Monday, January 16, 2012
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his priorities for the 2012 legislative session during a press conference where he was joined by legislators in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the Capitol. His legislative agenda is designed to move Tennessee forward by supporting his goal to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs through economic development efforts, meaningful education reform, a more efficient and effective state government and improved public safety. “The legislative leadership of the General Assembly is committed to a productive and efficient session, and I’m proud to support their efforts by introducing our legislation today, the first day of session, and presenting them with a budget in the next several weeks,” Haslam said during the press conference. “These bills reflect my priorities in moving Tennessee forward by focusing on issues that make a difference through performance, accountability and efficiency in state government.” The governor’s legislation: · Strengthens the Department of Economic and Community Development’s FastTrack program by budgeting more for the grants and giving the department more flexibility in utilizing them to attract and grow Tennessee jobs. · Gives local school districts more options in how they approach classroom instruction and teacher compensation by: o Maintaining maximum class size requirements but eliminating average class size mandates for each school, and o Eliminating the outdated requirement of state and local salary schedules based strictly on seniority and training, which will give districts flexibility to make decisions such as how to address hard to staff schools or subjects along with rewarding teacher performance. · Outlines Tennessee specific goals for measuring progress to replace the federal measurements as part of the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver request and better defines the scope and focus of the Achievement School District in supporting Tennessee’s lowest performing schools. · Restructures 22 state boards and commissions to eliminate duplicative functions and provide more accountability and oversight of the agencies, which is a first step of an ongoing comprehensive review process. · Updates and reforms the state’s antiquated employment system through the TEAM Act (Tennessee Excellence Accountability and Management) by simplifying the hiring process, providing flexibility to retain and reward outstanding employees and streamlining the appeals process for employees. · Takes a first step in reaching the governor’s goal to raise the state inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $5 million by increasing it to $1.25 million to lower the tax burden on family farmers and family business owners as these businesses span generations. · Lowers the state portion of the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent with the goal of lowering it to 5.0 percent in three years. Also filed today as part of the governor’s legislative package are a series of bills that were announced last week to address public safety issues including prescription drug abuse, tougher sentencing for certain types of gang-related crimes, tougher sentencing for gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions and mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders. This legislation is part of a comprehensive, multi-year public safety action plan by the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group, which is made up of representatives from 11 state departments and agencies. The plan is a result of months of meetings with more than 300 public safety professionals and stakeholders across the state. “This legislative agenda is made up of a strategic group of bills aimed at impacting key issues that are crucial to tackle now,” Haslam continued. “I look forward to working with the Legislature on these important initiatives.” The Haslam administration filed a total of 55 non-budget related bills today. For more information about the governor’s legislative agenda, please visit http://forward.tn.gov. 011012 HASLAM UNVEILS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA TO MOVE TENNESSEE FORWARD.pdf
“We feel very good about a plan that is fair and certainly less politically gerrymandered than the way the districts are currently drawn,” Speaker Beth Harwell told reporters. “We’ve gone out of our way to be as fair as possible. I can’t control the demographics of this state.”The new map largely consolidates Green Hills with other affluent areas of Davidson County in Speaker Beth Harwell's House District 56. Green Hills has long been split between three legislative districts. Davidson County Democratic Reps. Mike Turner (51), Janis Sontany (53), Brenda Gilmore (54), Gary Odom (55), Mary Pruitt (58), and Republican Rep. Jim Gotto (60), seem safe for reelection under the new map albeit with some new constituents.
Democratic Reps. Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart are paired on the new map in Dist. 52 which only one can win. Democrat Gary Moore (50), AFL-CIO president, has acquired enough Bellevue conservatives to make the new map a challenge for him.
Longtime Democratic Senators Douglas Henry (21) and Joe Haynes (20) will need to meet some new constituents under the new map. Sen. Haynes' redrawn district has already drawn a Republican challenger, Dr. Steve Dickerson. Democrat Thelma Harper (19) has few changes to her district on the new map.
