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1 day 12 hours ago

DA Candidates On The Airwaves With Ads

Via Pith, Glenn Funk's massive fundraising advantage over Diane Lance and Rob McGuire has translated huge advantage in TV ads as well.

Apr 18, 2014 3:53 PM

That's when they let their hair hang down

Steven Hale on the secretish conference committee that came up with the Amp compromise.

Apr 18, 2014 12:01 PM

Haslam et al look to fight UAW subpoenas

The AG has filed a motion to quash the subpoenas issued to the governor and other top state officials in a NLRB hearing about the UAW election at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant.

Apr 18, 2014 8:30 AM

Speakers will shape textbook commission

A majority of the state textbook commission will be appointed by the speakers — three appointees from each — under a bill sent to the governor.

Apr 18, 2014 6:00 AM

Legislature signs off on Amp roadblock

Via Pith, a compromise has taken banning center lanes off of the table, but Mayor Karl Dean's signature bus rapid transit project will still need approval from the General Assembly if it has any form of dedicated lane.

As for the final legislation pertaining to The Amp, Turner said it's bad, but better than the original Senate language that would have effectively killed the project as it's currently proposed.

"I'm not comfortable with the deal, no, because I think we're stepping in — we've set a precedent here," he said. "And I think it's going to get very burdensome for the state to have to do this if we starting having to approve individual projects across the state like that. It's worked fine the way we do it. They say this is a new type of project, of course that's not what this is about, this is a political thing. This is the best thing for Metro Nashville, best thing we could've done. It's the compromise we ended up with."

Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health Services and chair of the Amp Coalition, had the following to say this afternoon:

“We are satisfied with the outcome in the General Assembly today. This bill clearly defines approval levels of local and state participation in the transit project process. We look forward to our continued involvement in planning for Middle Tennessee’s urgent and growing transit needs. The Amp Coalition will stay committed to educating the community and region about the benefits of The Amp as the first step in a Middle Tennessee transit strategy.”

Apr 17, 2014 2:09 PM

Was the flash mob bill a cover for corporate polluters?

Well, now, here's a sticky wicket.

A release from House Dems:

The Tennessee House has passed HB2029 by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) on a vote of 58-37. While the sponsor said the bill and the resulting new classification of vandalism was geared towards stopping flash mobs, in fact, it places vandalism in the form of pollution in this new class, and makes it punishable only as a misdemeanor, no matter the monetary amount of property damage done as a result of pollution.

“Because the Republican leadership has focused on shutting down debate rather than writing good laws, we’ve just passed legislation that could have dramatically damaging consequences,” said Rep. Mike Stewart. “House Bill 2029 is a gift to all corporate polluters who want to cut corners, destroy our environment, and pollute Tennessee farm land in order to make a few extra bucks.”

In order to address the problem, Rep. Stewart introduced an amendment to HB1687 that would have fixed the problem created with the passage of the bill by deleting the language in Rep. Holt’s bill as it relates to pollution.

“By voting against my amendment, the House confirmed my suspicions that this was a Trojan horse bill designed to help corporate polluters,” said Rep. Stewart. “I hope the Governor will take a strong look at HB2029 and veto it for all the property owners who could be harmed by these actions.”

Apr 17, 2014 1:23 PM

Biz leaders bemoan testing delay

The Businesses for Tennessee Prosperity (for what it's worth, in the subject line of the email, it was spelled "Tennesse") — "an organization of business groups across Tennessee" — don't like the PARCC delay:

While we thank the General Assembly for its reaffirmation of Tennessee’s common core state standards, we are disappointed in an additional year’s delay for new assessments. The PARRC test is specifically designed to measure student mastery of these more rigorous standards. A one-year testing delay means that it will be 2016 before teachers, parents and taxpayers know how our students are measuring up to Tennessee’s new standards. As representatives of Tennessee’s business community, we believe that legislators must not waver in their commitment to accountability. We ask that all education stakeholders recommit themselves toward ensuring districts have the necessary technology infrastructure and teacher questions are adequately addressed during this extra year of preparation.

Apr 17, 2014 12:33 PM

Challengers doing well in Congressional races

Both Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais are getting beat in the dollar game so far.

Apr 17, 2014 11:20 AM

Hemp bill goes to the governor

Industrial hemp could be grown as early as next season with the passage of state law authorizing its production, according to bill sponsor and friend of the vegan Frank Niceley.

Apr 17, 2014 7:15 AM

House goes along with one-year PARCC delay

Critics of a new student exam linked to controversial education standards won a small victory Wednesday when the House adopted a compromise putting off testing for one year.

The House of Representatives voted 86-8 in favor of a deal hammered out largely by leadership behind closed doors, although members acknowledge the agreement left open loopholes.

“Today is an example of the art of the possible,” said Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, who helped assemble the bill’s hijacking last month. “I know you don’t like this, but this is a win.” 

The governor’s office and Republican leadership would have rather the legislature leave the new standards alone, but say they support this plan.

“What has come out of this conversation is agreement that Tennessee should have higher standards,” said Alexia Poe, the governor’s director of communications. “This RFP process will ensure that everyone feels good about how we are testing those higher standards.”

A pack of House members made up the major opposition to Common Core and PARCC, short for the Partnership for Assessment in College and Career Readiness and the standardized test at the heart of the dispute. Members teamed with Democrats to seize an unrelated bill and install a two-year delay in the standards. Leaders in the Senate refused to go along. 

Although the governor’s office and Republican leadership in both chambers initially rejected any move to budge on the standards and test, they came to a compromise that would keep the current TCAP tests in place for one more year while the state puts the new testing contract out for bid instead of accepting the PARCC exam without competition.

“We just blew it with this language,” said Rep. Rick Womick, a Rockvale Republican opposed to Common Core and the PARCC test. He argued the compromise created loopholes, such as allowing the state to eventually contract with PARCC.  “I’m sorry, but it’s nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”

The Senate has yet to vote on the compromise but had favored leaving the testing and standards alone. Senate leadership expects the chamber to go along with the new language. 

Apr 17, 2014 6:49 AM