Tuesday, July 31

Where are the tax cut savings going? Many companies won’t say (Tennessean) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was celebrated by Republicans last year as a measure that would usher in new economic growth, business expansions, more jobs and wage increases long held back by the high tax rates levied on U.S. businesses. The corporate tax rate dropped to about 21 percent from 35 percent, a significant decrease that saved many Tennessee companies millions — or hundreds of millions of dollars. So where has the money gone? Many companies won’t say or are scant on specifics. Several publicly traded companies in Tennessee have issued press releases announcing bonuses or minimum wage increases, but few have offered details on the size and scope of those raises. Meanwhile, privately held companies in Tennessee have been reticent to share any of their spending strategies. https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/07/30/tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-savings-tennessee-companies/764427002/

East Tennessee schools adding more security on campus (WBIR-TV) As kids head back to school, so do more police officers. Several area school districts hired more school resource officers (SROs) this school year. It’s because, while school safety has always been important, there is a growing perception that shootings in the classroom are becoming more common. In response, schools and police are working to make kids and parents feel more at ease. Often that first step is increasing police presence on campus. That’s a step Lenoir City Schools is making this school year. “We will have a full time SRO at each one of our schools,” said Chief Don White with the Lenoir City Police Department. White said the three city schools used to share two school resource officers. But school shootings across the nation are sparking a change. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/east-tennessee-schools-adding-more-security-on-campus/51-578842104

Huntingdon adds school resource officers (WBBJ-TV) One West Tennessee community is adding additional officers to local schools. The Huntingdon Public Safety Department will now add a school resource officer to each of the three schools in the Huntingdon Special School District. Director of Public Safety Walter Smothers says the additions follow a trend of adding SROs to schools for student safety. “We have good schools, we have good students, responsible leadership, and I think that speaks well for the community within itself, but it’s looking forward and making sure that we’re on the same par with everyone else, that we’re prepared,” Smothers said. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/30/huntingdon-adds-school-resource-officers/

Vanderbilt condemns racist email promoting white supremacy sent to students, staff (Tennessean) Vanderbilt University is condemning a “disturbing” email containing a racist message sent to some students, faculty and staff Monday night. The email contained racist language and promoted white supremacy, a message on the school’s Twitter account said early Tuesday morning. The message “..violates our fundamental commitment to fostering an inclusive community and is absolutely unacceptable,” the statement said.  The university is investigating the source of the email. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/07/31/vanderbilt-univeristy-racist-email-nashville-white-supremacy-students/869708002/

State Wants Pause on Part of Driver’s License Order (Memphis Flyer) State officials have stopped revoking driver’s licenses from those who can’t pay traffic-ticket fines and fees and have lifted revocations for most, but they want a halt on the process to get revoked licenses back to all such drivers. Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DHS) Commissioner David Purkey filed an appeal last week on a legal decision made earlier this month that ruled unconstitutional the state’s process of revoking licenses because drivers could not pay fines and fees. The suit was originally filed in January 2017, in part by Just City, the Memphis criminal justice reform advocacy group, and Memphis-based law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz. The National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Civil Rights Corps joined the suit later. https://www.memphisflyer.com/NewsBlog/archives/2018/07/30/state-wants-pause-on-part-of-drivers-license-order

Death row inmate’s attorney: Tennessee Supreme Court must delay Billy Ray Irick’s execution (Tennessean) Attorneys for a man set to die in 10 days filed a motion Monday requesting Tennessee’s highest court temporarily delay his execution. The Tennessee Supreme Court must push back Billy Ray Irick’s execution date so an appeals court can hear a case challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol, Irick’s attorneys argued in a motion Monday. “Absent a stay from this court, Mr. Irick will be denied his right to appeal and executed under a protocol using compounded midazolam and compounded potassium chloride,” states Irick’s filing, referencing two of the three drugs Tennessee plans to use during his execution. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/07/30/tennessee-supreme-court-must-delay-billy-ray-iricks-execution-attorney-says/849334002/

General Assembly candidates make final fundraising push before primary (Brentwood Home Page) Candidates hoping to represent Williamson County in the Tennessee General Assembly are making a final push to raise funds before the primary election. Last week, candidates submitted campaign finance reports for July 1 through July 23. It’s the last report before the election on Aug. 2. Candidates in the race for the state house seat in District 61 got more than $20,000 in contributions from July 1 to July 23. They’ve raised nearly $125,000 from contributions so far, and more than $700,000 from loans. Republican Brandon Ogles got the most money from contributions in the last several weeks before the election. Most of the $8,600 he raised came from one contribution from the Middle Tennessee Leaders for Common Sense. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/general-assembly-candidates-make-final-fundraising-push-before-primary/

Carfi kicks off campaign for state Senate (Lebanon Democrat) Friends and supporters of Mary Alice Carfi gathered last Tuesday at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon to kick off Carfi’s campaign for the District 17 seat in the Tennessee Senate. Voters attended the kickoff from throughout Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson counties that make up District 17.  Carfi spoke after introductions from gubernatorial candidate and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and District 55 state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, of Nashville. “Mary Alice is the kind of leadership that District 17 has been lacking for far too long,” said Clemmons, Watertown native. “I think Mary Alice’s last campaign says a lot about her character. She is a fearless and optimistic hard worker,” said Dean. “What has been a priority for me throughout my career are women’s issues. That should be a priority for every candidate, but the way we will make a difference is by encouraging more women like Mary Alice to run for office.” https://www.lebanondemocrat.com/Politics/2018/07/30/Carfi-kicks-off-campaign-for-state-Senate.html?ci=stream&lp=2&p=

See how many people voted early ahead of Thursday’s election (Tennessean) Early voting in Tennessee has finally ended. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers ahead of the primary election Thursday. Republicans have cast nearly twice as many ballots as Democrats. So far, about 626,900 people have voted in Tennessee, including early and absentee ballots cast between July 13 and July 28. Republicans have cast 398,117 ballots and Democrats have cast 210,743. arly voting totals up 11 percent from 2014 midterms. This total shows a continued rising trend for early voting, which is up 11 percent from the roughly 564,000 who voted early or absentee during the same two-week period in 2014.About 543,000 people voted early in 2010, the last time there was a competitive Republican primary for an open governor’s office. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/30/tennessee-election-early-voting-primary/864540002/

Early voting total of 22K sets record (Murfreesboro Post) Early voter and absentee ballot turnout for the County General Election hit 22,802 votes cast, an all-time record for August, Election Administrator Alan Farley said. Early voting ran from July 13-28. Farley said he had projected an early voting turnout of just over 20,000, so results were better than hoped. Early voting is up 30 percent from August 2014, when the early vote count was 17,165. Part of the reason for the large turnout this time is the gubernatorial race, he said. “Gubernatorial elections push turnout,” Farley said. As far as Election Day on Thursday, Farley said he expects turnout of 18,000 to 20,000 for an overall total of 40,000 to 41,000. https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/early-voting-total-of-k-sets-record/article_f6f443d2-9420-11e8-88ed-3b5c91a9cd2a.html

How primary voters for Tennessee governor say they made their decision (Tennessean) Early voting has ended and now just days remain until the state’s primary election Thursday, when Tennesseans will cast the final votes for who will become the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor. But as residents poured into the voting booths over the past few weeks, one thing was certain for many of them: Their minds were made up. It’s been a packed race, including six top-tier gubernatorial candidates. Among the Republicans, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, former Tennessee economic development chief and businessman Randy Boyd, House Speaker Beth Harwell, and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee have battled it out on the ground and on the air waves. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/30/tn-governors-race-voters-rally-diane-black-randy-boyd-beth-harwell-bill-lee-karl-dean-craig-fitzhugh/827290002/

Tennessee’s Next Governor: What Can Be Done To Stop Mass Shootings (WPLN Radio) After the school shootings in Benton, Ky., and Parkland, Fla., this year, Tennessee legislators debated how to tighten up the state’s gun laws. They wound up setting aside more money for school security, without passing any significant gun legislation. But some voters still say they’d like to see more action, so we asked the candidates for governor: “What do you see as the key to preventing mass shootings?” Across Tennessee, about 900 police have been assigned to schools — enough to cover roughly half of them. Officers are fairly common in high schools but they’re virtually nonexistent in the lower grades. That could change in the near future. Earlier this year, the state legislature set aside $30 million for police and other measures to tighten up security in schools. http://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessees-next-governor-what-can-be-done-stop-mass-shootings#stream/0

Candidates for governor race to primary day (Nashville Post) With scant time remaining, hopefuls spread across the state. Just a few days ahead of the Aug. 2 primary vote, candidates for Tennessee governor are scrambling to secure last-minute votes. Republican Randy Boyd, a businessman and former state economic and community development commissioner, announced a “95 Hour Sprint to Election Day,” another reference to the candidate’s love of running. (Earlier in the campaign, he ran more than 500 miles across the state). The final days of his primary campaign will begin Monday in Memphis, continue Tuesday in Nashville, Franklin and Chattanooga and conclude with an election watch party in Knoxville on Thursday. https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/elections/article/21015573/candidates-for-governor-race-to-primary-day

TN gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee stops in Chattanooga (WDEF-TV) With the gubernatorial primary election only days away, you could find candidate Bill Lee in Chattanooga speaking to around 30 people in a town hall. It was one of his stops Monday as he continued to tour the state. “There’s a lot of momentum, and we feel a lot electricity in our town halls and we’re doing four and five a day. So we’re traveling from one county to the next meeting with hundreds of people and it’s very exciting,” Lee said. The businessman is one of several Republicans running for Governor. Diane Black, Randy Boyd, and Beth Harwell are also vying to be on the November ballot. At the town hall, Lee answered questions from education and veterans, to organic farming. He said the questions he gets most: what is the most important thing to him and what he plans to do first when getting into office. https://wdef.com/2018/07/31/tn-gubernatorial-candidate-bill-lee-stops-chattanooga/

Lee Beaman endorses Diane Black (TN Journal/On the Hill) Conservative auto dealer Lee Beaman is endorsing U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s Republican bid for governor. “There is only one true conservative in the race and her name is Diane Black,” Beaman said in a release. “Diane will fight to protect and defend out Tennessee values. She will be an advocate for Tennessee businesses of all sizes, and she will always fight for families and the unborn. With Diane leading the way, we can become the most business friendly state in the nation while keeping our values intact.” Black said cited Beaman’s role in fighting public transit proposals in Nashville as a sign that “when he gets behind something, everyone better move out of the way. He is a stalwart fighter for the conservative cause who never waivers in his conviction.” http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/lee-beaman-endorses-diane-black/

Harwell appears on Fox News (TN Journal/On the Hill) Beth Harwell appeared on Fox News over the weekend to promote her Republican gubernatorial bid and to liken herself to President Donald Trump. “We’ve been able to do here in Tennessee under my leadership as speaker what president Trump is trying to do for America,” she said. “We’ve lowered taxes for all Tennesseans, we’re the lowest-taxed state in the national. We have ended sanctuary cities. And so of course we have a lot in common, but I believe I have the proven performance and the results that conservatives in the state of Tennessee want.” Harwell also downplayed the significance of Pence’s recent reiteration of his endorsement of Diane Black in the race. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/harwell-appears-on-fox-news/

Primaries For Governor Move to Contentious End (Memphis Daily News) Randy Boyd has heard the saying about a race for elected office being a marathon and not a sprint. And he agrees. The Republican contender for Tennessee governor is also a marathon runner who has run 36 of the races. “And I always dreamed of being at mile 25 and feeling fresh, like it was day one,” Boyd said Saturday, July 28, near the closing of Shelby County’s early-voting period. “We feel something like that. I wouldn’t say perfectly fresh.” The early-voting site at Second Baptist Church in East Memphis was the last of 38 locations Boyd visited across the state during the 14 days of balloting in advance of Election Day on Thursday. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/31/primaries-for-gov-move-to-contentious-end/

After the Boyd marathon comes the sprint (TN Journal/On the Hill) Having already run across the state, Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd is announcing a 95-hour “sprint to election day.” The former economic and community development commissioner plans 20 public events across the state leading up to his primary night party in his hometown of Knoxville on Thursday. “The early vote is in. And now the biggest day is only hours away – It’s rally time! The team that finishes the strongest down the stretch will win, and I pledge to give it everything I’ve got these last few days,” said Randy Boyd. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/boyd-sprint/

Lee mailer: ‘Good thing he’s a master plumber’ (TN Journal/On the Hill) Bill Lee’s latest campaign mailer says his Republican opponents are throwing the “kitchen sink” at him. The mailer’s retort: “Good thing he’s a master plumber.” The piece then goes on to list Lee’s bona fides as they relate to guns, abortion, and sanctuary cities. Feels like somehow they missed an opportunity to say something about how he’s uniquely qualified to unclog the drain of the Nashville swamp… http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/lee-plumber/

Bill Lee to wrap primary campaign in Jonesborough, and Darrell Waltrip will be by his side (WJHL-TV) A candidate for Governor will wrap up his primary campaign with a stop in the Tri-Cities, and he’ll have some help from a Nascar legend. Republican candidate Bill Lee’s final stop before the Thursday primary will be in Jonesborough Wednesday night, his campaign confirmed Monday night. Lee will appear with retired Nascar driver Darrell Waltrip who previously endorsed Lee and appeared in a campaign video. News Channel 11 has learned the event will be held from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the front steps of the old Washington County Courthouse on E. Main Street in Jonesborough. The campaign has yet to officially announce the stop, but a spokesman shared a Facebook invitation. https://www.wjhl.com/local/bill-lee-to-wrap-primary-campaign-in-jonesborough-and-darrell-waltrip-will-be-by-his-side/1335600937

Where Tennessee’s candidates for governor stand on LGBTQ rights (Tennessean) In a primary that has kept Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial candidates on the defensive about their commitment to conservative values, the race has largely strayed away from matters of LGBTQ policy. The candidates have largely remained quiet on matters surrounding same-sex marriage, policies affecting transgender people and how they would govern when it comes to legislation impacting the LGBTQ community. It’s a “political calculation about the risk involved” that the Republican candidates have to make when deciding whether to address the issue, said Tom Ingram, a longtime political consultant. The two Democratic candidates agreed to telephone interviews with USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee to discuss their stances on the topic. The Republicans declined telephone interviews but spoke after recent campaign events in Middle Tennessee. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/30/tennessee-election-governor-lgbtq-policy-same-sex-marriage-bathroom-bill/856719002/

Tennessee Democratic operative under fire for past explicit tweets about Trump, supporters (Tennessean) A Tennessee Democratic Party operative is under fire for several explicit tweets he made in the past about President Donald Trump and scoffing at the idea of reaching out to Trump supporters, who he described in a tweet as “idiots.” Mark Brown, spokesperson for the party’s Tennessee Victory 2018 coordinated campaign — an operation working to help Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen — made the tweets in 2016 and 2017, prior to his current role. ut Tennessee Republicans are now pouncing on the remarks in the high-profile U.S. Senate race between Bredesen and GOP hopeful U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in which Bredesen will likely need support from some Trump supporters to win. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/30/mark-brown-donald-trump-tweets-tennessee-democratic-party-operative/865485002/

The 2 must-watch races in Tennessee’s primaries, briefly explained (Vox) Tennessee is solidly red. But the state has two important open races, one for Senate and one for governor, that Democrats think they have a shot — albeit a very long shot — at taking. … There won’t be any fireworks in Thursday’s Senate primary; Blackburn and Bredesen are expected to win their respective contests and face off in November. But this Senate race is worth keeping an eye on. Democrats struck gold when they recruited Bredesen to run. A popular two-term governor from 2003 to 2011, Bredesen is running on bringing an independent voice to Washington. Tennesseans know his name, and he has support across the aisle. Polling has been inconclusive. https://www.vox.com/2018/7/31/17607454/tennessee-primary-2018-midterm-bredesen-black-blackburn

Want a less partisan senator? Elect a former governor. (Washington Post) Voters in six states this year will have a chance to put a former governor in the Senate. Republican Mitt Romney of Utah, Democrat Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, and Republican Rick Scott  of Florida are making their first bids for the Senate, while Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) are running to hold their seats. On the campaign trail, several of these candidates have told voters that they won’t be afraid to stand up to their party when they disagree. Romney has said he will “take a different course” from others in the Republican Party and will “speak out” when he disagrees with President Trump. Bredesen has pledged not to be a “toy of the national Democratic Party.” Scott has promised he “won’t fit in Washington.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/07/31/want-a-less-partisan-senator-elect-a-former-governor/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5b3589a24044

Trump Loyalist Gets Surprise Fight From Democrat in Senate Race (Bloomberg) The U.S. Senate race in Tennessee shouldn’t have been much of a worry for Republicans in 2018. Democrat Phil Bredesen has made it so. The state hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1990, President Donald Trump won there by 26 percentage points in 2016, and the presumptive Republican nominee this year, Representative Marsha Blackburn, is a Trump loyalist. But Bredesen is trying to cut through that with an independent profile that he hopes will transcend his party label. “I belong to the Democratic Party and I’m happy with that, but it’s an organization I belong to. It’s not a religion. I don’t think that if Chuck Schumer doesn’t like what I do I’m going to hell,” he said in an interview, referring to the New York Democrat who’s in line to be majority leader if Democrats manage to take Senate control in November. https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/2018/07/31/trump-loyalist-gets-surprise-fight-from-democrat-in-senate-race

Phil Bredesen talks Russia summit, opioid crisis in Q&A with the Home Page (Brentwood Home Page) Ahead of the midterm elections on November 6, the Home Page recently spoke with the two candidates for the U.S. Senate representing Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen. Polling data shows that the two candidates are close, and with Democrats only needing two seats to take majority in the Senate, this race has drawn national attention. Phil Bredesen served as the 48th Governor of Tennessee from 2003-2011, and has seen huge success in the business world, acting as a chairman for a solar energy plant developer. Bredesen said he believes the government is losing its ability to move forward and find common ground. He has referred to himself as the “adult in the room,” saying he will vote on each issue on a non-partisan basis. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/phil-bredesen-talks-russia-summit-opioid-crisis-in-qa-with-the-home-page/

Marsha Blackburn discusses tax cuts, socialism, Affordable Care Act in Q&A with the Home Page (Brentwood Home Page) Ahead of the midterm elections on November 6, the Home Page spoke with the two candidates running for the U.S. Senate representing Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen. The two candidates are close according to polling data, and with Democrats only needing two seats to take majority in the Senate, this race has drawn national attention. Marsha Blackburn has served on the House of Representatives representing Tennessee’s 7th congressional district since 2003, and announced her run for Senate in October 2017. Blackburn said she believes the American people are frustrated by the current U.S. Senate, and that what Tennesseans want to see is a secure border, more tax cuts, and an end to chain migration, sanctuary city policies, and the visa lottery system. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/marsha-blackburn-discusses-tax-cuts-socialism-affordable-care-act-in-qa-with-the-home-page/

Roe on constituent accessibility, ‘I’m out all the time’ (Johnson City Press) A common complaint shared among Tri-Cities constituents — both Democrat and Republicans alike — is the apparent lack of accessibility to their congressman, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. The five-term congressman is hoping to once again capture the Republican nomination for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District in Thursday’s primary election, where he is being challenged by Army veteran Todd McKinley, from Kingsport. Roe has been criticized by his primary opponent for not participating in a congressional candidate forum last week in Johnson City. McKinley and Democrat Marty Olsen did participate, while Roe’s campaign officials claimed they did not receive the invitation. Even so, Roe cited a scheduled vote in Washington as reasoning for his absence. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/30/Roe-on-constituent-accessibility.html?ci=stream&lp=1&p=

East Tenn. law professor weighs in on anti-media rhetoric (WATE-TV) President Donald Trump doubled down on the phrase “enemy of the people,” a reference to the media, over the weekend. In a tweet about a meeting with the publisher of the New York Times, he wrote in part: “spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!” If you walk around Market Square, you’ll find Republicans, Democrats, independents, Libertarians and apolitical people out to enjoy a meal downtown. You’ll also find many of them are either pro-media or anti-media. Some take issue with national outlets, specifically. Although many people still stand behind local news, history shows rhetoric can be dangerous for any journalist. Research published by the Washington Post lays out a similar situation in Germany three years ago. Reporters were refereed to “lying press,” in German, by politicians. The article cites more than 20 assaults on journalists. https://www.wate.com/news/local-news/east-tenn-law-professor-weighs-in-on-anti-media-rhetoric/1335261508

Tennessee’s exposure in trade war: $1.4 billion (Memphis Business Journal) Tennessee exports worth almost $1.4 billion could be hit in a trade war. According to the associate director of Middle Tennessee State University’s Business and Economic Research Center, Steven Livingston, $1.38 billion in Tennessee exports are on the list of goods the European Union, China, Canada and Mexico plan to retaliate against due to new U.S. tariffs. “The first thing to say, luckily, is that the percentage of state exports that are being targeted is still relatively low,” Livingston wrote. “About $1.38 billion of Tennessee’s exports [amount] to just over 4 percent of total 2017 exports ($33.25 billion).” https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2018/07/30/tennessees-exposure-in-trade-war-1-4-billion.html

CBD oil sold freely in Knoxville, but state law, federal policy clash on its use (News Sentinel) Cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, derived from industrial hemp is sold freely at area health stores and vape shops. But if workers at Oak Ridge’s U.S. Department of Energy facilities and the Y-12 National Security Complex use it, they could be treated like users of heroin or LSD. That’s because federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug – and though hemp-derived CBD oil has minimal amounts of the high-producing chemical THC, standard drug tests can’t tell the difference between hemp products and marijuana. The policy applies to direct federal employees and contractors, a total of nearly 10,000 people, according to DOE and Y-12 representatives. The rationale stems from a 2015 Office of Personnel Management memo on “marijuana use” – which doesn’t directly address CBD oil – and before that to a presidential executive order dating from 1986, at the height of the War on Drugs. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2018/07/30/cbd-oil-y-12-tennessee-law-federal-policy/826600002/

Gap widening between what you earn, what it takes to live (WSMV-TV) People are finding it more difficult to make ends meet in Nashville. Music city is an expensive place to live, and it’s easy to see why. According to the website GoBankingRates.com, the average income in Nashville is about $49,000. However, it takes more than $80,000 to live here comfortably. This is a  sizable gap that’s growing. In 2017, that figure was $70,000. Tennessean reporter David Plazas has been sounding the alarm for some time now in a series of columns. He says for new arrivals, from more expensive cities, it’s all relative. “People coming in from other areas — California, New York, Chicago — it’s cheap living for them, but for those here for a long time, renters — people already strapped, it’s tough,” Plazas said. http://www.wsmv.com/story/38771033/gap-widening-between-what-you-earn-what-it-takes-to-live


Victor Ashe: Governor’s race a toss-up; Glenn Jacobs is next mayor (News Sentinel) Anyone who thinks they have an accurate handle on who will win the GOP governor’s nomination this Thursday night probably also has a bridge in Brooklyn they want to sell you. The contest is fluid and changing. All three of the leading candidates (Randy Boyd, Bill Lee and Diane Black) should prepare a statement for winning and one for losing — or even that it is too close to call at midnight on Thursday. While Beth Harwell has gained some traction, she will do well to exceed 10 percent of the total vote, which is up from the 5 percent she once had. Still, she is fourth in a field of four. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/shopper-news/2018/07/31/victor-ashe-governors-race-toss-up-glenn-jacobs-next-mayor/862147002/

Editorial: Karl Dean suits state’s temperament, is best choice for Democratic nomination for governor (News Sentinel) Democrats have two well-qualified candidates looking to lead the party’s bid to reclaim the Tennessee governorship. Karl Dean grew up in Massachusetts, earned an undergraduate degree at Columbia University and moved to Tennessee to attend law school at Vanderbilt University. He worked as a public defender and was first elected to head that office in Nashville in 1990. He later worked as the city’s law director, was elected mayor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. In that role, he led the city through boom times as well as the crises of the economic downturn and the 2010 flood. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/07/30/karl-dean-best-choice-democratic-nomination-governor-opinion/853324002/




Monday, July 30

In His Final Months as Tennessee Governor, Haslam Reflects on His Education Legacy (Memphis Daily News) While Gov. Bill Haslam entered office as an education-minded leader intent on reforms, much of his administration’s K–12 public school work has focused on holding the line on sweeping policies launched under his predecessor. Haslam, a Republican, inherited and embraced the changes spearheaded under Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat and fellow former mayor and businessman who led Tennessee’s overhaul to win a $500 million federal Race to the Top award in 2010. As the term-limited Haslam winds down his eight years in office, he credits those policies — including a controversial one tying state test scores to teacher evaluations — for helping Tennessee become one of the nation’s fastest-improving states in student achievement, even as critics have decried the new system as punitive and demoralizing to teachers. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/30/in-his-final-months-as-tennessee-governor-haslam-reflects-on-his-education-legacy/

Gov. Bill Haslam praises Chattanooga State graduates at Hixson ceremony (Times Free Press) Gov. Bill Haslam recognized the 588 graduates of Chattanooga State Community College’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology at their commencement ceremony in Hixson on Friday. Many of the graduates are beneficiaries of Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, one of the governor’s legacies. “We started to the Drive to 55 about five years ago with the idea that not enough Tennesseans had a degree or certificate,” Haslam said. “More Tennesseans need opportunity.” Drive to 55 aims to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-high school educations to 55 percent by 2025 through a number of initiatives, including Tennessee Promise, which offers scholarships to high school graduates entering community colleges. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/27/haslam-praises-graduates-hixson/475830/

Gov. Haslam visits Chattanooga college graduation (WDEF-TV) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was in Chattanooga this morning to speak to graduating of students from Chattanooga State Community College. This class was one of the first to included students who studied under the Tennessee Promise program. The governor was the featured speaker at the ceremony held at Abba’s House in Hixson. Many of the 588 students attended classes at Chattanooga State Community College’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology for free thanks to the Drive to 55 program developed by Haslam 5 years ago. The governor noted that he was there mostly to celebrate — and thank — the graduates. “You’re meeting a need for us out there, we have folks saying ‘We will come to Tennessee, if you can help us find these positions’, so thank you, you are actually achieving that,” said Haslam. https://wdef.com/2018/07/27/gov-haslam-visits-chattanooga-college-graduation/

Governor proclaims workplace safety week (Morristown Citizen Tribune) Gov. Bill Haslam recently proclaimed the week of Aug. 27-31 as Safety and Health in the Workplace Week across the state. The proclamation coincides with the Volunteer Protection Programs’ Participants Association Safety+ National Symposium, this year held in partnership with the Tennessee Safety and Health Conference. The Governor’s proclamation states promoting good workplace safety and health practices are endeavors worthy of the support of all Tennesseans. https://www.citizentribune.com/news/business/governor-proclaims-workplace-safety-week/article_367049d8-930f-11e8-985f-2b0200a357c1.html

Parents, families take advantage of tax free weekend electronic deals (WATE-TV) Electronics like computer and tablets have become a necessity for students from middle school to college. That’s why, during Tax Free Weekend, parents use it as an opportunity to save money, and, get their children ready for the classroom. At Best Buy, the store is busy on this weekend every year– 2018, no exception. Looking over brands, add-ons, and the right setup for their family — parents are looking for the right deals, and the right equipment.  “My mom was like, what would you buy if you could get something tax free? I said, well a laptop,” said Aleise Cline. Cline is a grad student at University of Tennessee Chattanooga, studying occupational therapy. She says having the right laptop is important for every day work in class. https://www.wate.com/news/local-news/parents-families-take-advantage-of-tax-free-weekend-electronic-deals/1331109834

Shoppers take advantage of tax-free weekend in Tennessee (WDEF-TV) Shoppers took advantage that it was the start of Tennessee’s Tax-Free Weekend. On Friday, parking lots at stores were packed. Over at Office Depot, people like Adam Scales and his family, were taking advantage of the no sales tax. They were getting a head start on back to school shopping. Scales was also getting supplies for his daughter’s classroom. “She is an English teacher so there are a lot of supplies that don’t get bought unless it is bought by outside individuals parents or relatives,” Scales said. https://wdef.com/2018/07/27/shoppers-take-advantage-tax-free-weekend-tennessee/

Memphis Greenspace Clears Out Rest of Confederate Memorabilia from Memphis Park (Memphis Flyer) Memphis Greenspace started cleaning out the remaining Confederate memorabilia from Memphis Park Saturday “to say goodbye to the past” and now also has full state approval to relocate the Confederate statues the nonprofit removed from two parks late last year. On Saturday, the nonprofit began the process to temporarily relocate the Jefferson Davis statue pedestal, two additional Confederate markers, a sculpture of the Ten Commandments, the battlement cannon, the fencing around the statue pedestal, and the MPD SkyCop. https://www.memphisflyer.com/NewsBlog/archives/2018/07/28/memphis-greenspace-clears-out-rest-of-confederate-memorabilia-from-memphis-park

Pedestal Of Jefferson Davis Statue Removed From Downtown Memphis Park (WATN-TV) Fourth Bluff Park looks a little emptier, after crews removed the pedestal for the Jefferson Davis Statue. This comes after the new owner of the two Memphis parks, where Confederate monuments once stood, went forward with their removal. Saturday morning, more than a dozen Memphis Police officers blocked off part of Front Street and Court Avenue as workers moved the pedestal and other Confederate memorabilia. Bridgitte Prince and her family watched as a large crane removed the pedestal.  Her family is in town form Connecticut for a family reunion and was shocked to witness what she calls history first hand.  “This is such an important conversation.  An important  issue today and in America and there’s been a lot of debate about it.  Why would you not want America to see we’re trying to remedy some wrongs.” https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/pedestal-of-jefferson-davis-statue-removed-from-downtown-memphis-park/1331025103

Initiative protects state’s water supply (Roane County News) Tennessee has lots of water but it needs a plan to ensure that water is managed properly, according to state and Roane County officials who met in Kingston Friday to discuss such a plan. “We think the best way to protect Tennessee water is to plan,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Shari Meghreblian. The plan is called TN H2O. The initiative was launched in December 2017 and will include an assessment of current water resources, including surface and groundwater infrastructure and natural resources. https://www.roanecounty.com/content/initiative-protects-state%E2%80%99s-water-supply

