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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012 Haslam Attends Governors Association Meeting in W ashington (W TVF-TV Nash.

Governor Haslam attended a black-tie dinner with President Obama and the First Lady at the White House Sunday night. Haslam went to W ashington for the National Governors Association meeting, which started Sunday. This year, Governors from all over the country will be focused on a new issue. Instead of dealing with tough times, there's a little extra money to possibly spend. "I think we are seeing some encouraging signs in Tennessee. Our sales tax revenue is up. W e are seeing some manufacturing growth. So I, by no means, think we are out of the woods, but I am a lot more encouraged than I was six months ago," explained Gov. Bill Haslam (R) Tennessee. Monday, there will be a governors-only meeting with Obama at the W hite House. Haslam most likely will also go to a forum on the best ways to improve Tennessee's economy.

Governors headed Press/Fouhy)


W hite





The nation's governors are going to the White House on Monday to discuss ways to bolster job growth and improve their partnerships with the federal government. The gathering is scheduled for the final day of the National Governors Association winter meeting. Governors dined with President Barack Obama at a black tie dinner Sunday, where he pledged to work more closely with them in the coming months. Democratic governors met with the president on Friday to discuss improving the manufacturing sector in their states. They told reporters after the meeting they were enthusiastic about their conversation. Republican governors will have a news conference to offer their assessment of the W hite House discussion.

Drug czar meets with Appalachian governors (Associated Press)

The White House drug czar described the prescription drug abuse epidemic that's ravaging the Appalachians as "simply heartbreaking" in a meeting with governors from the region on Sunday. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske met with Govs. Robert Bentley of Alabama, Steve Beshear of Kentucky, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania,Bill Haslamof Tennessee, and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia. "The devastation wrought by prescription drug abuse on Appalachian communities is simply heartbreaking," Kerlikowske said in a statement. ""Prescription drug abuse is claiming too many lives, threatening public safety, and placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of economic prosperity in Appalachia." Kentucky has been especially hard hit. Beshear has said more than 80 Kentuckians on average are dying from prescription drug overdoses each month. That, he said, is more than are being killed in traffic accidents in the state.

Republican Govs Worry Over Social Issues (National Journal)

On the sidelines of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington that wraps up on Monday, Republicans are skeptical that the reemergence of social issues in the political landscape is net positive for the party, and it's clear they're more comfortable steering the discussion toward the economy. "Anything that distracts the campaign from President Obama's policies and the effect of those

policies is less beneficial than when we are talking about [them]," said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Even as the economy remains the primary political focus of both Democrats and Republicans, in recent weeks, social issues have reemerged in state and national politics. The standoff between President Obama and social conservatives over a controversial contraception mandate earlier this month led to the administration amending its posture that required certain religious institutions to offer contraceptive coverage to employees, shifting the responsibility to insurance companies.

Haslam makes civil service reform priority, to dismay of some (CP/Woods)

His critics argue it will return Tennessee to the corrupt era of political cronyism. But Gov. Bill Haslam insists curtailing state workers civil service protections is essential to modernize the government and free personnel policy from bureaucratic red tape. Haslam thinks so much of the importance of civil service reform that he has made the issue one of the centerpieces of his speeches around the state. He points out that all 22 of his commissioners coming from diverse backgrounds and having a wide variety of responsibilities say its the most critical thing we can do. The governor contends the system leads to absurdities in hiring and firing in which the most senior workers no matter how lazy or incompetent hold all the trump cards. Here is how it works, he said in his State of the State address in January.

Comptroller: Premature Sentinel/Humphrey)







State Comptroller Justin Wilson says his report criticizing the state's civil service system as "fundamentally flawed" was not issued to support Gov. Bill Haslam's bill to overhaul the system, but may have helped inspire it. Groundwork on the report, issued last week, actually began in 2004 when Democrat John Morgan was comptroller, according to Republican Wilson. It was largely complete when Wilson took office in 2009, he said, except for some updating. In 2010, after Haslam won the governor's race, Wilson said he sent the governor-elect a copy of the report. "I thought it had already been issued," said W ilson in a brief interview. Such reports are traditionally kept strictly under wraps within the comptroller's office until formally issued as a public document. But W ilson said that he is pleased if his mistake in giving the governor what turned out to be a draft helped inspire the subsequent legislation. The report issued last week includes recommendations for changes in civil service law with an eye toward a "more flexible hiring system." That is the theme sounded by Haslam in pushing for enactment of HB2384, which abolishes much of the present system. The bill is up for discussion in committees of both the House and Senate in the coming week.

