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SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2012 Governor pitches legislative agenda to Kingsport crowd (Times-News)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam pitched his 2012 legislative package to a receptive crowd Friday just as the states unemployment rate hit its lowest point in three years. Tennessee added more than 11,200 jobs in November, giving the state an 8.7 percent December unemployment rate close to the 8.4 percent unemployment rate reported in December 2008. It is significant that (the unemployment rate) is under 9 percent) for the first time in three years, Haslam, a Republican, told reporters after addressing about 200 chamber members and others at the Kingsport Higher Education Center. I do think the economy across the country is getting slowly better. ... Jobs in Tennessee grew at a faster rate than the national average. ... I do think the signals are encouraging for Tennessee. Im particularly encouraged a lot of that growth happened in the manufacturing sector. About half of that job growth occurred in business and professional services, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. http://www.timesnews.net/article/9041117/governor-pitches-legislative-agenda-tokingsport-crowd

Haslam says Tennessee higher education a top priority in budget (J. City Press)
There could be more state money on the horizon for Tennessee public higher education in Gov. Bill Haslams next budget. Haslam, who was speaking at an area-wide Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, said afterward that funding higher education would be a priority for his administration. Were going to present the budget in 10 days, Haslam said. I think youll see a significant step forward in higher education funding in this years budget. Haslam did not give specifics on the budget, but tuition has increased at Tennessee Board of Regents schools, of which East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College are a part, each year, often significantly due to decreases in state appropriations of around seven or eight percent. The same has been true of University of Tennessee schools. Students and parents, including those at ETSU, have picked up the burden of funding higher education each year through tuition and fee increases to make up for those budget reversions. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=97681#ixzz1k5mtouCO

Haslam Outlines Legislative Agenda To Tri-Cities (WCYB-TV Johnson City)

Tennessee governor Bill Haslam made the rounds in the Tri-Cities today. He met with local business and government leaders to outline his agenda for the 2012 legislative session. It all starts with a goal. "Our job is the same as yours in business; the very best product for the lowest price," Governor Haslam told to the audience at the Kingsport Higher Education Center. Haslam explained there are a series of things to make this possible. He said one of the first issues that needs improvement is something that affects everyone. "At the end of the day, the most important thing to all of us is safety, right? As a state, we're still too high or too low, whichever the wrong thing is, on several key things," said the governor. To fix that, Haslam wants tougher sentences for criminals and a major fight against prescription drug abuse. If all goes according to his plan, doctors will have to check a database before writing a prescription. Haslam also plans to take action on the fiscal side of legislation. He wants to offer more incentives to draw in new businesses and create new jobs. But it doesn't stop there. The governor's also pushing to lower the state grocery tax. W hile it won't be by very much, just 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent, he said this is a way to affect nearly every single taxpayer in the state of Tennessee, not just a select few. http://www.wcyb.com/news/30263962/detail.html

Haslam sets out legislative agenda to Chamber members (Herald-Courier)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told Bristol Chamber of Commerce members this morning that his legislative agenda for 2012 will push for more efficiency and improved results. "My job is to make sure you get great

[government] service at the lowest price," Haslam told some 150 political and civic leaders during a breakfast meeting in 620 State in downtown Bristol. "We're going to target that [in 2012]." http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/jan/20/haslam-sets-out-legislative-agenda-chamber-members-ar-1626990/

Governor at TW C -- Haslam details 2012 priorities (Daily Post Athenian)

Lowering taxes, improving education and job creation are among the priorities for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who shared his message at a community breakfast hosted by Tennessee Wesleyan College on Thursday. http://dpa.xtn.net/dynamic/News/Story/180681 (SUBSCRIPTION)

Former city law director sworn in as federal court clerk (N-S/Coleman)

Former city law director sworn in as federal court clerk Former Knoxville City Law Director Debra C. Poplin was sworn in Friday as clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee as U.S. District Chief Judge Curtis Collier administered the oath of office. The fourth floor courtroom at the federal court house was packed with friends, family and colleagues. Gov. Bill Haslam and Congressman Jimmy Duncan attended, as did representatives for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. Haslam said he called U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan four years ago when, as mayor of Knoxville, he was considering naming Poplin as his city law director. Varlan had hired her when he was city law director and gave her a glowing recommendation, the governor said. Haslam shared how recently someone called him regarding Poplin as a candidate for federal court clerk. "It was a pleasure for me to return the recommendation," he said. "It was a privilege to watch her make hard decisions in a compassionate way that reflected well on our city. I appointed her to that position because she is a great lawyer and a great person." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jan/21/former-city-law-director-sworn-in-as-federal/