Tennessee State Parks earns award for fitness program (WREG-TV) A program that rewards Tennessee State Parks visitors for participating in outdoor activities has received an award for integrating time spent outdoors with health care. The Healthy Parks Healthy Person program was developed last year and allows participants to use a mobile device to earn points and rewards for going outside and being active in any park in Tennessee. Deputy Environment and Conservation Commissioner Brock Hill said more than 2,500 park visitors have used the program. Park visitors can redeem activity points for state park merchandise and experiences. https://wreg.com/2018/07/30/tennessee-state-parks-earns-award-for-fitness-program/

Analysis: Will Billy Ray Irick receive a stay of his Aug. 9 execution? (Tennessean) After more than 30 years on death row, Billy Ray Irick is less than two weeks from becoming the first person executed in Tennessee in nearly a decade. The 59-year-old Knox County man, convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, has no remaining legal options on his own case. His execution is scheduled for Aug. 9.  But, David Raybin, a Nashville attorney who helped write Tennessee’s death penalty statute in 1976, said he would be “astounded” if the state actually executed Irick anytime soon. “In my view, I think the state Supreme Court will most certainly grant a stay here,” said Raybin, who has represented clients on death row before. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/07/28/billy-ray-irick-death-penalty-analysis/849143002/

YP, Chamber name 2018 Nashville Emerging Leaders Awards winners (Nashville Post) Honorees in 15 categories selected from 75 finalists. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville on Thursday evening recognized 75 outstanding young professionals for their professional achievement, leadership and community impact during the 12th annual Nashville Emerging Leader Awards event held at Lipscomb University’s Collins Alumni Auditorium. Also recognized was Bob Martineau, president of LHP Management and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Martineau was presented the 2018 Impact Award for his mentorship of young professionals under 40. https://www.nashvillepost.com/business/awards/article/21015251/yp-chamber-name-2018-nashville-emerging-leaders-awards-winners

In Tennessee, where you live can affect your mental health (Tennessean) Five-year-old Bryson Hines stands in the bedroom he shares with his sister and pounds repeatedly on the closed door, sending echoes through the brick ranch house in rural Dowelltown. He’s on a timeout. In the kitchen, his mom, Tasha Burrage, lights a cigarette and exhales in a mixture of stress and release. Her spirited, and at times aggressive, blond-haired boy was born in a Tennessee June a couple of years after she graduated from high school. Two years later, she had a daughter. The 25-year-old mother lived in housing projects in rural DeKalb County then, in recovery for addiction, she says. She was dealing with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by childhood abuse, yet she was unable to get the mental health care she needed. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/investigations/2018/07/29/mental-health-tennessee-treatment-urban-rural/771125002/

When mental illness leads to an arrest, this court steps in (Tennessean) When Charles Chesney’s bipolar disorder is left untreated, the energy surging from sleepless, nonstop, manic days and nights takes over his life. “Boy, does it make you feel good,” said Chesney, a 39-year-old artist and performer. “For me, I thought I was capable of doing everything I wanted to do in life. I almost ran naked down Broadway.” Instead, Chesney ran naked down the street outside his family’s Whites Creek farm. It was one of a half-dozen episodes in the past six years that ended with Chesney in handcuffs. Chesney vandalized cars in East Nashville — he was manic and angry about gentrification, he said — then ran to crouch in the bathroom of a nearby restaurant, where police found him. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/investigations/2018/07/29/davidson-county-mental-health-court-provides-safety-net-not-punishment/745865002/

Early Voter Turnout Tops 2014, Surges on Final Day (Memphis Daily News) Early voter turnout in advance of the Thursday, Aug. 2, election day in Shelby County was higher than four years ago with a surge on Saturday’s final day that was almost as big as the Friday turnout – the largest daily turnout of the 14-day period. The 86,002 early voters compares to 82,403 for the same election cycle in 2014 and 93,700 in 2010. Of the 86,002 early voters, 52,485 voted in the state and federal Democratic primaries and 33,088 voted in the companion Republican primaries with the remainder voting in the county general election only. The gap of 19,397 between participation in the Democratic and Republican primaries at the end of the voting period compares to a 13,376 lead in Democratic participation going into Friday’s next to last day of balloting. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/30/early-voter-turnout-tops-2014-surges-on-final-day/

A look at key primary legislative races in Tennessee (AP) A deluge of Tennessee state lawmakers are heading for the door and others face tough challengers, creating some competitive contests for the Aug. 2 primary election. In the House, 86 of 99 seats are contested, with GOP primary battles in 33 districts and Democratic primary contests in 21 districts. A total of 18 seats in the Senate are on the ballot. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers. Here is a look at five key primary contests and a list of lawmakers not seeking re-election: https://wreg.com/2018/07/30/a-look-at-key-primary-legislative-races-in-tennessee/

Stacey Campfield cites ‘fake news’ in campaign ad (News Sentinel) Former state Sen. and current state Rep. candidate, Stacey Campfield channeled President Donald Trump in calling out “fake news” in a recent campaign video posted to his Facebook page. Campfield is seen looking at a spread of News Sentinel newspapers in the video. “Fake news. We’ve all seen it. We understand their agendas to tear down anyone who tries to shake up the status quo,” he said. “Have I made mistakes? Sure. Have I stepped on some toes? Definitely. But we understand the only people stepping on toes are those who are actually taking steps to make Tennessee great and not sitting on their backside,” he continued. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/27/stacey-campfield-cites-fake-news-campaign-ad/841494002/

Vice President Mike Pence on Tennessee governor’s race: Diane Black ‘has my support’ (Tennessean) One day after Gov. Bill Haslam made a public plea for the White House to stay out of Tennessee’s gubernatorial primary election, Vice President Mike Pence has thrown his support behind U.S. Rep. Diane Black.  Pence announced his support for Black, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, on Twitter.  “There are great candidates running but Diane has been my friend for years, we served together in the House and she has my support,” the vice president said Friday morning.  During Pence’s recent visit to East Tennessee, where he attended a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, he touted Black’s work on health care, taxes and abortion.  Pence did not explicitly endorse Black at the event. Black thanked Pence for what her campaign called an endorsement. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/27/tn-governors-race-vice-president-mike-pence-says-diane-black-has-my-support/850025002/

Vice president endorses Black for governor in Tennessee’s Republican primary (Times Free Press) Vice President Mike Pence jumped Friday into Tennessee’s race for governor and endorsed Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black in the Aug. 2 GOP gubernatorial primary. In a tweet, Pence praised Black, describing her as a “strong supporter of #MAGA agenda of tax cuts, military $$ & a champion of right to life policies. “There are great candidates running but Diane has been my friend for years, we served together in the House, & she has my support!” Pence stated. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/27/pence-endorsesblack/475833/

VP Pence backs Diane Black (AP) Vice President Mike Pence is throwing his support behind U.S. Rep. Diane Black just days before a heated four-way Republican primary election for Tennessee governor. Pence tweeted Friday that Black has his support as a strong backer of President Donald Trump’s tax law, money for the military and anti-abortion policies. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who also chairs the Republican Governors Association, had said he hoped the White House wouldn’t get involved in the primary. Black has touted her access to Trump. The former House Budget Committee chairwoman helped pass his tax law. She has been beside Trump at key national news events. He has complimented her without offering an outright endorsement. https://wdef.com/2018/07/27/vp-pence-backs-diane-black/

Big fight, huge expenditures in Tennessee gubernatorial primary dominate Thursday elections (Times Free Press) Tennessee political hopefuls are charging, sometimes through mud, towards the finish line in Thursday’s election in which voters will choose Republican and Democratic nominees in primary races for state and federal office, as well as county-level general election contests. It’s the first time in 16 years that both the governor’s mansion and a U.S. Senate seat have been up for grabs at the same time. That’s due to the term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam being unable to run while Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga is headed for the exit door after serving two terms. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/politics/state/story/2018/jul/29/big-fight-huge-expenditures-tennessee-guberna/475910/

Governor’s candidate says race in ‘God’s hands now” (Johnson City Press) Kay White is on a mission. Since officially kicking off her Republican campaign for governor last summer, the Johnson City resident said she has tried to call attention to the fundamentally conservative values and Christian beliefs of Northeast Tennessee. White concedes her campaign has been “under the radar” compared to the front-running candidates she calls the “big spenders” in the contentious Republican Primary. She believes she is “the wild card” in the race, and said she doesn’t “fit into their little group” like Gov. Bill Haslam and other Republicans now seeking to succeed him in November. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/29/Governor-s-candidate-says-race-in-God-s-hands-now.html?ci=stream&lp=2&p=

Bill Lee makes final week stop in Carter County (Johnson City Press) Bill Lee appeared confident during a stop in Elizabethton on Saturday morning. The candidate for the Republican nomination for governor said he was pleased with the large turnout of citizens at the Carter County Republican Party Headquarters in the Ritz Mini Mall downtown. It was the second good-sized gathering  to show up for Lee in Elizabethton in the past two months. The Middle Tennessee businessman emphasized his rural roots as he gave a short speech and answered questions in what was billed as a Tennessee Town Hall, one of 90 he said he has held during the campaign. He has five more scheduled before election day Thursday. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/28/Bill-Lee-makes-final-week-stop-in-Carter-County.html?ci=stream&lp=7&p=

Bill Lee Closes Fast in GOP Primary (Memphis Flyer) Is Bill Lee the new frontrunner among Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial candidates? A recent poll says that he is, and the Williamson County businessman is now promoting that assumption on a last, pre-primary tour of the state at “100 town halls” (two of them in Shelby County on Thursday, a week before final voting on August 2nd). Given the lingering consensus that, Democratic blue wave or no blue wave, Republicans are still the majority party in Tennessee, does the prospect that — with less than a week to go — Lee has taken over the GOP lead from the duo long at the top, Diane Black and Randy Boyd, mean that he is the state’s likely new governor? https://www.memphisflyer.com/JacksonBaker/archives/2018/07/28/bill-lee-closes-fast-in-gop-primary

Bill Lee to host 100th town hall Tuesday in hometown of Fairview (Brentwood Home Page) Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee and his wife, Maria, will host a final town hall event in his hometown of Fairview on Tuesday night, as they prepare for the primary election on Thursday, Aug. 2. The event will be held at the Fairview Recreation Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Ricky Skaggs, Gordon Kennedy and other musical guests will perform. Grace Chapel’s senior Pastor Steve Berger will be present, as will the Fairview High School Junior ROTC Color Guard and local elected officials, a release said. Lee, the chairman of Lee Company and a seventh generation Williamson County resident, faces House Speaker Beth Harwell, Congressman Diane Black and entrepreneur Randy Boyd in the Republican primary. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/bill-lee-to-host-100th-town-hall-tuesday-in-hometown-of-fairview/

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd In Shelby County On The Last Day Of Early Voting (WATN-TV) Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd spent most of Saturday visiting early voting locations across Shelby County. Local 24 News caught up with him at one of his five stops, Second Baptist Church in East Memphis. Boyd talked with us about the recent attack ads against his campaign.  “We expected there to be some negativity.  I didn’t expect to be attacked quite as much as we were.  Matter of fact, I didn’t expect to be attacked nearly as much as we were, but, you know, about a week ago, we decided we were just gonna go with all positive ads to the end, and hopefully, we get everybody back on a positive message.  We’ll try to set the tone.” Boyd says that he had to respond to the attack ads by sharing facts to show the difference between himself and his opponents. https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/republican-gubernatorial-candidate-randy-boyd-in-shelby-county-on-the-last-day-of-early-voting/1331106002

Inside the Republican campaign for Tennessee governor as election day nears (Tennessean) Anonymous text messages, misleading mailers, TV attack ads and a cease-and-desist letter have rounded out this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary. The race has gone from a cordial affair with a clear front-runner to a brutal slog that remains a toss-up with just days to go before Thursday’s primary. While touting their support for President Donald Trump, the four top-tier candidates have tried to flex their conservative muscles, amassed millions of dollars in donations and dipped into their personal wealth, all in an effort to secure the nomination. And their spending spree on TV ads has solidified this year’s race to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam as the most expensive so far in state history. For the first time in eight years, Republicans are able to choose from a slew of qualified candidates — including U.S. Rep. Diane Black, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee — who have tried to make their cases for more than a year. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/29/tn-governors-race-inside-republican-campaign-diane-black-randy-boyd-beth-harwell-bill-lee/800128002/

Fitzhugh continues work for district while campaigning for governor (Jackson Sun) Craig Fitzhugh is campaigning for governor of the state of Tennessee, but he’s still got work to do in his current role as State Representative for District 82. Part of that work this week was holding a town hall meeting in Brownsville on Thursday to discuss the possible impact of the Tyson plant in Humboldt that will be complete within two years. Along with the plant and expansion of the already-existing facility in Union City, farmers around rural West Tennessee will have the opportunity to develop their farms, and begin raising chickens in chicken houses. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/07/29/fitzhugh-continues-work-district-while-campaigning-governor/853597002/

Gubernatorial Candidates Dean, Fitzhugh Have Democrats Back in the Game (Memphis Flyer) The very fact that two name Democrats — former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh — are competing in a primary to become the party’s nominee for governor is something of a throwback phenomenon. There was a time, lasting for the better part of a century, when victory in a statewide Democratic primary was inevitably reported in the press as “tantamount to election.” That’s because, for whatever reason, it’s still routine in Nashville for Democrats, both black and white, to win local elections there. And, to be a Democratic office-holder in Nashville, especially the office of mayor, is still, ipso facto, to have an eye on the governorship. It is no accident that the party’s last major statewide winner was Phil Bredesen, who was mayor of the capital city when he won the first of his two gubernatorial terms in 2002. (Bredesen is also, of course, the now out-of-power party’s hope to win a U.S. Senate race this year.) https://www.memphisflyer.com/JacksonBaker/archives/2018/07/29/name-democrats-dean-fitzhugh-have-party-back-in-the-game

How the Democratic race for Tennessee governor unfolded (Tennessean) On paper, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh appears to have the experience and endorsements needed to make a real challenge for higher office. But the Ripley Democrat never really stood a chance against former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Fitzhugh has been blown away in terms of fundraising, spending and polling by Dean. That’s led political observers to wonder less about whether the longtime House Democrat stands a chance and more about whether Dean can win in a landslide. “I don’t anticipate a close race on the Democratic side,” Kalee Kreider, a former adviser to Vice President Al Gore and local political consultant, said in a recent interview for The Tennessean’s policy and politics podcast. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/29/tennessee-democratic-primary-governor-2018/853449002/

Kustoff addresses Asian carp problem on U.S. House floor (Jackson Sun) Typically in politics, issues that are classified as “bipartisan” are serious enough that both Democrats and Republicans from different regions of the country easily agree something needs to be done. The Asian carp infestation of the Tennessee River and connected waterways is one of those issues, according to Rep. David Kustoff (R-District 8). Kustoff spoke for a minute last week on the U.S. House floor as the representative of District 8. He was in Jackson on Friday campaigning to keep the job and discussed the recent conversations he’s had about the fish that’s responsible for the declining bass and crappie population in Kentucky Lake and connected bodies of water. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/07/29/kustoff-addresses-asian-carp-problem-u-s-house-floor/853672002/

Trump endorses Kustoff in 8th District (TN Journal/On the Hill) U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Memphis) got a coveted endorsement from President Donald Trump in his Republican primary against self-funding George Flinn. And an ad is already in the can. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/trump-endorses-kustoff-in-8th-district/

President Donald Trump backs US Rep. David Kustoff in Republican primary for Congress (Commercial Appeal) President Donald Trump threw his endorsement Friday behind the re-election of Rep. David Kustoff, calling the Germantown Republican “a champion for the Trump Agenda.” “Congressman David Kustoff has been a champion for the Trump Agenda – I greatly appreciate his support,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “David is strong on crime and borders, loves our Military, Vets and Second Amendment. Get out and vote for David on Thursday, August 2nd. He has my full and total Endorsement!” The high-profile endorsement could make a difference in the race. Kustoff, a former prosecutor who is serving his first term in Congress, is trying to hold off a challenge from Dr. George Flinn, a deep-pocketed radiologist, owner of broadcast stations and frequent candidate for office. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/27/trump-endorses-tennessee-congressman-david-kustoff-re-election/852253002/

US Senate candidate Bredesen engages with local leaders in roundtable discussion (State Gazette) On Thursday, July 26, former Tennessee governor and Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, who is currently a Democratic candidate in the race for the seat of Republican Senator Bob Corker, made a stop at the law office of Lannom-Coronado while in Dyer County on his campaign tour. During a one-hour-long roundtable discussion with local business leaders and city and county officials, Bredesen took time to discuss the impact President Donald Trump’s tax tariffs will play in Tennessee’s economic development, with emphasis on the automotives industry, agriculture and local manufacturing companies. Additionally, Bredesen touched on issues of healthcare reform and environmental sustainability.  http://www.stategazette.com/story/2540781.html

GOP Women Seek to Keep Numbers From Dwindling in the House (Wall Street Journal) Republicans are working to elect more women in states like Tennessee, but a gender gap between the parties looks set to widen. With more than a quarter of the current 23 House Republican women leaving Congress after this year, GOP women are working to replenish their ranks in primary elections like Thursday’s crowded showdown in this Knoxville district. Female House Republicans and groups aiming to get more of them elected have rallied around GOP candidate Ashley Nickloes in eastern Tennessee. They have donated money, doled out advice and funded ads on behalf of Mrs. Nickloes, an aircraft commander in the Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard member who is running to replace retiring GOP Rep. John Duncan. https://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-women-seek-to-keep-numbers-from-dwindling-in-the-house-1532943001?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2

How secure are Tennessee’s elections? (Johnson City Press) The U.S. intelligence community unanimously agrees that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and just a few weeks ago, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he believed “the warning lights are blinking red again” ahead of the 2018 midterms. Luckily, Tennessee was not one of the 21 states targeted by Russian hackers who attempted to access voter registration rolls and election technology in 2016, according to the Department of Homeland Security. But what if Tennessee is the next target? What preventative measures are in place to prevent such an attack? https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/28/How-secure-are-Tennessee-s-elections.html?ci=stream&lp=3&p=

Consumer group hits VW over diesel sales, VW calls actions ‘a campaign of misinformation’ (Times Free Press) A consumer group is chastising Volkswagen’s efforts to return to the marketplace many of the vehicles it bought back in the wake of the diesel emission scandal. But the automaker is fighting back with an attorney, saying an Egyptian businessman is trying to stir the criticism and pressure payment from VW in an unrelated dispute, terming it “attempted coercion.” Arlington, Virginia-based Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, or CASE, said the German automaker wants to “dump” on the market hundreds of thousands of vehicles the company bought back from motorists after the diesel scandal. Gerard Scimeca, CASE’s vice president and co-founder, said there are lots of questions about the vehicles, such as whether there’s verification they’ve been properly fixed. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/30/consumer-grohits-vw-over-diesel-salesvw-calls/475858/

McKenzie hospital to close in September (Paris Post-Intelligencer) McKenzie Regional Hospital announced Friday that it will discontinue most patient services, including the emergency department, by Sept. 15. The 45-bed hospital has notified the Tennessee Department of Health and will begin reducing new admissions in the coming weeks. Patients currently receiving care will not be affected. An asset purchase agreement has been signed with Baptist Memorial Health Care, which operates Baptist Memorial Hospital-Huntingdon, to purchase the assets of the McKenzie hospital, including real property and ambulance service. Baptist intends to operate the outpatient diagnostic imaging center and sleep center located there. Ambulance services will be shifted to Priority Ambulance, Baptist’s 911 service partner. http://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article_437519c2-939d-11e8-b877-bbd3e19df7d4.html

Researchers map out effects of coal mining in Central Appalachia (Johnson City Press) Researchers with Duke University, Appalachian Voices and SkyTruth have collaborated over the past two years to develop an analytic tool marking the environmental footprint of surface coal mining and mountaintop mining in Central Appalachia. On Wednesday, the researchers held a press webinar to announce their findings, which are now published online in PLOS ONE, an international peer-reviewed journal. Their research, titled “Mapping the Yearly Extent of Surface Coal Mining in Central Appalachia Using Landsat and Google Earth Engine,” mapped the year-by-year environmental effects of coal mining in the region over a span of 30 years. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Environment/2018/07/28/Researchers-map-out-effects-of-coal-mining-in-Central-Appalachia.html?ci=stream&lp=4&p=

Honeybees: Why they matter and how you can help them (WBBJ-TV) Studies show one-third of the world’s food supply is dependent upon the pollination of the honeybee. Richard Heismann, president of the Jackson Area Beekeepers Association, gave WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Amanda Gerry a behind the scenes look at the honeybee, the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. “Einstein said that if we lose the honeybees, mankind will only live for 5 years,” said Heismann. And studies show the honeybee population is depleting around the world. “Through chemicals, deforestation; just everything that we are doing as humans,” Heismann said. This is why Heismann says we should give the bees a helping hand, by either planting wildflowers in your garden or by becoming a beekeeper. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/29/honeybees-why-they-matter-and-how-you-can-help-them/

Proposal would shrink red wolves’ habitat, allow people to kill critically endangered species (Times Free Press) A federal proposal would shrink the nation’s only protected habitat for critically endangered red wolves by more than 85 percent and allow people to shoot and kill wolves found outside the designated area. The proposal is a sharp blow to a 30-year program — which, in part, takes place in Chattanooga — attempting to re-establish the animal’s population. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to scale this program back further, basically to the point of extinction in the wild,” Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Sierra Weaver said. The law center is representing three clients suing the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife to address what they see as a threat against the animal’s population.  https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/30/red-wolves-habitat/475930/

TWRA: Ooltewah man died after kayak tipped over at Harrison Bay State Park (WDEF-TV) TWRA officials are at Harrison Bay State Park looking for a missing person after a boating accident. Dispatch says officers were dispatched for a possible drowning. The victim is a 27 year old Christopher Goodine from Ooltewah. The TWRA say he is died after tipping his kayak and falling into the water. They say they were called to Harrison Bay State Park just after 3:00 p.m. The man and his girlfriend were swimming and kayaking when witnesses say the man was about 20 yards from shore in ten feet of water when he fell off the kayak and struggled. https://wdef.com/2018/07/29/twra-searching-missing-person-harrison-bay-state-park-boating-incident/

Summer in the Park concludes this week at Warriors Path (Times News) This week is your last chance to enjoy Summer in the Park at Warriors Path State Park. After several weeks of fun, the park’s free series of summer activities will end next Sunday as many children prepare to head back to school. Below is the complete schedule of activities you and your family can enjoy. http://www.timesnews.net/Upcoming-Events/2018/07/29/Summer-in-the-Park-concludes-next-week-at-Warriors-Path.html?ci=stream&lp=2&p=

The Bachelorette Party’s Over: Venues Snub Bridezillas and Their Entourages (Wall Street Journal) It’s wedding season, when throngs of bachelorettes descend with entourages on hot spots from Savannah to San Francisco. Some wineries, tour operators and hotels want a divorce. … Danielle Cantwell, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz., says a Nashville vacation-rental host rebuffed her after she disclosed in her application that her group’s June trip was her sister’s bachelorette party.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-bachelorette-partys-over-venues-snub-bridezillas-and-their-entourages-1532704297?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3


Editorial: Lee, Fitzhugh our choices for primaries (Johnson City Press) Whomever Tennessee voters elect to be the state’s next governor will inherit both progress and challenges from two-term governor Bill Haslam. While Tennessee has crawled out from under the Great Recession and improved its national standing in education, we still lag in economic opportunity, educational attainment, job preparation, infrastructure and, most significantly, public health. The next governor will be faced with developing strategies to keep our rural hospitals functioning, making our schools safer, giving students better chances of success, improving job preparation and bettering the health of citizens. We would much prefer a leader who focuses on those issues than an ideological warrior. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Editorial/2018/07/29/Lee-Fitzhugh-our-choices-for-primaries.html?ci=stream&lp=3&p=

Keel Hunt: 20 questions for Tennessee’s next governor — just yes or no, please (Tennessean) Here we are just days from the August primaries for governor — about a dozen weeks from the big November vote — and yet not all the important questions have been answered by all the candidates. “Well, what about all those debates?” you might ask. “Not too productive” is my observation. There are two main problems with most candidate debates and forums nowadays. For one, not all the candidates show up. Take Diane Black, the Republican, who thinks she doesn’t have to. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/07/27/20-questions-next-tennessee-governor/837491002/

Victor Ashe: Bill Lee moves up in governor’s race on GOP side (Tennessean) Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 2. Interest in the race for governor has only intensified as Bill Lee’s numbers have increased sharply and he is definitely in the mix as a potential winner. Randy Boyd has been in the mix for months. Lee has come from far behind in the past three weeks to be a serious contender with Boyd and Diane Black.  Each camp will assure you their candidate will prevail. Two of them will be wrong. All agree it will be close. Early voting in Knox County has been heavy with the GOP primary being almost triple the size of the Democratic primary. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/shopper-news/2018/07/30/bill-lee-moves-up-governors-race-randy-boyd-and-diane-black/848432002/

Pam Sohn: NRA’s Russia link has ties to Blackburn (Times Free Press) Tennesseans know the old truism: If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. The universal meaning is simple: Be careful of the company you keep. Ask Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Since March, she has been reading more and more headlines and stories that link her longtime friend and former campaign president, attorney G. Kline Preston IV, to the NRA/Maria Butina Russian money and election meddling questions. The Tennessean has reported that in addition to representing Blackburn on campaign finance questions, Preston has claimed Alexander Torshin as a Russian client and longtime friend. Torshin is the prominent Russian politician with close ties to President Vladimir Putin who is now under scrutiny for illegally channeling Russian funds through the National Rifle Association in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to the Tennessean, Preston first introduced Torshin to then-president of the NRA David Keene in 2011, and the pair attended the NRA’s annual convention in Nashville in 2015. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/story/2018/jul/30/sohn-nras-russilink-hties-blackburn/475938/

Editorial: Time for Sen. Tate to travel on his own dime, time (Commercial Appeal) Since state Sen. Reginald Tate was elected in 2006, has not served his constituents in District 33 well on the road or at home. On the road, the three-term senator has billed taxpayers for more than 70 out-of-state trips costing more than $100,000. In 2008, his second year in office, he helped make it easier for lobbyists to pick up food and drink tabs for legislators at out-of-state conferences. Since then, Tate has accounted for one of every eight tax dollars spent by legislators on out-of-state excursions; averaging one out-of-state conferance for every two weeks the Tennessee General Assembly is in session. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/07/27/editorial-time-dist-33-retire-sen-tate/835364002/

Marcelius Braxton : It’s time to ban state issued Confederate flag license plates (Tennessean) An increasing number of Tennesseans are visibly endorsing racism. Not because I say so but because the Confederacy itself says so.  According to the Tennessean, as of 2018, the number of Tennesseans who display Confederate battle flag license plates is higher than at any other point in the last decade. So, more Tennesseans are displaying a message of racism, hate and white supremacy on their vehicles.  Even worse is that the state of Tennessee is the one issuing these messages of hate to the public. The state of Tennessee needs to finally take a stand and ban government issued plates that promote and display racism. We know the Confederate flag represents racism because its leaders explicitly told us so. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/27/tennessee-confederate-flag-license-plates-need-go/835280002/

Margaret Renkl: How to Talk to a Racist (New York Times) White liberals, you’re doing it all wrong. There are still white Southerners who honestly believe that American culture worked better for everyone, white and black alike, under segregation. There are still white Southerners who question how bad slavery really was. When an enslaved black person’s health and strength are needed to guarantee the slaveholder’s livelihood, this argument goes, it just wouldn’t make sense to whip them or starve them or rape them or work them to the point of collapse. Southerners aren’t alone in believing such mendacity, but the South is where slavery and segregation metastasized, so it may be more concentrated here. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/opinion/how-to-talk-to-a-racist.html

Jim Shulman: How I plan to bring Nashville together as vice mayor (Tennessean) Nashville has changed over the last 10 years/ That once easy drive downtown has been replaced with traffic congestion. I drive down once familiar streets and see buildings that seem to have literally sprung out of the ground overnight. We figure out how to regulate one new industry when another suddenly appears around town. We all talk about the different concerns of living in Nashville today: Traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing and youth violence. The question is what can be done to resolve the issues. And, what can the vice mayor do about it?   https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/20/nashville-vice-mayor-election-meet-jim-shulman/806469002/

Friday, July 27

Haslam: White House should stay out of Republican primary for Tennessee governor (Tennessean) Gov. Bill Haslam is hoping President Donald Trump bucks a trend and stays out of Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Last weekend, at a gathering of the National Governors Association in New Mexico, Haslam told The New York Times, “You’ve seen them engage in primaries where traditionally the White House has not engaged.” Speaking to reporters in Nashville on Thursday, Haslam reiterated his comments. “I don’t think it’s helpful for the White House to be in primaries,” the governor said.  “I would advise everybody that’s not a participant in it to keep their powder dry and help us win in November,” he said, later clarifying that he asked the White House in February to stay out of GOP primary elections. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/26/tennessee-governor-trump-primary-bill-haslam/835844002/

Haslam prefers White House stay out of Tennessee GOP governor primary (Times Free Press) While President Donald Trump has jumped into a number of open Republican gubernatorial primary contests by endorsing candidates in states such as Georgia, Gov. Bill Haslam says he hopes the president continues to steer clear of the Tennessee GOP governor primary battle here. “I don’t think it’s helpful for the White House to be involved in primaries,” the term-limited governor told reporters Thursday, adding that in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he and the group are staying out of open GOP primaries and asked the White House back in February to do likewise. “I had a conversation with them back in February, them being the White House, saying we’re going to have 36 governors races,” Haslam said. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/26/haslam-prefers-white-house-stay-out-tennessee/475806/

Gov. Bill Haslam says Trump’s $12B to farmers is ‘a rounding error’ compared to farm economy (Tennessean) Add Gov. Bill Haslam to the growing list of elected officials from Tennessee to express concern about President Donald Trump’s $12 billion plan to help farmers impacted by tariffs. “I would rather address the root situation,” Haslam told reporters Thursday. “Let’s look at the tariff and its impact in the big picture of our agricultural economy.”  After the White House moved forward on a plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, countries including Mexico, China and the members of the European Union issued their own retaliatory tariffs. This week, Trump and European trade officials announced they would work to resolve the trade dispute in the coming months. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/26/haslam-trump-farmer-aid-tariffs-tennessee/844724002/

