abuse issue (AP) The governors of Tennessee and Virginia will be in Abingdon along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to talk about the drug abuse epidemic in Appalachia. The event Thursday afternoon comes as President Barack Obama’s administration seeks about $1.1 billion more for substance abuse treatment. The proposal calls for Virginia to be eligible for up to $17 million over two years to expand opioid treatment; Tennessee, $24 million; West Virginia, $10 million; and Kentucky, $18 million. Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will take part with Vilsack in the first in a series of town halls.

Tennessee’s export economy outperforms U.S. average, says MTSU report (Nashville Business Journal) Tennessee’s export economy is in relatively good shape despite a tough global environment for U.S. goods producers, says a new report from the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. In the latest issue of “Global Commerce,” a quarterly publication from MTSU’s Jones School of Business, researchers analyzed trade data from the first quarter of 2016 and found that the total value of Tennessee exports climbed to $7.83 billion from $7.76 billion in the year-ago quarter, a 0.66 percent increase.

MTSU Global Commerce Report

Tennessee’s top salesman reveals the state’s ‘No. 1 sales tool’ (Nashville Business Journal) Boyd, the state’s commissioner of economic and community development, invoked the program, which provides last-dollar scholarships to community college for high school seniors, when asked to identify his “big idea for America” at veteran entrepreneurship program Bunker Labs’ Nashville Muster Tuesday. He suggested it be expanded nationwide, arguing that if Tennessee can do it — using lottery funds, not taxes — any state can. Not only does the program provide a wider pool of Tennesseans with an advanced degree, it helps Boyd assuage concerns about educated workforce supply from businesses considering setting up shop in the state.

New law passed concerning unlawful photography of a person for sexual gratification (Murfreesboro Post) Legislation to add those who unlawfully photograph a person for sexual gratification to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) Sex Offender Registry was recently signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam at a ceremony on Capitol Hill. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna), allows a judge to require the defendant in a misdemeanor unlawful photographing in violation of privacy case to register as a sexual offender for up to 10 years. “These offenders should most definitely be on the TBI Sex Offender Registry,” said Sen. Tracy.

Site of Future West Tennessee State Veterans Home Unveiled (WATN) The site of the future West Tennessee State Veterans Home was announced Wednesday. Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Department of Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Debra Payne and Department of General Services Deputy Commissioner John Hull in partnership with Tennessee State Veterans Home Executive Director Ed Harries were on hand for the formal announcement. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) were also on hand to support the milestone announcement made in their district.

Knoxville police launch new reading program for area children (News Sentinel) The Knoxville Police Department is launching a new program to help local children improve their reading skills, Chief David Rausch and Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam announced Wednesday. “If You Can Read, You Can Be” is a program between the police department and community organizations across the city, according to a news release. Officers will meet with children regularly “to read age-appropriate, high-interest books to build literacy skills and relationships,” according to the release.

Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam has been visiting Lenoir City and Knoxville to promote a summer reading program (Greenfield Reporter) Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam is visiting Lenoir City and Knoxville to promote a summer reading program. Haslam visited Lenoir City Elementary Read to be Ready on Wednesday. It’s one of 12 summer reading programs to receive a grant through a $1 million donation from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Haslam also visited the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley in Knoxville to deliver books to children. The visit was part of the Read20 Book Patrol, a partnership between law enforcement and Junior Leagues. Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to join his wife for a visit to J.E. Moss Elementary School on Thursday to read to students.–Summer-Reading

Crissy Haslam to promote summer reading programs (AP) Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam is visiting Lenoir City and Knoxville to promote a summer reading program. Haslam is scheduled to visit Lenoir City Elementary Read to be Ready on Wednesday. It’s one of 12 summer reading programs to receive a grant through a $1 million donation from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Haslam then heads to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley in Knoxville to deliver books to children. The visit is art of the Read20 Book Patrol, a partnership between law enforcement and Junior Leagues.

Alexander: Darin Gordon Helped Transform TennCare Into One Of The Country’s Most Fiscally Responsible Medicaid Programs (Chattanoogan) Senator Lamar Alexander Wednesday praised the “tireless” service of Darin Gordon, Tennessee’s longest-serving TennCare director, who will be stepping down from the position after more than a decade of service:“As the state’s longest-serving TennCare director and the longest-serving Medicaid director in the country, Darin has helped transition Tennessee’s Medicaid programs from being one of the state’s biggest budget headaches to being consistently ranked as one of the nation’s more fiscally responsible.

States introduce accounts to help families save for special-needs children (Wall Street Journal) Advisers with clients who care for special-needs children will be able to use newly available 529 ABLE investment accounts to prepare for their financial future, reports InvestmentNews. Four states will have  ABLE  plans available by Friday, the publication said, and other states have plans to introduce similar vehicles by year-end. Money put aside in these Achieving a Better Life Experience accounts can grow tax free and be used to cover day-to-day and long-term care of a disabled child. The four states launching this week are Ohio, Tennessee, Nebraska and Florida.

Online petition asks to rename Thompson-Boling in honor of Pat Summitt (WATE) More than 1,500 people signed an online petition in support to change the name of the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. The petition hopes the sports venue, which is home to the Lady Vols, will honor the legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt. Summitt passed away Tuesday morning.

Washington County sub-committee to consider a ‘Close the Gap of the Uninsured’ resolution (Johnson City Press) Retired Jonesborough pastor Ed Wolff has been consistent in his position that insuring the uninsured in the state of Tennessee is a moral obligation. He championed the Insure Tennessee program, and since it failed — despite being promoted by Gov. Bill Haslam — Wolff moved to throw his support behind any state-run program that will help provide insurance for those who fall between TennCare and those eligible for the marketplace made available through the Affordable Care Act.

Police report: County official removed from meeting (Jackson Sun) Madison County historian Linda J. Higgins was involved in a “verbal altercation” with Loni Harris at Friday’s Tennessee Historical Commission meeting at the University of Memphis Lambuth, according to a police report obtained by The Jackson Sun. Higgins was escorted out of the meeting by a University of Memphis police officer, the report says. According to the report, Higgins, who was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to the historical commission in 2014, was causing a “disruptive scene, arguing and waving her hands in Ms. Harris’ face.” An officer was called over, intervened and ultimately walked Higgins out of the building before the meeting began.

Wine in groceries, guns on campus among new Tennessee laws taking effect Friday (AP) Wine will be available in Tennessee supermarkets, professors will be allowed to carry guns on public college campuses, and drivers will be subject to stricter penalties for texting on the road, under new laws taking effect Friday. Many bills passed by lawmakers this year took effect upon being signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, but others were linked to the start of the new budget year, which starts July 1. The campus-carry bill was the result of heavy negotiations between gun-rights advocates and higher-education officials who opposed allowing more weapons on campus.

Wine in Grocery Stores: Tennessee Uncorked! (Memphis Flyer) On Friday, July 1st, grocery stores in Tennessee will begin selling wine. Consider it the ripened grape of a years-long political battle, one that has created the biggest change in Tennessee booze laws since Prohibition. Tennessee is now one of 40 states that allows wine sales in grocery stores. State lawmakers passed the legislation in 2014, and since then, lawmakers in Colorado and Pennsylvania have passed similar wine-in-grocery-stores bills. But before Tennessee passed its wine bill, it had been 24 years since the last time a state passed a law allowing grocery wine sales.

University Employees Can Begin Carrying Guns Friday (Memphis Flyer) Handguns will be allowed on the campuses of Tennessee’s public universities on Friday, and Memphis’ two biggest universities began registering employees wishing to carry this week. State lawmakers passed the bill to allow full-time employees to carry handguns on public university campuses in May. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam expressed concern about the legislation at the time but allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The bill was opposed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) system. The two organizations will manage gun-carry programs at the 46 institutions they oversee.

Rally Held Ahead of Law Allowing Guns On Campuses (WTVF) On July 1, a controversial new gun law takes effect in Tennessee, and Wednesday a group advocating for stricter rules on gun ownership held a rally in Franklin. The Safe Tennessee Project put the rally together, ahead of the law’s enactment that will allow full time public university employees to carry registered guns on campus. While some onlookers held a different view of gun control, the Safe Tennessee Project said laws like the one that takes effect tomorrow will make Tennesseans less safe.

ETSU, Northeast State employees applying to carry concealed weapons on campus (WJHL) The campus carry bill was the result of heavy negotiations between gun rights advocates and higher education officials who opposed allowing more weapons on campus. Under the new law, to carry a concealed gun on campus you have to be a full-time employee, have a valid handgun carry permit and notify campus police if you intend to carry a gun. On Wednesday, we reached out to both East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College and learned eight ETSU employees and three Northeast State employees have applied to carry a concealed weapon.

Tennessee’s fetal assault law ends July 1 (WATE) A state law aimed at taking on the issue of babies born dependent on drugs ends on July 1. Under the fetal assault law, women could be prosecuted for taking drugs while pregnant and it was designed to urge them into treatment. Blount County resident Brittany Hudson was one of first to be prosecuted under this law. Hudson says the law actually discouraged her from seeking treatment. She went to Nashville earlier this year and pushed lawmakers not to renew the law. Lawmakers voted to not renew the law in March, so it will expire on Friday.

TN impact unclear after Supreme Court abortion ruling (WJHL) Lawmakers here in the Tri-Cities are still trying to figure out how a Supreme Court ruling on abortion will impact Tennessee. On Monday the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law regulating abortion. That means abortion clinics in that state will no longer have to meet hospital like standards. It also means the doctors who perform the abortions are no longer required to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. While abortion rights supporters cheered after the Supreme Court ruled Texas laws unconstitutional, the reaction among Tennessee lawmakers is decidedly different.

AFP gives top rating to 19 state senators, 54 representatives (all Republican) (News Sentinel/Humphrey) Americans for Prosperity’s Tennessee chapter has completed its rating of state legislators, placing a majority of both the House and Senate members — 19 senators and 54 representatives, all Republicans — in top category, deeming them “taxpayer heroes.” House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey both are on that list. Twenty-eight legislators — four senators, 24 representatives — are declared “taxpayer zeros,” the lowest ranking. All but one — Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville — are Democrats. The AFP system gives or subtracts points based on votes with extra points given for sponsoring bills the group likes. Scores are on a numerical system, top rating being a score of 93 or above; lowest a score of 65 or below.

Kelsey wins straw poll at Holt’s gun giveaway ‘Hogfest;’ Democrats bash ‘media circus’ event (News Sentinel/Humphrey) News release from Rep. Andy Holt: Last Saturday, Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) hosted the first Holt’s HogFest & Turkey Shoot at his family farm in the rural town of Dresden in West Tennessee. The event garnered world-wide attention as Holt ‘stuck to his guns’ in his plan to give away two AR15s and drew attendees from all across the State of Tennessee. “It was an incredible evening. At one point, we had more than 50 people waiting in line to register. We had folks coming from as far east as Johnson City and all the way west from Memphis,” said Holt.

Six mayors back Shutt’s challenge to Sen. Gresham in Senate District 26 (News Sentinel/Humphrey) Savannah Mayor Bob Shutt, opposing Sen. Delores Gresham of Somerville in the Republican primary, has been endorsed by mayors of five counties in the eight-county Senate District 26, along with the mayor of Selmer. Here’s the handout: News release from Bob Shutt campaign: Bob Shutt for State Senate announced today the endorsements of his 26th District Senate Campaign by five County Mayors and the Mayor of Selmer, TN. The Mayors endorsing Shutt are:

Pulse Check: Why Lamar Alexander wants a deal on Obamacare (Politico) Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s more than happy to strike deals with Democrats — even on Obamacare. “Whoever the president is in January, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at Obamacare,” the powerful chairman of the Senate HELP committee told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast. “It can’t continue the way it is.” “I don’t think Republicans can go another four years, whether we have a Republican president or not, and say just give us a couple more Republicans and we’ll repeal Obamacare,” he added.

Diane Black hones in on immigration, refugees in first ad (Tennessean) In her effort to continue representing the state’s 6th Congressional District, Rep. Diane Black is zeroing in on immigration and refugees in her first campaign ad. In a 30-second spot, which began airing Thursday, Black tells an audience that she has fought hard to ensure the country’s borders are protected. “The fact is that people come into this country illegally — we’ve got to hold them accountable and responsible,” she says.

Congressman Phil Roe announces bid for re-election (WJHL) On Wednesday, Congressman Phil Roe announced he would seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Roe was first elected to Congress in 2008 after serving two years as mayor of Johnson City. According to the release, Roe’s campaign slogan is “In Tune with East Tennessee.” “Being a good congressman is like being a good doctor: If you listen and put your patients first and give them your best, they’ll take care of you and re-election will take care of itself,” Roe said. “Some of you here this morning have been with me on this journey from the very beginning,” he said.

Cohen talks gun violence prevention at Memphis event (Commercial Appeal) Standing up and voicing her concerns was emotional for Tara Thomas, but she needed to be heard. Thomas, who lost her 22-year-old son to a fatal shooting last year after an automobile accident, made a promise to him that she would stand up against gun violence in Memphis. She was one of the at least four family members of victims of gun violence who were given a chance to speak Wednesday at a 90-minute gun violence prevention meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen at the Clifford Davis-Odell Horton Federal Building.

No Answer’ on Homicide Spike, Gun Violence (Memphis Flyer) It’s easy to get guns, there are “hundreds and hundreds of thousands” of them in Memphis, and some city leaders had no answer as to why violent crime is on the rise here. Those are some of the conclusions reached Wednesday during a panel discussion on gun violence in Memphis convened by Rep. Steve Cohen. The panel discussion brought together state, federal, and local leaders to hear Memphians’ views on the gun debate in Congress. Cohen wanted to hear what more could be done on the federal level to help prevent gun violence here. Cohen noted that recent gun legislation failed in Congress. That legislative push came after a shooter killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub.

Tennessee hospital leads U.S. in doctors taking drug industry money (Tennessean)A small for-profit hospital on the outskirts of Memphis has the highest rate of doctors who took payments from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, out of more than 2,000 hospitals across the nation. Federal disclosures show 59 out of 62 doctors at St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett — or 95 percent — received payments for speaking engagements, meals, gifts, travel, consulting or other interactions with the industry in 2014, the most recent year of information available.

Saint Francis-Bartlett MDs lead nation in accepting payments from medical vendors (Commercial Appeal) A small for-profit hospital on the outskirts of Memphis has the highest rate of doctors who took payments from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, out of more than 2,000 hospitals across the nation. Federal disclosures show 59 out of 62 doctors at Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett — or 95 percent — received payments for speaking engagements, meals, gifts, travel, consulting or other interactions with the industry in 2014, the most recent year of information available.

Ku Klux Klan Dreams of Rising Again 150 Years After Founding (AP) Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.


Editorial: EPA compliance gives Memphis an important breath of fresh air (Commercial Appeal) It has been a long time coming, but having the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declare Shelby County in compliance with federal smog standards is great news for several reasons. For average citizens, it means they will be breathing cleaner air, which comes with all kinds of health benefits. For officials tasked with pursuing industries and jobs for the city, the compliance declaration removes what has been at times a serious impediment to recruiting heavy industry. In a decision published last week in the Federal Register, the EPA said it is redesignating the county from nonattainment, or noncompliance, to attainment with the 2008 eight-hour standard for ozone pollution.

Column: Which Side of the Abortion Debate is State Sen. Mark Green on Again? (Nashville Scene) Chas Sisk over at WPLN has a story about what the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion means for Tennessee. In short, everyone agrees it means something, no one knows quite what. Fine. But here’s the weird part:     State Senator Mark Green, R-Clarksville, was one of the lawmakers who sponsored legislation to require clinics to become surgical centers. He’s also a physician and believes the court got it wrong. “Having taken care of abortions that have gone bad — either women bleeding, women who have retained products and then getting septic — I think this is a bad decision of the Supreme Court.”

Wednesday, June 29

Pat Summitt lauded as one of the greatest Tennesseans ever (Times Free Press) The words leaving Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam‘s lips were as emphatic and powerful as one of Pat Summitt’s piercing stares. “We have lost one of the greatest Tennesseans of all time,” he said in a video message framing the 64-year-old Summitt’s death Tuesday morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s. One of the greatest. One of the most accomplished. One of the most ethical. And, quite possibly, the most beloved.

Obama, Gov. Haslam Pay Tribute To Pat Summitt (WTVF) Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt has died. She was 64. From sports icons to government officials, dozens have expressed their condolences on the passing of legendary Tennessee Women’s Basketball coach, Pat Summitt.

Haslam Orders Flags At Half-Staff For Pat Summitt (WTVF) In honor of Pat Summitt, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has ordered flags at the State Capitol and state office buildings to be flown at half-staff. Governor Haslam gave the order Tuesday afternoon after her death earlier that morning. The flags would remain at half-staff until sunset Thursday.

Montgomery County gets state grant for industrial park (Leaf Chronicle) An anticipated six-figure check from the state for tree removal at the Corporate Business Park is now in the hands of local business recruiters. Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd visited Clarksville on Tuesday morning to present the Industrial Development Board that check for a little more than $212,000. The site development grant was awarded to select communities across Tennessee to prepare economic development sites for market. In May, Gov. Bill Haslam and the ECD announced that 16 communities would receive $5.7 million in site development grants, according to a news release from the local Economic Development Council.

Department of Veterans Services acquires land for new West Tennessee Veterans Home (Commercial Appeal) A long-awaited West Tennessee facility is closer to reality as the State Veterans Home Board will officially announce today the acquisition of an Arlington site for the home. The new 144-bed home will be built on the former state Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Center property. According to state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, Gov. Bill Haslam signed the transfer of approximately 28 acres from the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to the Department of Veteran Services earlier this week.

Vilsack to hold town hall meeting on opioid epidemic (Times News) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a White House Rural Council Town Hall meeting at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on Thursday to discuss the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission Earl Gohl and other key local partners will join Vilsack at the 12:30 p.m. event. The town hall is open to members of the media and invited participants, according to a press release.

Haslam hopes Chattanooga gets VW settlement’s $2 billion for zero-emissions technology (Times Free Press) Gov. Bill Haslam says he has “strong hopes” of seeing Volkswagen’s Chattanooga operation get some of the $2 billion in spending on zero-emissions technology required under the auto manufacturer’s far-reaching settlements with the federal government, car owners and dozens of states. “Part of their agreement is that they will spend $2 billion more on zero-emission vehicles,” the governor told reporters Tuesday in Nashville. “Obviously we would like that to happen in Chattanooga.” But Haslam, who said he spoke with VW officials Tuesday, emphasized “there’s not been a commitment for that to happen.

Volkswagen Will Pay Out Millions To Tennessee Car Owners And Government (WPLN) Thousands of Tennesseans – and the state government – will be reimbursed by Volkswagen. The money is meant to resolve a scandal in which the automaker programmed diesel cars to cheat emissions tests. Overall, the company will spend nearly $15 billion on the largest auto-related class-action settlement in U.S. history. Under the agreement, Volkswagen will buy back or repair roughly half a million vehicles nationwide that were bought or leased in the last eight years. More than 11,000 of those cars come from Tennessee.

Tennessee AG announces multimillion VW settlement (Tennessean) Embattled German auto manufacturer Volkswagen has agreed to pay states $570 million in nationwide penalties, with some of that money coming to Tennessee in conjunction with the ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced the settlement Tuesday morning, reached in accordance with a multistate investigation in the wake of the revelation that VW had fudged some of the emissions technology in its diesel cars during testing. Tennessee’s settlement is part of a larger, $14.7 billion national settlement with the company.

VW to pay Tennessee, Georgia $31 million in fines for deceptive diesel sales (Times Free Press) As part of the $15 billion-plus national settlement over its auto emissions-cheating scandal, Volkswagen will implement a restitution program for Tennesseans who own or lease 11,448 affected VW and Audi models affected, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Tuesday. Tennessee government, meanwhile, will receive $12.59 million as part of the $570 million going to states nationwide, according to Slatery and the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs. That’s for repeated violations of state consumer laws sold or leased in Tennessee by VW, which produces the Passat at its Chattanooga plant.

Campus Gun Carry Registration Begins at U of M (Memphis Flyer) Registration began Tuesday for University of Memphis (U of M) employees to carry concealed handguns on campus and the university president offered new, detailed guidance to employees. State lawmakers passed a law earlier this year that will allow full-time employees of the state’s public universities to carry concealed handgun on campus. The law takes effect Friday. But employees wishing to carry guns on the U of M campus must first register with campus police and the process got underway Tuesday, according to university president David Rudd in a note to school employees.

Motlow readying for Campus Carry law (Tullahoma News) To comply with recent changes in state law that go into effect Friday, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) last week approved a policy on firearms on college campuses within its system. According to the new law, full-time faculty and staff with state-issued licenses will be allowed to carry handguns on Tennessee campuses starting July 1, provided that certain requirements are met. Passed by the state legislature and allowed to become law without Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature, the Campus Carry law does not extend the right to legally carry firearms on college campuses to students.

Domestic Abusers Can Lose Gun Rights, Rules High Court (Governing) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected arguments by two Maine men and upheld a federal law prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns, even if the assault that led to the charge was not intentional. The decision validates a portion of the sweeping federal prohibition, in effect since 1996, that bars felons, fugitives and other groups of people from owning guns, including anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes. In a 6-2 opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, the court answers a question previously left open by the court after it last reviewed the gun control measure: Should someone who acted recklessly, but not intentionally, at the time of a misdemeanor domestic assault be allowed to own a gun?

State awards Chattanooga $127,000 hazardous waste grant (Times Free Press) The city of Chattanooga is getting a $127,000 state grant to help divert household hazardous waste from its landfill. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation today announced that Chattanooga as well as Knoxville, Metro Nashville and Memphis are each getting $127,000 for the operation and/or maintenance of permanent hazardous waste facilities. “These grants will provide an environmentally friendly option for citizens to dispose of household cleaners, pesticides, and other hazardous materials commonly found in homes,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said in a news release.

Health care task force meets with feds (Nashville Post) Public details to be released Thursday. Members of House Speaker Beth Harwell’s “3-Star Healthy Task Force” joined representatives of TennCare to meet with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today in Washington. A press release announcing the meeting states: “We feel that today’s meeting was a significant step forward in achieving the Taskforce’s stated goal of presenting a plan to the legislature that improves access to healthcare and closes the insurance coverage gap,” said Representative Matthew Hill.

Williamson Business PAC endorses Charles Sargent (Tennessean) The Williamson Business political action committee endorsed the re-election of Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, for state House Tuesday. Sargent is the first state House candidate the PAC has endorsed since its endorsement of Williamson County school board candidates earlier this month. Sargent, chairman of the House Finance Ways & Means Committee, was able to secure additional state funding earlier this year for the county’s largest school district, Williamson County Schools, according to a news release. The school district faced cuts in state funding for districts with higher costs of living.