Former law director sworn in as U.S. District Court Clerk (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
Governor Bill Haslam showed his support as Debra Polin took the oath off office as a U.S. District Court Clerk on Friday. Poplin has been a practicing attorney for 21 years. She served as the Deputy Law Director for the City of Knoxville for over nine years and in 2008 was appointed as the law director. Her former boss said he has no doubt she will be sucessful in her new position. "I think her background experience both in private law practiceshe was the City of Knoxville's lawyer and so she represented the city in a myriad of cases and issues and not only is she a good lawyer but she has great judgement as well," said Haslam. Poplin will be responsible for the administrative operations of the court in the 41 county Eastern District of Tennessee. http://www.wbir.com/news/article/201603/2/Former-law-director-sworn-in-as-US-District-Court-Clerk

Haslam announces $1.6 Million in Safe Routes to School Grants (WVLT-TV Knox)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Safe Routes to School funding totaling $1.6 for ten municipalities in Tennessee. The funds will be used by multiple schools to improve sidewalks, crosswalks, signs and safe walking and biking educational activities. The Safe Routes to School Program is a statewide initiative designed to make bicycling and walking to school a safer, more appealing and healthier alternative for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Safety is a crucial component in our efforts to promote a healthier lifestyle for Tennessee children, Haslam said. The Safe Routes to School Program helps create safer walking and biking environments for students and funds activities to encourage children and their parents to increase their physical activity. http://www.volunteertv.com/home/headlines/Governor_Haslam_announces_16_Million_in_Safe_Routes_to_Sch ool_Grants__137761813.html

Haslam Waiting to Weigh In on Bill to Evict Occupiers (W PLN-Radio Nashville)

Governor Bill Haslam isnt ready to say whether hell support lawmakers trying to evict Occupy Nashville. The camp, which stands at around fifty tents, has been on the plaza by the state capitol since October. W hile police were hauling off many Occupy efforts elsewhere last fall, Haslams attempt to kick out Occupy Nashville was slapped down in court. Thats let the group persist, with tents right outside lawmakers offices. Now legislators have weighed in with a bill to make squatting on public property a crime. Haslam previously said thats not his favored approach. But the proposal has some ways to go before Haslam could either sign on or veto it. I dont know what the legislation says yet. Obviously one of the things wed want to make certain of is Is it something the attorney general reviewed and approved and feels like is constitutional? So its a little premature, before I see that, to say. Haslam has been treading cautiously. Because of a court injunction, any change in the plazas rules 2

will likely face a legal challenge. The bill isnt yet scheduled to go before a committee. http://wpln.org/?p=33170

State orders 54,600 copies of Tenn. Blue Book (Associated Press)

The latest edition of the Tennessee Blue Book are being delivered being delivered to the state Capitol. Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Friday that the state has ordered 54,600 copies of the official guide to Tennessee government and history. The 2011-2012 edition features new graphics highlighting lawmakers' districts, and shaded tabs for easier browsing of the nearly 800-page book that is used a reference by schoolchildren, educators, archivists, journalists, government officials and other citizens. Lawmakers routinely give copies to constituents and other visitors to the Capitol. Hargett dedicated the volume to the Republican speakers of the House and Senate, Sen. Ron Ramsey of Blountville and Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville. The previous version was dedicated to Tennessee service members killed in combat since 9/11. http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/article/38389369?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Hamilton Co. Press/Haman)









When Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles began offering free photo upgrades to folks who needed a photo ID to vote, he braced his staff for a potential rush of applicants. But an onslaught never came. By Friday, less than a month before early voting begins for the March 6 presidential primary, only 177 people had taken advantage of the service, which began in October at the County Courthouse. Its just not been very busy at all, Knowles said. Its nothing people are taking a big advantage of. Under a law passed last year by the Tennessee Legislature, registered voters must have a photo ID to vote. The law ordered the state Department of Safetys Driver Service Centers to provide free photo upgrades to those who didnt have a picture on their drivers licenses and also to offer limited-purpose voter IDs to registered voters. Tennessee is the only state that allows drivers to remove their photos at age 60, said state Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons. As an additional avenue for voters, Gibbons contracted with 30 of the states 95 county clerk offices to provide free upgrades for the estimated 126,000 drivers across the state who held nonphoto licenses. The clerks offices did not offer the limited-purpose IDs. The Tennessee Department of Safety estimated about 7,000 Hamilton County residents had no photos on their licenses. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/21/hamilton-county-clerk-issues-fewer-200-identificat/?local