Gov. Bill Haslam grants clemency to 4 Tennesseans, says more to come (Tennessean) Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency to four Tennessee inmates Thursday, the start of what is expected to be a series of such actions he takes before leaving office. “This is not an exhaustive list. We have others that are in the process. As we work our way through it though, these were the first four that came up that we felt like met the standards of criteria we had set,” Haslam told reporters Thursday afternoon. Of the four people who received clemency, three were already out of prison. The governor’s pardon does not remove their convictions from their records, but does potentially open doors to an expungement down the road in addition to employment and other benefits. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/26/gov-bill-haslam-grants-clemency-four-tennesseans-no-death-row-offenders-included/842568002/

Governor Bill Haslam Grants Clemency To Four Tenneseans, Says More To Come (WPLN Radio) Governor Bill Haslam granted pardons and a sentence commutation to four Tennesseans on Thursday, offering clemency for only the second time since he took office in 2011. Three of the recipients — Ralph Randall Reagan, Robert James Sheard, Jr., and Steven Lee Kennedy — are already out of prison. The fourth was Michelle Lea Martin, a woman currently serving a 25-year term for the murder of her abusive father. She will have her sentence commuted and be released early into supervised parole. Haslam says these four were obvious choices. http://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/governor-bill-haslam-grants-clemency-four-tenneseans-says-more-come#stream/0

Tennessee governor grants executive clemency to 4 (AP) Gov. Bill Haslam has granted executive clemency to four people and is considering more requests. Haslam announced Thursday that Michelle Lea Martin’s 25-year prison sentence was commuted to supervised parole. Martin pleaded guilty to her father’s 2001 second-degree murder. He abused her mother and inflicted childhood sexual and drug abuse on Martin. Martin earned a GED and college degree. Ralph Randall Reagan was pardoned for 1980 and 1982 burglary convictions and his 1984 escape conviction. He earned a theology doctorate and started a homeless shelter. http://www.wsmv.com/story/38743559/tennessee-governor-grants-executive-clemency-to-4

Gov. Haslam grants clemency to 4 Tennesseans (WKRN-TV) On Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam granted executive clemency to four Tennesseans. In a release, the governor said in part, “After thoughtfully considering the circumstances of each of their cases, I believe exercising the executive clemency power will help further these individuals’ positive influence on their communities and the lives of their fellow Tennesseans.”  Among the four who received clemency, include Michelle Martin, Ralph Reagan, Robert  Sheard Jr. and Steven Kennedy.  Martin’s sentence of 25 years of incarceration was commuted to supervised parole, effective Dec. 20, 2018, and continuing until Dec. 31, 2020. Martin pleaded to second-degree murder in 2004 on Bledsoe County for the 2001 homicide of her father. The homicide happened after she confronted him about abuse against her mother and the severe sexual and drug abuse he committed upon Martin beginning when she was four years old.  https://www.wkrn.com/top-news/tennessee/gov-haslam-grants-clemency-to-4-tennesseans/1325800145

Former Bristol man receives pardon for 1979 conviction (Bristol Herald-Courier) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted a pardon for a former Bristol man convicted in 1979 of aiding and abetting the fraudulent use of a credit card in Sullivan County. Steven Lee Kennedy had received a one-year sentence that was suspended to two years of probation, according to the pardon. He was 19 years old at the time and used a credit card stolen by his then-girlfriend to purchase a coat, a theft which he admitted to police upon being confronted, the pardon said. Kennedy, who has since moved to central Tennessee, went on to serve in the U.S. Navy as a weapons officer for 27 years. Since his discharge from the Navy in 2008, Kennedy has served in civilian roles for the Army and has worked for two private companies. Several military col-leagues submitted letters attesting to Kennedy’s character, and the Board of Parole unanimously recommended granting him a pardon, Haslam said. https://www.heraldcourier.com/news/former-bristol-man-receives-pardon-for-conviction/article_0bda95f0-9118-11e8-ab71-6348ca3103b4.html

Four people including Sullivan County man granted clemency by Governor Haslam (AP) Gov. Bill Haslam has granted executive clemency to four people and is considering more requests. Haslam announced Thursday that Michelle Lea Martin’s 25-year prison sentence was commuted to supervised parole. Martin pleaded guilty to her father’s 2001 second-degree murder. He abused her mother and inflicted childhood sexual and drug abuse on Martin. Martin earned a GED and college degree. Ralph Randall Reagan was pardoned for 1980 and 1982 burglary convictions and his 1984 escape conviction. He earned a theology doctorate and started a homeless shelter. https://wcyb.com/news/local/four-people-including-sullivan-county-man-granted-clemency-by-governor-haslam

Haslam Grants Clemency to Four Tennesseans (Nashville Scene) Gov. Bill Haslam has issued pardons for three men with decades-old convictions and commuted the sentence of a woman serving 25 years for the murder of her abusive father. The commutation, of Michelle Lea Martin, is the first granted by a governor in Tennessee since 2011. Haslam’s office has said he is reviewing clemency requests from Cyntoia Brown, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for for shooting and killing a 43-year-old man who had hired her for sex, and Billy Ray Irick, a man with a history of severe mental illness who is set to be executed in two weeks for the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl. Neither was included in today’s announcement. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21015165/haslam-grants-clemency-to-four-tennesseans

Bledsoe County woman convicted of murder in 2004 granted clemency by Gov. Haslam (Times Free Press) A Bledsoe County woman convicted of second-degree murder in 2004 was granted clemency Thursday by Gov. Bill Haslam. Three other people were pardoned. Michelle Lea Martin’s sentence of 25 years of incarceration was commuted to supervised parole, effective Dec. 20, and continuing until Dec. 31, 2020, to allow for transition-related services, according to a release issued Thursday by Haslam’s office. Prior to this action, Martin’s sentence was to expire in 2025. Martin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2004 in Bledsoe County for the 2001 homicide of her father, which occurred after she confronted him regarding abuse against her mother and the severe sexual and drug abuse he committed upon Martin beginning when she was 4 years old and continuing throughout her childhood, according to the release. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/26/bledsoe-county-woman-convicted-2004-among-four-granted-clemency-gov-haslam/475740/

Shelby County Man One Of Four Granted Executive Clemency By TN Governor Bill Haslam (WATN-TV) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today granted executive clemency to four Tennesseans. “These individuals have distinguished themselves in both their rehabilitation and their individual contributions to the community,” Haslam said. “After thoughtfully considering the circumstances of each of their cases, I believe exercising the executive clemency power will help further these individuals’ positive influence on their communities and the lives of their fellow Tennesseans.” https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/shelby-county-man-one-of-four-granted-executive-clemency-by-tn-governor-bill-haslam/1325725311

Gov. Bill Haslam evaluating mental health concerns ahead of Billy Ray Irick execution (Tennessean) The governor is evaluating whether the state can or should execute a man who advocates say suffered from severe mental illness at the time he committed the rape and murder that landed him on death row. Gov. Bill Haslam previously said he is reviewing the clemency petition of Billy Ray Irick. But for the first time Thursday, Haslam weighed in on whether Irick’s mental health will play a role in his decision.  “We’re doing our evaluation, talking to professionals about that,” Haslam said, noting many have raised concerns in the years since Irick’s conviction. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/07/26/billy-ray-irick-execution-governor-bill-haslam/844839002/

The truth about the IMPROVE Act (Lebanon Democrat) When candidates Rep. Susan Lynn and challenger Aaron Shane for the Republican nomination for the state House District 57 seat participated in The Lebanon Democrat’s video forum, much of the debate centered on the IMPROVE Act and more specifically whether it was a tax cut or increase. Lynn claimed it was a tax cut. “I didn’t vote for the IMPROVE Act because I wanted to,” Lynn said. “I held 11 town hall meetings, and I presented both plans. When presented those plans, the people at those meetings saw that the IMPROVE Act was more advantageous because it provided tax cuts to Tennesseans and leveraged the tourists, travelers and truckers that pass through our state. They are paying a little bit more, and we get the tax breaks. We made sure that the food tax cut was absolutely greater than the increase in the gas tax. I think the IMPROVE Act will help us in this area.” https://www.lebanondemocrat.com/Transportation/2018/07/25/The-truth-about-the-IMPROVE-Act

Tennessee can use controversial lethal injection drugs to execute death row inmates, judge rules (Tennessean) Tennessee can use controversial drugs to execute inmates on death row despite concerns from defense attorneys and experts that doing so is “akin to burning someone alive,” a Nashville judge ruled Thursday. The ruling is a blow to 33 death row inmates who had challenged the state’s lethal injection protocol, saying it led to cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. Among them is Billy Ray Irick, who is scheduled to be executed Aug. 9. But the ruling won’t be the final word. The inmates’ attorneys quickly announced they would appeal. Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle issued the 51-page ruling on the case Thursday evening, forcefully denying the inmates’ claims and saying they failed to meet two critical bars necessary to overturn an execution method. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/26/tennessee-death-penalty-court-lethal-injection-drug/842185002/

Judge Upholds Tennessee’s Lethal Injection Protocol (Nashville Scene) With the state set to put Billy Ray Irick to death in just two weeks, a Nashville judge has upheld Tennessee’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. In a decision released Thursday evening, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that although an inmate being executed using the three-drug cocktail may feel pain — a pain expert testimony compared to being buried alive and burned alive — it does not amount to torture. She also found, crucially, that the inmates’ case did not prove there was a readily available alternative to the drugs the state plans to use. Federal Public Defender Kelley Henry, the lead attorney representing the 33 death row prisoners challenging the protocol, said she and her team will seek an immediate appeal. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21015247/judge-upholds-tennessees-lethal-injection-protocol

Tennessee files motion for partial stay in driver’s license reinstatement case (Tennessean) The Tennessee attorney general is asking for temporary relief from a portion of a landmark federal court ruling that prohibits the state from revoking driver’s licenses due to a person’s nonpayment of court costs. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled it unconstitutional for Tennessee to revoke someone’s driver’s license if the person could not pay court costs. On Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey formally filed a notice of appeal, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to review Trauger’s ruling. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/26/tennessee-drivers-license-revoke-reinstate-lawsuit/846267002/

How To Teach Tennessee’s Working Doctors New Lessons On Opioids (WPLN Radio) All of the major institutions that train doctors and other health professionals in Tennessee have agreed to begin teaching new best-practices on opioid prescribing. The state has asked schools to begin implementation this fall and fully adopt the 12 “core competencies” next year. A commission appointed by Governor Bill Haslam developed the lessons for students. But there’s also interest in teaching practicing physicians. One of the commission members, Vanderbilt associate vice chancellor for health affairs Bonnie Miller, says she plans to include the standards in continuing education for the university’s working doctors. http://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/how-teach-tennessees-working-doctors-new-lessons-opioids#stream/0

Tax-free holiday set for Friday-Sunday (TN Ledger) Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. Among tax-free items being sold tax-free during that period are clothing for $100 or less, school and school art supplies for $100 or less and computers for $1,500 or less, including CPUs and other bundled components such as speakers, monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables and basic software. No items used in trade or business are exempt under these provisions. Some restrictions apply. http://www.tnledger.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=108681

Tax-free weekend: 5 tips to get the most savings (News Sentinel) Take a couple deep breaths and do your stretches, because tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday. You won’t have to pay Tennessee’s 7 percent sales tax on most school supplies and clothing until 11:59 p.m. July 29. The stores will be hectic, so here are five tips to make sure you make the most of the three-day sale. Know what’s tax exempt, what’s not. Don’t be shocked to find out the sale you thought was happening, isn’t actually happening. And don’t miss out on that pricey item you didn’t expect to save money on. The major points of the tax-exempt items are:  Clothing that costs $100 or less per item; School and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item; Computers and tablets that cost $1,500 or less. Find a full list of tax-exempt items here. And find a list of still-taxable items here. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2018/07/26/tennessee-tax-free-weekend-5-tips-get-biggest-savings/834396002/

Tennessee’s sales tax holiday weekend begins Friday (Times Free Press) With Tennessee providing a 3-day exemption on sales taxes charged on more than 150 back-to-school items starting Friday, Chattanooga’s biggest shopping mall is extending hours this weekend to help more consumers take advantage of the tax-free savings. Hamilton Place mall will be open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Northgate Mall plans to keep its regular hours this weekend, however. “We expect that it will be a very busy at both properties,” said Stacey Keating, a spokesman for CBL Properties which owns and operate both of Chattanooga’s malls. Tennessee retailers will not collect the usual combined 9.25 percent sales tax on more than 150 different items during the 13th annual sales tax holiday, which starts Friday and continues through Sunday. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jul/26/sales-tax-holiday-weekend-starts-todaymall-ex/475785/

Stores prepare for crowds during TN tax-free weekend (WBBJ-TV) Local stores are getting ready for Tennessee’s tax-free weekend. “You know school is starting next week, so there’s a little panic,” Academy Sports + Outdoors Store Director Steve Johnson said. The tax-free weekend kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 27. “It will be busy,” Johnson said. “It will feel like the holiday in the middle of the year, but you know, we’re ready for it.” Johnson said they are staffed and stocked up on everything from shirts to shoes and backpacks. “We have Adidas, JanSport, Under Armour, Nike,” he said. “We have a lot of selections for under $30.” https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/26/stores-prepare-for-crowds-during-tn-tax-free-weekend/

District 30 spat boils over (Times Free Press) While the one-of-a-kind race to replace state Rep. Gerald McCormick simmers temporarily on the back burner, the GOP primary contest to fill the county’s other open state House seat is boiling furiously on the front of the stove. Departing state Rep. Marc Gravitt on Thursday endorsed Esther Helton in what he called an “outright ugly” campaign between the East Ridge City Council member and Jonathan Mason, an Unum employee, for the District 30 seat. Gravitt’s endorsement came a day after his attempt to honor a much-respected WWII veteran and a long-time local public official was blocked at the Hamilton County Commission by what he called “petty politics” from Mason supporters. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/26/district-30-spboils-over/475803/

Lee Company sends cease-and-desist letter to Black campaign over claims made in mailers (Tennessean) After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the Lee Company, the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black has removed information about the company’s treatment of a former employee from a website launched to criticize rival GOP candidate Bill Lee. On Wednesday, the Lee Company, which is owned by Bill Lee, sent the letter accusing the Black campaign of “deliberately misrepresenting” a move by the Williamson County business in a legal dispute with an Army National Guard member who had claimed wrongful termination in a federal lawsuit. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/26/tn-governors-race-bill-lee-company-diane-black-cease-desist-letter/844659002/

No Clear Front Runner In Governor’s Race (WTVF-TV)  With the state primary race one week away, there is still no clear front runner in the crowded race to become Tennessee’s next governor. Bill Lee, Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell and Diane Black are all vying for the state’s highest office but all have struggled to stand out in the crowded field. And that has left Republicans struggling as well. “I think Republicans are struggling with and against their own party because their party has split, President Trump has created a big split there,” says Lipscomb University political science Professor Marc Schwerdt. Schwerdt says all of the candidate share a lot of common ground but have very distinct personalities. “It’s hard to see who is the leader, it will come down to that last day and who shows up at the polls,” he added. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/no-clear-front-runner-in-governors-race

Senate Candidates Eye Corker’s Soon-to-be Empty Seat (WTVF-TV) Five candidates are vying for the Republican and Democratic nominations for Bob Corker’s .U.S. Senate seat. Corker, a Republican, announced he was stepping down less than a year into President Trump’s first term. That set up a scramble for Democrats to try to turn Tennessee purple as Republicans circled wagons in hopes of defending their majority in D.C.  Republican Marsha Blackburn has represented the 7th District of Tennessee since 2002.  Prior to her joining Congress, Blackburn served one term in the Tennessee State Senate. In Congress, Blackburn is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet.  She is also vice chair of several other subcommittees. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/senate-candidates-eye-corkers-soon-to-be-empty-seat

Tennessee Democrats blast DesJarlais over backing effort to impeach Rosenstein over Russia probe documents (Times Free Press) Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee is among 11 members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which filed articles of impeachment against U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But the effort, spearheaded by Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was later shelved, at least for now, after Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly came out against the effort. Tennessee Democrats are already blasting DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician who represents Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/26/desjarlais-part-effort-impeach-deputy-attorney-general-rosenstein/475741/

Man charged with threatening Tennessee congresswoman (AP) A federal grand jury in Tennessee has indicted a man on charges of threatening Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is running for governor. The indictment against Clifton Ward was filed June 26 in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga. It says Ward threatened to assault and kill Black. Black told Fox News that the man left her voicemails, and that his arrest makes her family feel better. She said she couldn’t discuss details of the calls. The news outlet reports the threats allegedly came after Black introduced a measure that would allow public donations to be used to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. http://www.wsmv.com/story/38743563/man-charged-with-threatening-tennessee-congresswoman

Farmers don’t want a handout,’ Roe says of bailout (Johnson City Press) U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, spoke briefly Thursday with local media about the ongoing trade war and its effect on farmers, why he wouldn’t participate in a forum for candidates seeking his seat and the deadline imposed on the federal government to reunite children and parents separated at the country’s border. Noting the negative effects on area farmers after the international reaction to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on some imports, Roe said he hopes the ensuing trade war “gets solved sooner, rather than later.” Farmers, especially those who produce soybeans, pistachios and dairy and meat products have been collateral damage in the trade war, the congressman said. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/26/Farmers-don-t-want-a-handout-Roe-says-of-bailout.html?ci=stream&lp=4&p=1

Packed crowd filled Carver Recreation Center to hear Olsen, McKinley forum (Johnson City Press) If Thursday’s crowd was any indication, voters in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District want to learn more from Democrat Marty Olsen and Republican Todd McKinley. With every seat filled in the small conference room at Carver Park Recreation Center, those who arrived late sat on the tile floor, in the hallways and even in the  room next door just to hear the two candidates answer an assortment of questions, ranging from abortion, school debt, medical marijuana and the current administration’s policies. “I was really pleased that we have this many, but I know enough that people are really interested in this particular race,” said Sharon Brown, who drove from Kingsport to attend the forum hosted by the Washington County/Johnson City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/26/Packed-crowd.html?ci=stream&lp=4&p=

U.S. congressional candidate Dr. George Flinn makes stop in west Tennessee (WBBJ-TV) A U.S. congressional candidate makes a stop in Jackson, Thursday. Dr. George Flinn is running to represent District 8 in Washington, which covers parts of West Tennessee. Flinn stopped by outside of the Madison County Election Commission in west Jackson to talk with early voters. Flinn, a physician and Memphis businessman said he wants to offer a clear choice for voters. “The first thing I’ll focus on is taking West Tennessee values, whatever the votes are, West Tennessee values, conservative, true conservative values, need to be in congress. The votes need to be that way, and the attitude needs to be that way. We can win, we can win,” said Dr. Flinn. This is Flinn’s third attempt running for the seat currently held by incumbent David Kustoff. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/26/u-s-congressional-candidate-dr-george-flinn-makes-stop-in-west-tennessee/

Democrat Congressional candidate answers questions (Cookeville Herald-Citizen) The Herald-Citizen has been posing questions to candidates in contested races. Christopher Martin Finley is seeking the Democratic nomination for District 6 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Other Democrats in that race include Dawn Barlow of Rickman, Peter Heffernan of Gallatin and Merrilee Wineinger of Hendersonville. Bob Corlew of Mt. Juliet, Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, Christopher Brian Monday of Cookeville, John Rose of Cookeville and Lavern “Uturn LaVern” Vivio of Springfield are seeking the Republican nomination. Why are you running? I am frustrated and tired of the Washington noise and drama over issues that have no real impact on issues we deal with on a daily basis. The voters I speak with are fed up with the only choice being an extreme liberal or an extreme conservative. http://herald-citizen.com/stories/democrat-congressional-candidate-answers-questions,29172?

Eastman still expecting double-digit earnings growth (Times News) President Trump’s tariffs didn’t get a mention in Eastman’s second quarter financial report, but the company’s continued revenue increases and earnings growth did. Eastman stock also passed the $100 per share mark Thursday, closing at $102.37, up 0.66. The Kingsport-based global specialty chemicals maker announced earnings of $2.39 per diluted share for second quarter 2018 versus $2.00 per diluted share for second quarter 2017. Adjusted earnings were $2.22 per diluted share for second quarter 2018 versus $1.98 per diluted share for second quarter 2017. http://www.timesnews.net/Business/2018/07/26/Eastman-still-expecting-double-digit-earnings-growth.html?ci=stream&lp=1&p=

Haywood County residents tell Tyson Foods, “Don’t tread on Tennessee” (WBBJ-TV) Many West Tennesseans welcome Tyson’s new plants, which are set to be in both Humboldt and Union City, but with plants comes chicken houses, and many Haywood County residents tell the chicken production giant, “Don’t tread on Tennessee.” “I was initially inspired to put this meeting together because I have a conscious about what CAFEDS, which are Concentrated Animal Feeding operations, do to the earth,” said meeting organizer Belinda Sellari. People living in Haywood County say they are concerned about Tyson Foods expanding their chicken production operation in West Tennessee. “I don’t think when they came to Haywood County they realized that we were going to put up this kind of fight,” said Haywood County resident, Natalie Pinner. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/26/haywood-county-residents-tell-tyson-foods-dont-tread-on-tennessee/


Pam Sohn: Will Trump buyer’s remorse turn Congress blue? (Times Free Press) If you feel as though the world of politics just gets weirder and weirder, you’re not alone. What are we to make of these two seemingly divergent political indicators? 1) Trump’s approval rating average continues to hover at about 43 percent, according to realclearpolitics.com, despite his most disastrous fortnight ever — including a fawning meeting with the Russian president, ever-growing evidence that his campaign knew about and didn’t turn away Russian meddling to help him win the election, and the release of a Michael Cohen-made tape recording with the president — proving Trump did know about pre-election hush money payments to at least one of the women claiming to have an affair with him. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/story/2018/jul/27/sohn-will-trump-buyers-remorse-turn-congress/475790/

Clint Cooper: Removing pharmacists’ ‘gags’ (Times Free Press) Today, your pharmacist may not be able to inform you that your prescription would cost you less if you paid for it out of pocket than through your insurance plan. That will change, though, if a bill passed Wednesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act — remains alive. We hope it will, and we appreciate committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for his usual support of common-sense measures that help Americans regardless of their political affiliation. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reviewed 9.5 million insurance claims, according to The Hill, found that 23 percent of prescriptions filled through insurance coverage cost more for customers than if they had paid out of pocket. Those overpayments totaled $135 million, according to the study. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/freepress/story/2018/jul/27/cooper-removing-pharmacists-gags/475763/




Thursday, July 26

State lawmakers took cue from Governor Haslam’s school security group (WKRN-TV) In the days after the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting, the words from Tennessee lawmakers of both parties foreshadowed that some kind of legislation was coming. “It is not enough to do nothing,” said House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart. “I think what we have here is not a gun problem, but a heart problem,” said House Republican Leader Glen Casada. As Democrats considered things like banning rapid-fire gun mechanisms and Republicans mulled over a shooter’s heart and mind issues, Governor Bill Haslam soon pulled together a school security task force for an overall review of classrooms across the state. “The task force I am putting together will be folks from the legislature, some mental health professionals, some law enforcement, and some education people,” said the governor. https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/state-lawmakers-took-cue-from-governor-haslam-s-school-security-group/1323829008

In his final months as Tennessee governor, Haslam reflects on his education legacy (Chalkbeat Tennessee) While Gov. Bill Haslam entered office as an education-minded leader intent on reforms, much of his administration’s K–12 public school work has focused on holding the line on sweeping policies launched under his predecessor. Haslam, a Republican, inherited and embraced the changes spearheaded under Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat and fellow former mayor and businessman who led Tennessee’s overhaul to win a $500 million federal Race to the Top award in 2010. As the term-limited Haslam winds down his eight years in office, he credits those policies — including a controversial one tying state test scores to teacher evaluations — for helping Tennessee become one of the nation’s fastest-improving states in student achievement, even as critics have decried the new system as punitive and demoralizing to teachers. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/tn/2018/07/25/haslam-education-legacy-2/

12 Lessons Tennessee Med Students Are Now Supposed To Learn About Opioids (WPLN Radio) Tennessee students preparing for jobs in which they’ll prescribe medication may start spending much more time focused on the perils of addictive painkillers. A commission representing schools around the state has come up with 12 key points that need to be covered before graduation. These dozen lessons have been agreed upon by doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and even veterinarians on the panel. Students would spend much more time on pain — learning about alternative therapies like mindfulness and chiropractic treatments, practicing de-escalation techniques for use with those who may be abusing opioids, and studying the roots and far reaching impacts of the opioid crisis itself. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/12-lessons-tennessee-med-students-are-now-supposed-learn-about-opioids#stream/0

University of Tennessee board to discuss chairman election (AP) The University of Tennessee’s newly retooled board of trustees is set to discuss the election of a board chairman. A university news release says that the Nashville meeting will take place Aug. 1 at the Nashville Public Library. The agenda includes electing a board chairman, adopting bylaws, appointing committees and committee chairmen and authorizing the appointment of student and faculty trustees. Gov. Bill Haslam successfully pushed to shrink the board. The board used to be 27 members, of which 24 were voting and three were non-voting. It is now 12, of which 11 are voting members and one is non-voting. The meeting will be webcast live at http://www.tennessee.edu . https://www.wate.com/news/tennessee/university-of-tennessee-board-to-discuss-chairman-election/1324862176

Demolition of Reelfoot visitors center comes at $700K cost to taxpayers (Dyersburg State Gazette) Just over a year and a half after halting construction to Reelfoot Lake’s future interactive visitors center, state officials now plan to tear down the building after failing to meet seismic code. Construction was initially put on hold in early 2017, as an audit by the state comptroller’s office revealed the Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee [MRCT] group (now dissolved) had failed to properly bid out the job, and awarded the project to an architect firm out of Memphis with a direct conflict of interest with MRCT. The name of the architect firm, which designed the facility, has not been released by the State Comptroller’s Office. http://www.stategazette.com/story/2540230.html

Photo essay: Mental illness in Tennessee: The urban and rural divide (Tennessean) https://www.theleafchronicle.com/picture-gallery/news/2018/07/24/mental-illness-in-tennessee-the-urban-and-rural-divide/37097069/

Tennessee to appeal federal court ruling on driver’s license reinstatement (Tennessean) Tennessee is appealing a recent landmark federal court decision that opened the door to the state reinstating driver’s licenses for potentially more than 150,000 residents. In early July, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled it is unconstitutional for Tennessee to revoke someone’s driver’s license if they could not pay court costs. The decision was the first of its kind in the country, although many states have similar laws allowing counties to work with the state to revoke or suspend a driver’s license if someone fails to pay their court costs. On Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey formally filed a notice of appeal. That means the state is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to review Trauger’s ruling. Josh Spickler, executive director for Memphis-based advocacy organization Just City, described the appeal decision as disappointing.   https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/25/tennessee-appeal-federal-court-ruling-drivers-license-reinstatement/837794002/

Sec. of State voting data reveals big uptick in Williamson County Democratic primary voters from 2014 (Brentwood Home Page) In an email to colleagues sent Wednesday, Tennessee Sec. of State Tre Hargett revealed data comparing the 2018 early voting period and previous years. Across the first nine days of the current early voting period, 344,472 Tennesseans have voted. That’s an increase over 326,906 in 2014, a change of more than five percent. Compiled by Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins and the Division of Elections team, the data shows Republicans turning out in similar numbers to 2014 in Williamson County, with a marked uptick in Democratic votes. In the Republican primary, 6,493 have voted so far, an increase of 2,386 votes (58 percent) from the same time period in 2014. But in the Democratic primary, a turnout of 519 in the 2014 primary set the stage for a blowout this year. So far, 2,816 Democrats have voted, a 448 percent uptick from 2014. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/sec-of-state-voting-data-reveals-big-uptick-in-williamson-county-democratic-primary-voters-from-2014/

State Rep. Hazlewood chosen to participate in national leadership development program for state government officials (Times Free Press) State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, is among 48 state leaders from across the U.S. selected to participate in the Council of State Governments’ 2018 Henry Toll Fellowship, a leadership development program for state government officials. The Council of State Governments is the nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. Hazlewood said in a news release that although she has held multiple leadership positions in her business career as well as in civic and church organizations, she believes the program will help her “hone those skills and focus on the skills that are unique to government.” https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/25/state-rep-hazlewood-chosen-participate-national-leadership-development-program-state-government-officials/475671/

Politics of Personality in the District 54 State House Race (Nashville Scene) Scott Davis’ critics say he’s too cozy with real estate developers. “I think that folks want a candidate who they really believe represents the interests of the neighborhood and are not going to be compromised by powerful interests like developers,” says Isaac Kimes, a former state Senate staffer and current Davidson County Democratic Party executive committee member. Kimes does not live in state House District 54. That’s where Davis, currently an East Nashville district representative on the Metro Council, is seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Brenda Gilmore, who is vacating the seat to run for state Senate. And yet Kimes, like a number of other party officials and elected Democrats, is supporting political newcomer Vincent Dixie over Davis — even though Davis is the only elected official in the Aug. 2 primary. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/features/article/21014969/politics-of-personality-in-the-district-54-state-house-race

Sparks reiterates teacher pay claims (Murfreesboro Post) State Rep. Mike Sparks, battling Smyrna Councilman Tim Morrell in the Republican primary for the 49th District House seat, reiterated claims teachers are “adequately” paid on WGNS Radio and made a puzzling statement about being “a fool” by hanging out with “black folks” instead of going to an MTSU ceremony attended by gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd. Early voting in the primary ends Saturday, and Election Day is Tuesday. During a recent “Rutherford Issues” show hosted by Bryan Barrett on WGNS, Sparks responded to questions about teacher pay and previous comments on the subject by saying, “I don’t think they’re underpaid. I think we’re paying our teachers adequately.”  https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/sparks-reiterates-teacher-pay-claims/article_7be4a348-902f-11e8-81e4-cfbfbd047191.html