W ait too long for new MTSU science building (Daily News Journal)
Getting a new science building open at MTSU was somewhat of an item on the bucket list for Tom Cheatham, the dean of Basic and Applied Sciences at MTSU. However, he and three of his department chairs will have left the university or be working in different roles by the time its completed in 2015. Cheatham is completing his last year as dean of the Colllege of Basic and Applied Sciences and will be become the new director of the STEM center, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. Earl Pearson is stepping down as chair of Chemistry at the end of this academic year. Three or four years ago, all the plans were ready to go and we were all set for funding. I really wanted to be chair in the new building, so I hung around, Pearson said. Ill go back and teach a year or so before I retire. I probably will retire before the new building is built. But, Ill be here, Lord willing, the day the building is opened. George Murphy will finish his 32 years as Biology chair at the end of this semester. Gov. Bill Haslam announced in January that the universitys $126.7 million Science Building project has been included in his proposed 2012-13 budget.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Tennessee's felons burden local jails (Tennessean/Haas)

State plans to cut costs by shifting state felons from local jails back to prisons are being stymied by an influx of new criminals, officials say. The state last year announced efforts to help alleviate overcrowding 2

in local jails by releasing up to 2,200 inmates 60 days early through more liberal sentencing credits. Doing so would open up more prison beds, allowing counties to transfer more state inmates being housed in local jails back to state prisons. Dorinda Carter, spokeswoman for the Department of Correction, said that the release plan has seen some success in cost savings and in moving felons to the state, but she acknowledged that the number of felons moving into the system has been increasing faster than the system can take them. In January, there were 4,675 state felons waiting for a state prison bed. The population has increased; we cant control that, Carter said. But we are continually looking at ways to, on the front end, slow down the intake with programs like drug court. W illiamson County Sheriff Jeff Long, president of the Tennessee Sheriffs Association, said sheriffs are feeling the pinch. A lot of sheriffs need some relief on the amount of inmates theyre holding in their jails and need Department of Correction bed space for them, Long said. I know were not able to get the bed space. S03/302270009/TN-s-felons-burden-local-jails? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Payments to move creeks, destroy wetlands criticized (Tennessean/Paine)

Programs that allow developers to destroy a wetland or move a creek if they pay for mitigation elsewhere have members of the environmental and business communities complaining. The latest controversy erupted after the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation placed a bill before the state legislature to codify the programs in state law. They have been in operation for several years, and TDEC has called the bill a mere housekeeping matter. But it has unleashed a storm of questions about where the money goes, whether the environment is served and whether property owners downstream suffer. The states policing of the changes that the program allows is under challenge, too. This is not just a little bit clogged up with algae, said Barry Sulkin, an environmental consultant with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. He nodded toward green, ropy strands of algae that matted a creek near the Indian Lake Village shopping area in Hendersonville. The little waterway not showing signs of a healthy creek that meanders through trees moved in a fairly straight channel.|topnews|text|News

Local group trying Sentinel/Williams)








Fueled by ads on the Internet, the sex trafficking industry in East Tennessee is alive and thriving at some truck stops, businesses, and maybe a house near you, according to law enforcement and nonprofit groups working to combat the crime. Most sex trafficking victims in Tennessee are teenage girls or young women, forced into prostitution and Internet pornography. "There is no 'typical' victim, however, I can say that our intelligence and investigations support the fact that the majority of victims of sex trafficking crimes are undocumented, Hispanic females ranging in age from their late teens to their late 40s," Stacie Bohanan, public affairs specialist with the FBI's Knoxville office, said in an email. According to a 2011 report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there were 3,051 reports of missing girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in Tennessee. TBI estimated that about 1,000 of those were exploited for sex. Nationwide, there are an estimated 300,000 children being trafficked for sex in the U.S., according to a 2001 University of Pennsylvania study. Eighty-five percent of Tennessee counties have reported a least one case of sex trafficking of a minor, according to TBI. At least 12 cases of sex trafficking are currently being investigated in East Tennessee, according to Christi Wigle, president of Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a Knoxville nonprofit working to raise awareness about the problem.