Columbia St. Community College stakes claim on future campus (TN/Giordano)

With a quick thwack from a gold-painted sledgehammer on a nearly 3-foot wooden post, Columbia State Community College President Janet Smith formally claimed land soon to be the new site of the colleges Williamson County campus. Now that college officials have the land, Smith said at Fridays ceremony, they hope to get about $1.8 million from the state this year to begin the design process for the campus on about 36 acres north of W illiamson Medical Center. And, with any luck, they hope to get $36 million the following year to begin construction, she said. County Mayor Rogers Anderson, state Sen. Jack Johnson, and Reps. Charles Sargent and Glen Casada were praised for pushing for funding. They also hammered at the post, which Smith said represented the cornerstone of the vision to come. I come from rural roots, Smith told the more than 100 supporters, staff and students attending what was called a poundn ceremony. W hen one builds a building, they have a groundbreaking ceremony with silver shovels and hard hats. We are not at that point. But we need to celebrate, and drawing upon my country roots and the marking of land by fences and posts, I thought of the corner post, which must be strong. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120121/NEWS01/301210024/Columbia-State-Community-College-stakesclaim-its-future?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Columbia State (TN/Wilemon)








Louise Katz, a professor at Columbia State Community College, scanned her classroom, gauging the eyes looking back at her, and wondered why some students wore glasses while others didnt. As a psychologist, she wanted to know if behavioral and environmental factors could be a determinant. So she started asking questions. And the answers she got from a survey of more than 400 students surprised her. Katz expected stressful life 3

experiences to be associated with myopia, or nearsightedness, but that theory didnt pan out. The fresh fruit factor did. Students who said they consumed fruit, fresh vegetables and whole grains reported fewer instances of myopia. The findings are in the latest issue of the Journal of Behavioral Optometry. Todays 20-somethings are more prone to be myopic than past generations. Katz noted that one study has estimated that 60 percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 23 and 34 are nearsighted. I knew something was going on, she said. I was interested in trying to figure out what might be involved. It makes sense that diet could be a culprit. Americans have left family farms for a fast-food lifestyle. Katz is the first to admit that the study is far from definitive. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120121/NEWS07/301210025/TN-professor-finds-fresh-foods-may-preventnearsightedness?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Judgment against Americare overturned (Times-Gazette)

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has overturned a $5 million judgment against the parent company of a local assisted living facility in a wrongful death suit. In April 2010, a Bedford County jury returned a verdict of more than $5.4 million against Americare Systems Inc, and Shelbyville Residential LLC, which does business as Celebration Way, and two nurses -- Dottie Hunt and Mary Ann Steelman. The judgment was for the wrongful death of Mable Frances Farrar, who died on May 29, 2004 while she was a resident of the facility. Following a civil trial that lasted two weeks, the jury found that Farrar was killed by a procedure administered at Celebration Way. However, the appellate court ruled this month that they found "no material evidence" that any staffing deficiencies by Americare caused Farrar's death, setting aside all damages, including punitive damages, related to the company's direct liability. "Poorly performing" During the 2010 trial, the jury ruled that Hunt and Steelman were at fault in Farrar's death and that Americare was at fault for "failing to provide sufficient personnel at Celebration Way." Steelman was the administrator of Celebration Way while Hunt was director of nursing at the facility. http://www.t-g.com/story/1806780.html

Tennessee Legislature may weigh costs for business (Nashville Business Journal)
Business owner Steve Cline doesnt follow all the twists and turns of the Tennessee General Assembly . But he understands how legislation at the state level or elsewhere eats at his bottom line as he demolishes buildings for massive construction projects around the state.Whatever they put in place impacts us, said Cline, the owner of Demo Plus Inc. W e need some regulation, but we dont need to be over-regulated.An effort that would change how Tennessee considers a new laws price tag, formally called a fiscal note, is now at a watershed period in the state Legislature. http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/printedition/2012/01/20/legislature-weigh-costs-for-business.html (SUBSCRIPTION)