Democratic state House candidate Vincent Dixie owes $318,000 in back taxes to IRS (Tennessean) A candidate in the Democratic primary for state House District 54 owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, but he says he’s committed to repaying his debts and has learned from his mistakes. Vincent Dixie, 44, a former internal auditor at HCA who went on to start multiple businesses of his own, is seeking the seat occupied by Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville. Gilmore, who has served in the state House since 2006, is running for Senate District 19, which was held by longtime Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, who announced her retirement this spring. IRS notices filed in October and December with the Davidson County Register of Deeds show liens against Dixie and his wife, Ericka, totaling $318,427 for unpaid taxes from 2013 to 2015. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/25/vincent-dixie-back-taxes-irs-house-district-election/831922002/

Prosecutor decides not to charge Democratic candidates who voted in Republican primary (Brentwood Home Page) A prosecutor has decided not to charge two Democratic candidates who voted in the Republican Primary in May for violating a state voting law. In a letter dated July 16, special prosecutor Kent Chitwood told the Williamson County Election Commission that he wouldn’t prosecute Democratic candidates Anne McGraw and Bill Peach because the law wasn’t clear enough. McGraw is running for a seat on the County Commission in District 4 and Peach is hoping to represent District 63 in the State House. They are both running as Democrats, but voted in the Republican primary on May 1. State law says that registered voters can vote in primary elections if they are bona fide members of the party in whose primary they want to vote in. Voters can also declare allegiance to a political party when they show up to vote. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/prosecutor-decides-not-to-charge-democratic-candidates-who-voted-in-republican-primary/

Tennessee GOP governor race turns to spat over Trump, immigration (AP) Loyalty to President Donald Trump tops the Republican checklist in the governor’s race in Tennessee, right up there with championing gun rights and low taxes and decrying abortion. In TV ads and debates, the four leading GOP candidates are lauding Trump and his wall-building immigration crackdown while blasting each other as insufficiently supportive of the president. It’s been a pricey message: The four have added $33 million in combined personal wealth to their campaigns and spent about that much, setting records and more than doubling what they’ve raised through donations. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/25/tennessee-gop-gov-race-turns-spat-over-trump-immigration/475667/

Tennessee faces an opioids crisis. Here’s how the candidates for governor plan to tackle it. (Tennessean) Tennessee’s top-tier gubernatorial candidates all agree the ongoing opioid epidemic is among the most critical issues facing the Volunteer State. But, for the most part, that’s where their commonalities end. U.S. Rep. Diane Black is skeptical about making overdose-reversal drug naloxone widely available to the public, despite overwhelming evidence it prevents deaths and contrary to recommendations from top health officials. Williamson County businessman Bill Lee thinks making the penalties for drug trafficking stiffer will stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl from entering Tennessee. He also thinks the government alone can’t solve the opioid crisis. House Speaker Beth Harwell emphasized education and prevention, citing the efforts of the current Miss Tennessee title-holder in criss-crossing the state to educating children about the dangers of drug addiction. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/26/tn-governors-candidates-opioids-crisis/800420002/

Man Arrested After Allegedly Threatening Rep. Diane Black (WTVF-TV) Tennessee Representative and gubernatorial candidate Diane Black says a man was arrested after allegedly threatening to assault and kill her. The threats were allegedly made after she introduced the Border Wall Trust Fund Act which would help fund President Trump’s border wall. Black told Fox News Wednesday night about the incident on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” She said the threats were made over voicemails.  “I can tell you they were very serious and they were threatening enough that they concerned police,” said Black. Black went on to explain that she accepts the risks that come with being a public servant but has more peace of mind, knowing the man was arrested. “You never know when it is going to be serious as it was for Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise and it’s very scary for our families.” https://www.newschannel5.com/news/man-arrested-after-allegedly-threatening-rep-diane-black

Veteran’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Bill Lee’s company in spotlight during heated campaign (Tennessean) Lee Company, the $240 million-per-year heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical business of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee, was involved in a legal dispute in 2009 with an Army National Guard member who claimed wrongful termination. The lawsuit, filed by William O. Roark III, of Johnson City, was eventually settled, but only after more than a year of back-and-forth in federal court. Now, as Lee competes in a close contest for the GOP nomination for Tennessee governor in the Aug. 2 primary, the lawsuit is in the spotlight. One of Lee’s rivals, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, has seized on the incident, saying, “Bill Lee does not support Tennessee veterans.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/25/tn-governors-race-bill-lee-company-lawsuit-veteran/828110002/

Lee’s town halls aim to keep his front running status in GOP gubernatorial primary (WKRN-TV) With eight days left before the August 2 Primary, most political observers think Middle Tennessee farmer and businessman Bill Lee is the Republican frontrunner in the governor’s race. Other GOP campaigns feel they are right there as well, but Lee is now mentioned as the person at the top more often than not–both privately and in internal polls. Lee has been hosting dozens of town hall gatherings across the state where supporters seem well aware that the candidate is surging and that he is not directly using negative political ads aimed at his opponents. “Thank you for staying out of the mud,” one man told Lee at the town hall event Wednesday morning in Smyrna outside of Nashville. https://www.wkrn.com/news/political-news/lee-s-town-halls-aim-to-keep-his-front-running-status-in-gop-gubernatorial-primary/1323911543

Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd Meets With Voters (WTVF-TV) Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd met with voters at a polling place in Green Hills. Boyd is running for the Republican nomination for governor against businessman Bill Lee, U.S representative Diane Black and State Representative Beth Harwell. Boyd cast his early vote last week in Knoxville. The latest poll had Bill Lee leading by 6 percent, but Boyd called the poll flawed and fake. Early voting ends Saturday, and the primary is on August 2.  https://www.newschannel5.com/news/gubernatorial-candidate-randy-boyd-votes-early

Outside groups plan to spend millions in Senate race (Nashville Post) Though presumptive Republican U.S. Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn has largely been absent from statewide airwaves ahead of Aug. 2 primaries, that will change once the general election matchup against former Gov. Phil Bredesen is solidified. According to a report in The Hill, the Senate Leadership Fund, a group that backs Republican Senate candidates, will start placing ads the week of Sept. 11, with more $4.4 million in airtime already booked. The newspaper further reports that Senate Majority PAC, a group supporting Democrats, has booked $3.4 million in airtime beginning in October, though Bredesen has been airing ads throughout the summer. https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/elections/article/21014831/outside-groups-plan-to-spend-millions-in-senate-race

Corlew ad picks up on opponent-as-child theme (TN Journal/On the Hill) Former Murfreesboro Judge Bob Corlew’s latest TV ad in the Republican primary for the 6th Congressional District portrays his opponent John Rose as a child. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/corlew-ad-picks-picks-up-on-opponent-as-child-theme/

Congressional candidate’s office door smashed (WDEF-TV)  A congressional candidate says she was targeted when someone recently smashed her office door. Dr. Danielle Mitchell is running against incumbent Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. Mitchell says over the weekend, someone used a rock and slingshot to break the door of her health clinic and campaign headquarters. Surveillance video captured the door being smashed, but it did not show who did it. At first she thought it could be kids vandalizing the area. https://wdef.com/2018/07/25/congressional-candidates-office-door-smashed/

To Take the Senate, Democratic Group Will Spend Big in Red States (New York Times) A heavily funded Democratic group will spend tens of millions of dollars to mobilize voters in the Republican-leaning states where control of the Senate is likely to be decided this November, stepping in to fill a void left by years of decay in Democratic infrastructure at the state and local level … The initiative by Senate Majority PAC will span more than a dozen states where Senate seats are at stake, but it is to focus on four states above all: Missouri and Indiana, where endangered Democrats are seeking re-election, and Arizona and Tennessee, where strong Democratic challengers are running for open seats currently held by Republicans. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/26/us/politics/democrats-senate-midterms.html

Bredesen stops at Dickson’s Sisters, calls Trump tariff aid ‘bizarre’ (Tennessean) Senate candidate Phil Bredesen took a few minutes after a supporter-sponsored Sisters breakfast Wednesday to describe the Trump administration’s $12 billion farmer aid plan as “bizarre,” adding that “the problem remains the tariffs.” President Donald Trump’s administration announced the plan just a few hours before Bredesen’s visit to the restaurant in Downtown Dickson. “I certainly think that farmers are deserving of some help,” said Bredesen, adding, though, that the Trump aid plan is not the answer. “I think this is typical Washington stuff, which is take out the credit card rather than solve real life problems,” Bredesen added. “The problem is the tariff. You need to get rid of the tariffs and maybe you won’t need to spend $12 billion.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/dickson/2018/07/26/bredesen-stops-dicksons-sisters-calls-tariff-aid-bizarre/837601002/

Bredesen stresses bipartisan outlook during visit to P-I (Paris Post-Intelligencer) Tariffs, health care and Asian carp are a few of the things Phil Bredesen feels he can do something about if he’s elected as a U.S. senator from Tennessee this November. Bredesen was in Paris Wednesday and stopped for an interview with The Post-Intelligencer. Earlier in the day, he had been in Dickson and Waverly, and planned to stop in Jackson Wednesday night. Bredesen is expected to easily win the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 2 primary, then go up against likely Republican nominee Marsha Blackburn in November. During his campaign, Bredesen has stressed that he would like to be a senator who could work with colleagues from either party and that he would make decisions on an issue-by-issue basis. “I would like to see us tamp down on the partisanship,” he said. “I think we can work together rather than shouting at each other or throwing things at each other from across the aisle.” http://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article_caab5ac8-905f-11e8-8a61-8720d5874b29.html

Middle Tennessee congressman among conservatives looking to impeach Rod Rosenstein (Tennessean) A Tennessee congressman is among members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who escalated their battle against the Justice Department on Wednesday, filing articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for what they allege is his failure to hand over documents to Congress about the Russia investigation. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican representing the 4th congressional district in East and Middle Tennessee — including Rutherford County — signed on to the articles of impeachment. Rod Rosenstein, the top official overseeing the Mueller probe, is defending the prosecution of foreign agents who may never see the inside of a court room. Robert Mueller’s investigation has indicted more than two dozen Russian nationals. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/25/rod-rosenstein-impeachment-donald-trump-russia-investigation/839400002/

Bob Corker Questions Secretary Of State (WTVF-TV) Tensions ran high during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the hearing, Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker said President Trump’s actions “create tremendous distrust in our nation, among our allies.” He asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “What is it that causes the President to purposely … create distrust in these institutions and what we are doing?” Pompeo responded, sayig he disagreed with Corker. He said the Trump administration has been “tougher than previous administrations.” Later, in an interview Corker expanded on his concerns. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/corker-expresses-concern-over-presidents-connections

Trump Tariffs Put GOP on Defense in Tennessee’s Senate Race (AP) Marsha Blackburn is supposed to do well among Tennessee’s hog farmers and whiskey makers. Yet the Republican Senate candidate is struggling to explain President Donald Trump’s nascent trade war to her state’s local business community. Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Jimmy Tosh’s hog farm are among those warning that Trump’s trade policies — and the Republican candidates who support them — are hurting the very people who backed the Republican president in the first place. That’s forcing outspoken Trump supporters like Blackburn into an uncomfortable position in one of the nation’s top Senate races. Blackburn has been forced to distance herself from Trump’s trade policies under heavy pressure from local business leaders and her Democratic opponents. https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/07/26/business/ap-us-ground-game-tennessee.html

Sen. Lamar Alexander wants a timeout on Trump’s auto tariffs (Commercial Appeal) Tennessee’s massive automotive industry is at the center of a Washington drama playing out over the nation’s $200 billion worth of auto-related imports. Sen. Lamar Alexander unveiled a bipartisan bill Wednesday in his effort to fend off a proposed federal tax known as a tariff on imports of vehicles and auto parts. Automakers, dealers and suppliers are united in opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported cars, trucks and autos. Sen. Bob Corker earlier signed on to a separate proposal meant to push back against tariffs the White House says can lift the nation’s manufacturing industry. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/money/2018/07/25/alexander-ready-fend-off-trump-auto-tariffs/820624002/

West Tennessee farmers react to agricultural tariffs (WBBJ-TV) West Tennessee farmers react to agricultural tariffs put in place on their products sold to other countries. “Farmers aren’t looking for a handout in this country. We want free and open trade,” said Eric Maupin of the American Soybean Association Executive Committee. The Trump administration announced it would provide $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by the recent trade tariffs. “Well, I think that it’s good anytime,” Maupin said. “We live in the bread basket of the world, and so there’s no reason, and I think all farmers will agree with this.” Maupin, a farmer himself, says that although it is a temporary resolution, more can be done. “Our message is clear, concise, and that is we want this administration to work out those issues with section 301 and remove the tariffs so that we can get back to business,” Maupin said. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/25/west-tennessee-farmers-react-to-agricultural-tariffs/

Allan Jones asks for trade restrictions to protect men’s clothing (Times Free Press) The owner of America’s oldest tailor-made clothing company is appealing to President Trump to help level the playing field for the Cleveland, Tennessee suit maker by imposing import duties on tailored men’s suits made in Canada and Mexico. Allan Jones, owner of Hardwick Clothes in Cleveland, said Wednesday that his company is at a competitive disadvantage because of the 25 percent duty U.S. companies must pay to import fine wools from Italy that similar luxury clothing producers in Canada and Mexico don’t have to pay. Jones wants the Trump administration to address the trade imbalance by revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which allows Mexico, Canada and the United States to trade most goods they produce with one other duty free. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jul/25/import-duties-urged-help-cleveland-suit-maker/475704/

Tennessee college professors working with Facebook to understand fake news (Memphis Business Journal) Facebook is offering up its data as a gold mine for academic research with the help of Social Science One, an independent commission of experts that includes two Vanderbilt political science professors, Dr. Elizabeth Zechmeister and Dr. Noam Lupu. Social Science One was founded by Harvard and Stanford professors this year to help scholars gain access to data from the private sector to help them answer the questions that confront our world. The first question: How does misinformation on Facebook affect elections and democracy? https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2018/07/25/tennessee-college-professors-working-with-facebook.html

Franklin, Nashville ranked middle of the pack in study on most educated cities (Brentwood Home Page) Due to an emphasis on higher education, Nashville became known as the Athens of the South in the 1800s. But according to new data, that title may now more closely fit another Southern stronghold. In personal finance website WalletHub’s comparison of the 150 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the country, the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin area came in 61st, with a total score of 49.86. Home to Duke University, the Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina came in fourth, with a 72.77 score. The University of Michigan’s home base of Ann Arbor received top accolades, with a 92.57 score. The study was undertaken as a way to understand which business communities educated people are seeking to move and put their degrees to use in. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/franklin-nashville-ranked-middle-of-the-pack-in-study-on-most-educated-cities/


Editorial: Randy Boyd is easy choice for GOP nomination in governor’s race (News Sentinel) It’s a sign of our times that a website attacking Randy Boyd tries to tar him with what it considers a despicable label: “moderate.” And it’s true that, in an interview with the Knoxville Mercury in 2015, he admitted: “I’m a moderate.” Now you might not be able to tell that judging by his latest campaign ads in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor. They ballyhoo his lifelong NRA membership, his opposition to “sanctuary cities,” and his support for President Trump. All of which reveals one thing — Boyd is going all out to win this race. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/07/26/randy-boyd-tennessee-governors-race-endorsement/836941002/

David Plazas: Why aren’t Tennesseans voting as they should? Register for event (Tennessean) The Tennessean and Lipscomb University’s Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership are putting together a timely program prior to the November midterm elections. We are probing the question “Why aren’t Tennesseans voting like they should?” This is a conversation about elections security, voter disenfranchisement and democratic renewal. Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout and concerns over Russian meddling in U.S. elections and voter apathy make this a necessary discussion. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/25/why-arent-tennesseans-voting-event/836883002/

Andy Spears: Tennesseans can now trade chickens for health care — such a deal (News Sentinel) My state, Tennessee, has the highest rate of hospital closures per capita of any state in the nation. Meanwhile, neighboring Arkansas — which has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — has experienced zero hospital closures since expansion. Those were the findings of a recent University of North Carolina study. The Tennessee Justice Center reports that some 300,000 Tennesseans would benefit from access to affordable health coverage through Medicaid expansion. Yet Tennessee remains one of about 16 states holding out on accessing these federal funds. Because of a commitment from the Tennessee Hospital Association, expanding Medicaid would cost Tennessee taxpayers exactly $0 — while actually returning federal tax dollars to the state. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/07/24/tennesseans-can-now-trade-chickens-health-such-deal-opinion/811852002/


Wednesday, July 25

Grand Divisions Episode 8: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam goes long on Trump, GOP and football (Tennessean) Although he’s not on the ballot this year, Gov. Bill Haslam will receive something of a report card when voters head to the polls in August and November. Do Tennesseans want to see their next governor continue in the same moderately conservative vein as the former Knoxville mayor, or are they looking for a candidate who’s further away from the middle of the political spectrum? In an exclusive interview, Haslam talks about what he wants to see from Tennessee’s next governor. He also reviews some of the successes and failures of his administration, discusses his future political ambitions and gives a few football predictions. LINK

Haslam worries TNReady testing troubles could unravel Tennessee education policy (Chalkbeat Tennessee) Gov. Bill Haslam says he had a “pit” in his stomach every day of Tennessee’s testing season this spring when a parade of technical problems vexed students and teachers in the bumpy transition to computerized exams. He also worries that three straight years of frustrations with the state’s 3-year-old standardized assessment, TNReady, could unravel policies that he believes led to students’ gains on national tests. Now in the homestretch of his term-limited administration, Haslam is making his case for staying the course with Tennessee’s blueprint for student improvement, including higher academic standards, an aligned test that measures student proficiency, and policies that hold students, teachers, and schools accountable for results. https://chalkbeat.org/posts/tn/2018/07/24/haslam-education-legacy/

Paris gets state grants for splash pad, school sidewalks (Post-Intelligencer) The City of Paris is the recipient of state grants totaling more than $1.3 million dollars. One grant for $500,000 will pay for one-third of a $1.5 million project to construct a splash pad, pavilions, family area, ADA restrooms and more parking at Eiffel Tower Park. The other grant for almost $835,000 will pay for sidewalks, curbs and gutters and other improvements on Wilson Street in Paris. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, officials from the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Environment and Conservation congratulated city officials for their work and willingness to match grants for improvements in Paris. Deputy Gov. Jim Henry said Gov. Bill Haslam wanted to be present, but was attending a National Governors Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. http://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article_07eaa990-8f96-11e8-9957-cff120a2a45f.html

Tax-free weekend starting this Friday (Mountain Press) Now that Tennessee has recently been identified as having the highest sales tax rate in the nation, this year’s statewide tax-free weekend might draw even more shoppers looking to save on specific goods such as computers and clothing. The state’s 13th annual tax holiday is July 27-29. On July 17, the Associated Press reported that Tennesseans now pay more in sales taxes than residents of any other state. The report read, in part: “Tennessee narrowly edged out Louisiana for the top spot with an average state and local combined sales tax rate of 9.46 percent. That’s according to the latest data available from the nonpartisan, conservative Tax Foundation, which shows Louisiana falls a hair behind at 9.45 percent.” http://www.themountainpress.com/news/tax-free-weekend-starting-this-friday/article_96a0df8b-ef6f-5310-afda-e8f384b6cfbc.html

Shop tax free in Tennessee the last weekend of July (AP) Tennessee retailers will not collect sales tax on more than 150 different items during the 13th annual sales tax holiday the last weekend in July. From July 27 through July 29, shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on clothing, school supplies and computers, as students prepare for the back-to-school season. State and local taxes will not be collected on clothing, school and school art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. The Department of Revenue wants to remind people that this weekend of savings is not exclusive to students or Tennesseans. Anyone who wants to shop in Tennessee during the last weekend of July will be eligible to save on sales tax. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/24/shop-tax-free/475575/

McMinn Co. woman charged with TennCare fraud, doctor shopping to get Oxycodone (WTVC-TV) For the second time, a McMinn County woman has been charged with using TennCare to doctor shop for prescription drugs. The Office of Inspector General, with help from the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of 37-year-old Janette S. Macon of Sweetwater, Tennessee on Tuesday. Authorities say Mason visited several doctors in a short period of time to get the painkiller Oxycodone, seeking out medical attention at four different hospitals in the process and using TennCare as payment. This is her second arrest on such charges, the first happening in Monroe County in June. https://newschannel9.com/news/local/mcminn-co-woman-charged-with-tenncare-fraud-doctor-shopping-to-get-oxycodone

Tennesseans charged with TennCare fraud (WZTV-TV) Two Tennesseans were charged with Tenncare fraud on Friday. Lavokies Perkins,41 of Gibson County is accused of using TennCare to obtain the painkiller Morphine and later selling a portion to an undercover informant. Perkins is being charged with one count of TennCare fraud. Danielle Richardson, 34 of Sparta was reported to have been falsely reporting her income and not reporting her marriage to the state in order to obtain TennCare and prescription drug benefits that she was not entitled to receive. Richardson is being charged with with TennCare fraud and theft of services over $10,000. https://fox17.com/news/local/two-tennesseans-charged-with-tenncare-fraud

Waitlist at Sexual Assault Center grows in Nashville, Clarksville (WKRN-TV) People seeking professional mental health help at the Sexual Assault Center may have to wait more than two months before help is received. There are 80 men, women and children waiting to see a therapist at the center in Nashville and 50 people waiting in Clarksville. There were 303 rapes reported to Metro police from January 1 to July 14 this year. For the same time period last year, there were 290 rapes reported. In Clarksville, there have been 26 rapes reported to Clarksville police. Last year there were 30 reports. The Sexual Assault Center is the only place in Middle Tennessee exclusively dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault. The center says its waitlist correlates with the number of rape survivors coming forward. https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/waitlist-at-sexual-assault-center-grows-in-nashville-clarksville/1321120360

District 19 State Senate Candidates Face Off In Debate (WTVF-TV)  Five of the six candidates vying for District 19’s State Senate seat faced off on issues facing that district. One topic every candidate agreed with, the need for more affordable housing. News Channel 5’s Vicki Yates moderated the debate between three democratic candidates and one independent candidate who challenged each other’s positions and took questions from audience members at MeHarry’s Cal Turner Family Center. Democrats Howard Jones, Brenda Gilmore, Sandra Moore, George Thomas and independent candidate Rueben Dockery attended the debate. Independent candidate Christina “Chris” Callaway was not in attendance. One of those candidates will take Senator Thelma Harper’s seat, Harper was the first African-American woman elected to the State Senate in the early 90s. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/district-19-state-senate-candidates-face-off-in-debate

Fowler calls Casada’s mailer attack on Mason ‘despicable’; Casada defends choice of Helton (Times Free Press) Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler is describing as “despicable” a recent direct-mail attack launched by a top state House Republican’s PAC against a candidate in a contested state House GOP primary in Hamilton County. “I don’t get involved in Republican primaries, but state Rep. Glen Casada’s recent mail piece against Jonathan Mason is despicable!” wrote Fowler, a former state senator from Signal Mountain, in a posting on Mason’s campaign Facebook page over the weekend. House Majority Leader Casada, R-Franklin, is backing East Ridge City Council member Esther Helton in the open GOP contest to replace retiring state Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, who is seeking to become Hamilton County’s next register of deeds. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/24/fowler-calls-casadas-mailer-attack-masstate-h/475636/

Anti-Boyd website questions pollster’s links to Lee campaign (TN Journal/On the Hill) A conservative website that has long targeted Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid is raising questions about ties between one of its favored Republican candidates, Bill Lee, and a poll that suggested he had surged to a 6-point lead over Boyd. The Tennessee Star notes that Lee’s general consultants Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke have links to JMC Analytics and Polling, the company that released what it billed as a “completely independent” poll in the Tennessee governor’s race this week. Harris and Gehrke are partners in Vertical Strategies and Victory Phones respectively, companies that share a Grand Rapids, Mich., address with another company called Advictory. Lee’s campaign has spent heavily on Advictory and Victory Phones — a company that has been listed as an auto-dialer for JMC polls in other states (the company did not disclose its auto-dialer for the Tennessee poll). http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/anti-boyd-site/

Diane Black’s husband visits city Wednesday (Times Free Press) Dave Black, husband of Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black, will host a veterans roundtable in East Ridge and meet voters in Bradley County on Wednesday, according to a campaign news release. Dave Black, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, will host the roundtable starting at 10 a.m. at Wally’s Restaurant, 6521 Ringgold Road. At 3 p.m. he will host a meet and greet in support of his wife, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, at Jenkins Restaurant and Deli, 2390 Spring Creek Blvd., in Cleveland. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/24/diane-blacks-husband-visits-city-wednesday/475620/

Lee will make Elizabethton stop on Saturday (Johnson City Press) Bill Lee, candidate for governor in the Aug. 2 Republican primary will hold one of his final town hall meetings in downtown Elizabethton on Saturday morning, July 28 . This will be Lee’s second visit to Elizabethton in the past two months. He will meet the public and answer question during the 11 a.m. meeting at the Carter County Republican headquarters, located at 527 E. Elk Ave. inside the old Ritz Mini Mall. Lee labels himself as a conservative outsider and a seventh generation Tennessean. He is a businessman and farmer. The public is invited to the event. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/24/Lee-will-make-Elizabethton-stop-on-Saturday.html?ci=stream&lp=6&p=

Gubernatorial candidate Boyd hopes to create ‘state of opportunity’ (Maryville Daily Times) Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd hopes to create “a state of opportunity” if elected this fall. The Republican from Knoxville visited Blount County’s early polling locations on Tuesday to share his vision for the state of Tennessee. While information provided by a public relations firm had the candidate meeting with early voters at the Blount County Election Commission Office, the Blount County Public Library and Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County campus, a scrambled schedule also had Boyd’s campaign team visiting local businesses, including Clayton Homes and Lowe’s Drugs. https://www.thedailytimes.com/news/gubernatorial-candidate-boyd-hopes-to-create-state-of-opportunity/article_d14756be-7c0b-55c1-a952-bae326ec9d5b.html

Sen. Bob Corker: Trump threat to revoke security clearances of critics is ‘bush league’ (Tennessean) President Donald Trump should not revoke security clearances for former U.S. officials who have criticized him, according to Sen. Bob Corker, who said doing so would be “bush league.” Trump’s administration on Monday floated the possibility of revoking clearances for top critics including former FBI director director James Comey and former national intelligence director James Clapper and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Corker, R-Tennessee, who is one of the administration’s highest profile Republican critics, likened the move to “blatant retribution against political enemies” that takes place in dictatorships. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/24/donald-trump-bob-corker-security-clearance-threat/829337002/

Corker denounces tariffs as ‘massive tax increase’ and farm aid plan as ‘welfare’ (Times Free Press) U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is pushing the Senate to vote to override some of the proposed import tariffs proposed by the president, said today that the White House plan to aid farmers hurt by tariffs is the wrong approach to the problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture today said it will provide a $12 billion “short-term” plan to help U.S. farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the plan will help a broad number of farmers deal with the cost of “disruptive markets” as U.S. trading partners have retaliated for President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported goods. :I am glad that the administration finally seems to understand that the Trump-Pence tariffs are hurting the American people,” Corker said.  https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/24/corker-denounces-tariffs-massive-tax-increase-and-farm-aid-plan-welfare/475586/

Bredesen stoking up Senate campaign in midst of heated governor’s race (WKRN-TV) Democrat Phil Bredesen isn’t letting a heated governor’s race get in the way of his closely watched U.S. Senate race against Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn. During a recent visit with Nashville media to coincide with the release of a new ad last week, Bredesen said Tennesseans will have a clear choice in the race. “This is not a Tweedledum and Tweedle-dee election,” he told News 2. “I think you have two very different people with very different backgrounds and very different approaches to the job. I think that is healthy.” Along with the new ad, Bredesen campaigned in Blackburn’s home county this weekend and then early voted Monday with his wife Andrea. “I am trying to look forward, but obviously I have a history as governor, and I think that sometimes the best predictor of what someone is going to do is what they have done,” added Bredesen in the wide-ranging interview. https://www.wkrn.com/news/tennessee-news/bredesen-stoking-up-senate-campaign-in-midst-of-heated-governor-s-race/1320626463

 TA-RIFT (Murfreesboro Post) Democratic United States Senate candidate Phil Bredesen continues taking a hard line against potential tariffs affecting the auto industry while his opponent, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, saying she opposes the tariffs, is still working toward a solution. Former Tennessee Gov. Bredesen renewed his push for President Donald Trump’s administration to “dump” the tariffs in advance of a U.S. Department of Commerce hearing in which Volkswagen Group of America and other automotive industry members opposed the imposition of tariffs. German-owned Volkswagen, which Bredesen helped recruit to Chattanooga in 2008, gave testimony at the hearing. And Franklin-based Nissan North America, which opened its headquarters in the Cool Springs area in 2008, and General Motors, which restarted its Spring Hill plant several years ago, submitted written comments against the tariffs. https://www.murfreesboropost.com/community/ta-rift/article_a7bc103c-8fad-11e8-bfbd-573a037422dc.html

Phil Bredesen On The Heated Campaign For U.S. Senate In Tennessee (WKRN-TV) Democrat Phil Bredesen isn’t letting a heated Tennessee Governor’s race get in the way of his own U.S. Senate campaign. State capitol newsroom reporter Chris Bundgaard caught up with the former Governor about his closely watched race. Bredesen, who spent 8 years as Tennessee’s Governor, says Tennesseans will have a clear choice in the U.S. Senate race. “This is not a Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee election. I think you have two very different people. Very different backgrounds. Very different approaches to the job. I think that is healthy,” says Bredesen. Bredesen’s visit with Nashville media this past week coincided with the release of a new ad, campaigning this weekend in the home county of his Republican opponent, Congressional member Marsha Blackburn, and then early voting on Monday with his wife Andrea. https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/phil-bredesen-on-the-heated-campaign-for-us-senator-in-tennessee/1320462076

Roe dismissed from VA lawsuit (Morristown Citizen-Tribune) A federal judge on Monday dismissed U.S. Rep. Phil Roe from a painkiller-related federal damages lawsuit self-filed by a man who claimed that Roe – in his capacity as a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs – harmed him. The plaintiff, Robert D. Rose Jr., alleges that Roe and Veterans Administration officials are part of a conspiracy that’s promoting the genocide of 100 million Americans. Rose is asking for $350 million in damages. Rose asserts federal officials prevented him from getting painkillers, which he requires to treat a chronic ailment. U.S. District Judge Travis R. McDonough ruled that Roe is protected from these types of lawsuits by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which exempts members of Congress from lawsuits related to their official capacity, unless they waive sovereign immunity, which Roe did not do. https://www.citizentribune.com/news/local/roe-dismissed-from-va-lawsuit/article_787295ce-8f5a-11e8-97a9-33b156ac8770.html