State museum commemorates W ar of 1812 (Associated Press)

The Tennessee State Museum in Nashville is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with a new exhibition. "Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812" includes the sword presented to Andrew Jackson by the Tennessee legislature for his victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Jackson became a national figure during the war and later became president. So many Tennesseans volunteered for military service during the war that the state became known as "the volunteer state." The free exhibit runs through June 24.|newswell|text|News|p 3

Tennessee bill to transfer parole services advancing (Associated Press)

Tennessee correction officials say a proposal to transfer certain services from the Board of Probation and Parole to the Department of Correction will save thousands of dollars and improve public safety. The legislation would move certain functions relating to probation and parole services and the community corrections program, which assists victims and offers more options to local courts, to the Correction Department. The transfer is expected to result in increased stability, increased efficiency and continuity of supervision delivery and rehabilitative efforts, according to the proposal, which passed the Senate 32-0 earlier this month. The companion bill is scheduled for the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield said the move would save the state about $714,000 in the first year. While the savings is important, he said the state wants to provide the best supervision and services for offenders so they dont come back into the system. Every time we hand that offender off, what happens is we create an opportunity to lose track or to have a break in the system where they can manipulate us, Schofield said. local

Lawmakers grapple with 'guns in parking lots' legislation (Times-News)

Where do private property rights end and gun rights begin? Thats the central question Tennessee lawmakers and Gov. Bill Haslams administration are attempting to answer in legislation filed by state Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill. Faulks so-called guns in parking lots bill would ban employers from prohibiting an employee from keeping an unseen locked-up weapon inside their parked on-premises vehicle. Haslam, a Republican, believes Faulks bill is too broad because it applies to private and public parking lots. Were trying to balance the interests of business with those folks who would like to carry and keep a gun locked up in their car, Haslam recently told Capitol Hill reporters. My sense is there will be a bill that makes it through (the General Assembly). ... This is one of those things where you have property rights interests versus gun rights interests, both of which people in my party take very seriously, and were trying to find the right balance. Proponents of Faulks bill, which came from the National Rifle Association, have had their say with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Proposed bill would make difference to convicted criminals when applying (H-C)
A proposed bill could change information required when applying for a job. If passed, the bill would no longer allow private and public employers to ask applicants if they are a convicted criminal. Employers would only be allowed to ask after an applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. Representative David Hawk of Greeneville is not sponsoring this bill, but says he doesn't believe the bill will make it very far. "Its important to know that that's something as a business owner you really need to know at the beginning, Hawk said. Now, what you choose to do with that info after that is up to the business owner." The bill is still in the primary stages and still has a way to go before it is approved.

New iPhone app connects to state Legislature (Associated Press)

A new iPhone app billed as the first of its kind in Tennessee allows users to connect with members of the current Legislature. The app, just released, contains searchable contact, staff and committee information for state representatives and senators. It was developed by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and the Nashville-based Bass Berry & Sims law firm. For the past 30 years, the cooperative has produced a print directory of the Legislature. A version for the iPad and Android devices will be available soon.|newswell|text|News|s









A trio of Republican-backed state development bills, pushed as efforts to restore property rights, has alarmed Metro Council members who allege the legislation would gut Nashvilles community-led zoning overlays that guide growth along corridors and in neighborhoods. Mayor Karl Dean opposes the state bills, suggesting they threaten local control, a stance that has positioned him opposite of a usual ally: the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which is lobbying for the anti-regulatory land use legislation. Metro government provides the chamber $300,000 annually for economic development services. But on this issue, the chamber is pitted against Metro. [The mayor] cannot support anything that limits the power of local governments to protect neighborhoods and the quality of life of our residents, Deans spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said. Indeed, Metro leaders contend this legislative endeavor is the latest in a now-undeniable trend of the GOP-dominated state legislature: Use state supremacy to override, even circumvent, the autonomy of local municipalities. Moves seem to be pinpointed specifically toward Democratic-leaning Davidson County. Republican lawmakers last spring nullified Metros nondiscrimination bill that gave employment protections to gays, lesbians and transgender workers. On the agenda this legislative session is a bill that would prevent local governments from mandating minimum wages.