GOPs Ketron still wild card in 4th District Congress race (Times Free-Press/Sher)
When state Republican lawmakers made major changes to Tennessees 4th Congressional District during redistricting, it was widely assumed that it was done at the insistence of state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro. Ketron had publicly said he wanted his home county, Rutherford, in the 4th, which immediately made any credible candidate from Rutherford a threat in a GOP primary to freshman U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., who is from Jasper. Ketron expressed interest in running. But more than a week after the General Assembly passed the congressional redistricting map, Ketron has yet to make a definitive move, GOP insiders say. Time is ticking the Aug. 2 GOP primary is less than seven months out. If Ketron is serious, he needs to move quickly and begin fundraising and fielding a credible campaign team, fellow Republicans say. In a recent interview prior to the bills passage, Ketron said he was still looking at it. Ive just got a lot of responsibilities in leadership right now ... Still have some time to review and look at it. Ketron declined to comment on quick moves by DesJarlais, who as redistricting began moving, announced he had some $436,000 in cash on hand. Meanwhile, DesJarlais is continuing to march briskly. He was in Murfreesboro last week, chatting up Ketrons hometown newspaper. The new district shears off many of the Upper Cumberland counties DesJarlais now represents and some Middle Tennessee counties filled with people who know him. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/21/gops-ketron-still-wild-card-4th-district-congress-/?local

Senior drivers could face tougher restrictions when renewing license soon (H-C)
At least one state representative in Tennessee wants to explore changing the law that governs drivers license renewals in the Volunteer State. Those possible changes could make it harder for older Tennesseans to renew and keep their drivers license. Right now Tennessee has some the least restrictive laws in the country when it comes to license renewal for older citizens. Most states in the US already have laws in place that are more 4

stringent on senior drivers. "W hy are they trying to punish the seniors for something everybody does, said Norman Bridwell a senior driver. At the Johnson City Senior Center some feel it's a bad idea to single out senior drivers for increased scrutiny when it comes to drivers license renewal. "I feel very strongly about this and I think every year or two to be re-evaluated is not too much to ask if it would cut down on some of the accidents, said Mickey Grossman another senior driver. So do most seniors feel like they can police themselves when it comes time to quit driving? "Absolutely ... will we do it probably not, said Merle Yalowitz a senior driver. "I don't think anybody can be responsible for policing themselves, said David Fagelson a senior driver. I think that family members certainly should get involved in deciding when a person should is getting to the point they can't drive anymore." http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/jan/20/senior-drivers-could-face-tougher-restrictions-whe-ar-1627377/

Rep. Tindell announces retirement after 22 years (Associated Press)

State Rep. Harry Tindell says he plans to retire after 22 years in the Legislature. The District 13 seat the Knoxville Democrat now holds was recently transformed by a Republican-drafted redistricting bill. Tindell told The Knoxville News-Sentinel the district has become what he calls "a coin-toss district" that is "going to be the most competitive ... in the state" ( http://bit.ly/xIyBp1 He says he doesn't have time for long hours of ). campaigning because of other commitments. Before Republicans took firm control of the House, Tindell served as chairman of the House Budget Subcommittee, which acts as gatekeeper on all bills impacting state taxes and spending. He lost the head position, but retained a seat on the panel when House Speaker Beth Harwell made appointments last year. http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/article/38389515?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Marches by Occupy groups target campaign funding law (Tennessean/Young)

Doug Keogh didnt think the Occupy Nashville group was moving fast enough Friday as it finalized plans for a march from W ar Memorial Plaza to the federal courthouse to protest a 2-year-old court ruling that lifted the ban on political spending by corporations in elections. He left the meeting and went to the courthouse on his own, hoisted a handmade sign bearing a quote from the 180-page court ruling and paced the sidewalk in front of the building. I never thought Id be the only one here, the 60-year-old semi-retired accountant said. I read the whole opinion, and I disagree with what the Supreme Court did, but I feel ridiculous out here. Ive never done anything like this, and I was around in the 60s. At least then you had hundreds of thousands of people there beside you. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case that lifted the ban on political spending by corporations to influence voters. However, the court said corporations cannot make direct contributions to a candidate. Occupy protesters across the nation marched on courthouses Friday to mark the anniversary of the ruling. By the time the group of about 40 Occupy Nashville protesters marched up Ninth Avenue to the federal courthouse on Broadway about half an hour later, Keogh was gone. The two security guards who were watching him quickly became eight, or nine counting the canine unit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120121/NEWS01/301210030/Marches-by-Occupy-groups-targetcampaign-funding-law?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Stalled Pipeline Spurs Ire of Congressional Delegation (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