Flinn’s willingness to spend his own millions makes for competitive race vs. Kustoff in District 8 (Commercial Appeal) Like a championship fighter making his first title defense, freshman Congressman David Kustoff is trying to hold off a challenge from Dr. George Flinn, a frequent candidate who makes the race competitive largely because of his willingness to spend millions of his own dollars to buy TV ads. Flinn, who has made a fortune as a radiologist and owner of broadcast stations, has spent already spent $2.7 million of his own money. That’s more than double Kustoff’s spending of just under $1 million, according to federal campaign finance reports current through July 13. Yet Flinn also spent millions of dollars in four previous Congressional campaigns from 2010 through 2016, only to lose each race. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2018/07/24/district-8-congress-tn-tennessee-politics-david-kustoff-george-flinn/769863002/

Olsen, McKinley to participate in NAACP candidate forum on Thursday (Johnson City Press) Still not sure who to vote for in the Aug. 2 primary for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District? The Johnson City/Washington County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will host a candidate forum at Carver Park, 322 W. Watauga Ave., on Thursday, and the public is invited to come. So far, Democrat Dr. Marty Olsen and Republican Todd McKinley, both challengers for the 1st District seat, have confirmed their attendance. “It’s really important for people to hear both sides from the candidates,” NAACP chapter President Ralph Davis said. “We are really hoping people come out and take part in this process.” https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/24/Public-invited-to-NAACP-congressional-candidate-forum.html?ci=stream&lp=2&p=

F-minus to A: Matlock campaign mailer criticizes Emert’s NRA rating (News Sentinel) A number of Second Congressional residents received another round of campaign mailers Monday afternoon from candidate Jimmy Matlock, and at least one campaign took issue with it. The mailer includes a rap sheet of sorts for both Jason Emert and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. In red and white at the bottom of Emert’s side of the mailer reads “F- RATING BY THE NRA.” The NRA rates candidates in all sorts of congressional and state races on an A-F scale on how much they support the NRA. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/24/east-tennessee-elections-jimmy-matlock-mailer-blasts-jason-emerts-nra-rating/823404002/

Melania Trump meets with families with babies dependent on drugs during Vanderbilt hospital visit (Tennessean) Melania Trump arrived in Nashville on Tuesday to visit Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to be briefed on babies born dependent on drugs. Trump blew bubbles with pediatric patients and got down on kid-level to play trains after attending a roundtable on treatment options for infants of opioid-addicted mothers born in conditions of withdrawal. Crouching down to play with 4-year-old patient Essence Overton, Trump complimented the child’s painted nails. “Yours are all different colors. I like that,” she said. Trump landed in Nashville at about 2 p.m. and was greeted by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who shook her hand and had a brief conversation. Trump also shook hands with an Air Force officer before her motorcade headed to the hospital. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/24/melania-trump-wife-vanderbilt-medical-center-nashville-childrens-hospital-drug-addicted-babies/825672002/

Tennessee’s soybean farmers favor free market over Trump’s aid (Tennessean) For some Tennessee farmers, the $12 billion in aid announced Tuesday by the Trump administration brings some financial relief — but not in the way they would prefer to make ends meet. “It will be some relief, but it’s a mixed bag,” said Parks Wells, executive director of the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council in Dyer County. “We hate to lose the free markets. Farmers thrive on that, not government support. We’ve lost this market because of the policy situation.” As China and Europe have retaliated against steel and aluminum tariffs levied by President Donald Trump with their own tariffs on U.S. goods, farmers have taken a hit. Tennessee soybean farmers have seen purchases from China stall, exacerbating the financial pressure from a five-year slump in farm income.   https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/07/24/trump-farmers-aid-tennessee-tariffs-trade/826611002/

Local businessman eyes clothing tariffs (Cleveland Daily Banner) The Cleveland entrepreneur and philanthropist who gave Hardwick Clothes new life four years ago is calling for tariffs, especially on clothing imported from Mexico and Canada. The businessman’s action is coming on the eve of celebrating the local company’s 138th anniversary. Allan Jones, chairman of Jones Capitalcorp LLC, rescued Hardwick from bankruptcy in 2014, pumping millions of his own money into the venture in an attempt to salvage the company, maintain employment for the company’s 300-plus employees, and keep America’s oldest tailor-made clothing manufacturer in business. “When the Tariff of 1824 was instituted, the goal was admirable: protect woolen mills in America,” Jones said. He explained that a century later in 1930, Hardwick Woolen Mills in Cleveland, was the largest clothing manufacturer and mill in the world. When the company leadership saw the decline of mills, Hardwick sold the milling business to Burlington Fabrics to concentrate on their tailored clothing. http://clevelandbanner.com/stories/local-businessman-eyes-clothing-tariffs,83950

TVA boosts power output at newest Browns Ferry reactor (Times Free Press) The Tennessee Valley Authority has boosted the power output of its newest reactor of its oldest nuclear power plant, adding enough extra power to supply more than 90,000 homes. The extended power upgrade at the Unit 3 reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama added 155 megawatts of power generation and will be matched with similar power upgrades at the other two Browns Ferry units by next spring. TVA spokeswoman Malinda Hunter said today that the Unit 3 reactor at Browns Ferry was restarted and achieved full power production this week following the power upgrade. TVA expects to spend $475 million to add a total of 465 megawatts of additional base-load generation by installing new pumps, valves and other equipment for the uprated heat and power production at the boiling water reactors at Browns Ferry. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jul/24/tva-boosts-power-output-newest-browns-ferry-reactor/475591/

Freeman Webb Company Hires Frank Daniels III to Oversee News/Entertainment Media Company (Nashville Scene) Freeman Webb Company has hired Frank Daniels III to oversee the management, strategic direction and tactical operation of its recently acquired news media outlets, which include the Nashville Scene, Nfocus and the Nashville Post. “We are proud to announce that Frank Daniels is joining our team of media professionals at FW Publishing,” says Freeman Webb Co-founder and President Jimmy Webb. “His clear expertise in the publishing industry, both print and digital, will bring a depth of knowledge to our new family of news media outlets. We welcome his experience as we develop an overarching strategy and goals for our publications.” https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/21014776/freeman-webb-company-hires-frank-daniels-iii-to-oversee-newsentertainment-media-company

BrightRidge kicks off broadband in 2019 (Johnson City Press) BrightRidge officials are getting down to the details of their $64 million broadband plan. The utility will hold a public hearing on its new internet, phone and video services on Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of its offices at 2600 Boones Creek Road. BrightRidge’s board of directors got a preview Tuesday of what potential customers will hear at that community meeting. Stacy Evans, the utility’s chief broadband officer, went over the business plan for BrightRidge’s new services. Evans and his staff will be on hand Thursday to answer questions about the broadband plan. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Business/2018/07/25/BrightRidge-kicks-off-broadband-in-2019.html?ci=stream&lp=1&p=

What does it cost to live comfortably in Nashville? (Tennessean) Nashville’s tourism and development explosion hasn’t been easy on wallets. The annual price of living comfortably in Music City soared to $80,548 this year, according to a new analysis by personal finance management website GoBankingRates.com. Nashville, the priciest city in the state, is home to Tennessee’s most expensive real estate values. It costs an average of $745,800 for a home in the city’s most expensive 37215 ZIP code, including Green Hills and Forest Hills addresses.  For average residents, the cost of living has skyrocketed since last year by nearly 15 percent. In 2017, GoBankingRates.com estimated that residents should earn at least $70,150 annually. https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/07/24/nashville-cost-living-go-banking-rates/818969002/


Phil Bredesen: Tariffs are a stealth tax on Tennessee (Times Free Press) Remember the old joke, “I’m from Washington and I’m here to help you”? The fact that this is indeed a joke helps explain the frustration and anger that is building here in Tennessee over the latest political game in Washington — imposing tariffs on American imports from other countries. These new tariffs are nothing less than a stealthy new tax on Tennesseans. It might barely be possible to justify them if they really did protect the jobs we have or create new ones. But they do just the opposite. With these tariffs, and with the retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on us that follow, Tennessee businesses and farmers become less competitive in the world. Suddenly, it’s more expensive to do business with Tennessee. In the end, in the real world, that means one thing — a loss of jobs in Tennessee. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/columns/story/2018/jul/25/sohn-tariffs-are-stealth-tax-tennessee/475632/

Guest column: Doctors restricted my husband’s pain medication. He committed suicide. (Tennessean) There have recently been a few minor stories about the closing of Comprehensive Pain Specialists clinics across the region due to financial issues and a federal criminal investigation. Some have even mentioned that an estimated 45,000 pain patients are now without a pain management doctor. If this were 45,000 cancer patients not receiving treatment in the weeks to come, it would be headline news. People would be up in arms over that denial of care. If you or somebody you love have not been directly impacted by long-term chronic pain, then you are very fortunate. Keep in mind that we are all just one car accident away from that condition. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/24/tennessees-opioid-regulations-precipitated-my-husbands-death/797988002/

Otis Sanford: ON TN Governor’s Race Political Ads (WATN-TV) Political attacks are getting nastier in the race for the Tennessee Governor’s seat. Two of the leading the Republican candidates now at odds over new numbers showing who is really ahead at the polls. Local 24 political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view. It was already bad enough that Tennessee’s top Republican gubernatorial candidates were attacking each over who’s more conservative or who loves President Trump the most. Now they are squabbling over who is really in the lead as Election Day approaches. Candidates Randy Boyd and Diane Black have taken turns in the top spot throughout the campaign, according to most polls, with Bill Lee trailing in third place and Beth Harwell far behind in fourth. https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/local-24-political-analyst-commentator-otis-sanford-on-tn-governors-race-political-ads/1320470231

Commentary: Democratic candidates for Congress getting antsy (Columbia Daily Herald) Maury County has two representatives in Congress — Republican U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais. Believe it or not, that’s been confusing to some voters — they told The Daily Herald — as they showed up for early voting and requested a Republican ballot. News alert: Blackburn represents Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, and DesJarlais serves the 4th District. Part of each runs through Maury County. This year, Blackburn has decided to run for the U.S. Senate, leaving behind her seat in the 7th District. A strong Republican candidate and former state senator, Mark Green from Clarksville, will win the Republican primary to replace her. Democrats have two feisty and antsy candidates battling for the opportunity to challenge Green on the Nov. 6 ballot — Justin Kanew and Matt Reel. http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180724/commentary-democratic-candidates-for-congress-getting-antsy

Clint Cooper: Open seats monetarily competitive (Times Free Press) Candidates running in primaries for two open seats in the Hamilton County legislative delegation amassed nearly $127,000 in contributions for the second quarter of 2018, according to campaign finance disclosure statements. And that doesn’t include two candidates in District 28 who have not made second-quarter reports. Four of the six District 28 candidates raised $59,191.57 for the March-June quarter, while the four District 30 candidates reaped $67,692.59. And that includes one candidate — independent J. Michael Holloway in District 30 — who reported no money raised, spent or on hand. Open seats, according to a 2017 report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, are more monetarily competitive (26 percent) than seats held by incumbents (15 percent). https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/freepress/story/2018/jul/25/cooper-open-seats-monetarily-competitive/475630/

Tuesday, July 24

Gov. Bill Haslam: At some point ahead, Tennessee can ‘come out ahead’ in expanding Medicaid (Tennessean) As the candidates for Tennessee governor have made their case to voters ahead of the Aug. 2 primary, Gov. Bill Haslam has rarely weighed in on the campaign. He’s made cracks about how his time in office is limited. “This is an interesting job to lose because you not only lose your job, you lose your house and your car and your driver,” he told a group of educators at a recent event in Nashville. The forum featured five gubernatorial candidates who discussed various aspects of health care in Tennessee. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/23/gov-bill-haslam-some-point-ahead-tennessee-can-come-out-ahead-expanding-medicaid/796582002/

Maximizing your savings for Tennessee’s Tax-Free Weekend (WKRN-TV) From binders to boots, more than 200 items are in this weekend’s tax-free holiday list. According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, Tennesseans save on average about 10-percent on their purchases during the holiday, and there are ways to add on even more savings. Check local ads for back-to-school bargains, especially on school supplies. Next, look up retailer apps for promotions. Walmart’s app finds you the best deals by comparing prices with a scan of your receipt. Target’s “Cartwheel” app currently has “buy more, save more” options and five to 50-percent savings off certain items. https://www.wkrn.com/news/maximizing-your-savings-for-tennessee-s-tax-free-weekend/1318739335

Shop tax free in Tennessee this weekend (Paris Post Intelligencer) Tennessee’s 13th annual sales tax holiday is coming up this weekend, with more than 150 different items available tax-free. From Friday-Sunday, shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on clothing, school supplies and computers, as students prepare for the back-to-school season. In conjunction with the sales tax holiday, The Post-Intelligencer will have a special page Thursday devoted to local businesses planning sales during the weekend, which will include a complete list of tax-exempt items. State and local taxes will not be collected on clothing, school and school art supplies that cost $100 or less an item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. The weekend of savings is not exclusive to students or Tennesseans. Anyone who wants to shop in Tennessee during the last weekend of July will be eligible to save on sales tax. http://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article_aef6fe94-8ed5-11e8-a446-dfa777786382.html

Google’s mistake on Tennessee’s tax holiday (WZTV-TV)  FOX17 is your Back-to-School station and FOX17 News’ Erika Kurre explains how an issue with Google could cost you on school supplies as Tennessee’s tax holiday is about to kick off. Tennessee’s tax holiday has deals almost as good as 10 percent discounts so local parents are getting confused on why Google has the wrong dates listed for the event. “I probably save about $200 a year maybe,” Shopper Grace Lewis said. Lewis lives in Houston County but drives about an hour to Davidson County for shopping as she sends her four children back to school. Her expenses easily add up to hundreds of dollars in supplies by the time everything is said and done. Many parents mark their calendar for the sales tax holiday but Google has been listing this year with the wrong date. http://fox17.com/news/local/googles-mistake-on-tennessees-tax-holiday

Shop tax free in Tennessee the last weekend of July (Crossville Chronicle) Tennessee retailers will not collect sales tax on more than 150 different items during the 13th annual sales tax holiday the last weekend in July. From July 27 through July 29, shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on clothing, school supplies and computers, as students prepare for the back-to-school season. State and local taxes will not be collected on clothing, school and school art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. The Department of Revenue wants to remind people that this weekend of savings is not exclusive to students or Tennesseans. Anyone who wants to shop in Tennessee during the last weekend of July will be eligible to save on sales tax. http://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/local_news/shop-tax-free-in-tennessee-the-last-weekend-of-july/article_627a8aea-8ea8-11e8-be85-cb7df6287c9c.html

Back-to-school savings are around the corner as tax-free weekend approaches (WBBJ-TV) Does your back-to-school shopping list need a few more items? You may want to wait for the weekend. Tax-free weekend is around the corner, which means school is almost back in session. This year’s tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 27, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 29. Some individuals may think you have to be a Tennessee resident or perhaps a student to partake in the savings, but that is not the case. The savings are for anyone who shops in Tennessee during the tax-free weekend. Jackson’s Target says they are expecting a tremendous volume of business. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/23/back-to-school-savings-are-around-the-corner-as-tax-free-weekend-approaches/

Opioid makers file Kingsport lawsuit to shift blame, compensation (Times News) A pair of pharmaceutical companies sued by local district attorneys are now pursuing legal action against drug dealers, arguing those illegal suppliers of painkillers are to blame for the region’s opioid epidemic, not the manufacturers. Last week in Kingsport Circuit Court, lawyers representing Endo Pharmaceuticals and Mallinckrodt LLC sued 10 online black market websites, about two dozen defendants in drug distribution cases and previously convicted pill mill operators.The filing argues that these third parties are “actually responsible for the misuse and abuse rather than scapegoating certain pharmaceutical manufacturers.” https://www.timesnews.net/Law-Enforcement/2018/07/23/Opioid-makers-file-Kingsport-lawsuit-to-shift-blame-compensation.html?ci=stream&lp=5&p=

Lethal injection case: Dueling experts set stage for closing arguments in death penalty suit (Jackson Sun) Experts brought in by either side of a challenge to Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol disagree on whether the drugs effectively prevent death row inmates from being tortured in their final moments. That disagreement is the central issue at play in a lawsuit brought against the state by 33 death row inmates. Attorneys for the inmates argue midazolam — the first of three drugs in the state’s lethal injection cocktail — fails to suppress brutal, unconstitutional pain caused by the following two drugs. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/2018/07/23/tennessee-death-penalty-case-dueling-experts-set-stage-closing-arguments-lethal-injection-su/803666002/

District 96 candidates look to education and economic reform, de-annexation of Cordova (Commercial Appeal) Republican candidates Scott McCormick and Patricia Possel are running for the District 96 Tennessee House of Representatives seat in the Aug. 2 primary election. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Dwayne Thompson in the Nov. 6 general election. McCormick has his sights set on helping small businesses thrive and maintaining Tennessee’s position among states with lowest tax and debt in the U.S. Possel wants to continue her push for de-annexation locally and in the Tennessee General Assembly. An East Memphis native, McCormick, 58, plans to represent District 96 by advocating for economic development for West Tennessee. He said the largest problem Shelby County faces is poverty. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2018/07/23/district-96-candidates-scott-mccormick-patricia-possel-education/780405002/

Sparks: Comments on teacher pay taken out of context (Murfreesboro Post) State Rep. Mike Sparks, in a Republican primary against Smyrna Town Councilman Tim Morrell, is trying to fend off criticism about comments he made this year while pushing a bill to put teachers’ names and their salaries online. Taking a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook, Sparks is using the term “fake news” to describe a news piece about his legislative presentation and the subsequent uproar. With Election Day set for Aug. 2, the debate stems from a House Education subcommittee meeting in March when Sparks said, “It seems like there’s a misnomer out there that folks think that teachers are very low paid.”  https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/government/sparks-comments-on-teacher-pay-taken-out-of-context/article_d5fd039e-8ec6-11e8-b3d7-ffcce8b28c1d.html

New poll: Bill Lee leads in Tennessee’s Republican campaign for governor (Tennessean) A new poll released Monday has Williamson County businessman Bill Lee leading by 6 percentage points in Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary. JMC Analytics and Polling, a political data firm in Louisiana, queried voters on which Republican candidate they’d select for governor.The poll has Lee at 26 percent, former Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd at 20 percent and U.S. Rep. Diane Black at 19 percent. House Speaker Beth Harwell trails the rest in the poll at 16 percent. Lee, chairman of the Franklin-based Lee Company, is a political newcomer who has previously trailed Black and Boyd in the race but has shown signs of rising in polls in recent weeks. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/23/tn-governors-race-new-poll-bill-lee-leads-randy-boyd-diane-black-beth-harwell-republican-primary/818326002/

New Poll Shows Lee In The Lead; Boyd Campaign Calls Poll “Fake” (WTVF-TV) A new poll in the Republican gubernatorial primary shows Williamson County businessman Bill Lee in the lead. But at least one candidate is claiming the poll is a “fake” and accusing the Lee campaign of releasing it to create momentum. The poll was released Monday by JMC Analytics, a polling firm based out of Louisiana that promises its clients “strategic guidance” in “public opinion polling.” Lee led the group of six GOP candidates. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/new-poll-shows-lee-in-the-lead-boyd-campaign-calls-poll-fake

New poll says Lee leading in state’s raucous GOP governor primary (Times Free Press) Franklin businessman Bill Lee is leading Tennessee’s four-person GOP gubernatorial field by six percentage points, according to a new poll conducted last week by a Louisiana firm. The JMC Analytics and Polling survey of 500 Republicans and some undecided voters put Lee at 26 percent support. Support for Knoxville entrepreneur and former state economic development chief Randy Boyd was at 20 percent while U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin was close behind with 19 percent of those surveyed favoring her. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/23/new-poll-shows-lee-leads/475502/

New poll shows Lee ahead in GOP gubernatorial primary (Johnson City Press) Williamson County businessman Bill Lee’s strenuous campaigning across Tennessee, including several stops in the Tri-Cities and a town hall appearance in Jonesborough Monday, appears to be paying off at just the right time, according to a new poll released on Monday.  Conducted between July 18-21, the JMC Analytics and Polling phone poll of 500 registered Republican voters showed Lee in first place with 26 percent, six points ahead of Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd’s 20 percent. Diane Black received 19 percent of support in the poll, while Beth Harwell placed fourth with 16 percent. The poll had a 4.4 percent margin of error.  “We feel great about the state of our campaign right now,” Lee said in a statement about the poll showing him ahead. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/23/New-polling-shows-Lee-ahead.html?ci=stream&lp=11&p=

Diane Black’s ties to conservative nonprofit raise concerns about how she would treat companies (Tennessean) When conservative activist Lee Douglas endorsed U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year, he touted her involvement in an organization that seeks to serve as a watchdog on corporations. The organization, known as 2nd Vote, was founded in 2013 by Black’s husband, David Black, after accusations that March of Dimes donations went to Planned Parenthood. “Our founder would never fund or vote for Planned Parenthood with his 1st vote at the ballot box, and therefore neither did he want to with his ‘2nd vote’ through everyday spending and giving,” the organization’s website says. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/23/tn-governors-race-diane-black-ties-conservative-nonprofit-2nd-vote-raise-concerns-elections/800451002/

Was steak dinner Boyd’s reason for missing debate? (TN Journal/On the Hill) Randy Boyd got the dominoes falling when he declared that he would not attend a televised Republican gubernatorial debate in Knoxville on Sunday because of an unspecified scheduling conflict. Beth Harwell and Diane Black soon followed suit in deciding not to go. Reporter Cari Wade Gervin as scoured the Twitterverse to reveal that “a pricey steakhouse dinner” in Memphis may have been the reason for Boyd dropping out of the debate. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/was-steak-dinner-boyds-reason-for-missing-debate/

‘Biggest moral failure’: Fitzhugh pledges to expand Medicaid if elected governor (Johnson City Press) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Craig Fitzhugh got his loudest applause from the Down Home audience Monday night when he pledged to make expanding Medicaid his top priority if elected governor. “The biggest moral failure in this legislature has been the failure to expand Medicaid. We must do that. It is my first priority, and I’m serious when I say this,” Fitzhugh said, speaking to a room full of Democratic supporters during a visit to Johnson City.  “They say, ‘How can you do it when the popular Republican governor (Bill Haslam) and the supermajority couldn’t do it?’ Well, there are no reasons left that we haven’t answered to that majority in why we shouldn’t do this. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Politics/2018/07/23/Fitzhugh-pledges-to-expand-Medicaid-if-elected-governor.html?ci=stream&lp=5&p=

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fitzhugh campaigns in area (WJHL-TV) One of the two Democratic candidates for governor made the rounds in upper east Tennessee today. Fresh off of the debate last night, Craig Fitzhugh stumped in our region today with several stops, including a visit to the Johnson City,Jonesborough, Washington Co. Chamber of Commerce to meet with local business leaders. He talked about urging Tennesseans to get out and vote. “You know in Tennessee, we have the lowest voter turnout of any state in the country, and that is not something to be proud of.  So that is what we’re doing this week, talk to folks about our campaign and especially the reason to egt out to vote before early voting ends on Friday,”, Craig Fitzhugh said. https://www.wjhl.com/local/democratic-gubernatorial-candidate-fitzhugh-campaigns-in-area/1318224847

Tennessee’s Next Governor: How They’d Use Opioid Litigation Money (WPLN Radio) Tennessee’s next governor could likely oversee a sizeable legal settlement with drug makers related to the opioid crisis. But when the state got a windfall from a settlement with tobacco companies in 1998, very little of the money went into programs that help farmers stop producing tobacco or help people quit smoking. So we asked the six leading candidates for governor whether they would commit money from opioid litigation to drug treatment. This is the rare question that evenly divided the gubernatorial hopefuls, with no relation to party. Republicans Beth Harwell and Randy Boyd say — without hesitation — all of the money that comes from suing drug makers will go to combat the opioid epidemic. Boyd, who is a businessman from Knoxville and the former economic development commissioner, says opioid addiction has cost the state too much already. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-s-next-governor-how-they-d-use-opioid-litigation-money#stream/0

GOP Primary Race For Tennessee Governor “Unpredictable” Based On Recent Polls (WATN-TV) An already tight Republican Gubernatorial primary race in Tennessee is now even more unpredictable. In the past three weeks, three different polls showed three different leaders. Diane Black, then Randy Boyd, and in a new poll Monday, Bill Lee is ahead. This fluctuating, razor-thin Republican Governor race comes in the heart of early voting and with the August 2nd election just 10 days away. Analysts and voters now wait to see which candidate can find an edge, with a flood of ads on the airwaves, and a surging candidate in recent polls. “At this point, it’s a really unpredictable race,” says Memphis political analyst Susan Adler Thorp. “It’s anyone’s call.” https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/gop-primary-race-for-tennessee-governor-unpredictable-based-on-recent-polls/1318297222

Country stars stump for gubernatorial candidates (Nashville Post) Two County Music Hall of Fame inductees, both with more than a dozen Grammy Awards to their names, are hitting the campaign trail Monday as candidates for governor seek to shore up support ahead of Aug. 2 primaries. Emmylou Harris was set to perform at a fundraiser for former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s Democratic campaign Monday evening at Two Old Hippes, a retail store in Nashville. Ricky Skaggs is playing an event in Chattanooga Monday night in support of Republican candidate Bill Lee. The Dean fundraiser was sold out, according to a campaign press release. Sponsorships were going for $540 and individual tickets for $54, according to an invitation, the prices a reference to Core 54, “a grassroots network of women supporting Dean’s campaign.” (Fifty-four percent of Tennessee voters are women.) https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/elections/article/21014613/country-stars-stump-for-gubernatorial-candidates

Bredesen talks with women voters at health care roundtable (Lebanon Democrat) Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democratic candidate to replace Bob Corker in the U.S. Senate, met with a group of women Friday for a roundtable luncheon to discuss the health care issues and needs of Tennesseans at Physicians Plaza in Lebanon. Among the group of 11 women were health care professionals, teachers and mothers who told Bredesen of their struggles to get and keep affordable insurance, mental health and their experiences with the Department of Children’s Services. Without the use of campaign talking points, Bredesen spent most of the luncheon listening and asking questions. https://www.lebanondemocrat.com/Politics/2018/07/23/Bredesen-talks-with-women-voters-at-health-care-roundtable.html?ci=stream&lp=3&p=

Tenn. Republicans to go on offense against Dem (The Hill) The race to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is becoming a referendum on the current state of American politics, pitting the dueling theories that partisanship matters above all else against former House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s (D-Mass.) old axiom that all politics are local. On one side is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), who has spent 16 years in Congress building one of the most conservative records in the Republican conference. Blackburn has freely embraced President Trump, who may be polarizing around the country but has strong approval ratings in Tennessee. On the other is popular former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who is campaigning on local issues, touting his work to bring jobs and an NFL franchise to the Volunteer State as governor and mayor of Nashville. He has pledged to work with Trump when it’s good for Tennessee, but act as a check when it isn’t. http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/398472-tenn-republicans-to-go-on-offense-against-dem

Senate hopeful Bredesen calls Pence tweet ‘name-calling’ (AP) Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has said Vice President Mike Pence was “name-calling” in a tweet against him, and wondered if Pence can’t think of something better to say than calling him liberal. The ex-governor told reporters Monday he’s unsure how much Pence’s tweet counts since Tennesseans will decide the race. Bredesen said he tries to pick ideas throughout the political spectrum. Pence was in Tennessee to boost Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s rival Senate campaign Saturday. https://www.fairfieldcitizenonline.com/news/article/Senate-hopeful-Bredesen-calls-Pence-tweet-13099424.php

Ashley Nickloes leads group of military service members in Congressional race (News Sentinel) Earlier this year someone tried to challenge the Republican bona fides of Ashley Nickloes with the intention of derailing a campaign for Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District that hadn’t gotten fully underway. The challenge, filed with the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, was made to see whether Nickloes was “Republican enough” for office. It failed. Unlike with most of these types of challenges, however, Nickloes didn’t know a thing about it. Her husband, Todd, handled it because she was overseas on a six-week deployment, her eighth tour of duty as part of the Tennessee Air National Guard, and couldn’t be bothered with campaign issues. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/23/ashley-nickloes-hank-hamblin-vito-sagliano-marc-whitmire-david-stansberry/802358002/

Does your congressman have to live in your district? (Times News) This week’s Civics 101: the United States Congress, the basics. The election season is heating up for the Congressional races this fall. At stake are 470 seats — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. According to Scholastic: “The main power of Congress, as set forth in the U.S. Constitution, is to make laws that, when signed by the president, become the law of the land, governing American life.” “Congress also has the responsibility to determine that public policies are being administered by the government in accordance with the law and as efficiently and effectively as possible.” “Moreover, because Congress is intended to represent the nation’s citizens, its members are expected to provide assistance and services to their constituents — the people back home in their states and districts.” https://www.timesnews.net/Community/2018/07/23/Does-your-congressman-have-to-live-in-your-district.html?ci=stream&lp=6&p=

Who gets EastmanPAC contributions? (Times News) As the federal midterm general election approaches, Eastman’s political action committee (PAC) is helping the campaign accounts of far more Republicans than Democrats. Of the 35 federal contributions made so far this year, 30 Republican campaigns and PACs have received money from EastmanPAC, while four Democrat campaigns and one Democrat-affiliated PAC have received disbursements, according to 2018 filings with the Federal Election Commission. https://www.timesnews.net/Business/2018/07/23/Who-gets-EastmanPAC-contributions.html?ci=stream&lp=7&p=

Seniors show voting teeth by urging candidates to make Medicare cover dental (Tennessean) Some seniors and advocates aren’t willing to cover their mouths about the need for dental care. But they want Medicare to. A coalition of oral health organizations is urging senior citizens to mail toothbrushes to their legislators, sending a dual message about their numbers and their health: “We vote, and we have teeth.” The goal: to get Medicare to cover preventive and regular dental services. Right now, the government-sponsored health insurance program for seniors covers less than 1 percent of dental services. Although some supplemental policies do cover dental care, Medicare Parts A and B don’t. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2018/07/23/medicare-dental-care/801444002/