W oodridge population doubles due to bath salts, changes at Knoxville facility (HC)
The closing of a Knoxville mental hospital is already having a drastic effect on Woodridge in Johnson City. In November, Lakeshore Mental Health Institute announced its closing, saying its part of a new initiative to improve mental health care for patients across Tennessee. The closing means patients will remain at Woodridge instead of being transported to Lakeshore for care. 11 Connects spoke to a Mountain States Health Alliance spokesperson today and they say W oodridges population has doubled since January. But the spokesperson adds the closing of Lakeshore isn't the only reason for the spike in patients. Bath salts are another contributing factor, with a quarter W oodridges patients recovering from the drugs.

U.S. Senator (TFP/Carroll)








U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., raked in another $1 million during the last three months of 2011, swelling his campaign balance to nearly $7.4 million. This being an election year, you might think he needs it to fight off a well-funded Democrat. Nope. At the end of 2011, Larry Crim, a Nashville businessman and Democratic challenger, had $3 on hand, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings. On Dec. 13, records show Corkers campaign spent more than 22 times that amount, $67.09, at a Knoxville establishment called Cachepot. The purpose? Flowers for event, FEC filings show. The disparity illustrates the distance between everybody else and Corker, a wellheeled former Chattanooga mayor who is considered a business-friendly Republican voice in Washington, D.C. Senior GOP legislators routinely celebrate his stands on fiscal issues, and a 2010 Capitol Hill confrontation with President Barack Obama over financial regulation made him a rising star in conservative circles. Corkers ability to raise millions when he has no serious challengers highlights an unusual fundraising prowess, experts said. Corkers catering costs alone at four events swallowed up the combined total his challengers had on hand at the end of 2011.

State GOP primary (CP/Greenberg)




knock-down, drag-out affair


When Tennessee joined forces with other states to create Super Tuesday in 1984, they hoped for a primary like the one coming up March 6. The idea was that by bunching primary elections in a single day, all the states would gain increased relevancy. But the Republican primary in Tennessee has historically lacked drama. It was a tight race in 2008, when Mike Huckabee edged John McCain but McCain already had a convincing lead after a win in Florida. This year, though, the fight for the Volunteer State delegates which are awarded proportionally is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested primary races in recent history. As it stands right now, this will be the first time in a long time Tennessee has really made a difference in the Republican presidential primary, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. All four candidates recognize that Tennessee will matter. ... One way or the other, they are going to be actively campaigning in our state. One way could be Gov. Mitt Romneys method of buying TV time, soliciting big-time donors and tapping the states first family, including Gov. Bill Haslam, to lead his Tennessee campaign.

Poll: Romney's Mormon faith may not hurt him in TN (Tennessean/Sisk)

When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he famously took on what was then seen as the main drag on his candidacy his membership in the Roman Catholic Church in a speech that helped him win the White House. Will former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have to make a similar declaration if he becomes the first Mormon nominated by a major party to the presidency? Probably not to win over Tennessee voters as long as his opponent in November is President Barack Obama. One in five registered voters in Tennessee believes Mormonism is a cult, a description that could suggest deepseated prejudice against Romney. But according to a recent poll by Vanderbilt University, this group is still likely to support Romney in November if he captures the Republican nomination, in part because of misgivings about his likely Democratic opponent. Im not sold entirely on Mitt Romney, him being a Mormon, said Henry Crawford, 48, of Millington. But if it came down to him and Obama, I would have to vote for him. Im totally, 100 percent anti-Obama. The poll found that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, himself a Catholic, leads Romney among Tennessee voters by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. But respondents interviewed by The Tennessean either didnt know or didnt care about Romneys religion, and they easily cast it aside when faced with a choice between him and Obama. S0201/302260089/Poll-Romney-s-Mormon-faithmay-not-hurt-him-TN?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Super Tuesday: Tennessee touting primary 'say-so' (C. Appeal/Locker, Sullivan)