Holt Gives Away AR15s at ‘Hogfest’ (Memphis Flyer) Tennessee Rep. Andy Holt’s controversial Hogfest & Turkey Shoot event on Saturday raised more than $16,000 “and not a single person was injured,” according to a new release issued Tuesday. Holt’s event got national attention as he promised to give away two AR15 rifles. The promise came after a shooter using a similar assault rifle killed 49 in an Orlando night club. Holt said he “stuck to his guns” and gave away the rifles as he promised. Here’s how Holt described the event: “It was an incredible evening. At one point, we had more than 50 people waiting in line to register.

State Democratic party tells Shelby Dems to drop investigation of former chairman (Commercial Appeal) Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini issued an ultimatum Friday to the Shelby County Democratic Party: Forget bringing criminal charges against former chairman Bryan Carson and agree to a settlement with him — or else. At Mancini’s direction, SCDP chairman Michael Pope then signed a $6,000 settlement with Carson, who was accused by the SCDP executive committee in a June 2 resolution of embezzling more than $25,000. Carson said Tuesday he already made his first $100 payment.–3658ba4b-2ea0-36e1-e053-0100007f909e-384727561.html

State Party Head to Local Dems: Settle the Carson Matter! (Memphis Flyer) Mary Mancini cites state law and party bylaws in ordering a $6,000 payback agreement to cover ex-chairman’s funding shortfall. There are, as it turns out, more guaranteed circumstances than the two most often noted: death and taxes. Right up there with those two, in terms of inevitability, is the fact of discord in state and local Democratic Party ranks. The latest instance of such is contained in a letter dispatched to members of the Shelby County Democratic executive committee from state Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini. The letter deals with the long-festering case of former local party chairman Bryan Carson, who was forced to resign by the county committee in February of 2015.

Rep. Jim Cooper wants congressional hearing on pipeline safety (WSMV) A Nashville congressman called a pipeline company that wants to build in Joelton a bully, clueless and an offensive company. Congressman Jim Cooper, D-TN, has asked for a congressional hearing concerning Kinder Morgan, its natural gas pipeline maintenance and its plan to put in a compressor station in Joelton. Cooper wrote a scathing letter to the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking to deny approval for the new compressor. Kinder Morgan, the biggest pipeline company in the world, does not need local or state approval, so it has been an uphill fight for Joelton residents.

MSHA, ETSU continuing with Gray methadone clinic location despite opposition (WJHL) In just over a week, a public meeting will be held on a controversial drug treatment clinic. Mountain States Health Alliance and East Tennessee State University announced plans to open the facility in Gray. After word got out they’d prescribe the drug methadone, a community group formed in opposition of the Gray location, saying it’s too close to schools and neighborhoods.

Nashville’s Change Healthcare merges with tech giant McKesson (Tennessean) A proposed merger between Nashville’s Change Healthcare and a division of tech giant McKesson is targeting a key health care pain point — untangling the complicated world of medical billing and reimbursements. Change, a software and analytics company formerly known as emdeon, will join with most of McKesson Technology Solutions in a new company focused on services and products to help health plans and providers build relationships with consumers.

Tennessee physicians above national average in payments from drug industry (News Sentinel) A small for-profit hospital on the outskirts of Memphis has the highest rate of doctors who took payments from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, out of more than 2,000 hospitals across the nation. Federal disclosures show 59 out of 62 doctors at St. Francis Hospital in Bartlett, Tenn. — or 95 percent — received payments for speaking engagements, meals, gifts, travel, consulting or other interactions with the industry in 2014, the most recent year for which information was available.–384770651.html

Get an early start on Independence Day at Sycamore Shoals (Johnson City Press) Independence Day get off to an early start at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area with the annual Independence on the Frontier observance. The highlight is always the annual re-enactment of the news of the Declaration of Independence being delivered by a courier on horseback. Visitors can witness the great excitement when the courier delivers his news. Visitors can also walk among the historical characters and hear their varied reactions to the separation of America from her mother country.

Knoxville ranked as No. 30 worst city to live in (News Sentinel) Knoxville has just been pegged as the 30th-worst American city to live in by financial news site 24/7 Wall St. Seems harsh. After all, in the past few years other surveys have put Knoxville in the Top 10 for everything from livability and affordability to outdoor adventure and a best city for visitors. Knoxville has also been named Top 10 for Bible-minded people as well as one of the gayest and most patriotic cities (in different surveys, of course).


Frank Cagle: Surely the state can produce a chancellor (News Sentinel) A University of Tennessee dean told me a story once about being in the office of his chancellor and pointing out the window at a major excavation project. When he asked what it was, the chancellor looked out the window and said, “I have no idea.” Turns out it was a project for the university Athletic Department. My point? Quick, name three UT-Knoxville chancellors before Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. OK, I’ll give you Bill Synder; we love to hear him play the Wurlitzer down at the Tennessee Theatre, and some of you may know he used to be chancellor. But after that?

Tuesday, June 28

Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt dies at age 64 (News Sentinel) When Pat Summitt announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, the Tennessee women’s basketball coaching legend pointedly said, “It’s not going to keep me from living my life.” Her public battle with the brain disease ended Tuesday when Summitt died at age 64. She is survived by her son, Tyler. The family released a statement Sunday morning through Ackermann Public Relations saying “the past few days have been difficult” as the disease “progresses.”

Bill Haslam says Brexit vote “will be a negative” (Tennessean) Fresh off the heels of an economic development trip to Ireland that coincided with Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, Gov. Bill Haslam said the decision could have a negative impact on Tennessee. “I’m concerned — I think we have a fairly tenuous international economy, and I think this is one of those things that will be a negative,” Haslam told reporters Monday after making an appearance at the National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville. “Ultimately in Tennessee we’re connected to that same economy, and we hope there’s no eventual repercussions here.”

Nashville Hosts Charter School Convention (WTVF) Educators from all over the country made their way to the Music City for the National Charter School Convention. Governor Bill Haslam addressed the group Monday at the Music City Center. He said he’s a firm believer that there should be many types of educational opportunities for students. Charter schools are public schools operated by independent, non-profit governing bodies that must include parents. In Tennessee, public charter school students are measured against the same academic standards as students in other public schools.

USDA chief Tom Vilsack targets rural opioid problem (Tennessean) The chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will meet with state and local leaders in the Tennessee-Virginia border region this week as federal agencies look for local partners to combat opioid abuse in hard-hit rural areas across the nation. The Thursday town hall in Abingdon, Va., is one in a series aimed at raising awareness and spurring “creative partnerships” to tackle not only the epidemic of opioid abuse — and overdose deaths — in Appalachia, but some of the underlying problems that help fuel drug abuse, Vilsack said. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe are expected to attend Thursday.

Sales tax holiday date moved up (Crossville Chronicle) Tennessee’s sales tax holiday will now be one weekend earlier than it has been in the past, due to a 2016 law change. Starting this year, the sales tax holiday will be held during the last weekend in July, instead of the first weekend in August each year. From July 29 through July 31, Tennessee shoppers can save nearly ten percent on clothing, school supplies and computers, as students prepare for the back-to-school season.  “The sales tax holiday for back-to-school items is earlier this year. We encourage Tennesseans to mark their calendars so they don’t miss this opportunity to save on important items,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

6 Tennessee universities to receive independent governing boards (Education Dive) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the FOCUS Act into law earlier this month, establishing a new governance structure for all four-year colleges and universities outside of the University of Tennessee System. The Focus on College and University Success law establishes governor-appointed independent boards at six schools in the Tennessee Board of Regents System, allowing them autonomy in executive hiring, budget requests and operational guidance. Critics of the FOCUS Act say the split promotes competitive imbalance within the UT System, while supporters say it removes bureaucratic “red tape” from the governance process.

Weeks after son’s death, wife of governor’s chief of staff dies (Tennessean) Only a few weeks after the death of his son, the chief of staff to Gov. Bill Haslam is mourning the death of his wife. Jim Henry confirmed Monday that his wife, Pat, died. Public records indicate Mrs. Henry was 70 years old. “Deputy Governor Jim Henry lost his wife of 48 years, Pat Henry, to cancer this morning. Pat was selfless. She spent her life devoted to her family and others and will be sorely missed. Crissy and I are praying for Jim, the Henry family and their many, many friends across the state,” Haslam said in a statement Monday morning.

State launches new child care payment assistance program (Covington Leader) The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) recently announced the launch of a new child care payment assistance program called Smart Steps, which is designed to address the needs of parents who are working or pursuing post-secondary educational goals leading to self-sufficiency. “We are very excited to launch Smart Steps child care payment assistance for parents working or pursuing educational goals in Tennessee,” DHS Commissioner Dr. Raquel Hatter said. “This new category of child care assistance is in alignment with the department’s 2G for Tennessee initiative and Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55.”

State health department gets new legislative affairs chief (Nashville Post) Legislative liaison joined agency in 2011. The Tennessee Department of Health has promoted legislative liaison Jeremy Davis to the role of assistant commissioner for legislative affairs. Davis is filling the spot left open by the promotion last month of Valerie Nagoshiner to chief of staff. He joined the Department of Health in 2011 after working as executive assistant for policy and research for Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris. He will now direct its legislative efforts and initiatives as well as work with legislators on public health-related issues and departmental legislative proposals.

Molten aluminum spills on Hwy. 243 in Maury County; Road closed (WKRN) Highway 243 in Maury County is closed Monday night after molten aluminum spilled. It happened at the intersection of Highway 43 in Mt. Pleasant just after 8 p.m. News 2 has learned a truck was leaving the smelting plant when it overturned. Highway 243 is expected to remain closed through the night. Since the aluminum is hot, officials said the roadway will likely be damaged. TDOT spokeswoman Kathryn Schulte said crews will begin repaving the road Tuesday morning.

Obion County man charged with TennCare drug fraud (State Gazette) An Obion County man is charged with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain controlled substances. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Union City Police Department and the Obion County Sheriff’s Office, announced Monday the arrest of Jerry Glen Yates, 52, of Hornbeak. He is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping for the painkiller Oxycodone, with the clinical visits or the prescriptions being paid for by TennCare.

Obion Co. man charged with TennCare fraud by doctor shopping (WBBJ) An Obion County man is facing TennCare fraud charges on accusations of doctor shopping for prescription drugs. Jerry Glen Yates, 52, of Hornbeak is charged with fraudulently using TennCare to obtain the painkiller Oxycodone with the clinical visits or the drugs being paid for by TennCare, according to a release from the Office of Inspector General. TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, according to the release.

Marion County authorities bust 33 on drug charges (Times Free Press) Marion Co., Tenn., authorities recently booked almost three dozen people on charges of sale and delivery of a controlled substance stemming from a six-month, countywide investigation and undercover operation. The drugs involved included methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, Opana, morphine and hydrocodone, according to Marion County Sheriff Ronnie “Bo” Burnett.All 33 of the people arrested were charged with sale and delivery of a controlled substance, Burnett said. Eight of the 33 also were charged with TennCare fraud, the sheriff said.

SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Could Affect Tenn. Laws (AP) The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Texas abortion restrictions could affect the outcome of a federal court challenge to two Tennessee laws. On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down Texas laws requiring abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards and requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Similar laws in Tennessee are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. According to court records, the admitting privileges requirement became law in 2012 and resulted in the closure of two of Tennessee’s eight clinics providing surgical abortions.

Abortion Opponents And Advocates Agree Tennessee Laws In Jeopardy After Texas Ruling (WPLN) The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down two abortion restrictions in Texas will likely have major ramifications for similar regulations in Tennessee, both sides in the debate said Monday. Opponents of abortion in Tennessee say the court’s 5-3 decision represents a major setback for their cause and will probably mean taking a new approach to regulating abortions in the state. Abortion rights supporters add that Tennessee may have a harder time now defending its own restrictions, which are being challenged in a federal court in Nashville.

Supreme Court decision on Texas abortions felt in Tennessee (Tennessean) In a ruling that could have direct implications for Tennessee abortion restrictions, the Supreme Court has struck down Texas’ widely replicated regulation of abortion clinics in the court’s biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter-century. The justices voted 5-3 Monday in favor of Texas clinics that protested the regulations as a thinly veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get an abortion in the nation’s second-most populous state. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion.

Abortion ruling could have ramifications in Tennessee (WSMV) A historic Supreme Court ruling on abortion in Texas could have a big impact in Tennessee. The high court found Texas’ restrictions on abortion clinics were unconstitutional, and those laws look a lot like Tennessee’s. The law in Texas required doctors performing abortions to have privileges at nearby hospitals. It also forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. “I was really disappointed in the Supreme Court when I heard about this,” said Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. Lynn said she has been fighting for years for common sense abortion laws in Tennessee.

High court’s ruling on Texas abortion law highlights divide among Tennesseans (Times Free Press) Tennessee-based abortion rights supporters hailed Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Texas clinic restrictions, saying they believe it will lead to similar limitations here being thrown out in a pending lawsuit. Rebecca Terrell, executive director of Memphis-based CHOICES, which is an abortion provider and has sued Tennessee over its 2012 and 2015 restrictions, said clinic officials are “gratified that the Supreme Court has recognized that these clinic shut-down laws violate women’s fundamental rights.”

5 States Where the Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling Could Spur More Lawsuits (Governing) Handing reproductive rights advocates a major win that will have impacts beyond Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 on Monday to overturn a controversial abortion law in that state. Tennessee’s abortion laws, which are similar to those struck down in Texas, are already being challenged in federal court. In 2012, it became one of the five states that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital. Two years later, the state passed a law requiring clinics performing more than 50 abortions a year to meet surgical center standards.

Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges (New York Times) From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Admitting-privilege requirements that are now in effect in Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee may also come under new challenge. Five other states, besides Texas, impose some form of surgery-center standards on clinics performing abortions in the first trimester. The effect of the new ruling may have to be considered state by state, legal experts said.

Judge Joe Brown Suspended (Memphis Flyer) Former television judge Joe Brown’s law license has been suspended until state officials clear him of a disability. The Tennessee Supreme Court Board of Professional Responsibility, which oversees attorneys in the state, put Brown’s license on “disability inactive status” late last week. The board did not elaborate on the nature of Brown’s disability. “He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law,” read a statement from the board.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey appoints Sen. Todd Gardenhire to higher education task force (Times Free Press) Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, on Monday appointed state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, to the Tennessee Higher Education Task Force. The task force was created under a new law sponsored by Gardenhire this year to study the statutory tuition discount and waiver programs offered at public institutions of higher education. “It is an honor to be selected to serve on this task force,” said Gardenhire. “The continued progress of higher education in this state is a high priority. I am grateful for the opportunity to help students while ensuring our higher education institutions are fiscally responsible.”

Lawmakers head to DC to present health care plan to feds (Tennessean) A small group of lawmakers will head to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to meet with federal regulators as part of an effort to work toward improving access to health care coverage for uninsured Tennesseans. The group will meet with officials from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and present a plan that will include creating a two-phased approach that will focus on finding ways to address the needs of uninsured veterans and those struggling with behavioral health issues, Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, told The Tennessean Monday. Gov. Bill Haslam, who was present when the task force was formed in April, said the extent of his knowledge of the group’s progress has been what has gone on during the public discussions and meetings that have taken place since the group formed.

Tennessee lawmakers launch ‘Blue Lives Matter’ effort (Commercial Appeal) Six Republican state lawmakers launched an effort Monday called “Blue Lives Matter” to increase penalties for assaulting, killing and attempting to kill law enforcement officers in Tennessee. The legislators will file three separate bills for consideration in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January. In an unusual move, the lawmakers created a website,, and a Facebook page, Tennessee Blue Lives Matter, to build support for their effort, which could face obstacles due to increased incarceration costs and possible philosophical differences over separating officers from other citizens. A bill to increase penalties for assaulting officers was filed three years ago but failed.

Lawmakers announce new bills aimed at keeping officers safe (WSMV) Republican lawmakers met at Legislative Plaza Monday to announce a package of proposed bills aimed at keeping law enforcement officers safe. The bills would increase the penalties for offenders convicted of assaults on officers. “The men and women of law enforcement have come under attack in this country and it’s time we, the lawmakers, take their back,” said Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville. The 2016 session is over, so the three proposed measures won’t come up until next year. Green said the timing of Monday’s announcement was intentional.

Chattanooga legislators introduce ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill (Times Free Press) State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Sen. Todd Gardenhire joined with four fellow GOP lawmakers on Monday to announce they will push a three-bill package of “Blue Lives Matter” measures they say is aimed at boosting protections for Tennessee law enforcement. “Almost exactly a year ago we had an incident in Chattanooga where a terrorist actually attacked a couple of military installations,” said McCormick at a Legislative Plaza news conference.

“Make America White Again” campaign causing controversy (WBIR) Congressional candidate Rick Tyler said in a press conference Monday he will use public space to put up more signs after billboard companies removed his “Make America White Again” sign. Tyler said one future sign will be a cross saying “rest in peace first amendment.” Some people have called his sign racist, but the congressional candidate said he’s taking his political campaign seriously. “I could win this race with as little as 34 percent of the vote in a three-man race,” Tyler said. He said he is in favor of voluntary segregation, strict immigration laws and strong support for the second amendment.

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson joins the PAC pack (News Sentinel) Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson has become the latest state legislator to set up his own political action committee, naming the new entity BowPAC and declaring it will help provide the “fuel of funding” for future Republican political successes in Tennessee. About 30 of Tennessee’s 132 legislators — most of them Republicans — now have their own PACs, kept separate from their re-election campaign accounts, in accord with a trend that has slowly grown since Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey set up RAAMPAC in 2003.

Hawkins IDB asks Hicks to help get Rt. 66 widening project out of limbo (Times News) Hawkins County received funding boosts for education, roads and law enforcement in the new state budget, according to a report given to the Industrial Development Board Thursday by Rep. Gary Hicks. IDB chairman Larry Elkins reminded Hicks, however that the board’s top priority from the state has been the long-delayed Rt. 66 widening project between 11-W in Rogersville and 11-E in Bulls Gap. Hicks (R-Rogersville) attended Thursday’s monthly IDB meeting where he provided the board with information about how this year’s state budget affect Hawkins County.

Dean: Cities Need Transit Solutions for Growth (Memphis Daily News) During a busy day in Memphis last week, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean stopped at City Hall to talk with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland about a long-range city plan Strickland announced the following day.The still-forming plan represents a move by Strickland to go beyond the “brilliant at the basics” strategy he’s put in place during his first six months in office. Dean was among the featured speakers at the Mid-South Greenprint Summit last week and he is considering a run for Tennessee governor in 2018.

Majority of letters, emails to state raise concerns about hospital merger (WJHL) More than 80% of all written public comments submitted to the Tennessee Department of Health since February raise concerns about the proposed Mountain States Health Alliance-Wellmont Health System merger. At our request, the state agency provided us with all documented public comments received after the two health systems formally filed their application. The dozens of emails and letters (roughly half of them anonymous) either completely oppose the merger or at the least, raise red flags. Helen Wright of Johnson City actually signed her name. The 66-year-old retired teacher has sent two emails in recent months.

Memphis’ economic outlook and feelings about it finally align (Memphis Business Journal) As other surveys have shown, West Tennessee consumers have a gloomier outlook than others across the region. But, a new release from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that the Mid-South’s feelings are finally catching up with the good economic news. In its most-recent Burgundy Book, the Fed points to growing optimism across the district. The unemployment rate for the Memphis MSA fell in the first quarter and has continued to fall. and the Fed’s business contacts said they expect more growth in employment this year.

County energy saving project begins today (Herald-Citizen) A $291,000 grant project is expected to save thousands of dollars for the county. It involves the replacement of thousands of light bulbs at several county buildings, and it began this morning. Putnam County was awarded the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation last year for its energy savings project. The 2,450 LED energy efficient light bulbs recently arrived. The three-person team working on the light bulb replacement project began at dawn today at the Putnam County Agriculture Extension Office. The old fluorescent bulbs will be recycled at the county transfer station.,15998

New Sequatchie County ‘arboretum trail’ showcases local, foreign tree life (Times Free Press) Carol and Johnny Kimmons wanted an arboretum, but it was going to be costly to have an officially recognized tree garden on their 300-plus-acre oasis known as the Sequatchie Valley Institute. So instead they innovated, like they have since they began living off this beautiful tract of Sequatchie County land in 1971 and created an arboretum trail. The new half-mile jaunt through a wooded hillside is marked by 100-plus stakes engraved at their tops with a combination of letters and numbers.

Franklin ranked 3rd best city in the U.S. for retirement (Tennessean) The well-known consumer finance website has ranked Franklin as the third best city in the country to retire. The website ranked the Williamson County city just after after Arlington and Alexandria, VA. “We found that smaller cities and suburbs fared the best,” said analyst Jill Cornfield in a news release. “Most seniors prefer to live in these types of communities because they offer access to big-city amenities without as much hustle, bustle and crime.”

Pastors Praise Anti-Gay Massacre in Orlando, Prompting Outrage (New York Times) After the massacre in Orlando, Fla., American religious leaders spoke in a largely unified voice, condemning the killer and mourning the dead. But at some extreme conservative Christian churches, there was another message: good riddance. In the weeks since 49 people were slaughtered at a gay nightclub, remarks by pastors celebrating the deaths have brought attention to several outposts of anti-gay hostility across the country that until now had been operating mostly under the radar. Rebecca Barrett-Fox, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at Arkansas State University who has researched Christian extremists, said she had tracked about five churches — in California, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee — where preachers had endorsed the killings in Orlando.


David Plazas: Domestic abusers are too dangerous to own guns (Tennessean) The Supreme Court upheld a federal law that denies Second Amendment rights to people convicted of domestic violence crimes. U.S. Supreme Court justices sent a powerful message Monday by ruling that domestic violence is such a serious crime that a perpetrator’s fundamental Second Amendment rights are at stake. In a 6-2 vote, justices agreed to uphold a federal law that denies a person’s right to bear arms if they are convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. This is a powerful indictment of a crime that is still pervasive in communities across the country.

Column: Bob Corker and Donald Trump: A Continuing Love Story (Nashville Scene) Bob Corker’s relationship with the candidacy of Donald J. Trump has had its ups and downs. In December, after Trump first called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Corker joined other Republican leaders — most of whom hadn’t yet become even Trump-curious — in rejecting the proposal as un-American. In February he was still holding out as the Tennessee primary approached. But by early May he’d come around, praising a foreign policy speech by Trump and saying that he’d be advising the candidate on foreign policy issues going forward. Later that month he’d make the pilgrimage to Trump Tower in Manhattan as veep buzz swirled.

Editorial: Marriage ruling logic should apply to child custody (News Sentinel) One year after the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry, the Tennessee judicial system is struggling to keep up. A Knoxville couple’s divorce is on hold pending an appeal of a judge’s ruling that the language in Tennessee custody laws cannot be interpreted to accommodate same-sex couples. When the case gets to the Court of Appeals, the judges should take up the matter and apply the logic of the Supreme Court ruling to come to the opposite conclusion.