A newly created Davidson County district is a "coalition district" combining Black and Hispanic voters into a majority giving them an opportunity to elect a minority candidate to the Legislature.
****DNC: The state Democratic Party Executive Committee has re-elected three Tennesseans to the Democratic National Committee. Bill Owen of Knoxville, Will Cheek of Nashville and Gale Jones Carson of Memphis were elected to new four-year terms. Members of the Democratic National Committee are responsible for governing the national Democratic Party.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Media Alert: House redistricting committees to meet
Who: Members of the House Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting and members of State and Local Government Committee
What: Committee meetings to discuss concept maps to be considered by the House the first week of session
Where: Legislative Plaza Room 30
When: House Ad Hoc Committee will meet at 9 a.m. on January 4th, 2012 and the State and Local Government Subcommittee will immediately follow
Contact: Kara Owen, firstname.lastname@example.org 615-812-5272
Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Policy
Office of the Speaker
Tennessee House of Representatives
Office: (615) 741-1975
Cell: (615) 812-5272 Room 19 Legislative Plaza
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
In 1636 --- 140 years before America was born --- citizen soldiers first mustered in Salem, Massachusetts on guard against Indian raids and giving birth to what is now the National Guard the country’s oldest military organization celebrating 375 years of service this year.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee National Guard Commander-in-Chief, and Major General Terry “Max” Haston, Tennessee Guard Adjutant General, presided at the ceremony.
“Milestones like this one are a great reminder of the heroic service and sacrifice of soldiers past and present,” Gov. Haslam said. “It is a pleasure to pay tribute to those soldiers and the National Guard for cultivating a long legacy of volunteerism in our country.”
“The Guard’s birthday is a milestone in the history of the nation,” said Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “It is the oldest and one of the proudest military institutions and its members and service need to be honored. The Guard is more vital than ever in protecting our freedoms both here at home and abroad.”
In keeping with the militias of 375 years ago, today's National Guard has become essential to national defense. More than 21,000 Tennessee Army and Air National Guardsmen have been deployed overseas in support of the War on Terror. Twenty-two of those brave men and women have given their lives while serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The National Guard motto remains "Always Ready, Always There.”
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
|First Lady Anne Davis with Mayor Karl Dean before The Boulevard Bolt|
Over 8,200 Nashvillians ran The 18th Annual Boulevard Bolt on Thanksgiving Day. Mayor Karl Dean coached the 2011 Bolt runners:
"I invite you to follow my philosophy today which is to start off slow and then taper off in this race. Enjoy yourselves have a great day and a great Thanksgiving." Mayor Karl Dean's advice to Boulevard Bolt runners, listen here: MayorDeanAdvice2011Nov24Brentwood's Sean Keveren, 21, was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 24:28. Close behind him was the first woman across, Sonja Friend-Uhl, 40, with a time of 27:34.
Other prominent runners included Santa with his reindeer, a waddle of penguins and quite a few turkeys. Civic leader Annette Eskind whizzed past while Nashville notable Lydia Lenker took the boulevard at a slower pace.
Cheering from the sidelines were Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-7th) and Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (D) both of whom had family members competing in the race.
Mayor Karl Dean told the crowd the traditional Thanksgiving race helps bring Nashville together and also helps those less fortunate by raising funds for the homeless. "This is a great cause and a great day," he said.
The mayor, who has led walks on Metro's greenways and beyond, called the event "very consistent with our message that we need to make Nashville a more active, health city." He admonished the runners, "Don't stop after today: keep exercising, keep walking, keep running."
The Boulevard Bolt, organized by volunteers, is a collaborative effort of Immanuel Baptist Church, St. George’s Episcopal Church and The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville.
Since 1994, the Boulevard Bolt has grown from 2,500 participants to over 8,200 participants in 2011. The Boulevard Bolt ranks among the largest 5-mile races in the country donating $1.6 million to the homeless community in Nashville.
|Mayor Karl Dean rallied the runners before the race|
|A waddle of penguins at the start line|
|First wave of runners get ready to race|
Friday, November 18, 2011
Col. Many-Bears Grinder volunteered to leave her state-side duty to serve in Afghanistan. She told women veterans why she felt she had to volunteer to go.