Because of its place on the calendar, Tennessee's March 6 Super Tuesday contest is expected to winnow the field of Republican presidential contenders down from the current Big Four and could prove more decisive than it has historically, close observers are saying. The Volunteer State is one of 10 primaries or caucuses that day, splintering the resources and time commitments of perceived frontrunners former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is hoping for a two-for in Tennessee with an expected victory in his neighboring home state of Georgia. Tennessee Republican Party chairman Chris Devaney said Tennessee will have a bigger role this year in the selection of the GOP presidential nominee than in several recent presidential elections. That may be underscored by visits by two of the major candidates: Santorum was at a tea party event Saturday in Chattanooga and Gingrich, who is scheduled to be in Nashville all day today. "I think that this time in our state, we're going to really have a say-so in the outcome of who the nominee for president is," Devaney said. "Looking back in history ... it's been a while since we've had the opportunity to really have a say-so in the presidential nomination process, so I hope and I expect that Republican voters will take advantage of this and I do expect that we'll have a strong turnout based on the fact that it is the first time for folks to really express their concerns about the direction of the country." (SUBSCRIPTION)

Area health insurance Post/Williams)






The Obama administrations health care reform efforts may provide positive results for millions of Americans. But for many health insurance brokers, particularly independent agents and those working 6

at smaller operations, there are concerns. Simply put, many brokers are seeing reduced commissions, creating for some the need to move into, say, property or auto insurance or to leave the insurance sales business altogether. In the Nashville market, some within the industry are worried. On individual health insurance policies, weve seen commissions cut up to 50 percent, said Jeff Zander, president and partner with independent insurance brokerage agency Zander Insurance Group. As structured, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act dictates that effective Jan. 1, 2011, and driven by what is called the medical loss ratio provision insurers are required to spend 85 percent of large-group and 80 percent of small-group and individual plan premiums on health care or return the difference to customers as rebates. That leaves only 15 to 20 percent with which insurance companies can cover expenses. According to an online report in Forbes, about 17.4 percent of expenses typically have been reserved to cover office staff. Brokers commissions had been about 2 percent, Forbes reported.

Bradley County public schools stocking up on exercise equipment (TFP/Higgins)

Coming soon to Bradley Countys public schools: More than $243,000 worth of exercise equipment. The school system is using some money from the federal Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant to make the purchases. The money was awarded last year. The shopping list includes 65 stationary bicycles, at $1,021 each, for the countys two middle schools and two high schools, and 40 bicycles, $672 each, for the two high schools. Including a maintenance contract, the total is $75,878. The school system also is using $37,000 from the W hite grant to buy a ropes course for Ocoee Middle School. Lake Forest Middle already has a ropes course, purchased with another grant. And the school system is buying climbing wall systems for various schools for a total of $130,154. When county school board members approved the purchase recently, they praised local teachers and administrators for seeking out grants that supplement the schools budget. Without the outside funds, board members said, county schools would be left behind. The White grant runs for three years. This first years grant is $576,579, some of which is being used for teacher training, as well as equipment. The second-year grant is $144,716, and the final year is $132,616. local

Two arrested on meth-making charges in Blount County (News-Sentinel)

Two people were arrested Sunday when Blount County authorities attempting to serve a warrant discovered evidence of a methamphetamine lab. According to Blount County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marian O'Briant, a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Payne Hollow Road to serve a warrant on an individual at the home. The deputy then discovered meth-making precursors and evidence of a meth lab. Investigators determined there were two separate one-pot methods in the residence, and meth was cooked there as recently as Saturday night, O'Briant said. Franklin Peter Burrage, 29, of Townsend was charged with initiating the process of the manufacture of methamphetamine. He is being held on $50,000 bond. Jeffery Riffey, 41, of Maryville was charged with promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. He is being held on $10,000 bond. Both men are being held at the Blount County Detention Facility. There were two other people at the residence, including a female who was transported to Blount Memorial Hospital as a precautionary measure, O'Briant said. Neither was charged.