This week President Obama stalled a proposed fuel line from Canada to the Gulf Coast and drew fire for it from much of Tennessees Congressional delegation. While Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper has sided with Republicans on the issue before, he isnt exactly piling on with the attacks. Environmentalists have said the pipeline would amount to game over for the planet. But several Tennessee Republicans in Congress argue it would create jobs some say tens of thousands. Gallatin Republican Diane Black charged Obama didnt value those jobs as much as keeping his own in this falls election. Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper doesnt go that far. He voted along with Republicans to speed up a decision on the pipeline last summer. Now he says the rhetoric has gotten overblown. Its easy to exaggerate job projections. Certainly in construction there would be a lot of jobs created but once the pipelines built, they almost run on their own. So I would be worried, especially in election season, about anybody bragging about a whole lot of job creation out of one http://wpln.org/? project. p=33229

EPA regulations may not be 'job killer' (Tennessean/Bewley)

Lagging demand, not red tape, cited by firms as barrier Anyone whos listened to a Republican lawmaker or 5

presidential candidate lately has heard this refrain: Excessive regulations kill jobs. New or proposed EPA rules have drawn the most GOP scrutiny. Of the top 10 job-destroying regulations singled out by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last year, seven came from the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has been deemed a job killer by Tennessee Republicans and GOP presidential candidates alike. Just get government out of the way, Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin has said her constituents tell her, and theyll create the jobs and grow on their own. That sentiment came through in a recent survey by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce in which 43 percent of the groups members said government regulation was their business leading problem. But economists and many Tennessee business leaders say the big picture isnt that simple. Lagging demand by consumers accounted for nearly half of mass layoffs in the third quarter of 2011, while government regulations accounted for less than 1 percent, according to the Labor Departments most recent figures. And when the National Federation of Independent Business asks small-business owners to identify their single biggest problem, they name poor sales more often than government red tape. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120121/NEWS11/301200121/EPA-regulations-may-not-job-killer-? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

TVA CEO calls for safety focus after Watts Bar incidents (News-Sentinel/Marcum)
TVA CEO calls for safety focus after Watts Bar incidents Following recent safety infractions that could have gotten someone killed or seriously injured, TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore on Friday called on workers at TVA's Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear reactor construction project to refocus on safety and following proper procedures. "Each of us has to call a timeout when something even appears to be out of line. We will stop, listen and then learn," Kilgore said in a statement. On Wednesday, TVA ordered an unpaid work stoppage for about 1,000 contract workers at the Watts Bar plant. This was prompted by a December incident in which TVA said workers could have been electrocuted, and an incident this week in which a valve was removed improperly, creating a situation that could have caused an accident. In December, electrical cables were supposed to have been disconnected at Unit 2 so work could be done on a component there, but were disconnected at Unit 1 instead. Workers at Unit 2 unknowingly worked on a circuit that could have come alive at any time. "If the plant conditions on Unit 1 changed unexpectedly, the cables could have energized to thousands of volts without notice," Kilgore said. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jan/21/tva-ceo-calls-for-safety-focus-after-watts-bar/

Wacker plant buildings going vertical in Bradley County (Times Free-Press/Pare)

Wacker Polysilicon has begun putting up the three largest buildings that will be constructed at its massive Bradley County plant. This first quarter of 2012 marks a milestone for our plants construction, said Martin Richtberg, head of the $1.5 billion construction project near Charleston, Tenn. He said the trio of buildings, the sites most complex, have precast walls which allow for the installment of a highly sophisticated system for producing hyperpure polysilicon. These first three buildings to be erected are integral to our closed-loop process and the production of polysilicon, Richtberg said. More than 5,000 precast components will be used to build these facilities, with 1,800 installed to date. Over 30 buildings, which will either be precast structures or cast-andplace steel structures, are planned for the site. Ground preparation for the site began in December 2010. The plant will open in late 2013 making polysilicon used in the solar industry. On an average full day, there are about 700 construction workers on site. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/20/wacker-buildings-goingvertical/?local

Electrolux to add trees to wetland (Commercial Appeal/Charlier)