Listen to her comments: ManyBearsWhyIWent16Nov2011
Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder is an Operation Enduring Freedom Combat Veteran who served more than ten months in Afghanistan. She holds the Legion of Merit and a Bronze Star.
"I've always loved taking care of soldiers," Commissioner Grinder told women veterans and active duty personnel. "When Gov. Haslam asked if I wanted to advocate for TN veterans, I only had to think about it for a millisecond. What a dream job. So rewarding."
She advocates for Tennessee veterans claims with the federal government, securing $822 million federal dollars for Tennessee veterans in the last fiscal year. Commissioner Grinder also maintains the state's three veterans homes and four cemeteries. She is the first woman ever to serve as commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs in Tennessee.
Many-Bears Grinder retired as a Colonel from the Tennessee Army National Guard with over 35 years service in logistics and personnel. Grinder's first name was originally a nickname that stuck, so she legally changed her name to Many-Bears. She is married to Ernie Grinder, a Vietnam veteran and her father earned his U.S. citizenship with his Navy service in WW II.
The Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee invited Commissioner Grinder to speak to salute Tennessee's women veterans. "I will do everything I can to help people make sure your service is never forgotten," she told the women veterans at a luncheon held in their honor. "I often find veterans who don't know they are entitled to benefits. Worrying about those who don't know keeps me up at night." She plans a broader outreach through a Women Veterans Summit in April 2012.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Veterans Day 2011 was particularly significant not only for its date — 11/11/11 — but also because this year marks Tenth Anniversary of 9/11. Bin Laden has been killed by Navy SEALS and the tide of the war 9/11 brought on seems to be receding. Kiwanians paused to remember the nations veterans by laying a wreath at the Centennial park monument to local soldiers lost in WWI.
Presented in 1923, the WWI monument stands as a gift to Nashvillians from the local Kiwanis Club. The inscription at the monument's foot reads: "I gave my best to make a better world. 1917-1918.""To honor and remember our veterans this year we think about our Navy SEALS," Marine Jay Drescher said in introducing veteran Navy SEAL Joe Napiltano to speak to Nashville Kiwanians. "Navy SEALS did something spectacular this year but that's normal operating procedure for Navy SEALS."
Napiltano reminded listeners more than a million U.S. soldiers have been lost serving the country in WWI and 12 other modern overseas battles. His countdown included WWI 116,000, WWII 407,000, Korea 36,000, Vietnam 58,000, El Salvador 20, Beirut 366, Granada 19, Panama 40, Persian Gulf 269, Somalia 43, Bosnia 72, Iraq 400,459 and Afghanistan 1,610 (and counting).
"These men and women went into battle proud to wear the uniform, proud to be part of something greater than themselves and proud to be in the company of such great souls," Napiltano said, counseling, "Today is not a time to mourn the great service members who have passed. We should celebrate them and all service members still alive, celebrating their commitment to the ideals our nation holds dear." ---post by Dru Smith Fuller
|Navy SEAL Joe Napiltano (l.) and Marine Jay Drescher laid a memorial wreath |
at the Kiwanis-sponsored WWI monument in Centennial Park.--photo by Dru Smith Fuller
Thursday, November 10, 2011
|Consul General Hiroshi Sato spoke at the |
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Tennessee is home to 179 Japanese companies representing $14 billion U.S. dollar investment and employing 35,000 Tennesseans. The largest Japanese companies are Nissan, Bridgestone in Middle Tennessee and Denso in Maryville.
Half the total foreign investment in Tennessee is Japanese leaving far behind the investment from Germany, Canada, United Kingdom and France.
Despite the recent tsunami and earthquake, Sato said "Japan fully intends to maintain its status as a leading player in the global economy. We intend not only to survive but to thrive."