Man arrested in Hawkins Co. for meth possession, manufacture (HeraldCourier)

A man from Thorne Hill, Tenn. - about 20 miles northeast of Morristown- was arrested this weekend in Hawkins County after police say they received a tip that he was in town and was making methamphetamine. The Hawkins County Sheriff's Department narcotics unit arrested Russell Leroy Greene of Thorne Hill, Tennessee on charges of promoting the manufacturing of methamphetamine and the possession of a schedule 2 controlled substance The narcotics unit received information that Greene was parked behind D&R Market in Hawkins County. Officers say they responded to the scene where Greene attempted to flee on foot. Officers report that they quickly arrested Greene and that he 7

was in possession of methamphetamine as well as components used to manufacture the drug He is currently being held at the Hawkins County Jail on a $100,000 bond. After his term of incarceration, Greene will then be turned over to the Bean Station Police Department where he is wanted on similar charges

Police delay charges to avoid 'astronomical' meth burn costs (C. Appeal/Goetz)
Sitting in the driver's seat of his Chevy Cavalier, Chris Burns gripped a 20-ounce soda bottle and waited for his "shake and bake" methamphetamine to cook. Then came the explosion and fire. Burns and passenger Bobby Joe Joyner fled as blazing chemicals scorched their skin. When police caught up with the pair, they admitted to cooking meth and causing the explosion while sitting at a stop sign on a rural Fayette County road. But it was months before either faced criminal charges. To have charged the men en route to the hospital would have shifted the burden of paying for their care to the Fayette County Sheriff's department. Two weeks later, Burns walked out of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis owing $160,000 -- a tab he can't pay that is the problem of a much larger group of taxpayers in Shelby County and throughout the region served by the hospital. "We took them straight to the grand jury after they got out of the burn unit because we could not afford to arrest them ...," Fayette County Sheriff Bobby Riles said. "I mean, that would bankrupt the county in a minute." The practice of delaying charges to avoid medical bills has long been practiced by law enforcement. But the staggering cost of dealing with meth burn patients has made it even more common -- especially in small communities where a single case can quickly overwhelm a county's budget. (SUB)


OPINION David Cook: Lets send Governor Bill Haslam to Taft Youth Center (TFP)
Just ask Drew Lindsey. Id still be out on the streets. Selling drugs. Robbing people, he said. Before you learn about Lindseys past, lets pause for a little math. According to the Tennessee Department of Correction, it costs $23,000 to incarcerate someone each year in Tennessee, and the average sentence for a criminal with a primary drug offense is six years. So jailing Lindsey for selling drugs would cost about $138,000. If along the way he shoots someone or a bullet finds him add in an additional $50,000, which is the estimated cost of life-long care for a gunshot victim. not true, a study by Duke University says its about $35,000 per year. Still got room on your paper? Because we still need to multiply in the emotional and psychological violence inflicted on any innocent victim. A family that gets caught up in some drug transaction gone sour. Anyone that gets robbed. Or harmed. How do you put a price tag on feeling safe? How much do we value a place that can deter Lindsey from such violence? Today, Lindsey lives in Lewisburg. He adores his 2-year-old daughter, is interviewing for a factory job and going to college to become a barber. No more drugs, no more robberies. opinioncolumns

Free-Press Editorial: Tennessee, Georgia right not to rush into ObamaCare (TFP)
Supporters of the ObamaCare socialized medicine law are complaining that many states are not moving fast enough to set up the layers upon layers of bureaucracy required by the law, which Democrats alone passed in 2010. At issue are the so-called health insurance exchanges. States must set up those exchanges, or else the federal government will step in. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have set up the exchanges so far. "An additional 17 states are making headway, but it's not clear all will succeed," The Associated Press reported. And 20 more states -- including Tennessee and Georgia -are labeled as "lagging." But even in states that have set up the exchanges, officials admit that the bureaucracy involved is mind-boggling. "It's a very heavy lift," Diana Dooley, California's health secretary, told the AP. "Coverage is certainly important, but it's not the only part. It is very complex." And there are other excellent reasons for states not to rush into ObamaCare any sooner than they are required to do so. The most obvious one is the massive cost it is expected to impose on the states.