Melania Trump to visit Vanderbilt children’s hospital (Tennessean) First Lady Melania Trump is coming to Nashville on Tuesday to visit Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The first lady’s office said the visit will be part of her Be Best Campaign to keep children healthy and happy. Trump will participate in a roundtable discussion about neonatal abstinence syndrome and tour a neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital. She also will meet with patients of the hospital, the White House said. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/23/melania-trump-visit-vanderbilt-university-medical-center-nashville/820956002/

First lady brings ‘Be Best’ children’s campaign to Nashville (WKRN-TV) Melania Trump is going on the road to promote her “Be Best” campaign to help children. The first lady planned to advocate for her campaign Tuesday in Tennessee during a visit to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville on what will be her first domestic trip to highlight the initiative. Mrs. Trump was to participate in a discussion about babies born addicted to drugs, tour a neonatal intensive care unit and visit with patients. She has done little personally to publicize the campaign around the country since she unveiled it at the White House in May. https://www.wkrn.com/news/first-lady-brings-be-best-children-s-campaign-to-nashville/1319457500

TVA sells part of its birthplace at Muscle Shoals (Times Free Press) The Tennessee Valley Authority has sold part of its birthplace as the federal utility continues to trim its operations and facilities in an era of leaner government and stagnant power demand. On Monday, TVA sold 900 acres of property on the Muscle Shoals Reservation where it was first created in 1933 near the Wilson Dam. A family-owned development firm headed by Knoxville developer Brant Enderle, bought the property for $5 million after the Enderle firm won the bidding for the surplus property during an auction in April. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/23/tva-sells-part-its-birthplace/475515/

What LifePoint’s Merger Says About The State Of Rural Hospitals (WPLN Radio) The proposed buyout of LifePoint Health, a hospital operator based in Brentwood, sheds some light on the state of rural health care: Analysts say companies that run small-town hospitals have to be leaner and more nimble. The fact that private equity firm Apollo Global Management is willing to bet nearly $5.6 billion on LifePoint, in a deal announced Monday, shows there is at least potential for money to be made, says Frank Morgan of RBC Capital Markets. “There are a lot of services that are not being delivered in the rural marketplace that probably could be,” he says. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/what-lifepoints-merger-says-about-state-rural-hospitals#stream/0

One of the country’s biggest accounting firms is coming to Nashville (Nashville Business Journal) The nation’s fifth-largest accounting firm is preparing to open a Nashville office. Chicago-based RSM US LLP hopes to open a local office by Sept. 1, the company confirmed Monday. Craig Radke, RSM’s Southeast regional managing partner, said in a statement: “At RSM, our goal it to be the first-choice adviser to the middle market. We do that, in part, by being in the markets where we have a significant number of clients and/or where we see potential for growth. We’re excited about entering the Nashville market, with its diverse and expanding mix of businesses, including health care, consumer products, industrial products, technology and real estate.” RSM has more than 7,000 employees across the country, according to Accounting Today’s annual ranking. In the 2018 fiscal year, RSM brought in more than $2 billion in revenue, according to the company’s annual report. https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2018/07/23/one-of-the-countrys-biggest-accounting-firms-is.html?iana=hpmvp_nsh_news_headline

Nashville One Of Top Places To Visit In US, CNN Says (WTVF-TV) Nashville is one of the top 10 places to visit in the U.S., according to CNN. CNN compiled a list of 22 cities and sites that are worthy of exploring. Nashville came in at number 10.  “What sets this list slightly apart from other similar ‘places to go’ lists is its lack of uniformity. Large metropolises are included, yes, but so are national parks, small towns and islands,” the article says. According to CNN, you won’t want to miss stopping by Robert’s Western World and says East Nashville “dubbed the Brooklyn of Nashville” is ideal for a “bite or drink or a yoga class.” https://www.newschannel5.com/news/nashville-one-of-top-places-to-visit-in-us-cnn-says

Congress readmits Tennessee to Union, July 24, 1866 (Politico) On this day in 1866, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Tennessee became the first Confederate state to be readmitted into the Union. The Volunteer State had also been the last to withdraw from the Union, after holding a statewide referendum on June 8, 1861. Angered by the withdrawal, Tennesseans from the state’s 26 eastern counties met twice in Greeneville and Knoxville, eventually opting to secede from Tennessee and remain in the Union. The Legislature denied their petition. It sent a 4,000-man force to suppress their secession efforts. During the ensuing struggle, many East Tennesseans waged a guerrilla campaign against the Confederate cause — burning bridges, cutting telegraph wires and acting as Union spies. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/24/this-day-in-politics-july-24-1866-731071


Raina Fisher: Middle East peace likelier than Americans uniting on immigration (Tennessean) Entitlement and barbarity have become the norm in our current tempestuous climate of rhetoric and hyperbole. The Israeli’s and Palestinians have a better chance of finding peace than the left and right factions have of joining hands here at home. We have watched a different movie play through the same camera lens for the past year and a half. The crisis at the border is no exception. Our country—and the rest of the world—stand by outraged as we see toddlers scream with their arms stretched wide to reach for their parents. Their moms and dads in shackles weep powerlessly as strangers take them away. There is no question; this is abuse. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/23/immigration-debate-filled-hypocrisy-all-sides/801143002/

Guest column: The two chicken checkup: Bartering for health care (Jackson Sun) Tennessee has the highest rate of hospital closures per capita of any state in the nation. Meanwhile, neighboring Arkansas — which has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — has experienced zero hospital closures since expansion. Those were the findings of a recent University of North Carolina study. The Tennessee Justice Center reports that some 300,000 Tennesseans would benefit from access to affordable health coverage through Medicaid expansion. Yet Tennessee remains one of about 16 states holding out on accessing these federal funds. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/07/23/column-andy-spears/818853002/

Pam Sohn: Democrats staying the course in McCormick ruse (Times Free Press) This is how local Republican Party politics for years has played out in Hamilton County: The Republican Party and the politicians it helped elect would do whatever they like with impunity. Democrats would meekly play by the rules and say, “Yes, sir, can I get you some sugar with that?” Things are looking up. Just look at the Gerald McCormick redux case as an example. Republicans pulled a fast one last month to ensure there would be a Republican on the ballot for Tennessee House District 26 after McCormick, a Republican from Hixson, abruptly dropped out the race past the withdrawal deadline. Republicans cobbled up a farcical excuse for why and how McCormick shouldn’t just be disqualified under the law, leaving only Democratic candidates on the ballot and therefore a sure Democratic win come fall. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/story/2018/jul/24/sohn-democrats-staying-course-mccormick-ruse/475542/

Clint Cooper: Voting – too few or too many (Times Free Press) Nary a week goes by that some Democrat somewhere isn’t ranting about Republicans trying to prevent people from voting. With county general elections and state primaries approaching next week, Tennessee again may hear from the usual suspects. Where such complaining occurs, it usually concerns a state’s law that requires voters to produce a photo identification or a state’s purge of voters from rolls when they haven’t voted in any election over a certain period of time. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/freepress/story/2018/jul/24/cooper-voting-too-few-or-too-many/475530/

Jay Greeson: Election time shows us it’s time for better (Times Free Press) Man, it’s good to be back. There’s no place like home, and after some time in the mid-state and some time in the Sports section, we’re glad to be back on A2. So, where were we? Oh yes, local politics, which look a lot like state politics, which all too often has mirrored the national political poison that has consumed our country. And that’s sad. It’s also something I believe we can change. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/columns/story/2018/jul/24/greeson-electitime-shows-us-its-time-better/475527/

Monday, July 23

Did you know Tennessee just marked a full year with historically low unemployment? (Covington Leader) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips released the statewide unemployment rate for June 2018 Thursday and it marked an entire year the jobless figure in Tennessee has been 3.5 percent or lower. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June is 3.5 percent, which is unchanged from the May 2018 figure. In a year-to-year comparison, the June rate is 0.1 of a percentage point lower than it was in 2017. Throughout the last 14 months, Tennessee has continued to experience historically low unemployment. Since May 2017 the statewide unemployment rate has been at or below 3.8 percent. April 2017 was the last time Tennessee’s rate was at 4.0 percent. http://www.covingtonleader.com/news/did-you-know-tennessee-just-marked-a-full-year-with/article_0762f968-8b91-11e8-b2c8-9b63a3dc19fd.html

As TDOT builds more roads, Tennessee’s water quality standards hang in the balance (Tennessean) As the Tennessee Department of Transportation looks to spend new revenue from the gas tax increase approved by the legislature in 2017, it’s hit a speed bump: the state’s water quality regulations. State environmental regulators are hoping to change the rules so that TDOT — which has a history of water quality violations — and real estate developers will have less trouble obtaining permits when they want to divert a stream, pave over wetlands or otherwise alter the state’s waterways. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/20/tennessee-water-quality-regulations-rules-tdot/789156002/

Tennessee releases proposed plan for Volkswagen settlement money (Times Free Press) State officials have released for public comment a plan to use money from a settlement with Volkswagen to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Tennessee. The poisonous, highly reactive gas formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures was the pollutant at the center of the 2015 emissions scandal that rocked the automaker and led to billions of dollars in fines. The plan proposes using $45.7 million allocated to Tennessee to curtail nitrogen oxides from buses and trucks while investing in zero-emission vehicle supply equipment. “These categories allow the state to target the two sectors that make up approximately 75 percent of Tennessee’s mobile NOx emissions,” according to the report. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/jul/20/tennessee-releases-proposed-plvolkswagen-sett/475396/

White County woman charged with TennCare fraud (Cookeville Herald-Citizen) A White County woman has been charged with TennCare fraud, after failing to disclose information in order to receive TennCare benefits. The woman, Anamaree Danielle Richardson, 34, of Sparta, is charged with TennCare fraud and theft of services over $10,000. Richardson reportedly falsified her income and lied about her marriage to the state, in order to receive healthcare and prescription drug benefits that she was not entitled to receive. The Office of Inspector General and the White County Sheriff’s office announced the arrest after investigating the claim. “It’s troubling when anyone takes advantage of Tennessee resources by providing false information,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said in a press release. “The Office of Inspector General works with other agencies and citizens to protect these resources for those truly in need.” http://herald-citizen.com/stories/white-county-woman-charged-with-tenncare-fraud,29089?

Here are the congressional districts with the highest opioid prescription rates (Politico)  Alabama-4, represented by Rep. Robert Aderholt, had nearly 1.7 opioid prescriptions per person in 2016, according to new research in the American Journal of Public Health. Kentucky-5, Tennessee-3, Tennessee-1 and Alabama-1 rounded out the top five. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304532

Turner Construction starts $10M U of M athletic project (Memphis Business Journal) The upgrades continue at the University of Memphis’ Park Avenue campus. This week, Turner Construction Co.’s Memphis office announced it started construction on the $10.6 million first phase of the university’s indoor football facility. Turner was approved as the general contractor for the project in January. The multiphase project will add 25,000 square feet to the existing Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex as well as update the existing space, which is utilized both by the football team and other University of Memphis athletic teams. The facility will remain operational throughout construction. https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2018/07/20/turner-construction-starts-10m-u-of-m-athletic.html

As Federal Medicaid Money Fades, How Are States Funding Expansion? (Governing) Many are tapping into tax revenues, making hospitals help, or adding work requirements and premiums to account for their increasing share of the expansion bill. In some, the debate is so heated that it’s ended up in court. In his last few months in office, Maine Gov. Paul LePage is taking his yearslong battle against Medicaid expansion — a central provision of President Obama’s signature health care law — to the state Supreme Court. LePage refuses to grant lawmakers’ and voters’ wishes to make 70,000 more people (adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level) eligible for Medicaid, the nation’s government-run health insurance program. After he vetoed five expansion bills in five years, Medicaid advocates took the issue to voters, who sided with their state legislators. http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-medicaid-expansion-funding-states.html

Tennessee anti-abortion measure appealed to US Supreme Court (Tennessean) Opponents of a 2014 ballot measure that stripped the right to an abortion from the Tennessee constitution have appealed its outcome to the U.S. Supreme Court. Amendment 1, approved by 53 percent of voters, added language to the state’s constitution that said: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.” Its passage opened a path for Tennessee lawmakers to enact stricter abortion regulations, including a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. The campaign for and against the ballot measure was one of the most hotly contested and expensive ballot fights in the state. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/2018/07/20/supreme-court-abortion-tennessee-amendment-1/806993002/

Democrats See Openings at State Level, Thanks to Trump Resistance (New York Times) A polarizing president electrifies the opposition party going into his first midterm election, raising the party’s hopes that it can reclaim governorships, ram through major policy change at the state level and redraw legislative lines in its favor for a decade to come. It’s a scenario both political parties have seen before, most recently in 2010, when out-of-power Republicans rode the Tea Party-led wave against the Obama administration to smashing victories across the country. This year, governors in both parties acknowledged at the National Governors Association conference here, it is Democrats who appear poised to make major gains as Republicans brace for a backlash against President Trump that could lead to grievous statehouse losses. “It does feel very much like 2010 reversed to me right now,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, the head of the Republican Governors Association. “There’s a lot more conviction about voting on the Democrat side than our side, which is a concern to us.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/22/us/politics/democratic-governors-midterms-trump.html

Early voting remains on the rise, still room for many last-minute decisions (Tennessean) Early voting remains on the rise, but trends indicate many voters may still be waiting to the last days before and on the Aug. 2 primary election day to make their final decision in the governor’s race and others. Seven days into the state’s early voting schedule that runs from July 13-28, and 273,296 people have voted early. So far, 179,504 voters have pulled Republican ballots and 84,407 have pulled Democratic ones. On Friday, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett noted the slightly upward trend of this year’s totals. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/22/early-voting-remains-rise-still-room-many-last-minute-decisions/816012002/

Video: Beth Harwell touts support for medical marijuana (Tennessean) https://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/politics/2018/07/20/beth-harwell-touts-support-medical-marijuana/808096002/

Beth Harwell touts support for medical marijuana in new governor’s race ad (Tennessean) Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell started airing television ads Friday touting her support for medical marijuana. In the ad, Harwell notes she is the only top-tier Republican in the race who supports medical marijuana. “Many suffer. Veterans, children with seizures, cancer patients, our elderly,” she says in the 30-second ad. “I just know if it were my little one I would want this option.” https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/20/beth-harwell-medical-marijuana-tennessee-governor/803595002/

Governor’s race: Democrats agree to agree in last televised debate before primary (News Sentinel) The second of two Democratic televised debates in Tennessee’s race for governor came at a good time for the candidates. A statewide audience on a quiet night less than two weeks before the Aug. 2 primary was a prime opportunity. Neither Karl Dean nor Craig Fitzhugh had to share the stage with their Republican counterparts either, since three of the leading candidates bowed out of an opportunity to be seen across the state and their debate was cancelled. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/22/tennessee-elections-primary-karl-dean-craig-fitzhugh-governor-democrats/796431002/

Grover Norquist raises questions about Randy Boyd’s no tax increase pledge; Boyd stands by commitment (Tennessean) Late last month,  Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, praised Tennessee’s four top-tier Republican gubernatorial candidates for signing a pledge to oppose and veto any and all efforts to raise taxes. The organization, led by Grover Norquist, heralded the pledges from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee. “Avoiding tax increases will ensure that Tennessee remains one of the most attractive destinations in the U.S,” said Norquist, who has long opposed tax increases. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/20/tn-governors-race-grover-norquist-questions-randy-boyd-no-tax-increase-pledge-boyd-stands-vow/800424002/

Tennessee Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee holds town hall in Knoxville (WATE-TV) Tennessee Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee held a town hall Sunday night at Pellissippi State University. Bill Lee was one of the four Republican candidates who committed to three debates to be held in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville respectively. Republican Randy Boyd dropped out of the debate due to a scheduling conflict. Candidates Diane Black and Beth Harwell followed suit. The Republican debate was then canceled. Bill Lee says he wanted to hold the town hall to connect with the East Tennessee voters. Knox County Mayoral candidate Glenn Jacobs moderated the town hall. https://www.wate.com/news/local-news/tennessee-gubernatorial-candidate-bill-lee-holds-town-hall-in-knoxville/1316665116

State Representative Sheila Butt endorses Bill Lee (Columbia Daily Herald) State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, has endorsed Bill Lee’s candidacy for governor. Lee, a Franklin businessman, is one of four major candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor. Others include U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd and state House Speaker Beth Harwell. “I’ve gotten to know Stan and Sheila Butt really well during the course of this campaign, and we are happy to have leaders like them join our team,” said Lee, referring to Butt and her husband. “I come from rural Tennessee, and Sheila shares my deep passion and vision for how we can help our rural areas thrive.” Butt was elected in 2010 and re-elected three times. She announced last year she would retire her District 64 seat after her term ends in 2018. http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180722/state-representative-sheila-butt-endorses-bill-lee

Political Notebook: New Ads (Times Free Press) Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill Lee is pushing back against GOP primary opponents’ criticisms of him in a new television ad in which he scolds them as “politicians” frightened by “the only true conservative outsider.” “Well, I’ve got three politicians running attack ads against me right now,” the Franklin businessman says in the 30-second spot that began airing Friday. “So I figured I better tell you why. We’re winning. And they’re scared.” Lee’s poll standings have started rising in the past few weeks as Republicans U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin and Knoxville entrepreneur and former state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd began bashing each other in their ads. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/politics/state/story/2018/jul/23/new-gop-gubernatorial-race-ads-missed-vote-an/475428/

Black praised by ICE union chief in radio ad (Times Free Press) Speaking of Black, her campaign on Friday released a new radio ad in which National Immigration and Customs Enforcement President Chris Crane praises the congresswoman as being “as tough on immigration enforcement as they come.” The ad begins with an announcer saying “Who can you trust to tell the truth about our immigration crisis? Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council – the organization made up of over 6,000 men and women on the front lines for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ICE.” Next comes Crane who says “I represent the law enforcement officers who enforce our nation’s immigration laws and keep our communities safe. And they have no greater friend than Diane Black. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/politics/state/story/2018/jul/23/new-gop-gubernatorial-race-ads-missed-vote-an/475428/

Karl Dean, Craig Fitzhugh Appeal To Primary Voters During Gubernatorial Debate (WATN-TV) Local 24 is your Local Election Headquarters and Sunday night, you watched on Local 24 as Tennessee’s Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates went head to head. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh addressed everything from tariffs and affordable housing to health care and sanctuary cities. This debate featured civility and similarities, but Dean and Fitzhugh also sparred on certain things, in an event which aired in the middle of early voting and less than two weeks from the hotly contested gubernatorial primary. On school safety, both supported tougher gun laws and more school resource officers. “We need to do better background checks to prevent people from having these types of weapons so that it’s so easy to obtain because they are going to some place like a school,” Fitzhugh said. https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/karl-dean-craig-fitzhugh-appeal-to-primary-voters-during-gubernatorial-debate/1316761222

Who will fill Marsha Blackburn’s seat in the US House? Meet the candidates (Tennessean) Five candidates — two Democrats, two independents and a Republican — are vying for the congressional seat left open by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The Democrats and Republican will be on the Aug. 2 primary ballots to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, which covers 19 counties in the middle and western portions of the state. The Democratic and Republican nominees will face off, along with the two independents, in the Nov. 6 general election. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2018/07/20/tennessee-election-marsha-blackburn-district-7-house-candidates/796958002/

U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen visits Franklin to speak to supporters (Brentwood Home Page) Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen visited the Elliston Place Soda Shop in Franklin to meet and speak with his supporters. Bredesen announced his intentions last December to run for U.S. Senate, after current senator Bob Corker announced he would not be seeking reelection last September. Bredesen’s main opponent in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee is Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn, who just received praise and support from Vice President Mike Pence after a visit to the Chattanooga area on Saturday. The event at the soda shop saw hundreds pouring in, to which Bredesen commented that the turnout was “amazing.” https://brentwoodhomepage.com/u-s-senate-candidate-phil-bredesen-visits-franklin-to-speak-to-supporters/

Vice President lauds Trump policies (Cleveland Daily Banner) “We just love the Volunteer state,” Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday during a visit to Cleveland.  Pence said the administration has worked to fulfill its goals and campaign promises. “The last year-and-half is one of action,” Pence said. “Promises made and promises kept. America is back. Jobs are back. Confidence is back.” Some members of the audience booed Tennessee gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Diane Black when she appeared on stage to introduce U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is running to fill the Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Bob Corker. In addition, Black mistakenly referred to Cleveland as “Chattanooga.” The gaffe drew some jeers from the audience.  http://clevelandbanner.com/stories/vice-president-lauds-trump-policies,83864

Roe testifies at the U.S. International Trade Commission’s public hearing (Citizen Tribune) This week, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., R-Tenn., testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission’s public hearing on Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada in support of local printing and publishing businesses that would experience a significant loss of domestic jobs if tariffs are imposed on paper imports. The tariffs, which come at the request a single domestic paper producer, have been assessed on Canadian paper, driving up costs for newspapers across the country. “One of my highest priorities in Congress is advancing policies that encourage economic growth and job creation throughout East Tennessee,” Roe said. https://www.citizentribune.com/news/local/roe-testifies-at-the-u-s-international-trade-commission-s/article_067b928a-8d67-11e8-bee1-07e5113f3a35.html

This DACA student is attending Cumberland University. Meet the Republican who helped make it happen. (Tennessean) It was difficult for Andrea Chavez, 19, to believe any Republican cared about her struggles after President Donald Trump was elected. His hardline stance on immigration meant an uncertain future for Chavez, a Mexican immigrant who has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, a program which is on the verge of ending and faces a federal court battle. Chavez has lived in the United States since she was 3 years old. But there are some advocating for a solution to replace DACA and who want to give her an opportunity, like Michael Spalding, a Nashville doctor and philanthropist. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/07/23/daca-immigration-tn-college-tuition-republican-michael-spalding/792712002/

Bean Station raid: 5 things you didn’t know about U.S. immigration law (News Sentinel) If you get lost trying to sort through the legal terms in stories on the immigration debate in the U.S., don’t feel bad. “Immigration law is probably second only to the tax code in complexity,” said Karla McKanders, a clinical professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Here’s a rundown of some top misconceptions about how immigration law works. 1. It’s not (exactly) a crime. U.S. law treats immigration violations as civil, not criminal offenses. Judges who hear such cases work as attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice. The complexity of the case law can translate to a wide variation in decisions. Some judges might be more likely to grant relief; others less. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/07/22/bean-station-ice-raid-five-things-you-didnt-know-immigration-law/780139002/

Bitcoin ATMs – what they are and what they mean (Commercial Appeal) Only a few months ago, Memphis entrepreneur Philipp von Holtzendorff-Fehling attended a convention in Miami. He said it helped him glimpse into the future of money. “I’ve always been interested in the next thing happening to humanity,” said von Holtzendorff-Fehling, a former marketing chief for Memphis-based ServiceMaster. “This is one of the next big things.” He had come across Byte Federal, a little tech startup from Venice, Florida. Today, one of Byte’s automated teller machines stands outside von Holtzendorff-Fehling’s Mama Gaia restaurant. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/money/2018/07/21/bitcoin-atm-cryptocurrency-rockitcoin-byte-coinsource-memphis/789573002/

Ohio man drowns in Norris Lake, eighth drowning in region this season (News Sentinel) A man drowned Saturday evening at the fuel dock at Shanghai Marina on Norris Lake after falling off a boat. Jeff Roberson of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reported the accident occurred at 7:54 p.m. in the “No Wake” zone of the marina when a bass boat and pontoon boat were involved in a minor accident while heading toward the fuel dock. The victim, Richard Curry, 52, of Jamestown Ohio, was on the pontoon boat and fell as he tried to step onto the dock. Curry went under and did not resurface. Witnesses said he had removed his life jacket. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/2018/07/22/man-drowns-norris-lake-eighth-drowning-region-season/815669002/

Two people escape serious injury when storms topple trees at Warriors Path State Park (Times News) Though severe storms rolled through much of the Tri-Cities Friday night, the Colonial Heights area of Kingsport appeared to take the hardest hit. Crews were stationed just outside Warriors’ Path State Park on Saturday afternoon assessing the damage from the night before. A portion of Fall Creek Road had been blocked off due to downed power lines and a power pole that had split in two. Inside the park itself, dozens of trees were strewn alongside the road, and the campground area was littered with tree limbs. Park Manager Sarah Leedy said all power was lost at the park, suspending its operations. https://www.timesnews.net/gallery/Friday-night-storms?ci=stream&lp=6&p=

Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame to induct seven in 2018 (Tennessean) An editorial cartoonist, a Grand Ole Opry photographer and a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative reporter are among seven to be inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place on Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. in Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites Hotel during the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference. The 2018 class will be the organization’s sixth. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/21/tennessee-journalism-hall-fame-grand-ole-opry-tennessean-nashville/795706002/


Deb Palmer George: An open letter to Lamar Alexander on Donald Trump and civility (Tennessean) Dear Senator Alexander: I’m 57 years old, a white, I suppose upper-middle class, woman living in Nashville. My husband is a retired executive from Bridgestone, which is what brought us to Tennessee 15 years ago. The reason for my writing to you is that I am frightened by the climate of cruelty and violence in the United States. This climate is being modeled and motivated by the president. I have learned of “Lamar Alexander’s Little Plaid Book” and your appreciation of Howard Baker’s civility in leadership, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Then I learned you are an Eagle Scout, and I had to reach out to you because I believe you hold the Eagle Scout principles deeply and dearly in your heart and soul. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/21/open-letter-lamar-alexander-donald-trump-and-civility/790221002/

Can this female military pilot defeat a Bigfoot hunter in Tennessee’s wackiest primary? (Washington Post) Republican Ashley Nickloes is the only woman in a seven-way primary race to fill a congressional seat held by one family for five decades. She’s also the only military pilot in the race, running against a litany of odds, including the strong possibility that she’ll lose to a popular career politician who hunts Bigfoot and made it easier for Tennesseans to eat their roadkill. Not. Kidding. Nickloes and I sat down Wednesday at the Yee-Haw Brewing Co. and talked about her decision to seek the 2nd Congressional District seat long held by retiring Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (and before that, his father). Last December, she was in Washington on her daughter’s seventh-grade class trip, during which the group visited one of her state representatives (she won’t say which one). Nickloes asked a question and got an answer that made her mad. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/can-this-female-military-pilot-defeat-a-bigfoot-hunter-in-tennessees-wackiest-primary/2018/07/20/b9f686fe-8c62-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html?utm_term=.930b818100e2

Bill Carey: Nashville needs to come to terms with its slave past (Tennessean) The city of Memphis recently unveiled a historical marker which mentions that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a slave trader. Perhaps this is a signal that it is time for Nashville to face up to its own past. I recently researched and wrote a book about slavery in Tennessee called “Runaways, Coffles and Fancy Girls: A History of Slavery in Tennessee.” Much of what is in the book may come as a surprise, especially in terms of Nashville’s deep connections to slavery. You see, contrary to what we want to believe, Nashville was an overwhelmingly pro-slavery city with a thriving slave trade. Here are some examples: https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/20/nashville-needs-come-terms-its-slave-past/555111002/

Guest column: Rethinking the greater good and government’s role in our lives (Tennessean) In the face of the notion that government serves the greater good, is the individual damned? Unquestionably, some government officials mean well yet do not have the necessary sensitivity to decide how others should live their lives. Motivated by “good intentions”, individuals in government often apply general, broad-stroked laws that, in the name of some “greater good,” can leave individuals helpless and harmed. Individuals are crushed in the gears of government’s great plans, and left searching in vain for some understanding of their suffering. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/07/22/rethinking-greater-good-and-role-government/708617002/

Friday, July 20

Tennessee marks one year of historic low unemployment (Lebanon Democrat) Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips released Thursday the statewide unemployment rate for June, and it marked an entire year the jobless figure in Tennessee was 3.5 percent or lower. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was 3.5 percent, which was unchanged from May. In a year-to-year comparison, the June rate is 0.1 percent lower than it was in 2017. Throughout the last 14 months, Tennessee has continued to experience historically low unemployment. Since May 2017, the statewide unemployment rate was at or below 3.8 percent. April 2017 was the last time Tennessee’s rate was at 4.0 percent. https://www.lebanondemocrat.com/Government/2018/07/19/Tennessee-marks-one-year-of-historic-low-unemployment.html?ci=stream&lp=2&p=

Gov. Bill Haslam weighs clemency for death row offenders, awaits Cyntoia Brown recommendation (Tennessean) Gov. Bill Haslam will issue some pardons before he leaves office. But the term-limited Tennessee governor has not decided whether he’ll grant clemency in the highly publicized case of Cyntoia Brown, or if he’ll stop an upcoming execution. “We haven’t done any (pardons) so far. We will definitely do some in the next six months. I don’t think you’ll see a flood but I don’t think it’ll be two or three either,” said Haslam, during a wide-ranging interview for The Tennessean’s policy and politics podcast. “I think we’ll take a moderate approach to it.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/07/20/bill-haslam-cyntoia-brown-billy-ray-irick-death-penalty/797951002/

Executions set to resume in Tennessee: Three death row inmates scheduled to die (Tennessean) Three Tennessee death row inmates are set to die in 2018, setting up what would be the first executions in the state since 2009. The Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Department of Correction confirmed the executions, scheduled to start in May. Neysa Taylor, a spokeswoman for the department, said Thursday the state “has the drugs necessary to carry out execution by lethal injection.” Two of the inmates have additional avenues for appeal, while the third — a Knox County man who has spent more than three decades on Death Row — has fewer remaining paths to avert execution this year.   https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/01/18/executions-resume-tennessee-august-date-set-knox-county-murderer/1045502001/

Is Knoxville’s Billy Ray Irick too impaired to be executed? (Tennessean) As the state of Tennessee prepares to put to death Knoxville’s Billy Ray Irick, those opposed to executing mentally ill inmates gathered Wednesday. The Tennessee Alliance for the Severe Mental Illness Exclusion (TASMIE), sponsored a panel to share perspectives about “continued execution of individuals with severe mental illness in our state,” the organization said. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/18/death-penalty-tennessee-billy-ray-irick-execution-nears-opponents-meet-knoxville/792767002/