Monday, June 27

Could Tennessee join fight to collect sales taxes from internet retailers? (Times Free Press) Gov. Bill Haslam wants Tennessee to join a growing group of states seeking to force either Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit rulings preventing collection of sales taxes from out-of-state online retailers. State Department of Revenue officials will hold a rulemaking hearing in August on a proposed rule that administration officials hope will tear down that barrier and let the tax dollars roll in. The rule would require out-of-state online companies with more than $500,000 a year in Tennessee sales to collect and remit sales taxes to the state starting July 1, 2017.

Pick Tennessee app allows users to support local food options (News Sentinel) A new mobile application allows hungry Tennesseans to satisfy their appetites while supporting local farmers and restaurateurs. Users of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee app can search for restaurants committed to serving locally-sourced ingredients and follow GPS maps to their locations. The app is a product of the new Pick Tennessee Farm and Restaurant Alliance, an organization that aims to connect farmers and chefs to put more local food options on restaurant menus. The alliance hopes the arrangement will simultaneously appease customers, increase farm incomes and support the state’s growing local foods movement.

Forrest Hall To Be Changed To ROTC Building (WTVF) The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the plan to change Forrest Hall back to the ROTC Building. Yet, Tennessee Historical Commission still needed to grant a waiver before the name change may take place. Forrest Hall, which houses the university’s ROTC program, was named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and early KKK leader. A panel was created to offer a recommendation about what MTSU should do about the name and the outcries from students to change it.

What’s Next For MTSU’s Forrest Hall? A Lengthy Final Approval Process To Change Its Name (WPLN) It could still be more than half a year before MTSU takes down the name of a controversial Confederate general on its ROTC Building. As of Friday, the school has approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to change the name of Forrest Hall, but one state agency has to sign off before it’s final. At the heart of this long process is a debate over the legacy of Nathan Bedford Forrest — whether he should be remembered as a Civil War hero or a racist crusader. MTSU president Sidney McPhee told the board of regents that he heard heated opinions on both sides during public forums.

New UT Diversity Adviser Will Act As Liaison With Disgruntled Lawmakers (WPLN) The head of the University of Tennessee system has appointed an adviser to focus on increasing diversity across UT campuses. This new appointment comes after a grueling legislative session, when state lawmakers grilled UT administrators at multiple hearings about how state money was being used. The Knoxville campus’s diversity office had issued statements about gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive holiday parties that sparked controversy, and the legislature ultimately voted to defund the diversity office for this upcoming academic year.

UT chancellor’s post could prove popular with job-seekers (News Sentinel) In early 2017, the University of Tennessee will still be booming with construction and working toward its Top 25 goal. The end of a one-year defunding of the campus’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion will be a few months away. The next legislative session will be ending. A decision from the chancellor about whether to outsource building maintenance and management will be looming. In the distance will be the May 2018 trial set for a federal Title IX lawsuit. Football season will have come and gone. And a new leader of the flagship campus will have moved into Andy Holt Tower.

Coaching legend Pat Summitt ‘surrounded by those who mean the most to her’ (News Sentinel) Pat Summitt’s family, friends and former players have convened in Knoxville over concerns about the former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach’s health. A multitude of others have done the same across the country, rallying on social media around the hashtag #PrayforPat for the winningest coach in the history of men’s and women’s Division I basketball. Summitt’s family released a statement late Sunday morning regarding her condition, acknowledging “the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s Type progresses.”

Pat Summitt family: ‘Past few days have been difficult’ (USA Today) Pat Summitt’s family, friends and former players have convened in Knoxville over concerns about the former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach’s health. A multitude of others have done the same across the country, rallying on social media around the hashtag #PrayforPat for the winningest coach in the history of men’s and women’s Division I basketball. Summitt’s family released a statement late Sunday morning regarding her condition, acknowledging “the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s Type progresses.”

University of Memphis Set for Another Tuition Increase (Memphis Flyer) University of Memphis students will face another tuition increase, though it falls far below the average eight percent rise they felt over the last 15 years. “The University of Memphis remains committed to maintaining affordability and accessibility for our students,” said President David Rudd in a statement. “We are able to keep tuition and fee increases low due to cost-saving initiatives and efficiency measures. Our goal is to provide a quality education in an environment that promotes and provides for student access.” Undergraduate, graduate, and law students will pay 2.3 percent more in tuition.

Tennessee posts marina, dock inspections online (WATE) The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is now posting results of its public marina and dock inspection program online. The program was created as part of a law passed in 2014 known as the Noah Dean and Nate Act, named after Noah Dean Winstead, 10, and Nate Lynam, 11, who died on July 4, 2012, after being electrocuted while swimming at the Cherokee Lake marina. The act requires all public marinas and docks to be inspected and operators must comply with equipment requirements preventing possible electrical shocks and electrocution. Violations can lead to fines of anywhere from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on if they led to injury or death.

Nashville Metro police prepare for campus carry law (Tennessean) Metro police have started working with employees at Nashville State Community College and the city’s technical college who want to carry guns on campus when a new state law goes into effect. The law will allow any full-time employee at a state college to carry a concealed handgun starting July 1 as long as they have the necessary permit. But, first, they will have to register with campus police. At colleges without their own police departments, like Nashville State and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville, local law enforcement will have to keep track of employees who want to carry guns on campus. Metro police started accepting registration paperwork for those locations on Friday.

ETSU website outlines guns on campus policy ahead of July 1 launch date (WJHL) In one week, full-time employees at colleges and universities in Tennessee will be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The governing body for several of Tennessee’s colleges and universities discussed and approved the policy Friday. This comes in response to a new law passed without Governor Bill Haslam’s signature last month. At ETSU July 1 is a date officials have been preparing for, for months now. Dean of Students at ETSU, Jeff Howard, said in order to help people navigate what the new law means for the campus, they have launched a website.“The law allows full time faculty and staff, who are holders of a carry permit, to carry in certain locations on campus,” Howard said.

Gay marriage, one year later: Tennessee still divided over same-sex unions (Times Free Press) In the year since the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide, the Technicolor wedding bells haven’t stopped ringing — and the debate has kept raging. Approximately 120,000 same-sex couples have said “I do” since the ruling came down, according to a recent Gallup poll. Out of that number, 141 were wed here in Hamilton County. Susie Holloway, a business manager in the county clerk’s office, said her office has been keeping track of gay marriages in the county since the ruling.

East Tennessee plaintiffs, others say equality fight not over after same-sex marriage ruling (News Sentinel) No one recognizes Valeria Tanco anymore. No one recognizes her wife, either. A year after the Knoxville couple won a landmark case at the U.S. Supreme Court, when the justices ruled 5-4 that Tennessee and every other state must respect their marriage, the veterinarians now live in coastal South Carolina. Last month, they returned for graduation at the University of Tennessee, and a woman approached them. Her sister had told her about the couple’s role in the case that legalized gay marriage across the country, and she wanted to thank them. “My eyes filled up with tears,” Tanco recalled recently. “We’d moved away and we’re not in the public eye, and we’re not at UT anymore. That brought me back. “We were part of it. We were a big part of it, and my name is on that case.”

Lawyers pay forward slice of $2M same-sex marriage win (Tennessean) The state of Tennessee has paid more than $2 million to the lawyers for the Tennessee couples who helped defeat same-sex marriage bans in the landmark case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court one year ago Sunday. It is the largest award Tennessee has paid in a civil rights case since at least 2000, according to state financial information. And the lawyers are paying it forward: Ropes & Gray, a Washington, D.C., law firm that worked on Tennessee’s portion of the case on Friday announced it would donate $100,000 of its awarded fees to the National Center for Lesbian Rights in honor of the anniversary. NCLR, based in California, provided legal services and became a crucial part of Tennessee’s case.

Parenting rights in same-sex divorces headed to a Tennessee appellate court (News Sentinel) If Erica Witt were a man, she would have just as much right to a daughter conceived via artificial insemination as her spouse. But in the first ruling of its kind in Tennessee, a Knox County judge on Friday opined that because she is a woman who legally married a woman, state law does not confer to her the power of decision-making over the child or the obligation to provide financial support for the girl now that the same-sex couple is divorcing. “I believe this is a situation where (Erica Witt) has no biological relationship with this child, has no contractual relationship with this child,” 4th Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan ruled.–384279061.html

82 new laws to take effect in Tennessee July 1 (WKRN) Eighty-two new laws will go into effect in Tennessee on July 1. A number of them will impact the safety of Tennesseans, including a law that will require people convicted of human trafficking for prostitution to register as a sex offender. Also, anyone convicted of taking unlawful pictures for sexual gratification will be added to the sex offender registry. The new laws will also impact veterans. Starting Friday, they can get a handgun carry permit without taking the required class. This will include active duty, honorable discharged, or retired members of the US Armed Forces.

Tenn. Black Caucus schedules Memphis meeting on criminal justice reform (Commercial Appeal) The state legislature’s Black Caucus will hold a public forum in Memphis on July 10 to discuss criminal justice reform issues. The caucus won legislative approval this year of seven bills aimed at reforming criminal justice laws, including one making it easier to have a criminal record expunged in cases of mistaken identity and another preventing the state from asking a job applicant about a criminal history early in the interview process. The Memphis forum is set for 3 to 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church-Broad, 2835 Broad Ave. The caucus held a similar forum in Nashville June 12 that attracted about 100 people.

State Sen. Bo Watson sets up own PAC to provide funding ‘fuel’ (News Sentinel) Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson has become the latest state legislator to set up his own political action committee, naming the new entity BowPAC and declaring it will help provide the “fuel of funding” for future Republican political successes in Tennessee. About 30 of Tennessee’s 132 legislators — most of them Republicans — now have their own PACs, kept separate from their re-election campaign accounts, in accord with a trend that has slowly grown since Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey set up RAAMPAC in 2003. The Legislature’s senior member, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, finally joined the PAC trend late last year by creating McPAC.

Challenger to Sen. Overbey among those supported by anti-annexation PAC (News Sentinel)  Citizens for Home Rule PAC, created last year to help candidates favoring restrictions on city government annexation, is supporting four incumbent Republican legislators in the August primary election, along with one challenger and a candidate in the state Senate seat being vacated by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The PAC sent a news release to media last week announcing its endorsement of Scott Williams of Maryville, who is opposing Sen. Doug Overbey’s bid for re-election to a new term in the state’s 2nd Senate District, which includes Blount and Sevier counties.

East and West Tenn. legislative races showing signs of controversy (News Sentinel) Campaign signs have come in for some controversy in at least two ongoing legislative campaigns at opposite ends of the state. Cynthia Bundren Jackson, opposing Rep. Gary Hicks of Rogersville in the 9th House District Republican primary, is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for vandalizing her campaign signs and strewing them along the road and into a stream near Surgoinsville in Hawkins County, according to the Rogersville Review. Jackson said she would pay a similar reward for anyone convicted of destroying signs put up by Hicks. The district includes Hawkins and Hancock counties.

Rep. DesJarlais slams challenger Starrett as ‘trust fund millionaire’ (Times Free Press) Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District Republican primary is firing up yet again, with incumbent Rep. Scott DesJarlais slamming challenger Grant Starrett as a young West Coast “trust fund millionaire” trying to “buy his way into Congress.” The DesJarlais mailer, the first publicly funded piece by the three-term South Pittsburg physician in the Aug. 4 primary campaign, labels Starrett as “Mr. California.” “Grant Starrett should be running for Congress in California, not Tennessee,” the mailer says. It further charges Starrett, 28, with “moving to Tennessee to buy his way into Congress,” that he “only moved into our district a year ago” and he “doesn’t represent us or our small town values.”

Corker likens Trump voters to Brexit backers (Politico) Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday he believes the rejection of the United Kingdom’s establishment leaders in the Brexit vote reflects a similar sentiment in the United States, one that has boosted Donald Trump’s candidacy. “Almost the entire establishment in the UK was in the ‘remain’ camp. Look, there’s something in our society, it’s happening in Western societies, where there’s tremendous anxiety over economic stagnation, the whole issue of refugees and immigration that’s changing the context of countries and then this faceless bureaucracy that’s not really responding to people,” said Corker, considered a possible Trump veep pick, on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Corker praises Trump’s Brexit comments (Tennessean) With less than a month until presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to name his running mate, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker praised the billionaire’s recent comments about Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union. In a Sunday morning interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Corker said he thought Trump’s Friday press conference after the Brexit vote was “one of his best events.” Corker’s remarks came in response to a clip Tapper played of Trump discussing the declining value of the British pound. “If the pound goes down, they’re going to do more business,” Trump told reporters last week while in Scotland. “You know when the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly.”

Forum set for July about proposed Mountain States/ETSU addiction clinic (Johnson City Press) Residents will have a chance to question Mountain States Health Alliance and East Tennessee State University leaders July 7 about the addiction treatment facility proposed for Gray. The “neighborhood information meeting” will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in the Farm and Home building. Mountain States and ETSU are seeking local rezoning and a certificate of need from the state of Tennessee for the non-profit clinic at 203 Gray Commons Circle in Gray as part of the ETSU Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment.

EPA says Shelby County’s air meets smog standards, removing obstacle to attracting industry (Commercial Appeal) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared Shelby County in compliance with federal smog standards, handing local officials a potent selling point in their efforts to recruit industry. In a decision published this week in the Federal Register, EPA said it is redesignating the county from nonattainment, or noncompliance, to attainment with 2008 eight-hour standard for ozone pollution. The decision takes effect July 25. Ozone is a lung-scarring component of smog that’s created when emissions from power plants, motor vehicles and other sources react in the presence of sunlight.

When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers (New York Times) Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have increasingly taken over public services like emergency care and firefighting, often with dire effects. A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break. Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs. A man in the suburban South watched a chimney fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he did not pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered.

Soak Creek named Tennessee’s first scenic river in 15 years (Crossville Chronicle) Soak Creek, a tributary of the Piney River in East Tennessee, has been named Tennessee’s newest Scenic River – the first designation since 2001.  After unanimous bipartisan approval by the State House and Senate, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation adding Soak Creek to the list of 15 state waterways designated as Scenic Rivers. Winding through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea Counties, a specific segment of Soak Creek – from its junction with Georgia Branch near Stinging Falls State Natural Area to its intersection with the Piney River near Piney Falls State Natural Area – received the designation. “This scenic river designation will preserve and protect the pristine ecology and waters of Soak Creek,” said Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill.

Riverkeeper group sues 3M, city and others seeking river cleanup (Decatur Daily) A nonprofit environmental organization has filed a federal lawsuit against two local companies, along with three governmental entities, over the dumping of chemicals. Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. filed the suit against 3M, BFI Waste Systems, the city of Decatur, Decatur Utilities and Morgan County because of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) being dumped in the Tennessee River and landfills, according to the lawsuit.

Environmentalists sue 3M, Decatur & Morgan County to, “Take that river back.”(WHNT) Yet another lawsuit is filed over the PFOA and PFOS contamination in the Tennessee River. This time it’s the environmental group Tennessee Riverkeeper suing the City of Decatur and Decatur Utilities, Morgan County, 3M and a host of others. Unlike other lawsuits thus far, this one is not seeking money. This lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court under the Resource Conservation And Recovery Act, and is intended to stop the pollution of the Tennessee River. “Tennessee Riverkeeper is working with a team of experts who believe that 3M has not done enough to remediate their pollution and that a lot more can be done to remediate this pollution in the efforts of making it safer for the people of North Alabama,” says David Whiteside, spokesperson for Tennessee Riverkeeper.

Group sues 3M over Tennessee River substances (News Courier) A Tennessee nonprofit environmental group has filed a lawsuit against 3M Company and others for allegedly contaminating the Tennessee River near Decatur with toxic chemicals. The group — Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. — is not seeking money but, rather, immediate and thorough cleanup of the contaminants, David Whiteside, founder and executive director of the nonprofit, said in a press release issued Friday. Riverkeeper filed the federal lawsuit against 3M under the United States Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It alleges the defendants’ contamination of the river with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and related chemicals has created an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment.”

Pigeon Forge receives Municipal League Award (Mountain Press) When it was time for a new wastewater treatment plant, officials with the city of Pigeon Forge looked into new, innovative and environmentally-friendly ways to manage water and wastewater for the city’s often fluctuating population. The result was a state-of-the-art facility that adopted water and wastewater treatment methods and equipment new to the region and the state.

Montgomery County Landfill Myths and Facts (Clarksville Online) As Bi-County Solid Waste Management works to get additional landfill airspace permitted, it seems like a good time to educate the community on its operations. Bi-County landfill is currently undergoing some challenges with permitted air space. Since people are paying attention to what is happening with the landfill we thought we would take this opportunity to share Facts with the public. We will do this with our Myth and Fact starting out with rumors and clarifying it with a Fact.

Clarksville Gas and Water releases Clarksville Annual Drinking Water Quality Report (Clarksville Online) Clarksville Gas and Water has released its latest Annual Drinking Water Quality Report and is proud to announce that your drinking water is safe and meets or exceeds all federal and state drinking water standards! The report, also known as the “Consumer Confidence Report” (CCR), allows water consumers to see the results of the mandated testing that the Clarksville water system has performed to monitor water quality and to prevent health risks over the last calendar year, January 1st, 2015 to December 31st, 2015.


Tom Humphrey: Harwell performs balancing act on two issue fronts (News Sentinel) The political weather has become uncomfortably hot and humid for House Speaker Beth Harwell this summer with criticism of her acrobatic performances on the Insure Tennessee issue and the Rep. Jeremy Durham affair. The heat comes from both ends of the political spectrum. You can currently find some folks speculating that Harwell’s balancing acts in these two awkward situations not only jeopardize her tentative plans to run for governor in 2018, but could also threaten her re-election as speaker in January and maybe even re-election to her House seat this fall.

Editorial: Should professors be packing on campus? (Johnson City Press) A new law is in place to allow professors and full-time staffers at public colleges and universities, who have been issued a concealed handgun permit from the state, to carry their guns on campus. The law went into effect last month without Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature. The Republican governor said he disagreed with the law for not allowing colleges and universities “to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus.” The Associated Press reported that the governor acknowledged in a statement that the final version of the measure does address concerns raised by college administrators during the legislative process by including provisions protecting schools from liability and a requirement to notify law enforcement about who is armed on campus.

Georgiana Vines: UT trustees dine with Knox legislative delegation (News Sentinel) Six legislators and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett dined with the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees at Cherokee Country Club on Wednesday night at what is being called a strictly social event that was not on the trustees’ public agenda. Gina Stafford, UT communications director, said trustees frequently have luncheons with local legislative delegations where presentations are made. Those are public at various campuses when the board meets, she said. Dinners have never been public, she said.

TN Rep. Harry Brooks: Education funding, achievement improve in Tennessee (Tennessean) George Washington Carver, a pioneering botanist and inventor who was born a slave, said, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” Carver was keenly aware of the opportunities available after receiving a formal education. Education has always been a centerpiece of our household. My wife and my father both retired after long careers as public school teachers. I also taught school at one time.

Columnist: Alexander leads on technology for renewable energy (News Sentinel) The U.S. Senate’s recent passage of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill was a momentous accomplishment for Washington. In addition to funding infrastructure development and renewable energy research, it also sought to ensure responsible cost savings for taxpayers and set America on a course to modernize our energy infrastructure and strengthen our national security. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, deserves to be applauded for not only serving as the lead author of the bill, but also for seeking to build bipartisan consensus for renewable energy during each step of the legislative process.

Pam Sohn: Climate change is a reality (Times Free Press) It isn’t just our world’s political landscape that is heating up. May 2016 marked the warmest May on record for our ever-shrinking globe. Further, May 2016 was the 13th consecutive warmest month on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. What’s more, May was just the latest consecutive month of record heat in a year that’s already on track to become the next hottest year on record — in a string of the 19 hottest years on record that have all occurred in the past 20 years.

Sam Venable: Tyler lives in a racist dreamland (News Sentinel) Whatever Rick Tyler is smoking, it certainly has fogged his memory. Tyler is a Polk Countian running for the U.S. House as an Independent. He posted a billboard near Benton, Tenn., proclaiming “Make America White Again.” I can’t speak for the guy, but I suspect he was trying to coattail the “Make America Great Again” of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Unfortunately for Tyler, the gambit failed. Public furor grew so intense, his sign was quickly removed. Message to Tyler: You’re in the wrong league, way over your head. Only The Donald can generate “uuuge” ratings by deftly playing the race card.

Justin Wilson: Leadership reflected in top bond rating (News Sentinel) Something momentous occurred late last month. It was a little-noticed achievement that’s likely to have a far-reaching impact. It happened on May 26 at 2:36 p.m. EDT. S&P Global Ratings issued a press release announcing something that Tennessee and its leaders have worked years to accomplish. For only the second time in the state’s history, Tennessee’s bond rating became triple, triple-A. Bond ratings are similar to school grades. Everybody wants to be an “A” student, but only a few can claim the distinction. Rating services such as S&P, Fitch and Moody’s assign bond ratings, or grades, after carefully analyzing a state’s financial strength.

Editorial: The Bitter Taste of Tennessee Liquor Laws (Memphis Daily News) Something about spirits consistently causes Tennessee legislators to create arcane, byzantine laws. Maybe it’s something in the wine. Or perhaps lawmakers have just been nursing legislative hangovers in recent years from debating health insurance rules or deciding who can use the bathroom where. Arcane alcohol laws aren’t exactly new around here – after all, Tennessee passed the nation’s first prohibition law back in 1838 – but they continue to pop up in the present, like with the wine-in-supermarkets law that goes into effect July 1. Want to sell wine? Well, you can’t during certain hours on Sunday.

David Plazas: Opioid epidemic forum: Lessons learned and next step (Tennessean) The opioid epidemic forum The Tennessean recently hosted led to the conclusions that more conversations such as these are needed, that future discussions need to home in on treatment options and that action on resolving the problem must be swifter. Experts in the audience revealed that Tennessee does not provide money for treatment and that the waiting list for those seeking treatment is in the hundreds of thousands. There was also a demand for insurers to cover more types of treatment, besides pain pills, and for a longer period of time because treatment is costly and most people cannot afford it.

Friday, June 24

Unlawful Up-Skirt Photos Officially Sex Offender Crime in Tennessee on July 1 (WGNS) Legislation to add those who unlawfully photograph a person for sexual gratification to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) Sex Offender Registry was recently highlighted by Governor Bill Haslam at a ceremony on Capitol Hill marking the signing of the new law. The measure, sponsored by State Representative Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) and State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), allows a judge to require the defendant in a misdemeanor unlawful photography case to register as a sexual offender for up to ten years. This is in addition to the punishment already provided for the offense and requires that the judge take into account the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense when deciding upon the punishment.

