Andrea Zelinski examines the fight about the book City of Thieves at Nashville Prep and whether it's really about the book or if it's really just pretext for shutting the school down.
State Rep. Mike Stewart says a TDOC officer arrested for bringing contraband into a prison — in her case, a cell phone with which she recorded an inmate brutally beating a guard — was arrested only as retaliation.
A plan is in the works to expunge hundreds of thousands of charges that were either not prosecuted or dismissed on the records of Nashvillians as part of a class action. These records are already eligible for expungement but oftentimes those involved either don't know they can have it done or can't afford to take the time off work to go to the clerk's office to do it. Amanda Haggard with the report.
Among the recommendations from a task force on testing established by Education Commissioner Candace McQueen: end testing for students before second grade.
Megan Barry was set to speak to a business group in Williamson County about regional partnerships but ended up missing the event due to scheduling conflicts, though, as The Tennessean notes, the missed engagement comes just a day after Williamson County's Jack Johnson said he'd introduce a bill nullifying Nashville's newly passed local hiring law.
AG Herb Slatery quashed chatter that he's among the governor's top choices to replace state Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade:
“The State is facing an important decision, appointing and confirming someone to the Supreme Court position recently vacated by Judge Gary Wade. This will be the first appointment after the recently passed constitutional amendment dealing with judicial appointments.
I am sure the Governor and the General Assembly will make it a smooth process. There has been a fair amount of speculation not only about possible candidates, but also about how confirmation will work.
While my name has been mentioned in some of the conversations, a compliment that I really appreciate, I want to clarify that I do not intend to submit an application for the position.
The Court appointed me as Attorney General less than a year ago, to possibly take another position in a few months would be to leave a job unfinished. A number of people, talented people, have changed course in several ways to come and work with our office. Honoring that commitment to them and the other fine employees of this office is important to me. Changing directions in midstream and applying for another position feels like it is more about me than it should be at this point.
I am quite confident the Governor will appoint, and the General Assembly will confirm, the very best person to succeed Judge Wade. Those are big shoes to fill. Governor Haslam already has a good track record on appointing excellent judges. His decision here will not be any different.”
Roughly $261 million was transfered out of the state's highway fund to close budget shortfalls during the 2001 to 2007 recession. Lawmakers want to bring it back:
Earlier today, State Representative Eddie Smith (R–Knoxville) and State Senator Jim Tracy (R–Shelbyville) officially announced they have filed legislation to restore approximately $261 million that was raided from the state’s highway fund between 2001 and 2007.
The money will be used for backlog transportation road projects across the state and will aid in avoiding an increase to the state’s gasoline tax. Currently, Tennessee has a backlog of road projects totaling $6.1 billion.
While taxes collected from the gas tax are dedicated solely to transportation-related projects, millions of dollars over the past decade have been diverted from this fund into the state’s general fund in order to close budget shortfalls.
During fiscal year 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, $30 million each year was transferred from the highway fund to the general fund. In the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 fiscal years, the amount transferred increased to $65.8 million each year. In the 2005-2006 budget, $55.8 million was raided for general fund purposes, while $32.8 million was taken during the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
“After a careful review of the state revenue surplus and the challenges facing Tennessee with infrastructure funding, we brought this bill to put our financial house back in order,” said Representative Smith. “After years of raiding the highway fund to balance the state’s checkbook, we have the opportunity to restore that funding. This gives TDOT a chance to complete projects of the highest priority while bringing additional transparency to the process.”
Under the bill filed by Smith and Tracy, $261 million will be allocated to the Department of Transportation from excess state tax revenues collected during fiscal year 2014-2015. The money is non-recurring and can only be used for backlog road projects. As part of the appropriation, the Department of Transportation must provide a three-year rolling list of projects to be funded and present that proposal to the House and Senate Transportation Committees and the House and Senate Finance Committees before final approval can be granted.
“We have a covenant with our citizens that the gas tax charged by the state at the pump is dedicated to transportation-related purposes and not something totally unrelated,” continued Senator Tracy. “It is such an important principle in some states that it is provided for in their Constitutions. This money should have never been diverted for other state government purposes and should have been paid back at the first available opportunity. It’s past time we pay it back.”
Chas Sisk notes that Megan Barry was a little light on concrete policy details. But the WPLN reporter did manage to generate a list of the mayor-elect's promises.
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