Haslam among nation's most popular governors

According to a 50-state poll, Bill Haslam is the seventh most popular governor in America, with Tennesseans giving him an approval rating of 64 percent:

The Tennessee poll was taken between May and November — a snapshot that is larger than most traditional polling. Morning Consult, which does its own polling in house, is able to analyze a longer time frame because of its weekly polling of 2,000 voters nationally. For this survey, the pollster added up the number of respondents in each state until the sample size was statistically valid.

Morning Consult’s survey shows that at a time when Congress remains unpopular, a greater share of voters approve of the performance of their governors. Thirty-four governors have approval ratings of more than 50 percent, according to the survey, compared with just 16 who are below 50 percent.
“Bill Haslam is one of the most popular governors in the country, which in this day and age is quite a feat for someone who's run twice for statewide office,” James Wyatt, Morning Consult's director of polling, said in a statement. “But at a time when most voters see their federal elected officials in such a dismal light, governors are actually notably popular — the average governor's approval rating is 54 percent, which is about five times higher than Congress' approval rating.”

Nov 20, 2015 6:19 AM

Is the fetal-assault bill working?

WPLN has a story about whether the controversial bill that opens up women who give birth to drug-addicted babies to criminal charges is actually working.

Some of the women interviewed said being charged turned them around:

“If I didn’t go through what I went through, I’d probably be down that same road right now," says 26-year-old mother Kim Walker of Johnson City. "But now I’m a totally different person. And I’m on the good road, not the bad road.”

Last year, Walker went into labor at home. It’s hard to know whether the drugs she was on had anything to do with this, but the baby came so quickly, she gave birth in her bathroom.

Betsy Phillips with some analysis.

Nov 19, 2015 2:13 PM

Larry Hagar hopes state comes big-footing on quarry question

Larry Hagar becomes the first Metro politician in ages (perhaps ever) to openly hope the state pre-empts his council legislation with broader legislation of its own. Why?

But state legislation, Cooper explains, will be more likely to derail the quarry plans than the local ordinance, as the Tennessee Vested Property Rights Act only applies to local governments. Given that, he says "the Tennessee General Assembly would likely be in a better position than the Metropolitan Government to enact requirements that may impact the quarry’s operations."

Nov 19, 2015 7:10 AM

An interview with John Jay Hooker

A bedside interview with the man who is asking the state to let him die on his own terms.

Nov 19, 2015 7:05 AM

Haslam: "We must not lose ourselves"

Pith with the governor's statement on Glen Casada's call for "civil disobedience":

Earlier this week I requested that the federal government, which has legal authority over the screening and placement of refugees, to suspend placements of Syrian refugees in Tennessee until states can be made more of a partner in the vetting process. This request was made in response to the concern Tennesseans share about our security in light of the Paris attacks, and I believe states need to be more involved in knowing who is being placed in their jurisdictions. However, let me be clear: We must not lose ourselves in the process. If we abandon our values by completely shutting our doors to those who seek the freedom we enjoy or mistreating our neighbors who made it here after enduring unimaginable hardships, the terrorists win.

Nov 19, 2015 7:04 AM

Joint committee hearings on Syrian refugee resettlement coming in December

On a day on which Glen Casada doubled-down on his comments about Syrian refugees, the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the House State Government Committee announced a joint hearing next month:

Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and House State Government Committee Chairman Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) said today that they are planning to conduct a joint hearing in early December to look at plans by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to bring Syrian refugees to Tennessee.  

     Reports indicate that Tennessee will likely receive some of the 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement under President Obama’s admissions plans.

     Governor Bill Haslam on Monday asked federal officials to suspend placements in Tennessee until states can become more of a partner in the vetting process.

     “We treat the placement by the federal government of Syrian refugees in Tennessee as a serious matter,” said Senator Yager.  “The attack in Paris serves as another wake-up call that ISIS is serious about embedding the enemy in our communities.  This comes on the heels of the terrorist attack in our state this summer.  While we want to act humanely in our efforts to help those who legitimately need assistance, we owe it to our citizens to place their safety as our highest priority.”

     Yager and Ramsey said their agenda is incomplete but they plan to ask the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security and Tennessee Office for Refugees to provide testimony at the meeting.  In 2008, Governor Phil Bredesen’s administration withdrew the State of Tennessee as the point of contact for the federal refugee resettlement program, instead opting to allow the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to select a non-governmental organization to operate the program.  That program, the Tennessee Office for Refugees, is now operated by Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc.

     “We just have a lot of questions as reports have indicated Tennessee is set to receive Syrian refugees,” added Ramsey.  “We want to get to the facts about how these refugees are handled and what kind of say-so the state has in the matter.  Most of all we want to know how best to protect our citizens.”

Nov 18, 2015 1:59 PM

Barry appoints council liaison, senior advisor

Mayor Megan Barry has named Joseph Woodson, former director of legislation for the state comptroller, as her liaison to the Metro Council:

“I’m excited to bring Joseph to the Mayor’s Office, where he will be responsible for helping to strengthen the relationship between my administration and the Metro Council so that we are working closely together to serve the residents of Davidson County,” said Barry.


“Joseph has made valuable contributions in our office’s effort to make government work better for all Tennesseans,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “I know he will continue to find success and build strong relationships within Metro government.”

The mayor also named Hershell Warren as senior advisor focused on community outreach:

“Hershell was an incredible resource during the campaign in helping me to build relationships within the community, and I am thankful that he has agreed to come on board to help strengthen the bonds between my office and constituents in Nashville,” said Barry.

Warren also served as a senior advisor in Mayor Karl Dean’s administration from 2007 to 2013, before which he worked as the director of public policy and governmental affairs for Meharry Medical College from 2004 to 2007, and the executive director of the Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center before that.

Nov 18, 2015 1:57 PM

The Clinton-Gore thicket

Politico goes deep on Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and why the former isn't endorsing the latter: 

Gore’s reticence, his friends and allies say, is in part to maximize his own leverage on fighting climate change. But his repeated demurrals also reflect a complicated relationship with his former boss’s wife that dates back more than two decades. While Gore and Hillary Clinton may not be enemies, they’re not exactly close friends, either. “They have a lot of history. More than the average bear,” said one Democratic source close to Gore. The Hillary Clinton-Gore rivalry started when the two baby boomer policy wonks arrived in the White House in 1993. Gore got the new administration’s environmental and technology portfolios. Bill Clinton raised eyebrows by assigning his wife what would become an ill-fated attempt to pass comprehensive health-care reform legislation.



Nov 18, 2015 12:22 PM

TNGOP, TNDP trade press release barbs over Syrian refugees

Dems say Republicans are "playing politics." Republicans says Dems show a "stunning lack of ignorance."

Nov 18, 2015 9:06 AM