Tennessee Now Has the Highest Sales Tax in the Country (Nashville Scene) Tennessee now has the highest sales tax in the country, with an average combined local/state rate of 9.46 percent. The jump from second to first came after Louisiana legislators lowered the state’s rate from 5 percent to 4.45 percent, dropping the average combined local/state rate from 10.02 percent to 9.45, just .01 percent lower than Tennessee’s average. Where Louisiana’s two taxes are nearly evenly distributed, Tennessee leans more heavily on state taxes — state makes up 7 percent of the total, with the average local tax at 2.46 percent. This is according to the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy nonprofit. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21014196/tennessee-now-has-highest-sales-tax-nationwide

TNReady testing scores mostly flat, but results dip in high school English (Tennessean) Tennessee elementary students improved in reading, but the third year of TNReady saw few other gains, according to data released by the state Department of Education on Thursday. Overall, TNReady scores remained mostly flat for the 2017-18 school year. But there were several dips in the results, most notably in high school reading and English scores. The scores come after another troubled year for the test. Many districts saw issues with the online portion and state lawmakers weighed in with a measure to ease the burden on students and school districts. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/07/19/tnready-scores-tennessee-test-2017-2018/799186002/

2018 TNReady Scores Show Overall Decline With A Few Silver Linings (WPLN Radio) The 2018 TNReady test scores were released this week, and they show Tennessee students did slightly worse this year in most subjects, but not all. Middle school students did worse across the board, while elementary students saw an improvement in English language arts and a decline in science scores. About 300 thousand students took the online exams earlier this spring, and a small percentage of them faced technical glitches. Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen said the disruption had “a minimal impact” on the scores. “We think that this is data that folks can still learn much from,” McQueen said in a media conference call. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/2018-tnready-scores-show-overall-decline-few-silver-linings#stream/0

State reinvests in David Crockett Park (Columbia Daily Herald) David Crockett State Park has received much-needed upgrades to its campground and restaurant among other additions thanks to a broader effort by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to revitalize the state park system. “The improvements and additions at David Crockett State Park will enhance our guests’ experience at the park,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly have dedicated more than $175 million toward revitalizing our state park system, which will not only make our guests happy but pay dividends for rural economic development in Tennessee communities for years to come.” http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/lifestyle/20180719/state-reinvests-in–david-crockett-park

Confederate Flag license plate sales hit all time high in Tennessee (WSMV-TV) Honoring history or spreading hate? The debate has been going on for years over the Confederate Flag. Some recent stats have triggered it even more. Nearly 3,300 hundred license plates are active in the state. That’s a 72 percent jump from 2015. “It means a lot to us because we’re in it for the history of it. We research our ancestors,” said James Patterson with Sons of Confederate Veterans. Patterson is proud to see more of these plates. “It shows a lot of people care and that maybe people are fed up of being pushed around,” said Patterson. Patterson says a portion of proceeds from license plate sales go toward preserving Confederate statues. “I don’t agree with parading it as a symbol of Southern pride when it represents a lot of hate,” said Elizabeth Dixon. http://www.wsmv.com/story/38689312/confederate-flag-license-plate-sales-hit-all-time-high-in-tennessee

State leaders push to bridge digital divide in West Tennessee (WBBJ-TV) Getting online could soon get a lot quicker for some who live in rural west Tennessee. Henry County Chamber of Commerce president Travis McLeese said AT&T is expanding its access to high speed internet in Benton and Henry counties. McLeese said as of right now, many people in the area have a poor connection. He says the faster connection will reach several thousand in the area over a period of time, as well as helping boost industry within the counties. “It also makes a major impact on our two largest industries; those being agriculture and tourism,” McLeese said. Officials say it may seem like a necessity, but for many rural communities, no or slow internet is a reality. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/19/state-leaders-push-to-bridge-digital-divide-in-west-tennessee/

Tennessee House majority leader’s PAC slams Jonathan Mason in GOP’s House District 30 race (Times Free Press) Republican Jonathan Mason is coming under attack in the state House District 30 GOP primary race as being in the “Pocket of Big Insurance Companies.” But the direct-mail assault that’s been hitting mail boxes in Chattanooga, East Ridge and East Brainerd isn’t coming from his GOP rival Esther Helton in their Aug. 2 primary race. Or even Joda Thongnopnua, the expected Democratic nominee. Instead, the circular slam is coming from a leadership political action committee, CAS PAC, that belongs to Republican state House Republican Majority Leader Glen Casada of Franklin, Tennessee. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/politics/state/story/2018/jul/19/house-majority-leader-casadas-pac-slams-masgo/475339/

Democrats appeal Robin Smith ballot question (WDEF-TV) The legal fight of a State House race in Chattanooga isn’t over yet. The Tennessee Democratic Party has refiled a lawsuit trying to throw Robin Smith off the Republican primary ballot. They argued that Gerald McCormick announced his retirement and Robin Smith her candidacy to replace him too late. But a judge in Nashville this week rejected the arguments. Smith issued this statement about the filing today. “Having already lost in her preferred Nashville venue before a Democrat judge, ultra-leftist democrat party chairman Mary Mancini is taking her legal sideshow on the road. While, obviously no one can predict the outcome of any legal proceeding, we are confident she will get the same result in Hamilton County only after forcing our taxpayers to waste more money defending their right to vote against another frivolous lawsuit.” https://wdef.com/2018/07/19/democrats-appeal-robin-smith-ballot-question/

JPD called during altercation between Democratic candidates for District 73 state rep (Jackson Sun) The two candidates in the Democratic Primary for State Representative in District 73 were involved in an altercation Wednesday morning at the early voting center that led to a call to Jackson Police. JPD Capt. Jeff Sheppard confirmed a 10 a.m. call of a disturbance between two people at the Madison County Agricultural Complex, but he couldn’t comment any further other than saying no one was arrested. The investigation is ongoing. T. Robert Hill and James Baxter are the two candidates, and according to both, Hill had arrived at the complex earlier than Baxter, to set up his sign on the side of the road and wave at drivers as they passed by. Baxter arrived later and began to set up his sign. “He laid his sign down right in front of mine, and I stayed about 20 feet back and asked him nicely to not obstruct the view of my sign,” Hill said. “Then he responded with some foul language that we didn’t appreciate.” https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/07/18/jpd-called-during-altercation-between-democratic-candidates-district-73-state-rep/797949002/

Tension flares between State House District 73 candidates (WBBJ-TV) One candidate for state office speaks out after he says an argument started at the Madison County Election Commission. Jackson police responded to a disturbance around 10 a.m. Wednesday at the North Parkway office. Police have not identified the two people involved, but candidate T. Robert Hill says the argument was between himself and State House District 73 opponent James Baxter. Hill says the argument started over a campaign sign. “It was a simple request not to block the sign and he, almost a volcanic attitude, came after us,” Hill said. Candidate James Baxter declined an interview on advice from his attorney. Late Thursday evening, he reached out WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News to say he would be holding a news conference, Friday morning at 11 at Jackson City Hall to “set the record straight” regarding this incident. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/07/19/tension-flares-between-state-house-district-73-candidates/

Democrats, Republicans Release Endorsement Ballots (Memphis Daily News) A group of Democrats including former U.S. representative Harold Ford Sr. is preparing to mail and distribute at the polls 60,000 endorsement ballots at no cost to the Democratic contenders on the ballot. Shelby County Democrats for Change also is urging the candidates it backs to bypass other endorsement ballots that candidates pay to be on. The paid ballots are a regular feature of local Democratic politics. Meanwhile, the Shelby County Democratic Party released its official ballot on Wednesday, July 18. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/20/democrats-republicans-release-endorsement-ballots/

Harwell to make ‘major’ announcement Friday (TN Journal/On the Hill) Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell’s campaign has sent out an advisory to political reporters to alert them to a “major announcement” at a news conference at the state Capitol on Friday. Of course the last time Harwell’s camp signaled a “major announcement” in June, it ended up being an endorsement from state House Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville). Interesting, but not exactly earth-shattering. So what should we expect from Friday’s big presser? http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/harwell-to-make-major-announcement-friday/

Tennessee Governor Candidate Interviews: Randy Boyd Runs To Carry Gov. Haslam’s Legacy (WPLN Radio) Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd has been one of Governor Bill Haslam’s most trusted advisers. Now, Boyd wants to follow in Haslam’s footsteps all the way to the state Capitol. Boyd was the state’s economic and community development commissioner under Haslam. Before that, he was a special adviser on Haslam’s Drive to 55 effort to get more Tennesseans into college and technical schools. For the last in a series of conversations with the leading candidates for governor, Nashville Public Radio’s Chas Sisk sat down with Boyd to talk about what he’d do differently than Haslam and some of the questions that have arisen during the campaign. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-governor-candidate-interviews-randy-boyd-runs-carry-gov-haslams-legacy#stream/0

Tennessee elections: A look at Boyd Foundation’s dog-park grants in run-up to GOP primary (Tennessean) Pictures of gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd handing out large checks to local communities dominate the Twitter page of Tennessee Dog Park Dash. The group regularly tags Boyd in the posts. The group, funded by The Boyd Foundation, works to provide grants to communities to build dog parks. Launched this year, according to its website, the program has given roughly $1 million to at least 36 cities and communities for dog parks across Tennessee. The donations typically amount to about $25,000 each. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/19/tn-governors-race-boyd-foundation-dog-park-grants/784003002/

Bill Lee shares his vision (Murfreesboro Post) Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee sat down with the Murfreesboro Post Thursday after visiting the Tennessee Association of Agricultural Educators conference at Middle Tennessee State University. Q: What are the main things you want to come across in your platform? A: “I think that no matter where people live in this state, I think that they want a good job and a good school for their kid and a safe neighborhood.” Not everyone has access to those. https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/government/bill-lee-shares-his-vision/article_c1316016-8b94-11e8-8253-9b3b454bea72.html

Gloves come off in GOP gubernatorial race (Murfreesboro Post) Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial candidates are doing more than slinging mud in the final days of the race. They’re mud wrestling. As early voting arrived July 13 and with the Aug. 2 election approaching, the rhetoric is getting rough, leading some pundits to call this a “race to the bottom.” After being hit with an ad accusing him of backing Democratic candidates with donations, Franklin businessman Bill Lee responded with his own ad saying he won’t “go down that road.” “It’s not what a leader does,” Lee says. Furthermore, he points out “dishonest” attack ads “reveal a lot more truth about the person running the ad than the person in the ad.” https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/gloves-come-off-in-gop-gubernatorial-race/article_eacff93c-8b2b-11e8-97d7-8f24cdc61ea9.html

Gubernatorial candidate Black stops in Sevierville (Mountain Press) Supporters meet and photograph Diane Black (center) during her campaign stop Wednesday at Courthouse Donuts in Sevierville. With election day inching ever closer, Tennessee’s gubernatorial candidates are making the rounds across the state in hopes of encouraging voters to head to their election polls and cast their ballots. Republican Congressman Diane Black’s state tour brought her to Sevierville Wednesday afternoon. http://www.themountainpress.com/news/gubernatorial-candidate-black-stops-in-sevierville/article_187c2ac2-0099-5b6b-bbbe-08e36a78b155.html

Black campaigns in Morristown (Citizen Tribune) U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, stopped into Morristown Wednesday morning to have breakfast with the Hamblen County Republican Women and other local Republican leaders. Black made her third stop in Morristown within the last three weeks. The Republican gubernatorial candidate made a stop just weeks ago to visit the Hamblen County Republican Headquarters and also attended a block party at the shopping center on Merchants Greene, next to Wal-mart. Black is running for governor in the Aug. 2 state primary against former Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee.  https://www.citizentribune.com/news/local/black-campaigns-in-morristown/article_47c54ea8-8b6d-11e8-a0b1-3399eeeb6a14.html

Phil Bredesen Discusses Key Topics with NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV)  Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, is a man with a plan to become the next United States Senator from Tennessee. He sat down with NewsChannel 5’s Vicki Yates to talk about his possible next political chapter. His opponent, is Republican State Representative, Marsha Blackburn. Phillip Norman Bredesen, travels pretty much entourage-free. He stopped by NewsChannel 5, to discuss his reasons for deciding to become the Democratic Senate candidate. “I have spent 16 years in public office, and I did that because you know, I love my country and the state. Tennessee has been really good to Andrea and I. I really believe in government as a vehicle, for addressing real people’s problems. When I see it failing to do that, by getting way too caught up in partisan politics, and take no prisoners kind of elections, it hurts me and disappoints me,” Bredesen said. His ads tout that as a Senator, he’s willing to work with President Trump..but said, he’d like to see the President reconsider the tariff issue. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/phil-bredesen-discusses-key-topics-with-newschannel-5

The top 10 Senate races give Democrats a (narrow) opening to win the Senate (Washington Post) Democrats won a special election in Alabama last year, giving them a narrow path to take back control of the Senate this November. A couple things have aligned in recent months that keep that possibility alive. But here’s the catch: Democrats will need a near-perfect midterm performance to take back the Senate … 10. Tennessee (open seat), no previous ranking: This is probably the most provocative pick on our list. Tennessee hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since the early 1990s. But Democrats have their best chance here in years with the retirement of Republican Sen. Bob Corker and their recruitment of a popular former governor, Phil Bredesen. Republicans like their top pick too, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who was recently the recipient of a coveted campaign rally visit from President Trump. But she’s not getting much help from the current seat-holder: This spring Corker praised Bredesen and then, when given the opportunity to clarify his statement, didn’t really. Some polls show Bredesen with the lead, others Blackburn. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/07/20/the-top-10-senate-races-give-democrats-a-narrow-opening-to-win-the-senate/?utm_term=.666928188971

Roe is “proud” of Trump’s response to Russia (Johnson City Press) U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, told reporters Thursday he is “proud of how the president has responded” to allegations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. He also said he’s “absolutely amazed by the hysteria” in the news media and on Capitol Hill after the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week. The 1st District congressman said it was obvious the Russians “tried to interfere with our elections,” and noted Congress would continue to investigate the matter. “Russians are Russians and will behave like Russians,” Roe said by phone from Washington, D.C. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Government/2018/07/20/Roe-is-proud-of-Trump-s-response-to-Russia.html?ci=stream&lp=1&p=

CoreCivic selling Green Hills HQ to local investors (Nashville Business Journal) CoreCivic Inc. is under contract to sell its Nashville headquarters to a group of investors led by the local chief of one of the region’s largest real estate brokerage firms. CoreCivic (NYSE: CXW), which operates prisons around the nation, has a deal in place to sell its Green Hills headquarters, according to multiple real estate sources. According to sources, the buyer is a group that includes Warren Smith, who oversees Tennessee operations for the Toronto-based Avison Young brokerage firm. The purchase contract suggests CoreCivic is doing more than simply exploring options for a new headquarters, as the Nashville Business Journal first reported last week. https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2018/07/18/corecivic-selling-green-hills-hq-to-local-investor.html?iana=hpmvp_nsh_news_channel_headline

Cannon Co. sues opioid companies (Cookeville Herald-Citizen) Cannon County has joined the ranks of Tennessee counties filing suit against opioid manufacturers, according to a news release. The suit was filed by Leiff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. The same firm also represents Metro Nashville government, Rutherford County and Smith County in similar lawsuits, according to the release. The suit claims drug companies conspired to manufacture and distribute millions of doses of highly addictive opioids, knowing that they were being trafficked and used for illicit purposes, and ignoring the effect the drugs have on the taxpayers and government of Cannon County. http://herald-citizen.com/stories/cannon-co-sues-opioid-companies,29042?

Hemp’s Happening In Greene County (Greeneville Sun) Two Greene County farms have joined the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp pilot program, an effort to make the state a leader in an emerging market. “The department is happy to manage the hemp research pilot program, where the growers conduct research on hemp production and marketability. The department regulates the viable cannabis material, facilitates the importation of plant material and collects data derived from the growing experience of the participants,” Katherine Kilbourne, plant pathologist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said. “The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working towards assisting Tennessee hemp growers so our state will become a leader in the emerging industrial hemp market. https://www.greenevillesun.com/news/local_news/hemp-s-happening-in-greene-county/article_7c4d3f88-9724-5ee7-a10c-02ceb8847994.html

Study ranks Nolensville 10th fastest-growing suburb in United States (Brentwood Home Page)  Realtor.com this week listed Nolensville among America’s fastest-growing suburbs, noting that “Suburbs succeed when they have the right mix of big, beautiful homes, great schools, short commute times, and safe neighborhoods.” Nolensville was number 10 on the top-10 list, with Apex, North Carolina — a suburb west of Raleigh — at the apex of the list. According to Realtor.com, the list was compiled by analyzing more than 7,000 ZIP codes outside the city limits of an urban area but within an hour’s commute in rush hour to the center of the city. They calculated home appreciation over the past three years and the increase in the number of home listings in that same time frame, as well as population growth. Finally, they factored in the share of new construction at the county level. https://brentwoodhomepage.com/study-ranks-nolensville-10th-fastest-growing-suburb-in-united-states/


An open letter from farmers: Trump tariffs are damaging (Tennessean) Dear Tennessee Congressional Delegation, Tennessee has a rich agricultural history; just look at our state’s seal. With over 65,000 farms throughout the state covering over 10 million acres, farmers are a key part of our economy. While the majority of farms are small and make less than $25,000 a year, there are many family-sized farms that are dependent on international trade agreements that keep the market stable. That’s why we are worried about the impact of the escalating tariffs and ensuing trade dispute on our bottom line here in Tennessee. Farmers depend not only on domestic sales, but a lot of us are selling our American made goods — whether it is soybeans, beef or pork — to countries abroad. https://www.tennessean.com/get-access/?return=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tennessean.com%2Fstory%2Fopinion%2F2018%2F07%2F19%2Ftrump-tariffs-hurt-tennessee-farmers%2F723132002%2F

Victor Ashe: Sleazy anti-Burchett mailer ought to disqualify Jimmy Matlock (News Sentinel) About when one hoped that our congressional race would revert to valid issues, the Jimmy Matlock campaign followed up its negative push polls with an extravagant attack mailer showing a fake picture of Mayor Tim Burchett with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Maybe you got one. Guilt by association?  It even has a photo of former Gov. Phil Bredesen officiating at Burchett’s first marriage, which purports to prove Burchett must be liberal. This mailer ought to disqualify Matlock from serious consideration by thoughtful GOP voters with these sleazy falsehoods. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/shopper-news/2018/07/19/victor-ashe-sleazy-anti-burchett-mailer-makes-jimmy-matlock-unfit-congress-tim-burchett/799979002/

News Sentinel endorses Ashley Nickloes for GOP nomination for Congress (News Sentinel) With no one named John J. Duncan running for the Second Congressional seat for the first time in more than half a century, it’s not surprising there’s a hot race for the GOP nomination in this heavily Republican district. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has been carrying the frontrunner mantle. His constituents make up almost 64 percent of the district, and he has proven quite popular in recent elections, winning 85 percent of the primary and 88 percent of the general election vote in 2010, the last time he faced an opponent. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/07/20/news-sentinel-endorses-ashley-nickloes-gop-nomination-congress/794301002/

News Sentinel endorsement in Democratic primary for 2nd Congressional District (News Sentinel) With the Second Congressional District seat open for the first time in decades, two well-qualified Democrats are running, a real change from years past. Joshua Williams, a clinical psychologist, is facing off against Renee Hoyos, until recently executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. Hoyos moved to Knoxville 14 years ago from California, where she earned master’s degrees in avian sciences and agricultural management and worked for Gov. Gray Davis before his recall. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/07/19/news-sentinel-endorsement-democratic-primary-2nd-congressional-district/772074002/

Thursday, July 19

Tennessee Highway Patrol Needs Your Vote For Best-Looking Cruiser Photo Contest (WATN-TV) Who has the best-looking patrol cruiser in the country?  The Tennessee Highway Patrol, (THP) and we need your vote to win.  The THP is competing to win the “Best Looking Cruiser Award.”  The contest is sponsored by the American Association of State Troopers (AAST). State highway patrols and state police organizations from across the country are competing for the esteemed award. “We are excited to be a part of this competition that spotlights our patrol vehicles,” Colonel Dereck Stewart said.  “This is a fun and unique opportunity to showcase our cruisers. We are always looking for new methods to bring attention to the importance of highway safety in Tennessee.” For the competition, THP submitted a photo of one of its 2018 Ford Explorer Interceptor Sport Utility Vehicles with our new Bell 429 rescue helicopter hovering overhead. https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/tennessee-highway-patrol-needs-your-vote-for-best-looking-cruiser-photo-contest/1309883786

Scammers Use Porn Threats To Scare Victims Into Sending Money (WTVF-TV) Scam artists have been using a new tactic by claiming to blackmail or extort people with porn. Imagine opening an email telling you “I know your password…I know your secret…and I have proof.” The anonymous sender then goes on to claim that he or she has hacked into your computer and caught you watching “adult or sexually graphic videos” and that he’s not only “accessed your display screen” but your computer’s webcam. It goes on to say the sender’s been “recording what you had been watching” and using “your webcam” to record you watching and “doing inappropriate things.” https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/scammers-use-porn-threats-to-scare-victims-into-sending-money

State seeks comments on plan for emissions cheating settlement (Brentwood Home Page) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) on Wednesday released for public comment a proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) for implementing the State’s initial allocation of $45.7 million from the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT). “The proposed plan would reduce harmful air pollutants that negatively impact our environment, health and quality of life,” said TDEC Commissioner Dr. Shari Meghreblian. “We look forward to receiving public feedback and ultimately supporting projects that protect clean air in our state.” https://brentwoodhomepage.com/state-seeks-comments-on-plan-for-emissions-cheating-settlement/

More Tennesseans are sporting Confederate flag license plates than ever before (Tennessean) The number of Tennesseans now displaying Confederate battle flag license plates is higher than at any other point in the last decade, according to state data on the controversial specialty tags. The Sons of Confederate Veterans plate, the proceeds from which benefit the organization’s Tennessee division, has been issued by the state since 2004. At the end of the 2018 fiscal year in June, 3,273 Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates were active in Tennessee, a number 72 percent higher than at the end of the 2015 fiscal year when the display of Confederate flags was thrust into national debate. The flag became a point of deep division and conflict following the June 2015 killings of nine African-American parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/18/tennessee-confederate-flag-license-plates-increase/790710002/

Tate Censured by Local Democratic Party (Memphis Daily News) Amid early voting, the Shelby County Democratic Party is censuring state Sen. Reginald Tate for derogatory comments he made about Democrats this summer and for calling himself a “black Republican.” Tate, who represents Senate District 33 and faces Katrina Robinson in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, was caught on an open microphone during a Fiscal Review Committee meeting in Nashville earlier this summer telling Republican Sen. Bill Ketron that Democrats are “full of s—,” in addition to saying he identifies himself as a Republican. At a Tuesday, July 17, meeting, the local Democratic executive committee voted 12-4 to censure Tate specifically for the comments, describing them in the censure as “vulgar,” “detrimental to the party” and “unbecoming of a Democrat.” https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/18/tate-censured-by-local-democratic-party/

New poll shows Dean leading GOP front-runners (Nashville Post) Former mayor celebrates slight advantage as Republican candidates vie for votes, endorsements. A new poll released by Emerson College shows leading Democratic candidate and former Nashville mayor Karl Dean ahead in hypothetical matchups against Republican front-runners Diane Black and Randy Boyd. The poll shows Dean with a slight lead in two potential general election matchups, holding 39 percent of the vote to Black’s 35 percent with 27 percent undecided and 36 percent to Boyd’s 34 percent with 30 percent undecided. In both scenarios, Dean’s lead falls within the poll’s statistical margin of error. The poll did not include data on Dean’s chances against other Republican contenders Bill Lee and House Speaker Beth Harwell. https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/elections/article/21013769/new-poll-shows-dean-leading-gop-frontrunners

Gloves come off in GOP gubernatorial race (Murfreesboro Post) Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial candidates are doing more than slinging mud in the final days of the race. They’re mud wrestling. As early voting arrived July 13 and with the Aug. 2 election approaching, the rhetoric is getting rough, leading some pundits to call this a “race to the bottom.” After being hit with an ad accusing him of backing Democratic candidates with donations, Franklin businessman Bill Lee responded with his own ad saying he won’t “go down that road.” “It’s not what a leader does,” Lee says. Furthermore, he points out “dishonest” attack ads “reveal a lot more truth about the person running the ad than the person in the ad.” And even after being largely ignored in the barb-throwing between U.S. Rep. Diane Black, Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Lee, House Speaker Beth Harwell started running a TV ad distinguishing herself as “the adult in the room.” https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/gloves-come-off-in-gop-gubernatorial-race/article_eacff93c-8b2b-11e8-97d7-8f24cdc61ea9.html

Fact check: Randy Boyd’s attack ad on Bill Lee’s record (Tennessean) A new television ad from Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd attacks his competitor, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee for his “record.” The script: “We’re going to nominate the next Republican for governor. It means we look at the candidates’ records, including Bill Lee. All that talking, he left a few things out. That he was state president of a group that lobbied for amnesty for illegals. Donated to disgraced liberal Democrat Mayor Megan Barry, who supported sanctuary cities. And Bill Lee didn’t support Donald Trump in 2016. It’s our vote. We deserve to know a candidates’ record. Don’t you think?” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/18/tn-governors-race-randy-boyd-attack-ad-bill-lee/792819002/

Randy Boyd gave donation to Democratic Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero out of ‘friendship’ (News Sentinel) Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero is not listed as a Democrat on the city’s website, but that’s only because the mayor’s office is nonpartisan. The two-term mayor is a staunch Democrat and former Hillary Clinton delegate. Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and his wife, Jenny, each donated at least $250 to Rogero for her 2015 election, campaign finance records show. In a Republican primary campaign in which candidates are touting how conservative they are, donations to Democrats — even those holding nonpartisan offices — have become fodder for criticism. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/07/18/tn-governors-race-randy-boyd-gave-democratic-knoxville-mayor-madeline-rogero/793598002/

Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Lee Votes Early (WTVF-TV) Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee and his wife early voted in Franklin. A crowd in Williamson County met Republican candidate Lee at the polls Wednesday. The conservative businessman is chairman of Lee Company and is active on his fourth-generation family farm. Lee told NewsChannel 5 that recent attack ads coming from his opponents shows he’s getting people’s attention. “That shows that we have momentum, that people are believing the message and understanding my vision message of what I hope for Tennessee. And I’m keeping my eyes fixed forward on what tn needs and where we’re headed,” said Lee. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/gubernatorial-candidate-bill-lee-votes-early

Boyd Takes 1st Swipe At Lee In Tennessee GOP Gov Race Ad (AP) Ex-state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd is waging his first attacks on businessman Bill Lee in Tennessee’s four-way Republican gubernatorial primary. Boyd’s ad claims Lee was president of a group that lobbied for amnesty, revisits Lee’s 2015 donation to ex-Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and asserts Lee didn’t support then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, citing no sources. Boyd’s campaign referenced Associated Builders and Contractors. Lee was state chapter chairman in 1999 and has donated to the national PAC. The national group supported permanent residence for people here illegally with positive work histories in 2002 and similar 2005 ideas. Boyd’s team says Lee didn’t donate to Trump’s campaign, criticism Boyd also faces. Lee says he didn’t lead the national builders group, opposes amnesty, fully supported Trump and called donating to Barry a business decision. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/boyd-takes-1st-swipe-at-lee-in-tennessee-gop-gov-race-ad

Randy Boyd shares platform in interview with Murfreesboro Post (Murfreesboro Post) Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Randy Boyd pounded the pavement Wednesday, July 18 in Rutherford County to gain additional votes. Boyd and his wife, Jenny, waved at traffic and shook hands on the courthouse square in Murfreesboro and later visited additional sites. He shared his thoughts with the Murfreesboro Post. Q: Can you discuss your platform, which you have connected to your business experience and work with the state’s Drive to 55 initiative? A: “I have the right experience and the right vision. I’m an entrepreneur. I started my own business from scratch. It’s grown into a global company with over 735 employees. I’ve proven that I can run a large organization. I can be innovative and disruptive, which government needs.” https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/randy-boyd-shares-platform-in-interview-with-murfreesboro-post/article_ada3c8e8-8ace-11e8-b662-c74ad6ce41aa.html

Gubernatorial candidate Boyd stresses education during quick stop at WCS offices (Williamson Herald) While traveling the campaign trail, gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd stopped by the Williamson County Administrative Complex polling location to visit voters and take a tour of the government building. Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson gave Boyd a tour of the County Clerk’s Office, other county departments and the Williamson County Schools central office located on the second floor of the building. Boyd chatted with County Clerk Elaine Anderson, who has been in her position for 20 years, and he dropped in to speak with WCS staff, informing them of his plans to award grants to high schools across the state if elected governor to fund career and technical education classes on-campus for dual-enrollment. http://www.williamsonherald.com/news/local_news/article_8c44c8e6-8b19-11e8-84b0-67a53512ef65.html

Tennessee’s Next Governor: How Bill Lee Hopes To Go From Political Newbie To Top Leader (WPLN Radio) Republican businessman Bill Lee wasn’t known to many Tennesseans before this year’s race for governor. He’d been a major fundraiser for the GOP. But he’d never run for public office of any kind. Lee touts that as a virtue. In the latest in a series of interviews with the six leading candidates for governor, Lee sat down with WPLN’s Chas Sisk. Listen to the conversation above, or read interview highlights below. “I’m kind of glad I don’t have government experience. You know, I don’t have experience from donors from multiple elections of mine. I’m not beholden to them. Don’t have experience with lobbyists who have influence.” http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessees-next-governor-how-bill-lee-hopes-go-political-newbie-top-leader#stream/0

Diane Black Thinks You’re Stupid or Cynical (Nashville Scene) Among the most galling things about how blatantly and consistently dishonest President Donald Trump and his administration are on a daily basis is not just the fact that they think Americans are stupid or cynical enough for it to work, but that they often turn out to be right. After all, the man was elected president. Still, it’s worth banging one’s head against this particular wall — particularly when Trump’s tactics trickle down to state and local politics. Pith would never hold up U.S. Rep. Diane Black as a paragon of virtue when it comes to approaching politics in good faith, and she is currently involved in a GOP primary that has become a fight over who is most devoted to Trump and least welcoming of immigrants. Even still, her comments to Lou Dobbs last night were really something. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21013988/diane-black-thinks-youre-stupid-or-cynical