UT Trustees approve lowest tuition increases in 30 years (AP) The University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees has approved tuition increases for the coming fiscal year that the school says are the lowest in 30 years. According to a news release from UT, in-state tuition will increase no more than 2.2 percent for most undergraduates. The majority of fees will not increase. The net increases range from 0 to 3 percent, depending on the campus. The increases are part of a $2.2 billion budget approved by the trustees at their quarterly meeting in Knoxville on Thursday.

UT president adds position to advise on diversity, inclusion (News Sentinel) University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro announced Thursday that he’s created a new position to address diversity and inclusion across the system. Noma Anderson will be special adviser to the president on diversity and inclusion starting July 1. DiPietro said Anderson’s role builds on a commitment to diversity and will address challenges related to inclusion. Anderson is dean of the College of Health Professions at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis and chair of the Diversity Advisory Council for the system.

UT trustees approve 2.2 percent tuition increase, lowest in more than 30 years (News Sentinel) For the second year in a row, tuition increases at the University of Tennessee are the lowest in more than 30 years, according to the university. That low increase — 2.2 percent for most undergraduates across the system — was met with praise Thursday from members of the UT board of trustees who, along with UT President Joe DiPietro, credited strong funding support from the state and steps to fix the “broken” university funding model as reasons the increase was limited. The increase, approved at the board’s meeting in Knoxville, will apply to most undergraduates at the Knoxville campus.

UT Trustees Approve Lowest Tuition Increases In 30 Years (AP) The University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees approved tuition increases for the coming fiscal year that those with the school said were the lowest in 30 years. According to a news release from UT, in-state tuition has been set to increase no more than 2.2 percent for most undergraduates. The majority of fees will not increase. The net increases ranged from 0 to 3 percent, depending on the campus. The increases were part of a $2.2 billion budget approved by the trustees at their quarterly meeting in Knoxville on Thursday.

UT trustees approve lowest tuition increase in 30 years (WBIR) The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to approve a tuition hike of 2.2 percent, the lowest increase in more than 30 years. Since the 2008-09 school year, tuition has more than doubled at the University of Tennessee. At that time, an incoming freshman from Tennessee paid about $5,500 per year in tuition. With the new hike, an incoming in-state freshman will now pay nearly $12,500 a year. “We have a lot of challenges, but we also have a lot of opportunities as I see it as an institution,” said UT Knoxville President Joe DiPietro in his annual address to the trustees.

DiPietro: UT needs to plan for future leadership hires (News Sentinel) As the University of Tennessee launched a search for the next chancellor of the flagship campus, efforts to plan for future leadership hires were already in the works. About 40 percent of the roughly 100 members of senior leadership roles across the system will be eligible to retire in the next five years, according to the university. That group includes chancellors and system vice presidents, said UT President Joe DiPietro. “In order to keep the momentum of the university moving forward, I think it’s imperative that we start doing some succession planning,” DiPietro said in his report to the UT Board of Trustees on Thursday.

UT president adds system-level position to advise on diversity, inclusion (News Sentinel) University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro announced Thursday that he’s created a new position to address diversity and inclusion across the system. Noma Anderson will be special adviser to the president on diversity and inclusion starting July 1. DiPietro said Anderson’s role builds on a commitment to diversity and will address challenges related to inclusion. Anderson is currently dean of the College of Health Professions at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis and chair of the Diversity Advisory Council for the system. With her new position, Anderson will spend half of her time as an adviser to the president and chair of the diversity council.

City, property owners at odds over maintenance issues (State Gazette) The Street and Sanitation Committee convened at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 23 at City Hall. Items on the agenda included landfill bids and detention area concerns. Earlier this year, in February 2016, research in pursuit of saving taxpayer dollars by outsourcing mowing responsibilities was presented to the Finance Committee and later the Board of Mayor and Aldermen identifying properties in possession of the City of Dyersburg and those that were privately owned properties. During the most recent Street and Sanitation Committee meeting, June 23, guests from Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) offered input from state and federal standpoints on the issues facing municipalities across the state concerning the responsibilities and maintenance of detention ponds.

Larry Woody’s Outdoors Notebook & Calendar (Mt. Juliet News) Contaminated fish: Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation last week met to address concerns about contaminated fish in one area of Kentucky Lake. The agency issued a “precautionary advisory” for crappie and bass caught in the Springville Bottom area. The public is are advised to limit or avoid entirely consumption of fish from that area. No details have yet been provided about what kind of contaminates are involved, where they came from, or how the department plans to deal with the contamination.

Nashville eliminates male, female restroom rule (Tennessean) Nashville businesses with single-toilet restrooms are no longer required to have one facility specifically for women and another just for men. The Metro Council voted unanimously on a final of three readings Tuesday to broaden exceptions for unisex restrooms, which are only allowed in Nashville businesses that fall below a square-footage threshold. The ordinance was introduced by Councilman Brett Withers, who filed the bill last month after learning that the owners of Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant in his East Nashville district, were warned by Metro codes inspectors that they could not have unisex restrooms in a new restaurant the couple is planning nearby called Graze.

Tennessee schools support Supreme Court affirmative action decision (Tennessean) Tennessee universities Thursday stood behind the Supreme Court decision to uphold the use of racial preferences as part of the college admissions process. With a 4-3 ruling, the nation’s high court deemed the University of Texas’ method of singling out some minority students for admission constitutional. The decision was one of several closely watched cases the Supreme Court announced Thursday.

Tennessee Lawmakers, Advocates React To Supreme Court Deadlock On Immigration Reform (WPLN) Immigration advocates in Tennessee are criticizing the Supreme Court’s deadlock ruling in an immigration-related lawsuit. Tennessee was one of more than two dozen states suing the federal government over its Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The program would have allowed undocumented parents of US-born children to avoid deportation. The Supreme Court’s deadlock leaves in effect a lower court’s decision in Texas, which struck down DAPA.

Activists React to SCOTUS Vote That Blocks Obama Immigration Plan (Nashville Scene) A deadlocked Supreme Court means President Barack Obama’s plans to prevent the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants, and allow them to work, are all but dead. In 2014, Obama issued executive orders on immigration. Among them was one expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed undocumented immigrants who had been brought to America as children to avoid deportation and apply for work permits. Another created a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program, which would allow parents of children with citizenship or permanent resident status to also apply for permits and protection from deportation.

TN cookie-cutter reaction to Supreme immigration ruling (News Sentinel/Humphrey) The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has declared dismay over the U.S. Supreme Court deadlock that derails President Obama’s attempt to block deportation of millions of illegal immigrants and some Democrats are equally unhappy. Tennessee’s Republican congressmen are celebrating. So is Republican Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who had joined the Texas-initiated lawsuit after prodding from GOP legislators. All, of course, echo national partisan gridlock on the issue, illustrating once again that the old cliche about of all politics being local is no longer true. Here’s a roundup of Tennessee commentary from the quickly-generated press release pile:

Black, Carr go for 6th District gun vote with AR-15 giveaway, ad buy (News Sentinel/Humphrey) Incumbent U.S. Rep. Diane Black and her chief opponent in the 6th Congressional District Republican primary, Joe Carr, offer competing approaches to solicitation of votes from firearms fans, as illustrated in the following two campaign press releases. News release from Diane Black campaign: Today, the Diane Black for Congress campaign announced the endorsement of the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), awarded for Diane’s strong support of 2nd Amendment rights.

Joe Carr latest Republican to organize AR-15 giveaway (Tennessean) The AR-15 is becoming a popular item to give away in Tennessee Republican politics this summer. Former state Rep. Joe Carr, who’s in an uphill primary race against U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, announced on Thursday that he will hold a drawing for the semi-automatic rifle at an event called  “2nd Amendment is Homeland Security” that conservative radio talk show host Ralph Bristol is hosting July 2 in Mt. Juliet. His gun giveaway comes two weeks after state Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, received numerous headlines — including national attention — when he revealed plans to give away an AR-15 at his inaugural “Hog Fest and Turkey Shoot,” which is set for Saturday.

Another lawmaker plans to give away AR-15 at event (WSMV) A former Tennessee state representative who is running for Congress is following in the steps of another elected official by planning to give away a high-powered firearm. Joe Carr announced Thursday he will feature a drawing for an AR-15, the rifle used in the mass shooting in Orlando, at a Second Amendment event in Mt. Juliet on July 2. In a statement, Carr said he won’t sit quietly while the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton and others try to disarm Americans. Carr served three terms in the state legislature. He is a congressional candidate in the sixth district.

Rick Tyler says he’s loving the publicity from ‘Make America White Again’ billboard (Times Free Press) Tennessee politicians continued Thursday to lambaste congressional candidate Rick Tyler, whose billboard bearing the words “Make America White Again” made national headlines Wednesday. State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said Thursday that Tyler simply “does not have a good grasp of American history. “You can’t make America ‘white again,'” said Favors, who is black. “It was never ‘white.’ The Native Americans were already here when the Europeans came. Mexicans were already here in the Southwest. Eskimos were already here.”

Meet District 22 state Senate candidates (Leaf Chronicle) Candidates for the District 22 Senate seat recently shared with Stewart County voters their experiences and qualifications to represent the district, which includes Stewart, Houston and Montgomery counties. The candidates are incumbent Mark Green and Lori Luton Smith, who will be facing each other in the August Republican Primary. David Cutting is the unopposed Democratic candidate.

In House District 9 campaign: ‘Double-dipping’ and campaign sign vandalism (News Sentinel/Humphrey) State Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, has been accused of “double dipping” because he continued to draw his salary as a public school system technology director during the legislative session, according to Tennessee Watchdog. The online publication quotes Rogersville resident Tish Kozlowski to that effect while Rebecca Isaacs, the school system’s director, says she’s heard no complaints and defends Hicks, who was appointed to the post last December by the Hawkins County Commission and is currently seeking reelection to a full term.

8th District Republican Contenders Highlight Differences (Memphis Daily News) Most of the 13 contenders in the August Republican primary in the 8th Congressional District agree on a lot. They think the country is going in the wrong direction. They believe the policies of a Democratic president are a factor in that, and they support Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. And the six major contenders each say they sense frustration among voters. A recent campaign forum by the National Federation of Independent Business drew most of the contenders in the August Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District, along with the two Democratic contenders. The GOP field has 13 candidates.

Corker names new Nashville field director (Nashville Post) Kyle Johnson to assist central Tennessee constituents. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker announced that he has hired Kyle Johnson as the field director of his Nashville area office. A press release announcing the move states:  Johnson has an extensive background in both government and politics. Most recently, he worked at a Clarksville-based firm where he consulted state Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville). “Kyle brings a wide range of experience and a strong commitment to public service to this position, and I am pleased he is joining our team,” said Corker.

Steve Cohen calls gun violence sit-in ‘a great day for America’ (Tennessean) As House Democrats suspended their sit-in over gun violence on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen called the 25-hour protest “a great day for America” and denounced “crazy, looney tweets” from pro-gun “nuts.” “What a great opportunity for Democrats to come together and show unity on an issue of such importance as saving lives,” the Memphis Democrat said in a fiery speech from the House floor, about 30 minutes before the sit-in ended. Democrats have vowed to restart it when the House returns from its July Fourth recess.–great-day-america/86296886/

Never Trump movement gets little help from convention rules panel roster (Politico) The mogul’s opponents are hoping the panel will help them to oust the presumptive nominee, but the panel’s roster, released Thursday, makes that unlikely.The Republican National Committee has released the list of the 112 members of the upcoming convention rules committee — a panel that will be the focal point of a struggle by anti-Donald Trump delegates to block the mogul’s nomination at the Republican National Convention next month. The list, which was sent to which was sent to members of the committee late Thursday and obtained by POLITICO, includes 38 members of the Republican National Committee. This group includes Trump supporters like Massachusetts’s Vincent DeVito, Pennsylvania’s Lawrence Tabas and Tennessee‘s John Ryder, who’s also counsel to the RNC.

Proposed Kingsport hospital gets state approval (Times News) Memphis-based Strategic Behavioral Health (SBH) announced on Thursday that it has received final approval from the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency (HSDA) to build a 72-bed hospital facility off of Stone Drive in Kingsport. The new hospital will provide psychiatric care for adults, adolescents and seniors, as well as substance abuse treatment for adults. Its service area will include Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee, along with three counties in Southwest Virginia – Wise, Scott and Lee.

LeConte Medical Center named one of “100 Great Community Hospitals” (WATE) Becker’s Hospital Review named an East Tennessee hospital as one of the “100 Great Community Hospitals” in the country. LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville is a member of Covenant Health. The hospital has diagnostic technology, a cardiac catheterization lab, four surgical suites and two endoscopy suites. It is also home to the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit, the Dolly Parton Center for Women’s Services and has the only hospital-based sleep disorders center in Sevier County. “We are pleased that our hospital has been recognized by yet another national organization,” said Jenny Hanson, LeConte’s president and chief administrative officer. “Our hospital staff strives for excellence in quality clinical care, patient safety, and the patient experience.”


Editorial: Health task force must produce serious proposal (News Sentinel) The imminent closure of Scott County’s only hospital reinforces the importance of the work of House Speaker Beth Harwell’s health care task force. The closure of the Oneida facility affects one of the state’s most economically challenged counties. Nearly three in 10 households live under the federal poverty line, which is $20,160 for a family of three. Once Pioneer Community Hospital is shuttered, the closest hospital will be in LaFollette — a 45-minute ambulance ride from Oneida. Pioneer Community Hospital notified state officials last week it would close its doors — the second time in recent years Scott County has lost its hospital. While the company did not overtly blame the closure on the state’s failure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the fingerprints are there.

Editorial: TN AG Should Clarify Transgender Policy (Memphis Flyer) Memphis was favored last week with a visit from state Attorney General Herb Slatery — who turns out, by the way, to have a brother living here and, in a luncheon address to members of the rotary Club of Memphis, said some appropriately nice things about his host city. In almost every way, in fact, General Slatery was a particularly agreeable visitor. We especially enjoyed his recollection of the “historic” occasion in 2014, when Governor Bill Haslam came to town and swore in, on a single day, “an African American, a Jewish man, and a woman” — to wit, Appellate judges Kenny Freeman and Arnold Goldin, and Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby.  We appreciate his pride in recounting that moment of diversity and share in it, vicariously. However, if we’d had our druthers, Slatery, who is Tennessee’s preeminent legal officer, would have been more forthcoming about some of the more current issues of inclusiveness.

Mark Harmon: PC isn’t what it used to be (News Sentinel) What is the biggest problem facing our country? Terrorism, climate change, stagnant economic mobility, Middle East wars and nuclear weapons proliferation all are respectable answers. According to Republican presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump, the big threat is “political correctness.” Now that you’ve recovered from your spit taking and sopped up the coffee, let’s trace how this rhetorical contrivance became confused with serious public policy. The term saw only sporadic use until a trio of conservatives started griping about university coursework, policies and diversity efforts.

Column: De-annexation summer school (Times Free Press) Summer study — where no bill sponsor wants their proposed legislation to end up. That, however, is exactly where state Rep. Mike Carter and state Sen. Bo Watson’s de-annexation efforts will be parked for the next few months. For a couple weeks during the 2016 legislative session, it didn’t look like that would be the case. The bill, which would have given Tennesseans in areas annexed by cities since 1998 the chance to vote for de-annexation, sailed through the House before fizzling in the Senate. Once it stalled, Watson, the bill’s senate champion, promised to bring it back up again. “This isn’t an issue that goes away,” he vowed.

Clint Cooper: Just what the campaign needs (Times Free Press) On Thursday, the name of Rick Tyler, independent candidate for U.S. Congress from Tennessee’s 3rd District, spread across the country like an infectious disease via print, radio, television and the internet. It, undoubtedly, was just what he wanted after scrutiny began into one of his campaign billboards that proclaimed “Make America White Again.” The billboard, according to Tyler, was taken down Wednesday without his authorization. But by that time, his Polk County home, the 3rd District and the rest of the country, to steal a line from Ray Stevens’ 1974 novelty hit “The Streak,” had “already been incensed.”

Pam Sohn: Candidate offers billboards to crush our souls (Times Free Press) Rick Tyler went to the Donald Trump School of Campaign Advertising. (Hope he didn’t have to pay Trump University prices.) The Polk County restaurateur running as an independent for Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the United States House of Representatives apparently is banking on outrageous racist billboards to bring him lots of red meat attention. One billboard near U.S. Highway 411 read [before it was rmoved]: “Make America White Again.” In smaller letters, passers-by saw “” and “”. Another billboard on U.S. Highway 64 in Polk County features Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” quote.

Thursday, June 23

Haslam announces ‘Volunteer Youth ChalleNGe Academy’ (Daily Times) Governor Bill Haslam announced Wednesday that the state has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program. The alternative residential program offers youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of school and have no criminal record the opportunity to learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility while working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma outside of a traditional school setting.

Scott County soldier’s remains returning home 66 years after death on battlefield (News Sentinel) Army Sgt. Bailey Keeton Jr.’s remains are returning home Thursday in a motorcade more than six decades after his death and will be laid to rest Saturday with full military honors in what a brother calls the “prettiest cemetery in Scott County.” “The way this is being handled, it’s a really good thing,” said Ron Keeton of the honors for his brother, a soldier killed at age 20 on a frozen battlefield in North Korea 66 years ago. Gov. Bill Haslam has declared Saturday a day of mourning and ordered flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset “in honor of Sergeant Keeton’s ultimate sacrifice.”

After Milestone Year of Recovery, State Spending to Slow (Governing) This year was one of milestones for state budgets, but the upward swings of 2016 will likely be dampened in the years ahead. It took almost a decade, but total state spending and revenues finally surpassed pre-recession peaks this year, according to a new survey from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). Yet more than two dozen states haven’t reached that milestone, a sign of the recovery’s uneven progress after the worst economic collapse in more than a generation.

UT trustees: New chancellor should build on Cheek’s success; search firm hired (News Sentinel) The next chancellor of the University of Tennessee should build on the successes of Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, several university trustees said Wednesday. The skills that person needs — including the ability to work with a wide variety of constituents— aren’t always obvious from a resume or interview, the trustees said. But they said candidates to lead the flagship campus should be the “best of the best” from a national search. Atlanta-based search firm Parker Executive Search will conduct the chancellor search at a cost of $75,000 plus expenses, paid for by state education and general funds, UT spokeswoman Gina Stafford confirmed Wednesday.–384005591.html

DiPietro to receive 5 percent raise if UT trustees approve his review (News Sentinel) University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro will receive a 5 percent raise if university trustees approve his performance review during the UT board of trustees meeting Thursday. The pay hike would translate to a base salary of more than a half-million dollars per year. Members of the board’s Executive and Compensation Committee listened to Board Vice Chair Raja Jubran’s praise for the university president during a committee meeting Wednesday and approved the review unanimously, passing it to the full board for a vote Thursday.–383950021.html

Union members ask trustees to reject outsourcing at UT (News Sentinel) Ed McDaniel took to the podium Wednesday in front of the University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees. He had clocked out of his job in the UT lock and key shop and changed into a suit jacket for the chance to speak on the dangers of outsourcing campus jobs. “Spending what we spend on facilities services isn’t a waste of money,” McDaniel told members of the board’s Finance and Administration Committee and others in attendance. “It’s really hard to hear people talk about us like that.” Instead, he called the money an investment in a hard-working team that’s dedicated to students and to the UT community.

Revamping Community Colleges to Improve Graduation Rates (New York Times) Offer students a less confusing array of courses. Require fewer remedial classes to improve students’ basic math and English skills. Or find a way to pair these not-for-credit courses with others that would provide progress toward a degree. Provide more personal advice. And lower the cost. While some of these steps might seem more obvious than others, they are among the changes community colleges across the country are making in hopes of ensuring that more students graduate. Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee already mandate free or near-free community college tuition to eligible high school graduates; 11 other states have similar bills pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

40 Under 40: Gabe Roberts, Bureau of TennCare (Nashville Business Journal) Gabe Roberts is the chief legal officer of the Tennessee Division of Finance and Administration’s Bureau of TennCare. Roberts plans to one day celebrate an Ole Miss national championship with his soon-to-be family of seven. What do you want your professional legacy to be? That, each day, I actively engaged and invested talents that have been given to me in accordance with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:14-30. I also hope that my professional legacy reflects that I have taken seriously and followed the call of Micah 6:8 to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with [my] God.”

Chattanooga woman arrested, charged with TennCare fraud (Times Free Press) A Chattanooga woman was charged Wednesday with defrauding TennCare, according to the Tennessee Office of the Inspector General. Tami P. Brouillard, 56, was arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining TennCare benefits by claiming her minor children lived in her household, although they did not, which made her eligible for the state’s health care insurance program. TennCare fraud carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Woman charged with TennCare fraud for claiming her kids lived at home (WDEF) A Hamilton County woman has been charged with TennCare fraud. Officials say 56 year old Tami P. Brouillard claimed that her children lived in her household, but they don’t. Without them, she didn’t qualify for TennCare. Brouillard is charged with TennCare fraud and theft of services over $10,000. “People who commit TennCare fraud are taking something they’re not entitled to, and they’re taking it from all the taxpayers of Tennessee,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “When you lie, cheat, or steal to obtain TennCare benefits, you will get caught.”

Rogersville fined more than $10K for drinking water violations (Times News) The Rogersville Water Department was fined $10,680 earlier this month by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for violations related to drinking water quality. The TDEC order states that Rogersville has “failed to maintain the disinfection byproducts total haloacetic acids and total trihalomethane locational running annual averages below the MCL for several quarters.” The System has also failed to monitor for inorganic contaminants, contaminants with secondary MCL and volatile organic contaminants, according to TDEC.

Sumner County sued over landfill contamination (Tennessean) A Hendersonville man is suing the Resource Authority of Sumner County, claiming it damaged his property with a landfill that didn’t meet state guidelines. Cullen Schell Jr. of Hendersonville filed the lawsuit against the resource authority and the county over the Capp’s Gap landfill, which the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation says violates state environmental requirements. He argues he sustained significant and permanent damage to the 15-acre portion of 98 acres his family leased to the county.

Chemical burn in Elizabethton still smoldering, city leaders looking at prevention options (WJHL) Hazardous materials and fire crews in Elizabethton are still monitoring a chemical burn at a construction site on Stonewall Jackson Drive after workers unearthed a decades-old vault. While officials say there is no immediate danger or harm to people in the community or the environment, many living in the River View apartments are still concerned. “There are some people here who are mad, some who are scared,” Catherine Frazier said. Catherine Frazier and others living at the apartment complex have to use a makeshift gravel road to get in and out of the complex. Frazier remembers Monday morning when construction workers hit a storage tank sparking the fire.