Consul Gen. Hiroshi Sato with consulate staffer Yumi Bhattarai joined Vince Gill to play in concert in April 2011. Gen. Sato plays a Gibson Epiphone guitar. He recalled his, "tremendous experience of playing with Vince Gill in concert. When I came here to Music City, I found my old guitar and started a small band called "Beauty and the Beast" with violinist Yumi Bhattarai."
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
|Consul General Hiroshi Sato with Paro, his robot baby white seal.|
---photo by Dru Smith Fuller
"To help communicate the message Japan is still a wonderful place (despite recent disasters)," Consul General Hiroshi Sato told his Osher Lifelong Learning class, "I brought along a little friend, Parot, a baby white seal (robot) disguised by his completely natural demeanor."
The Consul General said Parot, which is another name for robot, "is here as an ambassador to make a case that Japan, which has standing as a technological and cultural leader, is not gone. We are still here and eagerly look forward to your visit to Japan to see how far we have come."
Parot "has been used to help relieve the distress of the victims of the Eastern Japan earthquake," he said.
A Japanese consulate has been in Nashville since the 2007 floods in New Orleans where it was formerly located.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
|Kix Brooks admires his star on the Music City Walk of Fame|
---photo by Dru Smith Fuller
Walk of Fame: Kix Brooks chased his songwriting dream to Nashville back in 1979. Lower Broadway broke his heart at the time because of darkness in storied spots like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.
Today, Brooks is a top-ranked country music celebrity. He is also a Nashville community leader serving on the Mayor's Music Council to bring the music industry and the city closer. He was formerly a board member at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Lower Broadway has blossomed with museums, entertainment and restaurants. "The really cool thing is that we are still a small town here but we've got some big city stuff," Brooks said.
Country music sweetheart Reba McEntire presented Brooks with his star. "I don't know if I deserve one but I got to say I'm really proud of it," he said.
Now the radio host of American Country Music Countdown, Kix Brooks played his last concert as a duo with Ronnie Dunn in 2010.
He joined singer-songwriter Alan Jackson, gospel great Dr. Bobby Jones, and designer for the stars Manuel on the Walk of Fame. Posthumous stars went to electric guitar visionary Les Paul, gospel music queen Dottie Rambo and Nashville broadcaster Dan Miller.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Tennessean’s fortunes dipped by more than 14 percent, or nearly $2 million, in 2010 with the sale of Nantucket, Mass., real estate. Alexander reported that both he and his spouse sold their investments in an undeveloped lot in Nantucket in two transactions valued at $500,000 to $1 million each. Alexander had previously reported the investments being worth $1 million to $5 million each. The Senator remained otherwise invested in real estate, with investments in ranchland, farmland, commercial buildings and other lots in Texas worth more than $1 million combined. Alexander also maintained his investment of $5 million to $25 million in Processed Foods Corp., a Knoxville, Tenn.-based company where he served on the board before his election to the Senate in 2002. His wife also reported owning more than $1 million in company stock.
Despite slashing her minimum net worth by nearly two-thirds since filing a financial disclosure as a candidate in May 2010, Black still lands in the middle of the list. As a candidate, Black had reported a minimum net worth of nearly $29 million but dropped more than $18 million in her first filing as a lawmaker. Black’s largest investment had been her husband’s stake in Nashville, Tenn.-based Aegis Sciences Corp., previously valued at $25 million to $50 million. Black most recently valued that stock at $5 million to $25 million. In her latest disclosure form, Black reported her husband sold his Aegis stock in an October 2010 transaction valued at $25 million to $50 million, while purchasing stock in the company the same day in a transaction valued at $5 million to $25 million. David Black was listed as the CEO of Aegis Sciences, which he also founded. The company bills itself as “a forensic chemical and drug-testing laboratory specializing in Zero-Tolerance Drug Testing for businesses, professional and amateur sports drug testing, pain management physicians, and medical examiners” on its website. Diane Black also reported a half-dozen real estate properties in Tennessee and Florida under Ebon Falcon, valued at a combined minimum of $8.5 million.