Black mailer depicts Lee with “Three Liberalteers” (TN Journal/On the Hill) A new mailer from Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign picks up the theme that Republican rival Bill Lee once gave money to three Democrats: former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former Nashville Mayors Karl Dean and Megan Barry, who are labeled “The Three Liberalteers.” The mailer says Lee “bankrolls liberal Democrats.” What it doesn’t say is that Lee gave a combined $1,750 to Bredesen, Dean, and Barry. Hardly solely responsible for any of those bids afloat, but that doesn’t factor into the increasingly bitter Republican primary campaign. http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/black-mailer-depicts-lee-with-three-liberalteers/

Boyd joins Black in attacking Lee in GOP primary (Times Free Press) Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee is coming under attack again, this time from a second rival in Tennessee’s four-person Aug. 2 GOP primary. In a new 30-second TV spot, Knoxville businessman and former state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd’s campaign charges that Lee, owner of a Franklin-based business and residential building services company, “was state president of a group that lobbied for amnesty for illegals.” The ad, narrated by a gravel-voiced male speaking in a folksy tone, also charges that Lee “donated to disgraced liberal Democrat Mayor Meghan Berry, who supported sanctuary cities.” And, the ad charges, “Bill Lee didn’t support Donald Trump in 2016. It’s our vote. We deserve to know a candidate’s record, don’t you think?” https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/18/boyd-attacking-lee/475244/

Diane Black reacts to President Trump’s comments on election meddling (WJHL-TV) Tennessee Gubernatorial Candidate Diane Black said she was glad to be seated next to President Trump as he said he misspoke about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. Representative Diane Black was seated next to President Trump when he amended the statement he made Monday in Helsinki. Black spent part of her morning at Chef’s Pizzeria in Kingsport for a meet-and-greet with Tri-Cities voters. “I’m here today to talk to some of my supporters and to get them excited about the campaign,” Black said. This comes just two days after the historic summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. https://www.wjhl.com/local/diane-black-reacts-to-president-trump-s-comments-on-election-meddling/1310328097

‘A difficult situation’: Republican women run in the Trump era (Politico) For the past 20 months, four-term Republican Rep. Martha Roby has had to grovel to President Donald Trump to regain her political standing and beat back a primary challenge in her staunchly conservative Alabama district. Her crime? Standing up for women … Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn — whose allies worry she could lose her bid for Senate because some male Republicans would rather vote for her Democratic challenger, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, because he’s a man — asks people to call her “congressman,” not “congresswoman.” Similarly, Blackburn’s home-state colleague, Rep. Diane Black (R), went by “chairman” when she became the first head of the House Budget Committee. “I’ve never run as a female candidate,” said Black, who is running for governor this fall. “I think, for me, I have always felt that it was best to just run as a good candidate… to let my credential speak instead of anything about my gender.” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/19/republicans-women-trump-midterms-731615

Phillips holds fundraising edge in 4th Congressional Democratic primary (Murfreesboro Post) Fourth Congressional District Democratic candidate Mariah Phillips is starting to separate herself from opponents Steven Reynolds and Chris Hale – with financing and endorsements – as Election Day approaches Aug. 2. Early voting started Friday at locations across Rutherford County: Rutherford County Election Office, 1 South Public Square; SportsCom, 2310 Memorial Blvd.; Rutherford County Election Commission Annex, 426 E. Vine St.; Lane Agri-Park Livestock Pavilion, 315 John R. Rice Blvd.; Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors, 311 Butler Drive; Smyrna City Hall, 315 S. Lowry St.; and La Vergne Multi-Purpose Building, 5093 Murfreesboro Road. https://www.murfreesboropost.com/news/government/phillips-holds-fundraising-edge-in-th-congressional-democratic-primary/article_d08be034-8ab0-11e8-a460-eff09b916125.html

New bipartisan push launched to freeze Trump tariffs (Politico) Sens. Doug Jones and Lamar Alexander are planning to introduce a bill next week to halt President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on European automakers, hoping to shield the automotive industries in the South from more economic blowback from U.S. allies. The Alabama Democrat and Tennessee Republican said on Wednesday they are working on legislation with support from senators in both parties aimed at preventing the president from imposing unilateral tariffs on foreign automakers. Alabama and Tennessee have large automotive factories that build cars and trucks for European, Asian and domestic manufacturers, and senators from auto-producing states say Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Europe, Mexico and Canada are already harming those industries. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/18/trump-tariffs-freeze-bill-doug-jones-lamar-alexander-730770

Sen. Lamar Alexander: Auto tariffs would be devastating for Tennessee (Tennessean) Sen. Lamar Alexander warned Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobiles and auto parts would be devastating for Tennessee’s economy. “These tariffs are dangerous,” the Tennessee Republican said. “These tariffs are going to cost us jobs.” Alexander and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., announced in a speech on the Senate floor that they will file legislation as early next week to encourage the Trump administration to reconsider its proposal to apply tariffs as high as 25 percent on vehicles and components imported into the country. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/18/sen-lamar-alexander-proposed-tariffs-dangerous-tennessee/795763002/

Tennessee Republicans blast Trump tariffs on autos (Times Free Press) U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Wednesday warned that President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported autos and parts could damage Tennessee’s economy more than any other state. In hearing with Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., Alexander encouraged the administration to reconsider the steps it’s taking to impose tariffs. “When I walked across the state running for governor 40 years ago, there were very few auto jobs in Tennessee, the state was the third poorest state in family incomes, unemployment and inflation were high and prospects were bleak,” he said on the Senate floor. “Then in 1980, Nissan from Japan arrived in Rutherford County. Then General Motors with Saturn to Spring Hill and then Volkswagen to Chattanooga, all with large manufacturing plants. As the American automobile industry moved to the Southeastern United States, more than 900 auto parts suppliers located in 88 of our 95 counties. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/18/alexander-says-tariffs-would-hurt/475236/

US Eases Obama-Era Coal Ash Pollution Rules for Utilities (AP) The Trump administration on Wednesday eased rules for handling toxic coal ash from more than 400 U.S. coal-fired power plants after utilities pushed back against regulations adopted under former President Barack Obama … The original, Obama-era rule, adopted in 2015, came in response to a massive 2008 coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee. A containment dike burst at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant and released 5.4 million cubic yards of ash. The accident dumped waste into two nearby rivers, destroyed homes and brought national attention to the issue. https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/07/18/us/ap-us-coal-ash-pollution.html

Tennessee Zipper Company in Crosshairs of Buy-American Laws (AP) Robert Kwasnik has a zipper problem — and it has come to the attention of the highest levels of the U.S. government. Kwasnik is president of Dunlap Industries, a small manufacturing company in Appalachia that for more than 15 years made zippers for U.S. military uniforms — until last year, when a competitor complained that not all of the parts the company was using were from the U.S. The irony? It was a Japanese company that filed the complaint. A federal law known as the Berry Amendment requires the government to give preference to products made and sourced in America. But in today’s global economy, Kwasnik says it is next to impossible to have every component of a product sourced in the U.S. As a result, he says, the law — which was introduced around the time of World War II to protect U.S. defense businesses — is now benefiting Japan-based YKK Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of zippers. https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/07/18/us/ap-us-zipper-woes.html

TWRA Looks To Curb Asian Carp Invasion (WTVF-TV) Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in partnership with other agencies are working to find different solutions to fix the ongoing Asian carp problem affecting Tennessee rivers. The plan is to install sound barriers below the Barkley Dam in Kentucky by the end of September. The body of water splits into the Cumberland River and Tennessee River. The sound barriers will act like underwater speakers. “There will be bubble curtains that are used to make walls. We want the fish to avoid this area, and the carp are fairly unique in the way that they are very sensitive to sound unlike other fish,” said TWRA Chief of Fisheries Frank Fiss. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/twra-looks-to-curb-asian-carp-invasion

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture to Host Milan No-Till Field Day (Jackson Sun) The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will host the Milan No-Till Crop Production Field Day on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at the AgResearch and Education Center at Milan. The event will offer 45 research-based presentations led by academic experts. Sessions will cover optimum strategies for no-till crop production, including resistance management, nutrient management, cover crops and precision agriculture. This year marks the 30th Milan No-Till Field Day, which is always held on the fourth Thursday of July in even-numbered years. The field day began as an annual event in 1981, but transitioned to every other year in the early 2000s. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/07/18/milan-no-till-field-day/797984002/


Guest column: Silence and a rubber stamp from Northeast Tennessee (Johnson City Press) I’ve occasionally praised Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker for their efforts, positions and language. I value the independent thought which both Corker and Alexander value and practice in their jobs as Republican senators. Congressman Phil Roe, in contrast, seems to be a conduit and rubber stamp for whatever is the latest manifestation of the Republican Party. I started to say Republican orthodoxy but for some time, especially lately, that concept has nearly disappeared. I think that accounts for Alexander and Corker’s willingness to be out of step when it counts. They’ve proven it once again by telling Trump that in their names he can’t separate children from their parents and that he should stop. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Column/2018/07/18/Trump-s-very-own-local-rubber-stamp.html?ci=stream&lp=1&p=

Sam Stockard: JLL Circling Again Just When State Workers Felt Safe from Outsourcing (Memphis Daily News) Just when workers at the state’s college campuses thought it was safe to go back in the water, corporate sharks are once again circling. Jones Lang LaSalle, the state’s contractor for facilities management and grounds, asked to make proposals at Tennessee’s 13 junior colleges to see if it can take over. Tennessee’s colleges of applied technology are believed to be in the mix, too. “The college presidents will receive a customized proposal, tailored to their individual campus, for them to see if there are possible cost savings and whether it makes sense for the college. The decision on whether to contract for any, all or none of the services is the presidents to make,” says Richard Locker, spokesman for the Tennessee Board of Regents. The uncertainty is eating at campus workers across Tennessee, including those at Pellissippi State in Knoxville who thought the prospects of a JLL takeover died when the University of Tennessee opted not to outsource. That left Austin Peay as one of the only state universities to contract with the company. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/19/jll-circling-again-just-when-state-workers-felt-safe-from-outsourcing/

Wednesday, July 18

MTD Creating 200 Jobs In Tennessee (Business Facilities) The outdoor power equipment manufacturer will invest $10 million to expand production capabilities at its Weakley County, TN operations. MTD Consumer Group Inc. will invest $10 million in its Martin, TN operations and expects to create 200 jobs over the next five years. MTD, Weakley County’s largest private employer, is a leading global manufacturer and distributor of residential and commercial outdoor power equipment under brands such as Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt. “We’ve operated here in Martin since 1985,” said Steve Baker, MTD’s general manager for the facility. “This is home for us and we’re blessed to be able to provide meaningful jobs for our community. We want to thank everyone who has helped, and will continue to help us, bring this expansion to fruition.” https://businessfacilities.com/2018/07/mtd-creating-200-jobs-weakley-county-tennessee/

MTD Products To Invest $10M In Martin, Tenn., Operations, Creating 200 Jobs (WKMS Radio) A manufacturing company is investing $10 million in its Martin, Tennessee, operations over the next five years, creating 200 jobs. Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and MTD Consumer Group officials made the announcement on Tuesday. State officials say MTD Products is the largest private employer in Weakley County. The company manufactures and distributes residential and commercial outdoor power equipment under brands including Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt. http://wkms.org/post/mtd-products-invest-10m-martin-tenn-operations-creating-200-jobs

Manufacturer to add 200 jobs in Martin, Tennessee (WPSD-TV) The largest private employer in Weakley County, Tennessee, plans to create 200 more jobs and add production to its facility in Martin, state and local leaders announced. The announcement came Tuesday from Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and company leaders with MTD Consumer Group Inc. MTD is an international manufacturer and distributor of residential and commercial outdoor power equipment, including brands such as Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt. The company says it will invest $10 million in its Martin operations over the next five years. The company says the jobs it’s adding are year round and full time. https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/2018/07/17/manufacturer-to-add-200-jobs-in-martin-tennessee/

MTD Products to create 200 jobs in Martin (Jackson Sun) Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and MTD Consumer Group Inc. officials announced Tuesday that the manufacturer will invest $10 million in its Martin operations over the next five years, according to a TNECD press release. MTD is Weakley County’s largest private employer and a leading global manufacturer and distributor of residential and commercial outdoor power equipment under brands such as Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt. The company plans to create 200 jobs in Weakley County as it adds production at the Martin facility. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/07/17/200-jobs-weakley-county/791655002/

West Tennessee company sets $10 million expansion, to add 200 jobs (Times Free Press) MTD Consumer Group Inc., which makes outdoor power equipment under the Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt brands, plans to invest $10 million in its Martin, Tenn., operation and add 200 jobs over the next five years, officials said today. MTD already is Weakley County’s largest private employer. “I’m very pleased to see MTD move ahead with this investment in Weakley County,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in a statement. “Tennessee’s existing companies like MTD are the primary drivers of our state’s economic growth.” Steve Baker, MTD’s general manager for the Martin facility, said it has operated there since 1985. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/17/10-million-expansion-add-200-jobs/475137/

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month observed (Overton Co. News) Tennessee is observing July as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month to shed light on the impact this disease has on communities statewide. “It is important that Tennesseans are aware of and informed about metastatic breast cancer,” Jennifer Murray, president of Tennessee Cancer Consortium said. “Patients and families across the state are grateful to Governor Haslam for making this proclamation to help get the word out about this devastating disease. “These patients face unique challenges with the emotional and physical demands of continual treatment along with the fact that breast cancer can spread quickly to other parts of the body, regardless of the treatment or preventative measures taken.” https://www.overtoncountynews.com/lifestyles/metastatic-breast-cancer-awareness-month-observed/article_0b3f2fc0-89f7-11e8-8cf5-7760411319ed.html

Tennessee’s sales tax rate is now the highest in the nation (AP) Louisiana no longer has the highest average sales tax rate in the nation, but only barely. Tennessee has narrowly edged out Louisiana for the top spot with an average state and local combined sales tax rate of 9.46 percent. That’s according to the latest data available from the nonpartisan, conservative Tax Foundation, which shows Louisiana falls a hair behind at 9.45 percent. Louisiana previously had the top average combined rate, but the state sales tax slightly declined July 1. Louisiana’s state sales tax had been slated to decrease from 5 percent to 4 percent. But state lawmakers in their last special session renewed 0.45 percent of the expiring temporary tax to avert steep cuts to college campuses and government-financed programs. The state’s sales tax rate now is 4.45 percent. https://www.wate.com/news/tennessee/tennessee-s-sales-tax-rate-is-now-the-highest-in-the-nation/1307714083

Why is Tennessee dead last when it comes to voting? (News Sentinel) When Dr. Katie Cahill moved to Knoxville last year from Indiana she was prepared to exercise her voice and vote in the city’s council elections. She registered to vote, but when she made her way to the polling location on the University of Tennessee’s campus on Election Day, it didn’t quite work out. Cahill, the associate director of the Howard H Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at UT, knows a thing or two about elections, but she didn’t know that while the Baker Center was a polling location, it wasn’t her polling location. Cahill joined the majority of Tennesseans in most elections by not voting. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/17/tennessee-elections-2018-politics-voting-voter-turnout/783348002/

Experts explain low voter turnout in Tennessee (WBIR-TV) Early voting is well underway for Tennessee’s August second primary election and so far Knox County has over 6,000 early votes. But a Pew Charitable Trust study from 2016 shows that Tennessee voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was the lowest in the country at just 28 percent. According to Katie Cahill, Associate Director of the University of Tennessee’s Howard J. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, those numbers provide an accurate reflection of the state of voting in Tennessee. “Tennessee is really underperforming in terms of voter turnout,” Cahill said. But Knox County Administrator of Elections Clifford Rodgers said this year the high profile races and the online registration process could encourage people to come out and vote. “The seats at the top of the ticket drive voters for whatever reason people would rather vote in a governors race, or a senators race or those house of representatives race but this year we’ve got it all,” Rodgers said. Cahill agrees. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/experts-explain-low-voter-turnout-in-tennessee/51-574849446

State lawmakers accused of harassment are running for office (AP) Dozens of state lawmakers nationwide have been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct since the beginning of 2017. Here are those running for re-election or another office since the allegations surfaced: TENNESSEE — Rep. David Byrd, R, accused by three women in a media report March 27 of sexual misconduct as their high school basketball coach several decades ago. Instead of heeding calls to resign from House and Senate leaders, Byrd is running for re-election. He was the lone Republican to run for his seat and will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 election. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/17/state-lawmakers-accused-harassment-are-running-office/475216/

High-dollar campaign ads, heated mailers signify 61st District House race (Williamson Herald) Top dollars spent on advertising, political consulting and mailers in the 61st District House race show candidates’ emphasis on getting out key messages to constituents by mail, including messages against their opponents. Seven candidates filed campaign finance disclosure statements last week for the 2nd Quarter reporting period, revealing that candidate Gino Bulso spent over $80,000 this reporting period on advertising and professional services, the highest of all candidates, while Brandon Ogles grabbed the second-highest spot with $60,000 spent on advertising, consulting and related services. http://www.williamsonherald.com/article_3e224126-8a0f-11e8-8fc7-fb03b19a42b9.html

Nashville judge dismisses suit seeking to keep Republican Smith off ballot; Democrats could appeal or refile (Times Free Press) A Nashville judge on Tuesday dismissed Tennessee Democrats’ lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission, which was filed when commissioners let Republican Robin Smith replace state Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, on the primary ballot after the withdrawal deadline for the Aug. 2 election. Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman, who had just decided to transfer the suit to Hamilton County courts, agreed to dismiss it at the request of Nashville attorney Ben Gastel, who was representing the state Democratic Party. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/jul/17/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-seeking-keep-smith-district-26-ballot-case-could-resurface/475199/

Video: Randy Boyd attack ad against Diane Black: ‘Out for herself’ (Tennessean) https://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/politics/2018/07/17/boyd-out-herself/792762002/

Diane Black talks about negative ads (WKRN-TV) Rep. Diane Black says political ads portraying her questioning President Donald Trump’s wall “were clipped.” It was one of many topics the congressional member talked about Friday as she knocked on doors in her bid to win the Republican nomination for governor against three other major candidates. Representative Black said she and a band of young supporters who were with her Friday have knocked on 300,000 doors across Tennessee. On this day, she was deep in her home congressional district just north of Nashville. It’s an area of Sumner County she has long represented first in the Tennessee House, then the Tennessee Senate and now in Congress. “They see things on TV. They want to know what does that mean? When someone says, ‘Is that really true?'” said Black in between door knocking. https://www.wkrn.com/news/tennessee-news/black-defends-herself-against-border-wall-ad-in-governor-s-race/1306625145

Santorum backs Rep. Black in Tennessee governor’s race (AP) Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has become the latest high-profile name involved in the Tennessee GOP governor’s race by endorsing U.S. Rep. Diane Black. Black’s campaign announced the support of the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Santorum praised Black for socially conservative stances, including anti-abortion views. Four leading Republican candidates are competing ahead of the Aug. 2 primary election. Early voting has already begun. Santorum’s endorsement follows the involvement of another former GOP presidential hopeful, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has endorsed former state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd. Huckabee appears in some Boyd TV ads. http://www.wsmv.com/story/38669383/santorum-backs-rep-black-in-tennessee-governor-race

Video: Randy Boyd Attack Ads Against Bill Lee (Tennessean) https://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/politics/2018/07/17/boyd-candidates-record/793109002/

Diane Black sits next to President Trump as he speaks about summit with Putin (WKRN-TV) As President Donald Trump spoke about his summit with Vladimir Putin, some viewers may have noticed a familiar figure right next to him. Middle Tennessee Congressional member Diane Black was on a break from her tight campaign seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Her campaign said the candidate was sitting next to the president for “a meeting on the next round of tax cuts.” Black chaired the House Finance Committee when the first round of federal tax cuts was approved last year. No word, even from Black’s campaign, about how she got to sit next to the president but some of her campaign ads have featured Black being lauded by the president for her role in the tax cuts. https://www.wkrn.com/news/political-news/diane-black-sits-next-to-president-trump-as-he-speaks-about-summit-with-putin/1308110181

Political commentator not surprised at cancellation of final Republican gubernatorial debate (WKRN-TV) A top Tennessee political analyst says he is not surprised that three of the four candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor dropped out of a final statewide televised debate scheduled for this weekend. “My assessment is that I would guess is the debate was not going to move as many votes as [the campaigns] targeting where they need to move them,” said Steve Gill of the Tennessee Star, who has been a longtime conservative commentator familiar with all the campaigns. He adds that a final debate a week-and-a-half before election day on August 2nd, and well into early voting that began last Friday, may not be seen by campaigns as the place to move voters. Or if some candidates go after each other on stage like they have with recent negative ads. https://www.wkrn.com/news/political-news/political-commentator-not-surprised-at-cancellation-of-final-republican-gubernatorial-debate/1308065738

Tennessee Governor Candidate Interviews: How Democrat Karl Dean Hopes To Cross Party Lines (WPLN Radio) Gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean is trying to present himself as a moderate. Not too business-centric for his base in the Democratic primaries, not too liberal to offend the Republican voters he’d need if he gets the nomination. WPLN’s Emily Siner spoke with the former mayor of Nashville about this delicate dance that would likely have to continue if he were elected governor. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-governor-candidate-interviews-how-democrat-karl-dean-hopes-cross-party-lines#stream/0

Candidate Karl Dean answers questions (Cookeville Herald Citizen) Karl Dean is one of the Democratic candidates for governor in the Aug. 2 state primary. Answers from candidates Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell and Craig Fitzhugh were published in the Monday, July 16, 2018, edition. What is the most critical need facing our state? And how do you plan to address it? Karl Dean (D):  Rural communities are losing jobs and their populations. Small businesses struggle to find the workforce they need. Rural school districts do not have the tax base to make needed improvements. Those districts are also losing quality teachers to other districts. These are the communities I want to focus my economic development energies on. We need to expand Medicaid and fight for our share of federal dollars to ensure all Tennesseans have access to healthcare. http://herald-citizen.com/stories/candidate-karl-dean-answers-questions,28991?

Video: Tennessee U.S. Senate race polls: Phil Bredesen, Marsha Blackburn vie to replace Bob Corker (Tennessean) A look at the several polls detailing the race of Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate. https://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/politics/2018/05/17/tennessee-u-s-senate-race-polls-phil-bredesen-marsha-blackburn-vie-replace-bob-corker/617322002/

Dueling polls show Blackburn, Bredesen with leads (Nashville Post) Several recent polls about the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker show one thing: The political battle between former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is so far a tossup. One recent poll, commissioned by a group linked to Senate Democrats, found Bredesen with a lead within the margin of error. A poll released Tuesday and commissioned by a pro-Trump group found Blackburn with a slim lead, though she received less support (38 percent) than in previous surveys released by the group in February and December, when she enjoyed support among likely voters north of 40 percent. https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/article/21013676/dueling-polls-show-blackburn-bredesen-with-lead

Democrats Could Become a Free-Trade Counterweight to Trump (Wall Street Journal) Historically opposed to free trade, Democrats increasingly identify with values like openness to trade. In Tennessee’s critical Senate race, it’s the Democrat running as a free trader. Phil Bredesen, a former governor, poses in a whiskey distillery in a recent ad and slams President Donald Trump’s tariffs: “They hurt our auto industry, our farmers, and Tennessee exports like Jack Daniel’s.” Since the 1940s, the Republicans have been the party of free trade, Democrats the party of protection. Those labels need updating. Mr. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on allies and adversaries alike is accelerating a migration of Democratic voters toward free trade and Republicans away from it. Among elected legislators, the median Republican is still pro-free trade and the median Democrat a skeptic, but those lines, too, are shifting. https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-could-become-a-free-trade-counterweight-to-trump-1531911601?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

Sen. Bob Corker: ‘The dam is finally breaking,’ urges Congress to pass tariff legislation (Tennessean) Sen. Bob Corker urged Congress again Tuesday to pass legislation to restrict President Donald Trump’s authority to impose tariffs in response to Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The dam is finally breaking. Thankfully,” Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Twitter. As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin,” Corker wrote. “It is time for Congress to step up and take back our authorities. We have legislation to do that. Let’s vote.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/17/trump-putin-meeting-sen-bob-corker-congress-should-pass-tariff-legislation-dam-finally-breaking/792221002/

Why Trump’s GOP critics never go nuclear (Politico) Hours after Donald Trump sidled up to Vladimir Putin at their now-infamous news conference, Republican Sen. Bob Corker received a call from a prominent politician who pleaded with him to repudiate Trump — and to make it hurt this time. The politician, who is weighing a run against the president, urged the Foreign Relations Committee chairman to use his procedural leverage in the Senate to halt Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court as payback for Trump’s refusal on Monday to acknowledge Russia’s election meddling. Nothing doing, the retiring senator responded. “Why would I cut off my nose to spite my face?” Corker recounted responding to the pol, whom he declined to name publicly. “I like the Supreme Court nominee. So what the heck?” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/17/trump-critics-nuclear-russia-putin-728974

Congressional candidate Matt Reel to meet with Williamson Democrats (Tennessean) Hickman County Democrat Matt Reel will make his pitch to local Democrats this week as to why they should pick him to take over Marsha Blackburn’s congressional seat. The stop in Williamson County on Thursday at a party event is one of Reel’s first since he returned home from a deployment in Latin America. Reel has served with the Tennessee National Guard for the last 15 years and is currently in an operational reserve unit of the 20th Special Forces Group, U.S. Special Operations Command. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2018/07/17/tennessee-candidate-matt-reel-meet-williamson-democrats-marsha-blackburn-congressional-seat/789869002/

Kanew, Reel talk national politics in Houston County (Leaf Chronicle) The Houston County Democratic Party hosted a Community Banquet for state and federal candidates in Erin City Hall on Monday, featuring rival candidates for Congress Justin Kanew and Matt Reel. Also attending were state representative hopeful Billy Borchert, and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who is running for governor. All took their turn at the lectern to share their concerns with Houston County voters. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/clarksville/2018/07/17/justin-kanew-matt-reel-houston-county/788828002/

New complaint says Knox Mayor Tim Burchett misused Knox County funds, hid interest in bank (News Sentinel) A new complaint filed with the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office accuses Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett of misusing county funds at a charity benefit and of benefiting from his previous service as a state legislator. Burchett, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, says it’s just more election-year noise. It’s the second such complaint filed with the comptroller since March, when an anonymous complainant accused Burchett of violating the county’s nepotism policy by hiring his stepson as a public works laborer and of allowing a ghost employee to work in the county finance department. The new complaint rehashes those claims as well. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/17/complaint-comptroller-accuses-tim-burchett-misusing-county-funds/783409002/

Tennessee immigration judges order record number of deportations, denials for asylum (Commercial Appeal) Deportation orders in Tennessee, Arkansas and northern Mississippi have increased nearly 50 percent since 2016, the year before President Donald Trump took office. The sharp increase, based on decisions from the Memphis Immigration Court, was driven by factors inside and outside the courtroom: the appointment of a judge with a track record of denying almost every asylum case, an increased number of Central American immigrants seeking asylum, and an increased caseload caused, in part, by policies established by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Tennessee’s only immigration court is in Memphis.The court handles cases in Tennessee, Arkansas and northern Mississippi, as well as Kentucky. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/2018/07/17/tennessee-immigration-judges-ordering-record-number-deportations/787865002/

TVA’s Cumberland Fossil Plant receives permit to discharge wastewater (News Sentinel) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has issued a new permit to the Tennessee Valley Authority, allowing the utility to discharge certain amounts of coal plant wastewater into the Cumberland River. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permits must be renewed every five years under the federal Clean Water Act. TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the utility has remained in compliance with its TDEC permits at its various fossil plants.  Environmental groups have taken issue with the utility’s wastewater discharge permits in the past, as fossil plant wastewater contains toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and selenium. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/07/17/fossil-plant-can-continue-discharging-wastewater-cumberland-river/789080002/

Nashville council asks city to not invest pension fund in private prisons (Tennessean) The Nashville Metro Council voted Tuesday to ask a city board to stop investing money from its employee pension fund in privately-operated prisons — and to not do so moving forward either. But it appears the Metro Employee Benefit Board hasn’t in two years anyway. The council voted 20-3, with 11 abstentions, to approve the non-binding resolution, a statement against prison companies like CoreCivic, based in Nashville, which has increasingly drawn criticism as criminal justice reform draws more attention. Critics have questioned the conditions of private prisons, among a long list of other complaints, arguing profits shouldn’t be tied to incarceration. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/17/nashville-tn-pension-fund-private-prisons-corecivic-corrections-corporation-america-cca/794192002/


Column: Shelby County leads in voter registration. That’s potential to beat back poverty (Commercial Appeal) When it comes to voting, Shelby County — home to the nation’s poorest large city, Memphis — has the power to fight the powers that keep it that way. The question is whether people here are up for that fight. With 550,497 registered voters, Shelby County has more potential voters than 50 other counties combined, said Katie Cahill, the associate director of the Howard H Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. But since early voting began on July 13 for the Aug. 2 primary, only 1 percent of Shelby County’s registered voters have turned out, she said. That makes it 94th — or next to last — out of the state’s 95 counties in early voting turnout, she said. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2018/07/17/weathersbee-shelby-county-leads-voter-registration-shouldnt-lead-poverty/792277002/

Kem Hinton: Nashville leaders whiffed on a Ryman public plaza (Tennessean) For the next few months, citizens and visitors in Music City will have a rare visual treat: an unobstructed view of one of Music City’s most symbolic and beloved buildings, the Ryman Auditorium. In the early-1980s, government officials cared little about the then-aging Gothic Revival structure, and the new Nashville Convention Center was erected across Fifth Avenue with almost no acknowledgement of the adjacent auditorium. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/17/how-nashville-leaders-whiffed-grand-public-plaza/749298002/

Glenn Reynolds: America has a nobility problem; it means our leaders don’t pay for failures (Tennessean) Our Constitution forbids the creation of “titles of nobility.” The Framers thought it was important enough that the prohibition appears twice, once forbidding the federal government from doing it, and elsewhere extending the ban to the states. And Americans, to the extent that they give the question any thought at all, probably think that the ban works:  After all, nobody’s squiring about the United States, sporting titles like Duke of Pennsylvania or Earl of Internal Revenue. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/07/16/americas-nobility-problem-ruling-class-pays-no-consequences-failure-column/788014002/