Polk County, Tennessee congressional candidate wants to ‘Make America White Again’ (Times Free Press) An Ocoee, Tenn., congressional candidate, who has ignited a furor with a billboard that says “Make America White Again,” says he hopes to awaken a white “sleeping giant” in the country. Rick Tyler, a primary owner of the Whitewater Grill who is running as an independent in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, is drawing intense criticism over the sign, located near U.S. Highway 411. He says it was taken down early Wednesday without his authorization. He also has a second billboard on U.S. Highway 64 in Polk County. It features Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” quote. It’s backdrop is a rendering of the White House surrounded by Confederate flags.

East Tennessee congressional candidate posts ‘Make America White Again’ sign (AP) An independent candidate for Congress has posted a campaign sign in Tennessee that says “Make America White Again.” Rick Tyler, who is running as an independent for the seat, says he put the sign up along U.S. Highway 411 near Benton. He told WRCB-TV that he doesn’t hate “people of color,” but wants to return to an earlier time “when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.” He also posted a sign with an image of the White House surrounded by Confederate flags.

Population of Nonwhites Grows (Wall Street Journal) White Americans no longer account for the majority in hundreds of counties across the U.S., a trend transforming America’s social and political landscape as Latinos, Asians and blacks outpace white population growth, according to census figures out Thursday. In 370 counties across 36 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic whites accounted for less than half the population as of July 2015. That includes 31 additional counties since 2010, such as those encompassing Fort Worth and Austin in Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and parts of suburban Atlanta and Sacramento, Calif.

Clerical Error Mislabels Rep. Durham In Trump Donation (WTVF) Donation lists show that Embattled Representative Jeremy Durham has given to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and did so under a title he has never held. In the report, Durham was listed as Fairview’s City Manager, a title that he has never held. Critics said the news of the title and donation was concerning. “Any time there’s a question about the accuracy of public statements that a public official has made – that’s a major issue for voters,” said Representative Mike Stewart.

Donald Trump report lists Jeremy Durham as Fairview city manager (Tennessean) The fact that embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham made two donations to the campaign of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is not surprising. But what is odd: Durham listed his occupation as the city manager of Fairview, a position he’s never had. Earlier this week the Trump campaign released its latest fundraising information. The report includes two donations from Durham, a Franklin Republican currently under investigation by the Tennessee attorney general and state elections officials because of numerous allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Animal protection PAC backs 19 in TN legislative primaries (including Durham) (News Sentinel/Humphrey) News release from Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection: Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection (TVAP), a non-partisan political action committee (PAC), released its list of endorsed candidates in 19 state legislative primary races today. “We are excited to announce our endorsements for the upcoming state primaries,” said Anjie Crow, TVAP’s president.

NRA endorses Diane Black (Tennessean) The National Rifle Association announced Wednesday it’s endorsing U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who faces both Republican and Democratic opponents in her bid for re-election. The endorsement comes as the national conversation around guns has increased in the wake of the shooting that killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando, Fla. Recently, Black noted that she’s had a concealed carry permit for years, obtaining the permit after she was personally attacked and beaten.

Steve Cohen, other Democrats stage sit-in over gun control (Tennessean) Furious that Republican leaders have refused to allow a vote on gun-control legislation, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and dozens of other Democrats staged a sit-in Wednesday on the House floor, bringing business to an abrupt halt. Led by U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the Democrats took control of the chamber around 11:30 a.m., just as the morning’s proceedings were getting underway. Chanting “no bill, no break,” they sat down on the House floor as the GOP quickly gaveled the chamber into recess.–over-gun-control/86260034/

Rep. Cooper Facetimes NC5 From House Sit-In (WTVF) It was pandemonium in Congress Wednesday as Democratic lawmakers shouted over Speaker Paul Ryan on the House floor. “No bill, no break,” they yelled over and over again. The day started out with a few general speeches but morphed into a full-fledge protest led by Rep. John Lewis (D, Georgia), a congressman known for his role in civil rights-era sit ins in Nashville. “We have lost hundreds and thousands of people to gun violence,” Lewis said, while the House was still in session, “sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary, sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet, too long.”

Tennessee Democrats Take Selfies As Part Of Gun Bill Sit-In (WPLN) Tennessee Congressmen Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen joined dozens of House Democrats in the sit-in that began Wednesday morning. The Democrats say they will prevent the House from taking its Fourth of July break next week unless Republicans allow a vote on the so-called “no-fly, no-buy” gun-control bill. The Commercial Appeal reports Cohen said he agrees that if someone is on the no-fly list, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon. Cooper, of Nashville, said he stands with Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who is leading the protest.

Marsha Blackburn joins Taylor Swift, other artists in push for digital copyright reform (WKRN) Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is joining Taylor Swift and other artists in the push for digital copyright reform. Blackburn says the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is nearly 20 years old and has not kept up with current technology, such as YouTube. This week, 180 musicians, including Swift, sent a letter to Congress calling to reform the 1998 act to make sure artists’ are compensated for their work on YouTube. Blackburn added this not only threatens songwriters, but also communities’ economies.

Some GOP Business Leaders Are Backing Clinton (Wall Street Journal) More than 50 business executives, including several longtime Republicans, will endorse Hillary Clinton for president on Thursday as her campaign seeks to capitalize on discomfort with Republican Donald Trump. They include Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president at AT&T Services Inc., and Dan Akerson, who held top positions at General Motors Co. and Nextel Communications Inc. A Clinton campaign aide provided the list and said it would be distributed widely on Thursday. The endorsements reflect continuing unease among some Republicans with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee despite his romp through the primary contest.

How Rubio’s Senate return could get awkward (Politico) By all rights, fellow Senate Republicans should be excited that Marco Rubio wants to remain a senator — and help them keep their majority. Rubio’s already favored to keep the seat he once promised to vacate. But his electoral decision also makes it much more likely that the Senate Republican Conference will be even more crowded with a full stable of striving pols like Cruz and Rubio all committed to reshaping the GOP after Donald Trump’s presidential run.“It’s going to be déjà vu all over again isn’t it?” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee (R-Tenn.). “I’d rather be talking about all the talent on our side than the lack thereof.”

Yager: Pioneer violating state law with hospital closure (WBIR) A state lawmaker says the closure of Scott County’s only hospital is a violation of state law and licensing requirements. The Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott is set to close on July 1, but State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) claims the parent company did not offer enough notice of the closure. Pioneer Health Services, based in Mississippi, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Hospital employees got the news on June 16 that the hospital would close on June 26. This week, the closure was delayed until July 1. “The state of Tennessee and these employees were not given proper notice.”

Scott County hospital closure delayed to July 1 (WATE) The operators of Scott County’s only hospital are delaying its closure to July 1. Pioneer Hospital CEO Tony Taylor says the hospital would close at 8 a.m. on that date. The previous closure date was June 26. Taylor says a couple of parties are interested in running the hospital, but corporate leaders haven’t given him any names and haven’t said if it would happen in time to keep the hospital open. Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott sees around 25 to 30 patients in the emergency room each day and 30 outpatients. There are 57 full-time and 23 part-time employees.

Volkswagen Will Not Help UAW Union Organize Tennessee Plant: HR Chief (Reuters) Volkswagen AG will not assist the United Auto Workers’ efforts to organize its plant in Tennessee and reaffirmed its resistance to the union’s demands that it start talks over wages for a small fraction of the factory’s workforce, its human resources chief said. “If the UAW wants to organize the American auto workers at our plant in Chattanooga it has to do so by itself, like the IG Metall does it in Germany,” Volkswagen human resources chief Karlheinz Blessing said on Wednesday. “The VW management board or the IG Metall cannot handle this for the UAW.”

Nashville boosters tout $1B impact of Music City Center (Tennessean) Three years after the opening of Music City Center, Mayor Megan Barry and other city boosters continue to defend undertaking the most expensive municipal-financed project in Tennessee history. Nashville’s convention center has now reached $1 billion in direct economic impact for the city, the mayor and other top project supporters said Wednesday. Barry joined Convention Center Authority chairman Marty Dickens, Music City Center CEO Charles Starks and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. President Butch Spyridon at the downtown center on Wednesday to celebrate the milestone.

Memphis isn’t the state’s corporate tax break queen, report says (Commercial Appeal) Corporate tax breaks have long been controversial in Memphis, where some taxpayers argue tax cuts have riddled the amount of money available to pay for city services. Now a new report shows the Memphis area isn’t the state’s tax cut queen. The Bluff City trails Nashville and Chattanooga by a wide margin in the total volume of tax cuts and grants. Companies in the Nashville area have received $887.1 million in state grants and local tax breaks since 2005, compared to $862.5 million in Chattanooga and in  third place $318.8 million in the Memphis area.

The Love Song of Robert Bentley, Alabama’s Horndog Governor (GQ Magazine) Burner phones! Secret tapes! The sex scandal currently engulfing the governor of Alabama has it all, except a typical villain. Robert Bentley was a kindly old grandpa and Sunday-school teacher. Then he got into politics and found that new temptations come with the keys to the governor’s mansion.


Gov. Bill Haslam: Tennessee on right economic path (Hartsville Vidette) We recently received great news that shows just how well we are managing taxpayers’ money in Tennessee. We received word last month from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services that our state now has a AAA rating, the highest possible standing in the eyes of that ratings agency. It means Tennessee is now a triple triple-A state. The other two ratings agencies, Moody’s Investors Services and Fitch Ratings, have given Tennessee their highest ratings since 2010. The triple triple-A status is the gold standard for any state when it comes to measuring how well it handles its finances.

Guest column: Plan needed to help all those in the ‘Medicaid gap’ (Jackson Sun) Access to affordable healthcare coverage is important to every Tennessean, but especially the working poor. For the waiter or waitress who picks up extra shifts to make ends meet, an unexpected medical bill can mean financial upheaval. Right now, hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans are living without access to care, falling into what’s called the “Medicaid gap.” These individuals earn too much to qualify for TennCare, our state’s Medicaid program, but too little to afford healthcare coverage on the federal insurance exchanges. These are people trying to make an honest living – three-quarters of them have worked in the last year.

Joe Sullivan: Tennessee’s Experiencing a Revenue and Economic Growth Bonanza (Knoxville Mercury) By one very important measure, Tennessee’s economic growth this past year exceeds that of any other state. And by just about any measure, Tennessee’s growth is well above the national average. What’s more, the state’s foremost economic forecaster is predicting that strong growth will continue through 2016 and 2017 with Tennessee continuing to outpace the nation as a whole. The measure that most stands out is the one on which the state depends for a majority of its revenues: namely, sales taxes. For the first half of the fiscal year that ends June 30, Tennessee sales tax revenues grew by 7.1 percent over the prior year compared to a national average of 2.6 percent as compiled by the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Jackson Baker: Toeing the GOP Party Line (Memphis Flyer) The 8th District congressional race has moved on a bit since we last examined it, but the essential pecking order still holds. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is still regarded in most quarters as the favorite in the Republican primary field (which, face it, is where the ultimate decision will be reached). As noted before, Luttrell has associations of various kinds with several corners of this West Tennessee district; his Shelby County prominence, as two-term sheriff and current two-term mayor speaks for itself. He also boasts connections with Union County, site of Jackson, the district’s other major urban entity, where he graduated from Union University, and with Lauderdale County, where several relatives reside.

Wednesday, June 22

Haslam makes quick trip to Ireland (AP) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd have been on a trip to Ireland for economic recruitment. Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said in an email that Haslam and Boyd were in Dublin on Monday meeting with Irish government officials and business leaders. She was not more specific about what kind of economic recruitment they were doing. They ended the evening by seeing the cast of the show “Nashville” in concert in Dublin and were brought up on stage by the performers. Donnals said it was a coincidence that the show was being held the same day the governor decided to visit Ireland. Haslam used the opportunity to promote tourism to Nashville and Tennessee.

Governor Haslam signs law to classify Soak Creek as a Class III Developed River Area (Herald News) Governor Bill Haslam recently signed a new law on to classify Soak Creek as a Class III Developed River Area at a special ceremony in Nashville.  State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Representative Ron Travis (R-Dayton), sponsors of the bill joined Haslam as the bill was signed. “The citizens of Rhea and Bledsoe Counties have known what a treasure Soak Creek is for decades,” Sen. Yager said. “With five expert kayaking runs, hiking paths along the Cumberland Trail and two scenic areas, it is worthy of a Class III designation.  Now, it will draw in people from across the state and nation to experience its appeal.”

Tennessee earns top rating for business friendliness (Tennessean) Tennessee received an A-plus for friendliness to small businesses, one of three states to earn a top score, according to a survey from Thumbtack. Among the state’s strengths are ease of starting a business, state and local regulations and tax code, while Tennessee ranked poorly in ease of hiring and training and networking programs. The grade marks an improvement from 2015, when the state earned an A, and 2012, when it scored a B-minus. Texas and Utah also earned an A-plus in 2016.

Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey

Ready to retire? Tennessee is one of the nation’s best states for seniors looking to relocate (Nashville Business Journal) Retiring baby boomers should consider the Volunteer State when deciding where to spend their golden years, says personal finance website Tennessee placed fourth in Kiplinger’s Tuesday report, “10 Best States for Retirement in 2016.” According to the analysis, every major metro area in the state has lower-than-average living costs — especially for health care and taxes, which are particularly important to seniors. Overall cost of living in Tennessee is 2 percent below the national average. The Kiplinger study also pointed to Tennessee’s stable finances, which should allow it to maintain taxpayer-friendly policies.

Kiplinger “10 Best States for Retirement”

Tennessee ranked No. 4 best state for retirement (News Sentinel) Prepare to say howdy to new neighbors, because Tennessee’s reputation as a good place to retire just got yet another boost. In a new report, Kiplinger, a publishing company that specializes in personal financial advice and business forecasts, rates Tennessee the fourth-best state for retirees. The report touts Tennessee’s affordability — rating it “tax friendly” while estimating the state’s cost of living to be 2 percent below the U.S. average and its health-care costs for a retired couple to be below average at $376,365.

Chattanooga named among best retirement locations (Times Free Press) The financial newsletter Kiplinger highlights Chattanooga as among the best communities for retirees. Kiplinger, which ranked Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama among the five best states to retire to in 2016, praised the arts and outdoor attractions of the Scenic City. “Check out Chattanooga for its thriving arts and music scene,” Kiplinger editors write in their annual assessment of the best retirement locations. “You can also enjoy the area’s outdoor recreation, including biking along the Tennessee River or white-water rafting, depending on your desired level of activity.”

Tennessee sales tax holiday set for July (Times Free Press) Tennessee’s sales tax holiday this summer will be weekend earlier than it has been in the past, due to a 2016 law change. Starting this year, the sales tax holiday will be held during the last weekend in July, instead of the first weekend in August each year. From July 29 through July 31, Tennessee shoppers can buy certain back-to-school items without paying any state or local sales taxes, cutting 9.25 percent off the after-tax price of clothing, computers and school supplies in Hamilton County. “We encourage Tennesseans to mark their calendars so they don’t miss this opportunity to save on important items,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement.

Sullivan Commission accepts grant to establish family justice center (Times News) The Sulllivan County Commission voted Monday to accept a federal grant over the next three years to help establish a family justice center. District Attorney General Barry Staubus explained the need for the center and how the grant came about. Staubus said he was invited earlier this year to apply for a grant to establish a center in Sullivan County, as other have been established across the state. Family justice centers are built much like child advocacy centers, Staubus said.

Recent changes to states’ data security laws (Lexicology) States are updating their data security statutes in response to the increasing number of data breaches that are exposing residents’ personal information to unauthorized users. Two states in particular – Illinois and Tennessee – recently made sweeping changes to their respective data security statutes in an attempt to make organizations more responsive in light of this growing data security concern. On March 24, 2016, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed S.B. 2005. The Bill is effective July 1, 2016, and makes significant changes to Tennessee’s current data security statute.

UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to step down, return to teaching (News Sentinel) Replacing University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek calls for a swift search and candidates who can maintain the momentum of UT’s successes, said UT President Joe DiPietro. DiPietro announced Tuesday that Cheek, the leader of the flagship campus, will step down and return to teaching. Cheek will continue as chancellor until a successor is selected, which DiPietro called “best for the institution.”  The past academic year has been a whirlwind of controversy for Cheek and UT with uproars about Office for Diversity and Inclusion web posts and the removal of the Lady Vols nickname as well as a Title IX federal lawsuit alleging the university mishandles cases of sexual assault, especially when student athletes are accused.

Video: Cheek Announces Retirement (News Sentinel)×9&videoId=31042348&trackingGroup=90548&widgetId=32057&playlistId=18438&siteSection=knoxnews_hom_non_fro&

Cheek’s fight for diversity still fresh in the minds of UT students, faculty (News Sentinel) The fallout from University of Tennessee administrators’ losing battle with state legislators over funding for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion was still fresh in the minds of students and faculty with the news Tuesday of Chancellor Jimmy Cheek’s coming retirement. Cheek had lobbied in support of the office’s mission, without success. The budget cuts, which became law in May, eliminated four staff positions, including the vice chancellor for diversity and the director of the UT Pride Center. “In the end it didn’t work out for us,” said Reid Guthrie, a sophomore in public relations. “But I appreciated him doing that. He really showed that he cared for the students.”

Cheek’s return to classroom comes after rocky year at UT (News Sentinel) Jimmy Cheek calls being University of Tennessee chancellor the “greatest job” he ever had. In his nearly eight-year tenure as chancellor, Cheek led UT to make strides toward institutional improvement and becoming a Top 25 public research university. He also faced high-profile controversies about sexual assault, athletics and more. As leader of the flagship Knoxville campus, Cheek has overseen an unprecedented $1 billion in construction booms, set a fundraising record and worked to attract the best and brightest students and faculty as well as growing research and improving graduation rates. But it’s also been a career peppered with controversies, including several in the past academic year.

UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to step down, return to faculty (WKRN)  University of Tennessee’s Chancellor Jimmy Cheek will step down from his position and return to the faculty. “Leading a campus with thousands of employees, students and stakeholders is a demanding role that comes with numerous challenges, but it also has many rewards. Chancellor Cheek has served us well, and I am grateful for the energy and vision he has brought to the University of Tennessee and our Knoxville campus,” said the school’s president, Dr. Joe DiPietro, in a statement. Cheek will remain on the board as Chancellor until a replacement is named.The search for a new chancellor will begin shortly after the Board of Trustees meeting in July.

UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek steps down (WATE) University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro announced that Chancellor Jimmy Cheek has decided to step down from his position and return to the faculty. Chancellor Cheek served as chancellor at the university for seven years, since February 2009. The university said he will remain as chancellor until a successor is found. “Chancellor Cheek and I have had several conversations related to this decision over the past few months, and I am very appreciative of his leadership in moving our flagship campus through a seven-year period of unprecedented growth and forward momentum,” said DiPietro. President DiPietro said the search for a new chancellor will after the Board of Trustees meeting, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday. He hopes they can have someone to take the chancellor’s role by the spring of 2017.

Chancellor resigning at University of Tennessee in Knoxville (AP) Jimmy Cheek, the chancellor of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is resigning to rejoin the faculty. In a Tuesday announcement, the university praised Cheek for increased diversity at the school, record fundraising and $1 billion in new construction and renovation. Cheek has also faced numerous challenges during his tenure. They include a lawsuit over the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints and lawmaker anger that led to the defunding of the UT Office of Diversity last month.

UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to Step Down (WBIR) University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek plans to step aside from his role as chancellor. Cheek said in a letter Tuesday he plans to move into a role with UT’s faculty. “Serving as your chancellor has truly been the capstone of my career, and I thank President DiPietro and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity and their support,” Cheek said in the letter. In a letter of his own, UT Office President Dr. Joe DiPietro said Cheek will remain chancellor until a replacement is found. Cheek said at a news conference Tuesday he isn’t sure what he’ll teach, but will serve a role in higher Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the university’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.

UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek stepping down (Nashville Post) Cheek to return to teaching, will remain in job until successor appointed. Jimmy Cheek, the chancellor of the University of Tennessee, announced this morning he will be leaving his job once a replacement is found. In an email to the UTK campus, Cheek writes: When I started my career in higher education, I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to serve as chancellor of one of the best land-grant universities in the country, a university that subscribes to our three-part mission of education, research, and outreach. This is the best and most enjoyable job of my career; it is a tremendous privilege to serve and to work with each of you to make this university a better place.

Search to begin soon for UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek’s successor (Times Free Press) Jimmy Cheek’s tenure as chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus is coming to an end, but he’ll remain in the job until his successor is chosen. The university on Tuesday morning announced Cheek’s decision to step down and return to a faculty position. He has been UT’s chancellor since 2009. UT system President Joe DiPietro said the search for Cheek’s replacement will begin shortly after the university’s Board of Trustees meets later this week, and the hope is it will be concluded by next spring.

TBR to vote on policy allowing concealed handguns on college campuses (Johnson City Press) Concealed handguns could be coming soon to a campus near you. Starting July 1, full-time employees at East Tennessee State University and other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions could be allowed to carry a concealed handgun on campus if they satisfy certain requirements. On Thursday, the TBR external affairs committee will vote on a proposed policy to allow full-time employees at TBR institutions to carry concealed handguns on campus.

New law makes it easier for Nashville businesses to have gender neutral bathrooms (WKRN) Metro council passed a law Tuesday night that makes it easier for Nashville businesses to have gender neutral bathrooms. The law passed its third and final reading Tuesday night. It will change current codes which states businesses over 1,000 square feet have to have separate bathrooms for men and women. It’s unknown when the new bathroom law will go into effect.

Mark Green earns NFIB ‘Guardian of Small Business’ award (Leaf-Chronicle) Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, was recognized Tuesday with the “Guardian of Small Business” award given by the National Federation of Independent Business. The Guardian of Small Business award is the most prestigious honor that NFIB bestows on legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business issues. The NFIB Tennessee Leadership Council, an advisory board comprised of NFIB members, voted to present the award to the legislator for supporting small-business issues in this year’s session of the General Assembly.

GOP lawmaker: Majority of gun deaths in U.S. ‘self-defense’ (WSMV) Some Tennessee lawmakers are calling for universal background checks while others are standing firm in their opposition to more gun control. “When it comes to the Constitution, there are no compromises,” said Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, chairman of the House Republican Caucus. Last October, Middle Tennessee State University conducted a poll of 603 random voters statewide. Eighty-three percent said they were in favor of background checks on all gun sales, including gun show and private transactions. Attempts to pass these measures in the state House never made it out of committee.

Crawford, Keen seek to replace Lundberg in House District 1 (Times News) Two elected officials from opposite ends of Tennessee’s House District 1 are squaring off for the right to succeed state Rep. Jon Lundberg, the district’s current office holder. Sullivan County Commissioner John Crawford, of Kingsport, and Bristol, Tenn., Vice Mayor Chad Keen are competing in the August GOP primary to replace Lundberg, who is running to succeed Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in state Senate District 4. No Democrat has filed to run for the House seat. The narrowly drawn district reaches to the Johnson County line, takes in most of Bristol and includes the Lynn Garden and Bloomingdale communities in the Kingsport area.