A contractor for Electrolux will plant some 1,500 trees and restore wetlands near Collierville to compensate for environmental damage resulting from construction of the company's kitchen-appliance plant in southwest Memphis, according to a proposal that's expected to receive approval soon. The Corps of Engineers within the next week or so will issue a federal Clean Water Act permit authorizing the filling-in of slightly more than an acre of wetlands for the Electrolux plant, said Mitch Elcan, a biologist with the corps. The decision follows approval last year by Tennessee water-quality regulators of a plan to mitigate the wetland loss by restoring wetlands to a 3.5-acre parcel near the Wolf River Greenway trail north of Collierville. A contractor for the firm will restore wetland hydrology to the site by filling in drainage ditches, and it will plant 1,526 tree seedlings -- more than 400 per acre -- on the site, according to reports filed with the corps. The Port of Memphis applied for the Clean Water Act permit on behalf of Electrolux, which will be grading and leveling a 586-acre site for the plant in the port's Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park. Electrolux is expected to employ up to 1,240 people and generate 1,500 additional jobs for area suppliers. 6

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jan/21/electrolux-to-add-trees-to-wetland/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

Fears of instability plague schools' Transition Planning Commission (CA/Kelley)

The Transition Planning Commission writing the plan for public school consolidation resumes its public listening tour Monday, when members hope to reassure parents not to expect large-scale student transfers after the schools are merged. The instability question is one of the factors driving support in the suburbs for municipal school districts that would allow parents to opt out of the new county system, set to open in the fall of 2013. The TPC has no official stand on municipal districts. Its answer to the question is cautious and carefully crafted: "The Transitional Planning Commission's charge as defined by the Norris-Todd Bill is to create a plan to merge Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools to provide a high quality education for all students within Shelby County." It's difficult to be more reassuring than that because of factors that are not in the control of the TPC, a creature of the Norris-Todd legislation, which also lifted the ban on new special and municipal districts in Tennessee. School closings and redistricting that arises from changing housing patterns are management and school board decisions. "That's still ahead for the unified board," said Bartlett mayor Keith McDonald, a strong suburban voice on the TPC. "When they merge these systems they have to set the zones. That zone could affect which high school I go to." http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jan/21/fears-of-instability-plague-transition/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

The Merger Effect (Memphis Daily News)

Private schools officials want strong public school structure W hen the merger of Memphis City and Shelby County schools occurs, many private school administrators are hoping refugee students dont show up at their doors. Its not that they wouldnt be welcomed, said Bill Taylor, president of the Memphis Association of Independent Schools. But as some people wonder if the upcoming transition will spur parents to remove their children from the public school system, Taylor said the majority of the Mid-Souths independent and private school officials arent expecting a resulting boost in enrollment. Nor do they want one. W e want Memphis to have a strong public school structure, Taylor said. Its essential to the future of our economy. We want all of our graduates from both public and independent schools to go to college and come back here and help build the community. Many of the schools in the 33-member association also have limited space available, he said. If there were a large increase in applications, most of our private and independent schools would not have the capacity to accommodate all of them, he said. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/jan/23/themerger-effect/

Merger Involves Many Moving Parts (Memphis Daily News)

There are a lot of players to keep track of between the two bodies that are leading Shelby Countys two public school systems down the road to consolidation in August 2013. The 21-member planning commission and the 23-member countywide school board are the faces most associated with the process. Sometimes members of each group encounter citizens who assume they are a single entity. In addition to those 44 people, even more citizens are working behind the scenes as the planning commission moves into the detail work of putting together a structure for the merged school system. The plan is due by August, a year before the still-separate school systems merge. And the first recommendations about the structure of the school system should come in midFebruary from the administrative organization and government committee, one of seven committees in the process. As with all of the committees, only planning commission members will vote on committee recommendations although the discussions involve a much larger group of citizens. The committee, chaired by countywide school board member David Pickler, will be the first group to make a recommendation to the full planning commission. Its plan will determine other details being worked on by a whole set of committees. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/jan/23/merger-involves-many-moving-parts/


OPINION Editorial: Tennessee investment in jobs (Elizabethton Star)