Editorial: Celebrate 75th anniversary of state park system (News-Sentinel)

One of Tennessee's proudest assets will be observing its 75th year during 2012, and it is a celebration every resident of the Volunteer State can share. Happy anniversary to Tennessee's state park system, which stretches from Fort Pillow Historic State Park near the Mississippi River in West Tennessee to Roan Mountain State Park in the northeast. They are two of the 53 parks that dot the scenic landscape of Tennessee. The anniversary dates to 1937, the year the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation that established the framework for the state park system. Harrison Bay State Park on Chickamauga Lake was leased from the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1938, making it Tennessee's first state park. The parks range in size from 25,000 acres at Fall Creek Falls State Park to the 19 acres of Nashville's Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. There is a state park within an hour's drive of most 9

state residents. Admission is free, and the parks plan to have a variety of music festivals, special hikes and nature walks to honor the anniversary. It might be easy to dismiss the importance of state parks with the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park in our backyard. .

Guest columnist: Here's why we should be glad we have lobbyists (Tennessean)

Lobbyist is not a four-letter word. Since the beginning of this nation, those who advocate on behalf of others have been and continue to be an important element in the process of public officials making public-policy decisions based on full and accurate information. Granted, there are a few individuals, who may or may not be registered lobbyists, whose names brings the steamy, underhanded perception of the practice to mind. Jack Abramoff, back in the headlines after completing his prison time for lobbying violations, is now on a rampage against lobbying in an effort to blame the system for his failings. And Tennessee has suffered its own share of shenanigans such as Rocky Top, Tennessee Waltz and a governor granting pardons in return for favors. It should be noted, however: Few are professional lobbyists involved in such downfalls of a good system. Lobbyists, as a whole, are law- abiding, hardworking and honest advisers to their clients and government officials. There are in place professional ethical standards and stringent laws.|newswell|text|News|p

Guest columnist: There is a real need for pain management (Tennessean)

The Tennessean has focused attention on pain and pain management lately, much of it negative. Its important to understand that chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) pain are real medical problems with physiological causes, affecting as many as one in three Americans. Pain management (or pain medicine) is the medical specialty devoted to the treatment of pain. While any doctor can treat pain, board certification in pain management is a rigorous process. After completing medical school, an internship and a residency (usually in a field such as anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation or neurology), a physician can complete a one-year fellowship in pain management. After this, they must study for and pass a comprehensive examination. Only then are they designated as board certified in pain management, the highest level of training in the field. Its also important to understand that there are many modalities available for the treatment of pain. While some physicians concentrate on medication or medical management of pain, others specialize in minimally invasive spinal procedures or interventional pain management, designed to interrupt the pain signals before they reach the brain. All of these modalities can be combined with physical therapy and a gradual rehabilitation program. Most patients respond best to a combination of modalities.|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Rick Santorum: My Economic Freedom Agenda (Wall Street Journal)

We need bold tax reform, but Mitt Romney wants to tinker at the margins. America's budget process is broken. Our economy and American families are struggling, and the country needs bold reforms and major restructuring, not tinkering at the margins. Obamanomics has left one in six Americans in poverty, and one in four children on food stamps. Millions seek jobs and others have given up. Meanwhile, my opponent in the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney, had a last-minute conversion. Attempting to distract from his record of tax and fee increases as governor of Massachusetts, poor job creation, and aggressive pursuit of earmarks, he now says he wants to follow my lead and lower individual as well as corporate marginal tax rates. It's a good start. But it doesn't go nearly far enough. He says his proposed tax cuts would be revenue neutral and, borrowing the language of Occupy Wall Street, promises the top 1% will pay for the cuts. No pro-growth tax policy there, just more Obama-style class warfare. By contrast, in my first 100 days as president, I'll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives: Unleash America's energy. I'll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America's domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking. 10

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