Local, state, federal drivers among those cited by traffic cameras (WJHL) Red light and speed cameras caught roughly 30 government/agency vehicles running red lights or speeding over the course of a year, according to traffic camera citations. Video and images of the violations show everything from non-emergency ambulances to transit buses and garbage trucks breaking the law. In one case, the violation cost a driver her job. Our review of more than 16,000 citations from Kingsport and Jonesborough found a handful of people who work for area agencies and the local, state and federal government violating the rules of the road.

Food and Drug Administration commissioner meets with pharmacy school, health care officials on opioid addiction (Johnson City Press) East Tennessee State University’s community-wide collaborative efforts to research and plan ways to reduce opioid addiction is key to finding a solution to the problem, a federal official said Tuesday. “We’re beginning to see a number of programs in cities that involve neighborhoods and academic programs called community engagement,” said Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “I think this one has some unique characteristics that are really first-rate and very important. The coalescence of so many types of different disciplines is really fantastic.”

FDA Commissioner visits ETSU to discuss prescription drug abuse epidemic (WJHL) Two of the federal government’s top health officials were in East Tennessee Tuesday, to address the region’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. Health officials say 30,000 people in the U.S. died last year because of opioid addiction.16,000 of those deaths came from Tennessee. Tuesday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy visited Knoxville where he told the community he is trying to understand the opioid problem in Tennessee, and the impact it is having on local communities. In our region, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Robert Califf visited with ETSU medical school educators, administrators, and healthcare officials to learn how they are fighting prescription drug abuse in Upper East Tennessee.

Waller elects new directors, practice group leaders (Nashville Post) Two from Nashville office elected to firm’s board. Two partners out of the Nashville office of Waller Landsden Dortch & Davis have been elected to the firm’s board of directors and another trio has been named as practice leaders. Jay Nixon and Travis Parham were added as directors, along with Amanda Jester out of the firm’s Austin office. Nixon counsels investor-owned health care companies, real estate investment trusts and other companies on financing transactions and advises boards of directors and board committees of publicly traded companies on corporate governance matters and compliance with securities laws.

Watts Bar nuclear plant shuts down for second time in three weeks (Times Free Press) America’s first new nuclear power plant to be added to the grid in the 21st century shut down this week for the second time in three weeks, shortly after the unit reached its highest power output so far on Monday. While the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor was generating more than 390 megawatts — one third of its rated power — the unit experienced problems in its auxiliary feedwater system, which automatically tripped the reactor. TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said Tuesday the equipment performed as designed and the utility expects to have Watts Bar Unit 2 back online by the end of the week and at full power as a commercial nuclear unit later this summer.

California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Could Close (NY Times) California, among the first states to embrace nuclear energy in the 1950s, may be breaking things off for good. Under a proposal announced on Tuesday, Pacific Gas and Electric would shutter the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the state’s last operating nuclear facility, and would compensate for the lost output with technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases, including renewable energy. The proposal, part of an agreement with environmental and labor groups, is intended to help meet California’s aggressive clean energy goals, which have already transformed the power mix with a large and growing renewable energy fleet at a time of slowing electric demand.

FedEx Posts $70 Million Loss, Gives Cautious Outlook (AP) FedEx Corp. lost $70 million in the latest quarter because of large pension and acquisition items, and the delivery giant gave a cautious outlook for the next 12 months. The company’s fiscal fourth quarter results Tuesday still beat Wall Street expectations, as FedEx and other delivery companies continue to benefit from the growth in online shopping. At times, however, the boom in e-commerce has strained the networks of FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. To keep up, FedEx plans capital spending of $5.1 billion in the fiscal year that just started. FedEx will use the money to expand its ground network and buy more aircraft.

Video: Celebrating 150 Years of Jack Daniel’s (Wall Street Journal) Jack Daniel’s celebrates its 150th anniversary and Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett joins Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero to talk about the future of the Tennessee whiskey.

Neighbors, Gas Company At Odds Over Compression Station Proposal (WTVF) Neighbors in another Nashville community are up in arms over a gas compression station proposal. NewsChannel 5 has been covering the Kinder Morgan compressor station proposed in Joelton for months. The latest proposal comes from the Columbia Pipeline Group, as they hope to expand their pipeline capacity through Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. With seven new stations proposed, one lands in Southeast Nashville in the neighborhood of Cane Ridge. It’s a quiet but booming part of town. And it’s where Matt Arcani moved with his family about a year ago. He says a gas compressor station would threaten his and his neighbors’ quality of life.

Nashville gas compressor critics voice concerns to regulators (Tennessean) Nashvillians against gas compressor stations in Davidson County united at Cane Ridge High School on Tuesday to share their concerns with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In FERC’s public scoping meeting, residents of Cane Ridge and Joelton, which may also have a gas compressor station, expressed concerns from air quality to noise to property values and economic impact.

Gallatin adjusts water treatment process (Tennessean) A recently completed $4.65 million dollar upgrade project at Gallatin’s Water Treatment Plant is aimed at increasing safety for both employees and residents. Officials gathered Friday to mark the completion of the project at the 52-year-old facility, which includes new equipment as well as a new 6,000-square-foot building. The work is the first major upgrade at the plant, located along the Cumberland River off state Route 109, since its daily capacity was doubled from 8 million gallons to 16 million gallons in the late 1990s.

Town Officials Still Want Splash Pad To Be Installed Before Summer’s Over (Greeneville Sun) Work has been delayed, but Greeneville officials are still hoping that a new splash pad playground at the site of the former EastView Pool will open this summer. Crews of town employees from the Greeneville Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments wrapped up demolition of the old pool and prepared the site earlier this spring. A $125,000 Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that is providing half of the project’s $250,000 cost is not in jeopardy.

Sycamore Shoals history brought to life by seasonal interpretive rangers (Johnson City Press) There are plenty of summertime lessons and activities going on this summer at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, thanks to the hard work of two seasonal interpretive rangers assigned to the park. Corbin Hayslitt and Steven Knapp have been working together for over a month, not only at Sycamore Shoals but also providing guided tours of the Carter Mansion. Corbin is from Clifton Forge, Va., and is a graduate student at East Tennessee State University in Appalachian studies. Steven is from Buncombe County, N.C., and recently received his masters degree in history from ETSU.

Forest Statue Removal Won’t Get Vote Until October (Memphis Flyer) The city’s case for removing of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Health Sciences Park won’t get another chance to be heard by state officials until late October. The Tennessee Historical Commission (THC) was set to review the city’s request for removal on Friday in Jackson. But city council attorney Allan Wade asked for the vote to be delayed and THC executive director Patrick McIntyre said the item has, indeed, been removed from Friday’s agenda.Wade said he needed more time on the matter “due to our involvement in a pending case for the city which may not be conclude by Friday.” Wade asked for the matter to be moved to the next meeting of the THC, which will be on Friday, Oct. 21 in Gatlinburg, according to McIntyre.

Capitol Hill Press Corps Loses Another as Rick Locker Leaves The Commercial Appeal (Nashville Scene) In January, just before the state legislature convened for their annual round of sausage-making, our former colleague Andrea Zelinski wrote about the dwindling Capitol Hill press corps that would be on hand to watch them. As experienced reporters retired or left their jobs, they weren’t being replaced, meaning less scrutiny for a legislative body that could always use more of it. Tuesday brings the news that the legislative press corps is losing another veteran member. Rick Locker, who has covered the capitol for the Memphis Commercial Appeal for decades, is leaving the paper — which recently became a part of the Gannett empire — for a communications job with the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Veteran TN Capitol Hill reporter Rick Locker moves to Board of Regents (News Sentinel/Humphrey) Richard “Rick” Locker, a Tennessee Capitol Hill reporter for 34 years and currently providing state government coverage for three major newspapers, has resigned to become communications director for the state Board of Regents. Locker, a Lincoln County native and University of Tennessee-Knoxville graduate, began his newspaper career with the Knoxville Journal, serving there for three years before joining the Nashville Banner staff. He then signed on as Nashville correspondent for the Commercial Appeal of Memphis in 1982.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin to announce Medicaid proposal (AP) About 400,000 Kentuckians are about to find out what Republican Gov. Matt Bevin wants to do with their health insurance. Bevin has scheduled a news conference for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to announce his plan to replace Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program. Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear expanded the program’s eligibility requirements by executive order, resulting in about 400,000 people getting health insurance. The expanded program helped reduce Kentucky’s uninsured population form 20 percent to 7.5 percent. But Bevin says the program is too expensive.


Editorial: Republican health care panel stands in the way of reform (Johnson City Press) The stalling on Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal indicates that state House Speaker Beth Harwell’s health care task force wasn’t designed to manufacture a solution to provide insurance for the hundreds of thousands in the coverage gap and buttress increasingly stressed hospitals but is a ploy to delay action and distract from the effects of inaction for two legislative sessions. Most hospitals have managed to adjust to the loss of reimbursement for uncompensated care, which began in Jan. 2014, but there’ve been insurmountable losses for seven hospitals and there’ll be more casualties unless a solution is found.

Editorial: Recommendation for low UT tuition increase welcome (News Sentinel) Over the next few days, University of Tennessee system President Joe DiPietro will complete one of the most agreeable tasks he has encountered and embark on a vitally important and likely most difficult one. DiPietro will recommend the UT Board of Trustees approve the lowest tuition increases in more than three decades during the panel’s two-day annual meeting in Knoxville today and Thursday. Once that rather pleasant mission is accomplished, DiPietro will begin the search for a new chancellor for the flagship Knoxville campus. Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced on Tuesday he would give up the post to return to the classroom.

Frank Cagle: Gun owners should look for solutions (News Sentinel) The National Rifle Association has been standing athwart the slippery slope of gun control for decades, but it now faces the possibility of losing its footing. The NRA has been the vehicle for gun owners to ensure their rights, culminating in the Supreme Court decision in Heller affirming the individual’s right to bear arms. American public opinion has been generally favorable and state legislatures have had no trouble liberalizing gun control laws across the board. But now the question arises: Can we not prevent a suspect on the FBI watch list or the no-fly list from buying an assault weapon with which to shoot a hundred people, killing 49, in a Florida dance club?

Tuesday, June 21

Tennessee consumers feeling better about state economy (Memphis Business Journal) After several months of uncertain — or just plain negative — feelings about Tennessee’s economy, the state’s consumers are finally feeling a bit better. Middle Tennessee State University’s (MTSU) Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index hit 77 in June. That’s a huge increase from the 45 it scored in March and the dismal 18 reported in December. The score was as low as 15 in the fall of 2015. All of that had been in spite of declining unemployment figures, but in MTSU’s June survey the good news seems to have caught up to Tennessee consumers. According to Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research at MTSU, job prospects remain a concern for those surveyed.

MTSU Consumer Outlook Index

Will Tennesseans Treasure This Legislative Office Building As Much As Preservationists? (WPLN) The Metro Historical Commission’s Tim Walker marvels at the hulking gray building tucked away between the Capitol and Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. “Truly, we’d never spend that kind of money to build a building like this today.” The Cordell Hull Building rises nine stories and stretches about the length of a city block. Built in a simplistic style popular in the early 1950s, it might not look like much. But its limestone exterior gives it a stolid feel, and inside there are rose-colored marble finishes quarried right here in Tennessee.

Four questions with the incoming director of TennCare (Nashville Business Journal) Dr. Wendy Long’s relationship with TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, stretches back more than two decades, to the day the program first rolled out when she was one of several state employees fielding calls from providers and patients on Jan. 1, 1994. Come July 1, she’ll take over as executive director of the program, her second stint in the role following a period spent as interim director in the late nineties. TennCare has been at the center of one of the biggest ongoing issues in Tennessee health care and politics over the past several years: the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the state’s decision not expand Medicaid coverage. That’s one of the topics Long and I covered in a Q&A Monday.

33 people busted in Marion County drug roundup (WRCB) A six-month long, county-wide drug investigation in Marion County resulted in charges against 33 people. Officers arrested 33 people in connection with distributing controlled substances including: methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, opana, morphine, and hydrocodone on June 16. The arrests were part of undercover operations across Marion County by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit over the past six months. Seven of the suspects are also charged with TennCare fraud.

33 arrested in Marion Co. roundup, 7 charged with TennCare fraud (WTVC) Seven people are charged with TennCare fraud in Marion County after a countywide roundup of 33 people. All were charged with drug-related crimes after a six-month undercover investigation. The seven charged with TennCare fraud are:

7 In Marion County Round-Up Charged With TennCare Fraud (Chattanoogan) Seven people are charged with TennCare fraud in a Marion County round-up of 33 people, all charged with drug-related crimes. The arrests are the result of a six-month undercover investigation involving the Office of Inspector General, Marion County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, Marion County Special Response Team, TBI, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local police officers from Kimball, South Pittsburg, and Jasper. The seven charged with TennCare fraud are:

More lawsuits expected as frustration grows over Tennessee education funding (Times Free Press) Three of Tennessee’s four large urban school districts are now suing the state, claiming it’s failing to provide adequate funding for public education. The Hamilton County Department of Education and six nearby counties filed suit in March 2015 arguing the state isn’t providing sufficient funding for schools, and months later, Shelby County Schools also filed a lawsuit stating the lack of funding especially hurts the district’s large share of poor students. Last week, Metro Nashville Public Schools board voted to also file suit against the state over its lack of funding for students learning English.

UT: 18 register to carry handguns on first day to sign up (News Sentinel) Eighteen University of Tennessee employees registered to carry concealed handguns on the first day that registration was possible, according to the school. Registration started Monday and is ahead of a new state law that starts July 1. Full-time college employees, not enrolled as students on campus, may carry concealed handguns, but must first notify campus law enforcement. There are also locations and times handguns are prohibited at UT, including disciplinary meetings as well as in stadiums, gyms and auditoriums during university-sponsored events. Employees were required to bring their UT identification, as well as a valid Tennessee driver’s license and valid state handgun permit to complete their registration “in the presence of a sworn officer,” according to the UT Police Department website.

18 UT employees register to carry handguns on first day (WATE) Eighteen University of Tennessee employees registered to carry a concealed handgun on Monday, the first day they were able to do so. Full-time university employees in Tennessee with a permit will be able to carry concealed weapons on campus beginning July 1 after a bill passed by the state legislature became law without Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature. Employees’ guns must be concealed at all times. The bill requires staff to inform campus law enforcement of their guns. Students are not allowed to carried concealed weapons, including full-time employees who are enrolled at UT.

State picking new standardized test vendor (WBIR) Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen says students will take a new standardized test this upcoming school year, and details are coming soon. That follows a botched roll-out of TNReady earlier this year. Back in February, TNReady failed when an unforeseen technical problem on the vendor’s end caused its online testing platform MIST to stop working. Then, the vendor – Measurement, Inc. – was unable to provide paper tests to all elementary and middle schools in time for testing deadlines. In April, the state terminated its 5-year, $108 million contract with Measurement, Inc.

Poverty drops state ranking on children’s well-being (News Sentinel) Our high-school graduation rate has gone up. Our teen pregnancy rate has gone down, along with the number of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs. The number of uninsured children has decreased, as has the child and teen death rate. We’ve improved the number of babies born small, the percentage of children who wear seat belts, and the number of fourth-graders proficient in reading and eighth-graders proficient in math. So why did Tennessee’s ranking among states drop from No. 36 to No. 38 in the 2016 Kids Count report on child well-being?

Tennessee Updates Captive Law, Sets Sights on Being ‘Captive Leader’ (Insurance Journal) Tennessee has stepped up its efforts to establish the state as a captive insurance industry leader with enhancements to the state’s captive insurance laws just passed by the Tennessee Legislature. The changes to the 2011 captive law were signed into law in April by Gov. Bill Haslam and are expected to lead to a boost in the state’s captive industry and increase state revenue over the next several years.

Tennessee: A World Leader in Incarceration (Nashville Scene) The Prison Policy Initiative is out with a new states of incarceration report, which shows that most states would be world leaders when it comes to imprisoning their citizens if they were countries of their own. Tennessee ranks 10th on the list at 848 per 100,000 people. For space reasons, we’ve cropped the chart above so that is only shows the top 20, and you’ll noticed that there are not countries listed. That’s because when it comes to incarceration rates per 100,000 people, more than half of these United States rank above all nations with at least a half million people in total population.

How Do You Tell Tennesseans Their Insurance Rates Are About To Skyrocket? (WPLN) Some insurance companies in Tennessee are having to break bad news to their customers: Their rates are about to jump yet again. Companies that offer insurance on the federally run exchange recently filed requests with the state to increase how much they charge for monthly premiums. The largest insurer in the state — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee — is also proposing the largest rate hike. If the state approves BlueCross’s request this summer, the monthly rate for its customers who buy insurance out-of-pocket would go up anywhere from 36 to 90 percent, or an average of 62 percent, according to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Tax-free weekend to be held in July for 1st time (WKRN) For the first time ever, this year’s sales tax holiday will be held the last weekend in July instead of the first weekend in August. From 12:01 a.m. July 29 through 11:59 p.m. July 31, Tennessee shoppers can save almost 10 percent on back-to-school must haves. “The sales tax holiday for back-to-school items is earlier this year,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We encourage Tennesseans to mark their calendars so they don’t miss this opportunity to save on important items.”

Lundberg doesn’t have political headwinds, but Shipley does (Times News) At first glance, the race for outgoing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s Tennessee state Senate seat would appear to be state Rep. Jon Lundberg’s to lose. Lundberg has the money, more than $100,000 in his campaign account at the end of this year’s first quarter, according to the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. The Bristol Republican also has other resources — namely his marketing and public relations agency — to craft his message and reach out to voters. Lundberg, a former television news anchor, also has the military background as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Bill Ketron to examine ouster legislation (Tennessean) Lawmakers should examine legislation that makes it easier to oust an elected official facing charges such as Sheriff Robert Arnold, state Sen. Bill Ketron said. “There should be some way to have that individual removed from office, so that’s something my office is going to be looking at,” the Murfreesboro Republican senator said during a Monday phone interview. “I think we need to review the law to see what is available to help protect the citizens. We are going to be looking at what could be done, but it would take a vote in both houses and have to be signed by the governor to change that.”

Corker, Alexander back Republican gun proposals (Tennessean) U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker backed two Republican proposals Monday designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, but voted against two Democratic gun measures that would have been more restrictive. All four measures fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Alexander and Corker voted in favor of a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have let federal law enforcement officials delay gun sales to suspected terrorists — including those on watch and no-fly lists — for three days and then halt the sales, but only after proving probable cause before a judge.

Alexander, Corker split votes on gun control measures (Nashville Post) Senators vote in favor of narrower controls, against expanded background checks. In successive cloture votes, a divided U.S. Senate shot down four gun control measures, two proposed by Democrats and two put forward by Republicans. The votes fell mostly along party lines, and Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were no exceptions. Cork and Alexander both voted against a measure from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to expand background checks. After last week’s mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 patrons of a gay nightclub, Murphy held a filibuster that led to today’s votes.

Florida GOP candidate to give away semi-automatic rifle (Washington Post) A Republican candidate for Congress in Florida has launched a contest on his Facebook campaign page to give away a semi-automatic rifle on Independence Day. Greg Evers announced the giveaway barely a week after a shooting at a gay nightclub killed 49 people in Orlando, which is about five hours drive from the Florida Panhandle congressional district Evers seeks to represent.

Waller elects new directors, practice group leaders (Nashville Post) Two from Nashville office elected to firm’s board. Two partners out of the Nashville office of Waller Landsden Dortch & Davis have been elected to the firm’s board of directors and another trio has been named as practice leaders. Jay Nixon and Travis Parham were added as directors, along with Amanda Jester out of the firm’s Austin office. Nixon counsels investor-owned health care companies, real estate investment trusts and other companies on financing transactions and advises boards of directors and board committees of publicly traded companies on corporate governance matters and compliance with securities laws.

What Every Manager Should Know About Being The Boss (Fortune) Leadership and management aren’t synonymous. The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: “How do you prepare for a management role?” is written by KT Lindberger-Schmidt, chief human resource officer and general counsel at Digital River. All too often, people confuse leadership and management. They require similar qualities – both a technical and an interpersonal acumen – but they aren’t synonymous.

Scott County hospital to close Sunday (Tennessean) The only hospital in Scott County will close Sunday, about a month after it notified state officials it would likely shut down because of financial distress. Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott in Oneida, Tenn., will close at 8 a.m. Sunday, according to a letter Thursday  that was sent to the Division of Health Licensure and Regulation. Tony Taylor, CEO of the hospital, wrote that he learned about the closure on Wednesday in a call with Pioneer Corporation.

City seeks delay in request to remove Forrest statue (Commercial Appeal) Memphis officials asked the Tennessee Historical Commission on Monday to delay the city’s request to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue from its current location in the medical district. In an email to Patrick McIntyre, the commission’s executive director, Allan Wade, attorney for the City Council, requested the delay “due to our involvement in a pending case for the City which may not conclude by Friday.” Wade did not elaborate on the context of the case. The commission was slated to hear the city’s request at its meeting Friday. The commission meets three times a year, and the next possible meeting to consider the action is Oct. 21 in Gatlinburg.


Editorial: Foot-dragging by Haslam, parole board in Lawrence McKinney case is shameful (Commercial Appeal) Government is not supposed to work this way, especially when a citizen has been wrongly robbed of 31 of the prime years of his life. When that happens, government should be expected to try to make things right. Yet, in Lawrence McKinney’s case, making things right has been stalled for some seven years in inadvertent or intentional red tape. And, untangling that red taped is caught up in a mess of excuses about why he has not been compensated for wrongly being sent to prison. McKinney, 60, was released from prison in 2009 after DNA evidence showed that he did not rape a woman in Memphis in 1977.

Linda O’Neal: We must do better for Tennessee children (Commercial Appeal) Improving outcomes for Tennessee children is in all our best interests, as today’s children are the economic engine for the state’s future prosperity. Unfortunately, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book reports child well-being in Tennessee slipped from 36th in 2015 to 38th in 2016, largely due to worsening economic well-being. In Tennessee, one child in four lives in poverty. One in three lives in a single-parent family, a household that spends more than 30 percent of its income on housing, and/or a family where no parent has full-time, year-round employment. One in six lives in a high-poverty area.

Monday, June 20

Tennessee Commish McPeak Elected Vice Chair of Global Insurance Committee (Insurance Journal) Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak has been elected by her fellow members of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) to serve as vice chair of the group’s Executive Committee (ExCo). Comprised of insurance regulators and supervisors from more than 200 jurisdictions, the IAIS is the international standard-setting body for insurance supervision. IAIS meetings provide an opportunity for state insurance regulators to meet with their international counterparts.

New Legislation Further Strengthens Tennessee’s Captive Insurance Market (Clarksville Online) Newly approved captive insurance legislation further modernizes and enhances Tennessee’s reputation as the go-to domicile in the captive insurance industry. Approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, the 2016 legislation represents the third update to the Revised Tennessee Captive Insurance Act of 2011, which first allowed the captive insurance industry to flourish in Tennessee.