OK, which is it? Do we want government stimulating the economy, helping businesses grow, using public tax dollars? Or do we want to cut the size and scope of government, pinch off public/private partnerships, let the free-market forces go it alone? The answer seems to depend on the day of the week, the political tenor of the times, and perhaps most important, which politician you are talking to. A Republican governor in the very Republican state of Tennessee jumped in on the side of using government money to help private businesses. Gov. Bill Haslams 2012 legislative agenda includes an ambitious proposal to open the states pocketbook to lure businesses to Tennessee or fund their startup or expansion. The heart of Haslams FastTrack grants initiative is creation of a state fund whereby businesses considering relocation or expansion in Tennessee could get cold, hard cash up front to do, well, just about anything they want. Haslam says the grants, from what could be a $50 million fund, would be reserved for high-impact companies that offer an exceptional opportunity for creating jobs. He says the grant process would be open, transparent and subject to review by legislators and the public. http://www.starhq.com/2012/01/20/tennessee-investment-in-jobs/

Guest columnists: Evaluations must ask right questions (Tennessean)

Since administrators of Medicare and Medicaid and the state Board of Education are now competency scoring both doctors and educators, perhaps it is appropriate we ask the professionals in the field the same questions concerning the children they each serve. Is this a child who lives in the best side of town, with meals and means of support consistently over a long time? Or perhaps they live with less affluence in a more unstable and insecure home? Does this doctor or educator serve those with high mobility, which results in lower levels of care over a long period of time? Are they, in fact, managing the most risky of patients and students every day? W hat is the risk profile of this child under their care? It seems any professional performance evaluation would be highly sensitive to this profile and very appreciative of the professional who chooses to serve, more so to the high-risk. These human assets are not easy to replace in the marketplace, in urban cities, and they as professionals are valuable to taxpayers who paid for their development, as well, over many years. We need to serve and assess with wisdom and professionally. Are we asking these questions and assessing these professionals in the spirit of support for their efforts? Public news seems to report that many pros do not feel this way. No Child Left Behind was, in fact, onerous and distasteful for years. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120121/OPINION03/301210013/Evaluations-must-ask-right-questions? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p 8

Times Editorial: Redistricting benefits GOP (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

Tennessee legislative and congressional redistricting plans recently approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature will do exactly what they are intended to do -- enhance GOP control of the state House and Senate and solidify Republican domination of the state's congressional delegation. Predictably, there are howls about the unfairness of it all from Democrats, but that was expected. The party in power always gets its way in these matters, and the party out of power always complains. Redistricting, mandated every decade to balance legislative and congressional districts, was a heady experience for state Republicans. They've rarely had the opportunity to control redistricting. They were able to do so this year because the GOP holds control in both the state Senate and House and has a governor in control of government. The GOP wasn't about to waste an opportunity to promote its interests. The party took care of its own. As a result, Republicans are virtually certain to see their current majorities increase in the state legislature in the coming decade. In addition, the state's congressional delegation, already firmly Republican, is likely to remain that way as a result of redistricting. Republican strategists shifted a little here, moved a little there and produced district lines that diminish the chance of Democratic victories even as they enhance the likelihood of GOP triumphs across the state. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/21/redistricting-benefits-gop/?opiniontimes

Free-Press Editorial: Constitutional amendment would kill off tax threat (TFP)
It long has been considered unconstitutional for there to be a general tax on income in Tennessee, and multiple state Supreme Court rulings have confirmed that. Nevertheless, there are periodic attempts to impose such a tax on Tennesseans, so it is appropriate that lawmakers opposed to the destructive tax are moving forward with a constitutional amendment making it absolutely clear that a general income tax is prohibited. The state House of Representatives recently approved the amendment by an encouraging vote of 73-17. The same legislation passed in the state Senate last year. Both houses of the General Assembly must pass it by a two-thirds vote in the next legislative session for it to be placed on the ballot in 2014. Assuming lawmakers are able to muster the votes necessary to get the amendment on the ballot, voters in Tennessee should give it overwhelming approval in 2014. Tennessee does, unfortunately, have the Hall income tax on stock dividends and bond interest. But our state benefits from having no general income tax. It makes Tennessee a more attractive place for new businesses and employees alike, which grows the economy. We should not take a gamble with our low-tax status by leaving any question about whether a general income tax is permissible in Tennessee. Nor should we leave open the possibility that a future Supreme Court might wrongly uphold an income tax if one were enacted. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/21/no-tennessee-income-tax/?opinionfreepress

Guest columnist: Solar energy fuels new jobs in Tennessee (News-Sentinel)