Morgan is charged with TennCare fraud 2nd time (Daily Banner) A Bradley County man has been charged for the second time with doctor shopping, a crime involving fraudulent efforts to obtain prescription drugs through TennCare health care insurance benefits. The Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Oscar Morgan, 32, of McDonald. A Bradley County indictment accuses him of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by visiting multiple doctors in a short time period in an effort to obtain prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone, using TennCare as payment.,36666

Man indicted for TennCare fraud for second time (WRCB) For the second time, a Bradley County man has been charged with doctor shopping. The crime involves fraudulent efforts to get prescription drugs through TennCare healthcare insurance benefits. Oscar Morgan, 32 of McDonald, TN was indicted in Bradley County. He is accused of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by visiting multiple doctors in a short time period in an effort to obtain prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone, using TennCare as payment.

Bradley County man charged second time with TennCare drug fraud (WTVC) Oscar Morgan, of McDonald, is being charged for the second time with doctor shopping. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, announced Morgan’s arrest Friday. A Bradley County indictment accuses the 32-year-old of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by visiting multiple doctors in a short period of time. His goal was to get prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone, using TennCare as payment. This crime is a Class E felony carrying up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Stephen D. Crump is prosecuting in this case.

UT Board to consider 2.2 percent tuition increase; lowest percentage hike in 30-plus years (Chattanooga Times Free Press) University of Tennessee system President Joe DiPietro is recommending the board of trustees this week approve the lowest increases in student tuition “in more than 30 years.” “Shout it from the mountaintop,” DiPietro quipped. “As always, action by the UT Board of Trustees is required for fee or tuition increases and, therefore, nothing is official until after the board meets.” That will come Wednesday and Thursday when first a committee and later the full UT board votes on a plan to cap tuition increases to 2.2 percent in most cases for the proposed 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.

Tennessee colleges scramble as law allowing guns on campus nears (Tennessean) At 8 a.m. Monday, police at the University of Tennessee will start registering employees who want to carry guns on the Knoxville campus, signaling the start of a new era for public schools across the state. A law opening college campuses to guns goes into effect July 1. Institutions, working alongside law enforcement, have scrambled to rewrite policies, develop new programs and work through hypothetical hiccups to meet the deadline.

Tennessee colleges work on guidelines for new open carry law (WKRN) In two weeks, Tennessee law will allow full-time staff and faculty who have carry permits to bring guns onto campus. Schools are now working to establish guidelines. “I don’t like guns. They make me feel unsafe,” said Ryan Ho, a soon-to-be senior at Middle Tennessee State University. The Economics and Finance major doesn’t like the new law. “I’m concerned if they play the hero, I think, that would end up having more people harmed.”

Rogersville Water Department fined for violating the Tennessee Drinking Water Act (WJHL) The town of Rogersville which operates the Rogersville Water Department has been fined by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The fines are for violating the Tennessee State Drinking Water Act. The system was assessed over a ten thousand dollar fine and two thousand dollars are to be paid up front. TDEC determined that the system failed to maintain water served to its customers below maximum contaminant levels over a period of several quarters. We reached out to the Rogersville Water Department but our calls were not returned.

Neighbors pleased cameras are being used to catch illegal dumpers (WREG) Police say still cameras led to the arrest of repeat dumpers along Tully Road in Southwest Memphis. Jospeph Brown is facing several charges of aggravated criminal littering and vandalism for allegedly dumping a number of large semi truck tires four different times between April and June of this year. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said still cameras captured someone in white, 2000 Ford 5-150 dumping the tires in the 5000 block of Tully. Police said a tag number on the truck helped them track down Brown and a woman who both admitted to using the truck to dump the tires.

Nashville plans next vision for parks, greenways (Tennessean) Nashville has added 6,300 acres of parkland and 66.2 miles of greenways since 2002. It has opened 11 new community centers and three nature centers during that time. All told, the city has spent $340 million on parks during that same 14-year stretch. Now, Metro government is looking ahead to the parks system’s next decade — with plans to identify the goals favored by residents, weaknesses, the next wave of expansion, funding levels and the level of desired services for things like greenways, trails, dog parks and an array of programs.

NETAR honors Ramsey at legislative luncheon (Times News) The so-called “Ron Ramsey Victory Tour” rolled on Friday as the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) honored the retiring Tennessee lieutenant governor during a legislative luncheon. Ramsey, a Realtor and auctioneer, was credited with opposing legislation that would have opened the door to new impact fees and taxes on home ownership in addition to modernizing property disclosures.

Legislators challenge refugee resettlement on public health grounds (News Sentinel) A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Texas against resettlement of Syrian refugees within the state’s borders as some Tennessee lawmakers contend health concerns show the need for similar legal action as mandated by the Legislature in April. “This Texas decision is a strong rebuke of efforts to block refugee resettlement,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee in an email. “It sends the clear message to other states that such attempts are not only un-American, they are contrary to the law and will fail in court.

GOP primary District 46 candidate opposing Mark Pody taken off ballot (Tennessean) A candidate who qualified to run against incumbent Mark Pody in the Republican primary for District 46 state representative will not be on the August ballot having moved out of state. Jim Gibbs sold his home in Cannon County and moved to Nevada, which made him ineligible, election officials said. The state’s Division of Elections has ruled Gibbs should be removed from the ballot in Wilson, DeKalb and Cannon counties, which District 46 includes. Gibbs had requested to be removed from the ballot though he moved after the April 14 withdrawal deadline, said Cannon County Administrator of Elections Matt Tepley.

Roe talks Trump, gun control (Johnson City Press) U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, confirmed Friday that he supports presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and is confident the controversial billionaire will pass through July’s GOP convention unscathed. “If Trump is elected, it means I’ve got a chance,” Roe said during a visit to the Johnson City Press about the congressman’s continuing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “If Hillary (Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee) is elected, I have no chance.”

Rep. John Duncan has fond memories of meeting eight presidents (Tennessean) Six decades later, U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. clearly remembers standing beside his mother and watching in awe as President Dwight Eisenhower worked the rope line at the Knoxville airport. The close encounter with the commander-in-chief made a big impression on the 9-year-old, future congressman because it was his first time seeing a president in the flesh. It would not be his last.

Surgeon General to speak Tuesday in Knoxville (News Sentinel) U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy will lead a Community Town Hall Tuesday evening in Knoxville. The public is invited to the free forum, “The Doctor Is In,” at 7 p.m. at Knox County Health Department, 140 Dameron Ave. Health department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan will moderate the town hall, during which Murthy will discuss his office’s priorities for this year and answer questions about major health concerns the nation is facing — including opiate addiction.

Morgan County Executive: deep regret for emailed comment (News Sentinel) Morgan County Executive Don Edwards has allegedly made it a practice to send emails to a select group of eight of the county’s 18 commissioners, one of those recipients said Friday. And one such missive, which was forwarded to the email queue of a former commissioner, has ignited a storm of controversy. It came during budget preparation season and included this phrase: “Warning, we must guard against becoming n___r rich,” Edwards wrote.

Rural hospitals look for ways to stay open (Jackson Sun) Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2013, the list of hospitals in Tennessee that have closed their inpatient services — or completely closed — has grown to seven. Five of the seven have hit close to home, which raises concern for other rural hospitals in West Tennessee. “All we can do is voice we are for Medicaid expansion,” said Scott Barber, CEO at Decatur County General Hospital. “If the county commission decides they are not going to support us, there will come a time and date when we will have to cease operations at the hospital.”

Kingsport psychiatric hospital headed for state review; officials expect appeal (Johnson City Press) A 72-bed psychiatric hospital planned for Kingsport, now more than two years into the review process, will once again come before the state’s health care facility regulating body this week, but officials expect an appeal, no matter what decision is made. Jim Christoffersen, general counsel for the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency, said the board will meet Wednesday in Nashville to review Administrative Judge Leonard Pogue’s order granting a certificate of need to Memphis-based Strategic Behavioral Health allowing the $11.7 million facility to be built between Kmart and the Kingsport Greenbelt at the end of Executive Park Boulevard.

Health care ripoffs costing taxpayers millions (Times Free Press) Dr. Raymond Brown was outstanding — too outstanding, as it turned out, for his own good. A fraud investigator for the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, while searching a computer database to see which doctors billed Medicare the most for Botox injections, found the Cleveland, Tenn., doctor’s name right at the top. Brown billed Medicare for 17,000 vials of Botox in one year, the most of any doctor in the United States.

Community members outraged by Carter County church sign (WJHL) Just days after the Orlando nightclub shooting, Pastor Jessie Price, of Beech Cliff Pentecostal Church in Carter County, placed the words: “God’s wrath may be getting started to fall on the gays” on a sign outside of his church. Community members were outraged. Vickie Campbell, a Carter County resident, is one of the many people who stopped by to take pictures of the sign earlier this week. “For them to put that that just broke my heart. I had to come see for myself if that was a hoax,” Campbell said. Campbell soon realized it wasn’t a hoax. “For a church to make that sign and to say what they did, that’s not right,” Campbell said.

Warriors Path hosts ‘Summer in the Park’ events (Times News) Nature lovers of all ages can participate in hikes, games, crafts and many other outdoor activities as part of “Summer in the Park” at Warriors’ Path State Park from June 28 to July 3. Four activities will be held June 28: Duck Island Bike Ride, Tree Tour, Tree Tools and Forest Trees. The bike ride will begin at 3:30 p.m., and will include information about the lake’s past. All riders must wear a bicycle helmet, and children age 10 or under must be accompanied by an adult. Riders should meet at the camp store.


Editorial: A strong case for removal of Forrest statue (Commercial Appeal) The year was 1905. The South was in the midst of a backlash against Reconstruction and the political and economic opportunities the post-Civil War period had delivered to African-Americans. The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, the second work in a KKK trilogy by Thomas F. Dixon Jr., was published, inspiring D.W. Griffith’s pro-Klan film “The Birth of a Nation.” Seeds were being sewn that eventually produced the rebirth of the Klan, which had been founded by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Most of the Jim Crow laws would soon be enacted, once again disenfranchising black citizens. An estimated 30,000 people from across the South came to Memphis that year to witness the dedication of an equestrian statue in honor of the “Wizard of the Saddle” in what became known as Forrest Park. The statue has stood as a symbol of Southern resistance and a thumb in the eye to the city’s black citizenry ever since.

Editorial: UT employees should take class on guns policy (News Sentinel) University of Tennessee employees who wish to carry handguns on campus can begin applying today at their campuses. Last week UT issued its policy for following a state law that goes into effect July 1 that permits certain college and university employees to carry handguns under certain circumstances and in certain places. The policy is complex, and employees are responsible for following its provisions. Employees should take UT up on its offer of classes and maps to fully understand and follow the law. The UT policy applies to the campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, as well as the Health Science Center in Memphis and the Space Institute in Tullahoma.

Tom Humphrey: On legislators in the summer spotlight (News Sentinel) Tennessee’s legislative session may be gone, but legislators are not forgotten in the state media spotlight this summer — especially Reps. Jeremy Durham of Franklin, Andy Holt of Dresden and Martin Daniel of Knoxville. Though getting out-of-session attention for different reasons, the three have some things in common. They’re Republicans who present themselves to voters as staunch conservatives unafraid to take controversial positions and who face opposition in seeking re-election to new terms.

Georgiana Vines: GOP legislative candidates focus on UT (News Sentinel) A continued look at the University of Tennessee, a program for pregnant mothers on opium, support for school vouchers and a promise not to hike taxes were brought up by four Republican candidates for the 18th District House seat at a forum sponsored by the West Knox Republican Club. State Rep. Martin Daniel, incumbent in his first term, said at Monday night’s program he will continue to raise questions about policies at UT as he raises questions about transparency and efficiency.

Editorial: Should a drug clinic be located in Gray? (Johnson City Press) Efforts to rezone a tract in Gray for a drug-treatment clinic to be operated by Mountain States Health Alliance and East Tennessee State University has been delayed a month. The Johnson City Planning Commission was to hear the rezoning request for 203 Gray Commons Circle Road last week, but the matter was postponed until July 14. As Press Staff Writer Jessica Fuller reported earlier this month, the delay was requested by officials with MSHA and ETSU to better accommodate a public hearing for residers who live near the property. The two institutions want to operate a nonprofit opiod-treatment center at MSHA-owned property in Gray.

Friday, June 17

Gov. Haslam vague on Trump, pushes gas tax hike for road repairs (Times Free Press) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam continued on Thursday to avoid endorsing presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. But in a speech to the Rotary Club of Chattanooga at the Chattanooga Convention Center, he didn’t avoid other difficult topics, including raising the state’s gas tax and expanding TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Haslam and five other Republican governors met with Trump on Tuesday in New York. When asked what he talked about with Trump, he joked, “When you are with five governors and Donald Trump, the chances to share are pretty limited. That sort of defines the definition of limited air time.”

Haslam still not prepared to endorse Trump following meeting (AP) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam still isn’t ready to endorse Donald Trump following a New York meeting he helped organize with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Haslam told reporters on Wednesday that he and other governors spoke to Trump about issues important to the states. He says he did not bring up Trump’s statements about Muslims in the wake of the Orlando shootings that left 49 people dead. Other governors joining Haslam at the meeting were Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Haslam, Trump discuss state, rhetoric, but no endorsement (Tennessean) Gov. Bill Haslam stopped short of endorsing Donald Trump on Wednesday after Haslam and five other Republican governors met a day earlier with the presumptive Republican nominee in New York. The governor said the meeting went well and dealt mostly with state-federal issues. Asked if he’s ready to endorse Trump after the long-planned meeting, Haslam said: “To be honest, we never even talked about it. He asked me what I think will happen in Tennessee, and I said: ‘I think you’ll win.’ And then the conversation moved on, and we ended up talking about a lot of other things.”

Governor Haslam Hesitates to Endorse Donald Trump (WDEF) Tennessee governor Bill Haslam says he hasn’t decided whether to throw his support to Donald Trump–despite a meeting with him earlier this week. The governor covered a wide range of state issues in an appearance at the Chattanooga Rotary Club luncheon Thursday, including LGBT complaints about recently passed laws. Governor Haslam told the Rotarians about a one hour meeting with Trump in New York Monday…along with 5 other governors. But, like other GOP leaders, Haslam is apparently conflicted on how much support he’s willing to give the presumptive republican candidate. But he says there are good reasons to choose a republican. “The president appoints a whole lot of people..that’s part of what everybody should take into account when they vote,” Haslam said.

Governor Haslam talks about New York meeting with Trump (WTVC) In the middle of a heated race for president, Tenneesee’s Governor meets with the GOP nominee behind closed doors. Governor Haslam says he helped organize the meeting which involved five other Republican governors. The group, met in New York, talking about things that matter most to states. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam stood before members of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, speaking about his recent New York trip. “As you can imagine with six elected governors and Donald Trump, and you’re sitting visiting for an hour, there was never a quiet moment,” Haslam laughed.

“Ban the Box” bill to delay criminal background questions for applicants (WJHL) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam recently signed a bill aimed at helping convicted felons get back into the workforce. The bill is called “Ban the Box” and it would prevent state employers from asking applicants about their criminal history early in the interview process. “With taking the box away, it gives people like me a chance to get their foot in the door. Maybe get that interview,” said Travis Blevins, a Johnson City Day Reporting Center participant. The Johnson City Day Reporting Center is a place where a person at risk of re-offending completes a court ordered program.

Haslam, TDEC Present Henry “Woody” McLaughlin With Lifetime Achievement Award (Chattanoogan) Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau presented Henry “Woody” McLaughlin with the Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards on June 15. “Woody’s tireless, good-natured approach to fostering positive working relationships while achieving real conservation results has been essential to preserving priority lands and protecting some of the most special places we enjoy today at South Cumberland State Park,” TDEC Commissioner Martineau said.

‘Read to be Ready’(Daily Banner) Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam read to and talked with students here Tuesday in the Polk Outdoor Literacy Camp, kicking off her tour to visit some Read to be Ready grant recipients around the state. “It is so important that you are strong readers, especially by the end of third grade. … By the end of third grade, when you are going into fourth grade, we want you to be really strong readers,” Haslam told the students. “Because you will be using reading for the rest of your life.” Polk Outdoor Literacy Camp received a $30,000 Read to be Ready grant for the summer program. The event was held at the West Polk Public Library.,36510

Amputee fights to keep rehab benefits from TennCare (WZTV) Lawrence Sampson has limited memory of the accident that changed his life last July but he does know it started when he avoided a car on I-40 near Dickson. “The timing was perfect. There was a rig broke down on the side of the freeway and I hit the rig at 70 miles per hour,” said Sampson. Sampson went through the windshield suffering dislocated bones along with a leg injury that would eventually become so severe doctors had to amputate last month. For the next few weeks Sampson will be confined to a wheelchair until he can start learning to walk with a prosthetic.

Tipton Co. woman faces more TennCare fraud charges (WBBJ)  A Tipton County woman is charged in Lauderdale County with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, according to a release from the state. Regina Winchester, 55, of Ripley is accused of doctor shopping and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and using TennCare to pay for either the clinical visits or the prescriptions, according to the release from the Office of Inspector General. Winchester was first arrested March 22 when she was charged in Tipton County with two counts of doctor shopping for drugs, according to the release. That case is still awaiting a court date.

Tipton Co. woman facing second TennCare fraud charge (Covington Leader) A Tipton County woman is charged in nearby Lauderdale County with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Officers, today announced the arrest of Regina Cay Winchester, 55, of Ripley. An indictment accuses her of doctor shopping and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, using to pay for either the clinical visits or the prescriptions.

Taxpayers paying to keep ‘Nashville’ on the air (WSMV) Fans rejoiced last week after they heard the TV show “Nashville” would be returning to the air.  Season 5 will be seen on Country Music Television (CMT) and Hulu. What you may not know if taxpayer money helped save the show. It’s no secret the show gets money from the city and state, but this year the show is getting more than ever. The Beacon Center said taxpayers are forking over $31 per viewer for the show.

UT Police Chief: Employees should know their responsibilities before going armed on campus (News Sentinel) A new law will allow state college employees to carry concealed handguns on campus beginning July 1, but University of Tennessee Police Chief Troy Lane said his officers likely won’t need their help in the event of a crisis. UT officials published new policies Wednesday outlining when and where full-time faculty and staff with handgun-carry permits will be allowed to go armed once the state statute takes effect. The policy also requires them to register with the UT Police Department, which will begin accepting early applications Monday.–383274371.html

University of Tennessee unveils new campus guns policy (Tennessean) The University of Tennessee on Wednesday published new policies that outline when and where employees can carry guns on campus in anticipation of a new law that takes effect this summer. The law, which will generally allow all full-time state college employees with handgun-carry permits to carry guns on campus, will take effect July 1. UT President Joe DiPietro sent a message Wednesday discussing how the university system would handle the change.

UT provides guidelines for faculty on campus carry law (WATE) University of Tennessee full-time employees with a handgun permit will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on campus starting July 1. Public Chapter 1061 was passed in May without Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. Employee’s guns must be concealed at all times. The bill requires staff to inform campus law enforcement of their guns. Students are not allowed to carried concealed weapons, including full-time employees who are enrolled at UT.

UT recognized for work in Clay County, Ky. (News Sentinel) Three years of work by University of Tennessee students and staff to bring better access to clean water and improve home safety in a small Southeastern Kentucky community has received national recognition. UT was one of five schools to receive the C. Peter Magrath/W.K. Kellogg Exemplary Program designation this year, an award that recognizes community outreach. The work, done primarily by nursing, architecture and engineering students, included creating a water kiosk to provide clean water to thousands of families, offering multiple disaster life support courses, and identifying and addressing safety and health hazards in homes across Clay County, Ky.–3568c008-e654-0fa3-e053-0100007f9ff7-383305451.html

Tennessee police, health officials can’t keep up with opioid crisis (Tennessean) As Tennessee officials continue to grapple with the growing abuse of opioids, overdose deaths and babies born addicted, a panel of law enforcement, public health and insurance officials Wednesday described a problem that has remained one step out of reach of efforts to combat it. “We’re going in the right direction, but we’re still not going fast enough,” said Dr. Mitchell Mutter, medical director of special projects for the Tennessee Department of Health. Opioid abuse remains the state’s No. 1 public health crisis, and more people in the state died from opioid overdoses than in car accidents or by gunshots in 2014.

After Yearlong Fight, Old Hickory Quarry Approved By State Regulators (WPLN) After a year of protests, a controversial rock quarry in Old Hickory has been approved for a state permit. The decision this week says that blasting operations won’t harm nearby wetlands or drinking water. Concerns about this limestone quarry have been widespread. They touched on everything from loud blasting, disturbances to wildlife and the structural integrity of the nearby Old Hickory Dam. But in the end, state regulators had the most control over a water quality permit. Specifically, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is issued to regulate the discharge of pollutants into rivers.

State seeks input on US Nitrogen permit renewal (WJHL) The state of Tennessee is delaying the renewal of a controversial permit for an industrial explosives plant in Greene County. US Nitrogen’s still a fairly new company that decided to invest in Greene County. The $225 million facility opened back in the fall of 2013. The next year it completed construction on its pipeline which takes water from the Nolichucky River for its work, then sends it back after it’s treated. us nitrogen2US Nitrogen has a permit from the state that allows them to pump 1.9 million gallons of water from the river every day. It also received a 2 year permit to let the company release the treated water back into the river, but now this permit is up for renewal.

Soak Creek in East Tennessee designated as a scenic river (AP) An East Tennessee creek has been named the state’s newest scenic river, the first such designation since 2001. Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation says Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation adding Soak Creek to the list of 15 waterways designated as scenic rivers. Soak Creek winds through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea counties. A section of the creek – from its junction with Georgia Branch near Stinging Falls State Natural Area to its intersection with the Piney River near Piney Falls State Natural Area – received the scenic river designation. The creek is known for old growth forests, picturesque waterfalls and wildflowers. It also offers recreational whitewater kayaking.

Soak Creek Named Tennessee’s First Scenic River In 15 Years (WATN) Soak Creek, a tributary of the Piney River in East Tennessee, has been named Tennessee’s newest Scenic River – the first designation since 2001. After unanimous bipartisan approval by the State House and Senate, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation adding Soak Creek to the list of 15 state waterways designated as Scenic Rivers. Winding through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea Counties, a specific segment of Soak Creek – from its junction with Georgia Branch near Stinging Falls State Natural Area to its intersection with the Piney River near Piney Falls State Natural Area – received the designation.