All signs point skyward when it comes to the Tennessee solar industry, which is good news for our new mayor, Knoxville Chamber and governor as they seek to bring jobs to East Tennessee. Data from the recently released Tennessee Solar Value Chain: A Workforce Development Needs Assessment from the Tennessee Solar Institute, reveals a rapidly growing industry and a genuine economic development opportunity. The report shows Tennessee's solar value chain is growing rapidly and putting Tennesseans to work, while arming our work force with 21st-century skills. The state is in a position to gain a competitive edge and emerge as a national and international leader in the $260 billion global clean energy market. Perhaps the most notable findings of the report were the number of entities in Tennessee's solar value chain: 174 for-profit (100 of which are small business) and 62 nonprofit entities. The Tennessee Solar Institute was launched in April 2010. As part of the Volunteer State Solar Initiative, a comprehensive solar energy and economic development program, TSI's grant programs have leveraged more than $40 million in private investments, produced over 88,000 job hours with a total cumulative benefit to the state's economy in excess of $63.8 million. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jan/21/citizens-voice-solar-energy-fuels-new-jobs-in/

Editorial: Statesmanship gone missing (Commercial Appeal)

Misbehavior by some on the County Commission makes meetings seem like a professional wrestling match. The anger that erupted among Shelby County commissioners Wednesday is about more than commissioners being unable to agree on a redistricting plan. This is a commission that has too many members who have demonstrated a lack of statesmanship, decorum and civility to their colleagues and, on occasion, to members of the public who have appeared before the 13-member legislative body. Longtime observers know that the core issues -- race, partisan politics and a suburban-versus-urban divide -- that sometimes underline deliberations on legislative proposals were just as much a part of previous commissions. Yet, for the most part, those legislators were able to make their pro-and-con arguments with decorum and civility. The current group has shown on too 9

many occasions that they are not able to sit down and argue the meat of a proposal in some fact-based way. And, frankly, that is what has been missing in their inability to agree on a redistricting plan. This is not meant to be a finger-wagging editorial. It's a request for the benefit of the commissioners' constituents, who are the ones who really lose when their elected representatives can't deliberate issues with a sense of decorum and statesmanship. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jan/21/editorial-statesmanship-gone-missing/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

Editorial: Public Notices Have Important Role (Memphis Daily News)

When I first became publisher of The Daily News in Memphis, Ill admit I knew very little about public notices. I quickly learned that they are a longstanding requirement on governments, individuals and some businesses to give notice to the public when a range of critically important actions are about to be taken the foreclosure of a home, passage of a local ordinance, the adoption of a child, and so on. But I didnt fully understand the importance of public notice until I started to get the calls. Phone calls, emails and letters come into our office all week long, I soon realized, from people and businesses mentioned in those same notices. Thats when I understood that public notice works. It works to inform the public of actions big and small, actions that have great potential to impact families, neighborhoods, whole towns and cities. Whether its a massive expansion in government spending or the seizure of a family home, state law requires that these acts be announced, to the public. In recent years, however, there have been people whove questioned the need for these public notices. Theyll say that the Internet and, for instance, the ability of government to post notices on their own site has rendered notices unnecessary. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/jan/23/public-notices-have-important-role/

Editorial: Who Else Is Paying Your Doctor? (New York Times)

It took longer than expected, but the Obama administration is finally poised to enact badly needed regulations requiring that the manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and medical supplies disclose all payments they make to doctors or teaching hospitals. The information, which would be posted on a government Web site, will allow patients to decide whether they need to worry about any possible conflicts of interest. Such payments can be for legitimate research and consulting. But there is also a lot of cash being spread around to pay for doctors travel and entertainment or for gifts or modest meals for a prescribing doctors staff. As Robert Pear reported in The Times this week, some prominent doctors and researchers receive hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a year in exchange for providing advice to a company or giving lectures on its behalf. About a quarter of all doctors take some cash payments from drug or device makers and nearly two-thirds accept meals or food gifts. Analysts contend that even seemingly trivial gifts can influence doctors to prescribe expensive drugs that may not be best for a patients health or pocketbook. The new rules were championed by Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican, and Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat, and incorporated into the health care reforms enacted in 2010. The reform law required the Department of Health and Human Services to establish reporting procedures by Oct. 1, 2011, and required manufacturers to start collecting the relevant data by Jan. 1, 2012. The proposed rules were finally issued on Dec. 14 and are subject to comment until Feb. 17, after which they will be revised and issued in final form. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/21/opinion/who-else-is-paying-your-doctor.html?ref=todayspaper