Missing Crossville, Tenn., man found dead at Fall Creek Falls (Times Free Press) A missing 49-year-old Crossville, Tenn., man was found dead Tuesday morning at Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park, west of Pikeville, Tenn. On Monday, Martin Jimenez Gonzales and his family had been swimming in the area of the falls behind the park’s Nature Center when he disappeared, according to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Kelly Brockman. “This is just a sad situation just a family trying out to cool off,” Brockman said Thursday. “Since no one actually saw him go under, an autopsy is being performed to see if he had drowned or maybe fallen and hit his head on the rocks,” Brockman said.

Man Dies At Fall Creek Falls; Body Recovered (WTVF) Officials have recovered the body of a man who died at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said a 49-year-old Hispanic man was with his family at the park Monday evening. Officials were waiting on autopsy results to determine the cause of death and the details surrounding his death were unclear, but they believed he either fell or was swimming and drowned. The man’s body was recovered Tuesday morning at the falls behind the park’s Visitor Center. The investigation was ongoing.

Crossville man dies at Fall Creek Falls State Park (Crossville Chronicle) A Crossville man died Monday at Fall Creek Falls State Park, park officials have confirmed. The cause of death is awaiting autopsy results and identification of the 49-year-old male is on hold pending notification of relatives who live out of the country. Although numerous sources on social media has identified the man as a familiar face who has worked at different Mexican restaurants over the past several years, the Chronicle is not publishing his identity until family members have been notified out of respect for them. Kelly Brockman, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, told the Chronicle, “At this time, we believe he either fell or was swimming and drowned.”

Crossville man dies near Nature Center at Fall Creek Falls (Times Free Press) A 49-year-old Crossville, Tenn., man was found dead Tuesday morning at Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park, west of Pikeville, Tenn., after having gone missing Monday night. Martin Jimenez Gonzales and his family had been swimming in the area of the falls behind the park’s Nature Center, according to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Kelly Brockman. “This is just a sad situation … just a family trying out to cool off,” Brockman said Thursday. No foul play is suspected but an autopsy is being performed to determine how he died since no one saw him go under the water’s surface, she said. The incident happened near the swinging bridge that crosses Cane Creek.

Biologist talks about local fish advisory (Post-Intelligencer) A state biologist explained Tuesday night at the Henry County Fairgrounds what’s behind a warning against eating species of bass and crappie caught in the Springville Bottom. Gregory Denton, a biologist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Water Resources, talked to a group of 50-75 concerned fishermen and area residents at the Fairgrounds’ Enoch Building. The warning issued Monday recommended that crappie or bass caught in that area not be fed to children or pregnant women. All others should limit their consumption to one meal per week.

Are we learning from the past? (Nursery Management) The industry must look to the past and present to envision the future of water resources. The consensus of Beeson et al. in 2004 was that the availability and consumption of both ground and surface waters by container nurseries would decline in the coming decade (2005 to 2015). In general, water availability would diminish due to either competition with urban areas, for example, population increase coupled with urbanization, direct and indirect effects of drought, decrease in water quality, or to regulations limiting withdrawals. Growers in Tennessee, through a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture-sponsored initiative, are receiving subsidized water conserving technology, consultation, and education as an incentive to adopt water-conserving practices.

Neighbors concerned about illegal burn at nearby construction site (WSMV) Homeowners in one Rutherford County neighborhood are concerned what chemicals may be in the air after they claim construction crews are burning materials illegally. One neighbor said she and her husband noticed the problem when they looked out the back door and saw flames shooting up into the air. She said Wednesday was the third time crews burned materials on the site. “We saw the workers throwing building materials into a pile and then lighting it afire,” she said. The Rutherford County Fire Department had to respond on Wednesday to control the flames that were threatening the power lines. It was the second time the department had been called to the site.

Convention moves from Nashville to S.F. over anti-LGBT legislation (San Francisco Business Journal) The American Counseling Association is yanking its 2017 annual conference from Nashville to San Francisco after Tennessee’s legislature passed a bill viewed as targeting the LGBT community in a discriminatory manner. The association, which represents 56,000 professional counselors nationwide, said it expects to attract 4,000 attendees to the spring conclave. Spending is expected to bring $5 million to San Francisco and the Bay Area — and away from Nashville. The event will now be held from March 16 to 19 at the Moscone West Convention Center, the association said Thursday.

Group buys hand gun carry permit class for LGBTQ community (WKRN) A handgun carry permit class being offered free of charge at the Nashville Armory filled up so fast that slots were gone before the word fully got out it was an option. A group of three businessmen decided that they would pay the cost of 30 slots in a handgun carry permit class at the Nashville Armory and then donate the spaces to members of the LGBTQ community who wanted to take the course. The eight-hour course typically costs $95 per person.

Specialty MADD License Plate At Risk (WTVF) The number of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers license plates on vehicles has declined, putting the production of those plates at risk. The organization could lose its specific MADD license plate in the near future. The organization must have more than 500 license plates in service in order to get $15,000 in funding each year. MADD Tennessee needed approximately 70 plates to be purchased by the end of June in order to make that happen. If not, the state would retire the specialized plate.

Lawmakers demand state pay man for wrongful imprisonment (AP) Supporters of a man who spent 31 years in prison for a rape he did not commit are demanding that the state of Tennessee pay him what he is legally owed. On Thursday, Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers, both Republicans, called on the state Parole Board and Gov. Bill Haslam to do the right thing for Lawrence McKinney. McKinney, who is now 60, was freed from prison in 2009 after DNA evidence showed he was wrongfully convicted of a 1977 rape and burglary in Memphis.

Lawmaker wants to know how many Tennesseans on ‘no fly’ list (WSMV) The “No fly, no buy” proposal has come up before after other mass shootings. And now, it’s back in the spotlight. The idea is to keep people who are on the “no fly” list from buying a gun. While Republicans have been quick to criticize President Barack Obama on gun control issues in the past, he’s received little back lash on his call to make it harder for suspected terrorists to get guns. Tennessee state Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, said it seems like a no brainer. “The bottom line is terrorists do not need to have guns,” said Powell. Powell drafted a bill earlier this year that would require the state to release the number of Tennesseans on that list who have hand gun carry permits.

Lawmaker to address pace of exoneration process for Wilson man (Tennessean) A state lawmaker frustrated with the Tennessee Board of Parole in his attempt to exonerate a Wilson County man who served 31 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit wants legislation to address the process. Lawrence McKinney, 60, was released from prison in 2009 through DNA evidence. He was found guilty in 1978 and sentenced to 100 years for rape and 10-15 years for burglary after incorrectly being identified.

Lawmakers Press Case Of Wilson County Man, Cleared By DNA But Never Declared ‘Innocent’ (WPLN) Six years after he was let out of a Tennessee prison, a Wilson County man still hasn’t been officially declared innocent. Now a state lawmaker is getting involved. He says the case illustrates how hard it is for people who’ve been wrongfully convicted to receive justice. In the late 1970s, Lawrence McKinney was sentenced to 100 years in prison for a rape and burglary in Memphis. He spent three decades behind bars before DNA testing led authorities to conclude he didn’t commit the crime.

Republican Legislators: You Should Have the Right to a Speedy Exoneration (Nashville Scene) Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) said he’s never called a press conference in his life. He’s never seen a need to. That is, until today, when Pody stood in a room at Legislative Plaza with Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), pastor John Hunn, and Lawrence McKinney, a man convicted of a rape he did not commit in 1978, to call for changes in the state’s exoneration process. McKinney was released from prison in 2009, after DNA tests in 2008 conclusively proved he was innocent. However, his first attempt at an exoneration under then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration was turned down.

Lawmaker Says State “Dragging Its Feet” In Exonerating Wilson County Man (WTVF) After serving 31 years for a crime he didn’t commit, Lawrence McKinney from Wilson County was still waiting on the state to decide if he’ll be exonerated. State Representative Mark Pody (R) called a news conference Thursday morning to say he’s frustrated with how long the process is taking. Pody said he was told months ago by the executive director of the State’s Board of Parole that the board would have reviewed McKinney’s paperwork with a recommendation for Gov. Bill Haslam by early June. “It’s a runaround, it’s not being expedited and it needs to,” Pody said. “We are playing with somebody’s life. Every day we’re taking another day away from him.”

Lawmaker speaks out about lack of justice for wrongly accused man (WSMV) An angry lawmaker and a frustrated pastor are demanding justice for a Mount Juliet man who spent 11,069 days in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Many believe Lawrence McKinney should be give the maximum $1 million compensation from the state, but he’s not eligible until the governor grants him clemency. The governor has said previously he wouldn’t grant clemency until the Tennessee Parole Board makes that recommendation.

Rep. Andy Holt announces plans to provide free gun permits (Tennessean) Not only does Rep. Andy Holt want to give away two semiautomatic rifles similar to the one used in the Orlando, Fla., shooting — he now plans to give out five free handgun permits. Holt, R-Dresden, made the announcement Thursday afternoon, saying that he plans to cover the cost for a three-year handgun permit for the first five people who contact his office. “I want people to arm themselves,” Holt said in a statement, in which he also called on other lawmakers to follow his lead and offer to pay for others to get permits in order to “help raise awareness.”

Andy Holt wants to help you get a gun (Jackson Sun) After a week where Rep. Andy Holt has been in the news for his willingness to give away firearms, he announced Thursday he would pay for handgun carry permits for five people. In a released statement, Holt, R-Dresden, said the first five callers to his office would be directed on how to apply. He said he would cover the costs. “People need to be prepared, and we’ve got a situation where government and those on the left are trying to disarm people in the middle of some of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades,” he said in the statement.

Knoxville state lawmaker Rep. Martin Daniel apologizes for Muhammad Ali tweets (WATE) Tennessee State Rep. Martin Daniel apologized Thursday for his tweets about the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali shortly after his death, saying he didn’t realize they would be construed as being “in the line of duty.” Daniel’s tweets mention Ali by his birth name, “Cassius Clay,” and bring up an indictment he faced during the Vietnam War for draft evasion. “In 5/67, Cassius Clay was indicted for refusal to be drafted into the armed forces. The S Ct reversed lower Ct conviction on technicality,” read one of the tweets. “Dutiful, patriotic, brave black and white men died in jungles while Cassius sat warm and cozy in USA,” read another. Daniel later deleted his Twitter account.

Another lawmaker calls for end of Durham investigation (Tennessean) A state lawmaker serving on a four-member committee that initiated the investigation into Rep. Jeremy Durham is suggesting the probe “reeks of a political witch hunt” and should end immediately. Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, sent a strongly worded letter Wednesday to committee chairman Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, calling for the committee to be dissolved, with Spivey saying he believed the investigation had gone beyond the scope of what the special committee had authorized.

Tennessee State Senator: ‘AG Must Act Without Further Delay’ to Protect Against Refugee Public Health Risk (Breitbart News) State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) tells Breitbart News, “The Attorney General must act without further delay to enforce our rights under the Refugee Act of 1980. Public health is at risk, and doing nothing is not an option.” Norris was reacting to a recent report from Breitbart News that 27 percent of refugees sent to Tennessee between 2011 and 2015 test positive for latent TB infection (LTBI). The Tennessee Office for Refugees (TOR) is “the subsidiary of Catholic Charities of Tennessee that was hired as the federal contractor to run the refugee resettlement program in the Volunteer State.”

Legislature not as diverse as Tennessee but it could change (Commercial Appeal) Two bills, similar subject, same sponsor, but starkly different outcomes: After a long, sometimes bitter debate, the state House of Representatives rejected a hard-fought bill to let Tennessee-raised children of undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition at state colleges rather than out-of-state rates three times higher. Less than two minutes later, with no discussion at all, the House voted 94-1 to approve the next bill on the agenda, allowing North Mississippi residents to pay in-state tuition at the University of Memphis — the latest of several discounts by Tennessee universities trying to attract out-of-state students.

Interactive Map: Divided America: Diversity of Tennessee State House Districts (News Sentinel)

Congressional delegation stands out for lack of diversity (Tennessean) Whether they come from an urban center in Memphis, Nashville or Knoxville, or from a rural community as small as Frog Jump, the men and women representing Tennessee in Congress share at least one trait. All 11 are white. Tennessee is one of just two states in the Deep South that don’t have any people of color in their congressional delegations. The other is the state’s next-door neighbor, Arkansas, which has never sent an African-American to Congress.

Interactive Map: Divided America: Diversity of Tennessee Congressional Districts (News Sentinel)

Fleischmann recalls July 16 shooting as House passes anti-terror bills (Times Free Press) In response to Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the U.S. House on Thursday passed a package of three previously approved bills, including one sponsored by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., which are aimed at keeping terrorists from radicalizing Americans. “The focus of all three bills is to combat radical Islamism right here in the United States” said Fleischmann, who called his measure a “messaging bill” after the House’s 402-15 vote.

Diane Black eyes $500K ad buy in August primary election (Tennessean) The first political ads in the race to represent Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District will debut this month, with U.S. Rep. Diane Black set to launch a nearly half-million dollar ad buy. Black — who is among the richest members of Congress — is prepared to spend $493,000 on three or four advertisements that will run on broadcast and cable television stations between June 29 and the August 4 primary election, according to her campaign.

The brother-in-law of Rep. Diane Black, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, is barely getting by (Nashville Scene) The first thing you should know about Don Black is that he loves his brother. He brings it up over and over again, on the phone, in text messages and emails, in the lyrics of a song. Don loves David. He worries about him. He prays for him. He sometimes cries because he misses him so much. But David Black, the husband of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, has not been in contact with his younger brother since last summer, when he sent an email to Don severing ties — both familial and financial.

Citing Orlando Shooting, Tennessee Representative Again Calls For Freezing Syrian Resettlement (WPLN) U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn is again calling for a halt to the resettlement of Syrian refugees. And the Tennessee Republican is pointing to the shooting in Orlando as she makes her case, even though the culprit wasn’t from overseas. Blackburn took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday to make another push for a temporary ban on refugees. Blackburn has co-sponsored a measure with fellow Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais that would cut off all funding for resettlement until Congress has approved the Obama administration’s plans.

Contractor who drew pay from TVA, Department of Energy, confesses he padded expense account (News Sentinel) A contractor who drew pay from both TVA and the U.S. Department of Energy is confessing he padded his expense account to the tune of more than $110,000. Jim L. Calloway has agreed to skip a grand jury review and entered a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office to plead guilty to a charge of filing false claims, records filed this week in U.S. District Court show. According to the plea agreement, Calloway had been living in Houston, Texas, when, in June 2011, he took a contracting job with Bechtel Power Company at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

IKEA scours areas around Nashville’s interstates for site (Tennessean) IKEA is scouring areas around Nashville interstates 40, 24 and 65 for a site to build a store, but its spokesman insists that the Swedish home furnishings retailer is yet to settle on a specific location. “We continue to evaluate options in the Nashville area for a store,” spokesman Joseph Roth said. “The same criteria still exist — highway visibility, access and a big piece of land. That’s what we found in Memphis and that’s what we’re looking to find in Nashville and haven’t found anything yet.”

How To Respond In A Violent Domestic Situation (WTVF) Over the weekend, 21-year-old Dalton Kelley was arrested for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. Police said he forced a woman he used to have a relationship with into a car and assaulted her, then let her go. The situation started in the parking lot of the Anytime Fitness Center on Mallory Lane. According to Franklin Police, Kelley posted bail. So what do you do in a parking lot when a domestic situation turns violent? NewsChannel5’s Alexandra Koehn took some of her questions to Lieutenant Charles Warner at the Franklin Police Department.

Knox man’s petitions on marijuana referenda fall short of required signatures (News Sentinel) After 75 days of collecting signatures on a pair of petitions to allow Knox County voters to weigh in on the legality of medical and recreational marijuana, Steve Cooper has admitted defeat. The Knox County resident gathered 17,128 signatures on the medical marijuana petition and 16,875 on the recreational marijuana petition — roughly 3,000 signatures short of the threshold of 20,000 needed to make the ballot, according to his letter to the Knox County Election Commission.

UT grad and entrepreneur takes on presidential candidates with hilarious lip dub videos (WBIR) No matter which side of the political aisle you find yourself, the presidential campaign season can really be a long one. So instead of listening to the candidates talk, Fadi Saleh has decided to make them sing. The recent University of Tennessee grad started making music videos in 2011. Since then his videos, which usually feature President Barack Obama edited to sing popular songs, have been viewed millions of times. Saleh’s YouTube channel, Barack’s Dubs, has earned more than 1,459,000 subscribers and continues to put out viral videos.


Editorial: Work rewarded with recognition for development (News Sentinel) For the second year in a row and the fourth time since 2009, Tennessee garnered a Gold Shovel award from Area Development magazine for robust business development. Joining Tennessee in the top six states for attracting business are California, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Utah. Tennessee had $5.5 billion in new investment in 2015. “The states and their communities receiving 2016 Shovel Awards not only have the right combination of factors to attract and retain business, they also display a pro-business attitude and marketing savvy,” Geraldine Gamble, editor of Area Development, said in a statement announcing the winners.

Editorial: New board must get a grip on the cost of college (Johnson City Press) Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the FOCUS Act into law. This measure creates new governing boards for universities that were previously supervised by the Tennessee Board of Regents. That includes East Tennessee State University, Austin Peay University and the University of Memphis. The TBR will continue to oversee the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges. Schools under the University of Tennessee system are not affected. Haslam will appoint eight of the 10 board members for each university. These boards will oversee tuition, hiring and firing of university presidents and set an agenda for each school.

Column: Tennessee lagging on alternative energy (TN Ledger) Shifting rules slow solar’s appeal. TVA eyes more, smaller nuclear plants. Tennessee has never been at the forefront of alternative energy. If California is the cool kid tapped in on all the latest advances, we could be considered the behind-the-times cousin always trying to play catch up. But catching up we are – with plenty of growing pains along the way. “I’m an engineer by trade, and in the world of engineering you learn that there are very few absolutes,” says state Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge). “Everything is a trade-off. If you want something to be lighter, you generally have to give up strength. If you want it to be stronger, you have to give up weight.

Editorial: Saluting the Baptist’s flag vote (Commercial Appeal) The move was not greeted with unanimous approval by its members, but the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution discouraging the display of the Confederate battle flag marks significant progress for America’s largest Protestant denomination. Adopted Tuesday at an SBC convention in St. Louis, the resolution helps bring the SBC full circle from its pre-Civil War founding, which was based on a denominational schism over the institution of slavery. The resolution calls on members to discontinue displaying the flag “as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”

Column: Athletics come first at Tennessee and shutting down the school proves it (News Sentinel) In the balance between athletics and academics, Tennessee made it clear where its priorities lie. The state’s flagship university announced earlier this week that it will shut down Sept. 1, a Thursday, to accommodate the Volunteers’ season opener. No classes will be held, no university offices will be open. The only activity on campus will be football – and tailgates and pre-game parties, of course. Yes, legitimate logistical and security concerns were the driving forces behind this decision. With a capacity of 102,455, Neyland Stadium is the fifth-largest college football stadium in the country.

Frank Daniels: Nashville school board picks bad time to sue state (Tennessean) More than year after voting to take a wait-and-see approach on whether to join other Tennessee large school districts in a suit against the state to force full funding of the Basic Education Program (BEP), the Metro school board decided it had seen enough. In a 6-0 vote Tuesday, the board authorized the Metro law director to file suit against the state. Board members Mary Pierce, District 8, and Elissa Kim, District 5, abstained from the vote, and Jo Ann Brannon, District 2, was unable to attend the meeting. Pierce and Brannon are not up for re-election, and Kim decided not to file for re-election.

Column: Kiss, Kiss, Bang (Memphis Flyer) You know, it’s getting easier to see things through the lunatic eyes of Tennessee Rep. Andy Holt (R)-Duh. Per Holt, the Second Amendment exists, in part, to ensure bad guys have access to immense firepower. Because that furnishes good guys with deserving targets. It’s pretty obvious, really — right there in the constitution between the words “well regulated” and “militia” and not all that hard to see if, like Andy, you squint. Holt had planned to give away an AR-15 semiautomatic, the prefered weapon of mass shooters like Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 in a Florida gay bar on Sunday. In the Orlando massacre’s horrific wake, Holt’s so consarn mad about the dadgum liberals with their gun control, he wishes he could give away more.

Column: What About Gun Liability Insurance? (Nashville Scene) In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the American public seems to be in the mood to discuss, yet again, whether something can be done about the gun violence in our society. I’m going to be up-front — most of the people I know are despondent. If those poor murdered children at Newtown couldn’t spur us to do something as a country, what could? But it also kind of feels like Newtown was a tipping point — the refusal of the gun industry to do anything in the wake of Newtown to make guns safer and harder to keep out of the hands of criminals appalled a lot of people and the sense I get is that every time there’s another massacre the number of appalled people grow.

Mark Harmon: Task force sham becomes shambles (News Sentinel) From the Not-So-Farfetched File: Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell hadn’t expected a seventh session of her “3-Star Healthy Project,” a political fig leaf to cover the state’s failure to pass Insure Tennessee. The reviews for the first six sessions, however, were so bad she needed to do something. One pair of health care advocates declared, “Nibbling around the edges of health care reform will not create better health care outcomes for Tennesseans or create the healthy workforce our economy demands.” Another attendee wrote, “As a West Point graduate, it was one of the most shocking experiences of my life to hear public officials casually lying.”

Jackson Baker: Pre-Summer Heat in Memphis Politics (Memphis Flyer) A picnic, a poll, and some political pot-shotting in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. On Saturday, a day in which the afternoon temperature soared into the 90s, the annual “community picnic” sponsored by longtime political broker and former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism took place, as usual, on the grounds of the Horn Lake Road Learning Center in South Memphis.  And, as usual, the event attracted active politicians, candidates for political office, and a politically oriented crowd, though attendance seemed somewhat down this year, whether because of the excessive heat or by the relative scarcity of blue-ribbon political contests to come — at least among Democrats, who are normally predominant at these events.

Greg Johnson: Muslim terrorists existential threats (News Sentinel) Do you feel it? PrideFest, Knoxville’s big annual celebration of LGBT culture, arrives this weekend with a sense of something in the air post-Orlando. A Muslim terrorist slaughtered 49, wounded more than 50 at a gay night club in the Florida town famous for DisneyWorld, the “happiest place on earth.” Sadness emanated out of Orlando, but something else settles over us. PrideFest noted the heaviness of the situation on its webpage. “We’ve always taken security seriously at PrideFest since Orlando is certainly not the first act of violence against our community,” the page says. “We’re working closely with KPD and the City administration to ensure that everyone has a fun and safe day out at PrideFest.”

Brad Schmitt: What made Sen. Mark Green’s tough dad cry? (Tennessean) Surgeons removed his cancer-riddled right arm, and Richard Green had a tough phone call to make before he went home. He didn’t want to shock his 9-year-old son with the sight of a one-armed father. Best to tell the boy before he got back to their small-town Mississippi house. “Son, I just want to let you know, they had to take my arm,” he said. “That’s OK, Daddy,” the boy shot back. “I’ll bait the hook for you when we go fishing.”