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Thursday, July 26 News Summary

Thursday, July 26 News Summary

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Published by: TNSenateDems on Jul 26, 2012
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THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012Haslam: Internet sales taxes would help Tenn. with 'critical programs' (Gannett)
Tennessee loses $400 million annually in sales taxes to online purchases involving out-of-state merchantsface no requirement to collect them, Gov. Bill Haslam told a congressional panel Tuesday. Haslam representedNational Governors Association in testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in favor of giving statespower to require out-of-state online vendors to collect and remit sales taxes on such items. “This discussion iabout raising taxes or adding new taxes,” Haslam said. Instead, he said, it’s about “collecting taxes already oweHaslam also emphasized: “Let me be clear. I am a Republican governor that does not believe in raising taxes.”only does Tennessee miss out on $400 million, he said, but the amount of uncollected sales taxes nationwideInternet sales approaches $20 billion. “That money could fund critical programs that taxpayers depend on,”Republican governor said. Under questioning by the committee, Haslam said needs ranging from infrastructurehigher education could be targeted and that some of the money also “would be used to cut taxes.”http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20120725/NEWS01/307250016/Haslam-Internet-sales-taxes-would-helpTennessee-critical-programs-?nclick_check=1(SUBSCRIPTION)
Amazon backs Internet sales tax bill (Examiner)
Once again the topic of collecting sales tax on online sales has raised its head in the United States Congress. Tlast time Congress brought up this issue was two years ago with the Main Street Fairness Act and it failed to gmomentum in either the House or Senate. The main difference this time from other times that politicians htackled this issue is that it now has the backing of the largest e-commerce entity on the Internet. Over the last fyears Amazon has made headlines with their battles against several states on whether or not they shouldcollecting sales tax on any e-commerce business conducted in that state. In many of these cases Amazon wopoint out a 1992 ruling by the Supreme Court stating that unless they have a physical presence they aren't requito collect taxes. Amazon did finally relent last year that if there was a federal solution they would back it andthis current piece of legislation they are keeping that pledge.http://www.examiner.com/article/amazon-backs-internet-sales-tax-bill
Haslam announces nearly $630K grant for downtown (Dickson Herald)
Renovations will continue along Main St. to East Walnut Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday at DicksonHall that the city would receive a nearly $630,000 grant to further revitalize downtown. The grant will go towphase II of the city’s downtown improvement project, which will continue on Main Street, from Railroad StreetEast Walnut Street. “We thought this was a particularly worthy proposal, and on behalf of the state we are excito do it,” said Haslam about the $627,782 Transportation Enhancement Grant. “The efforts to move downtoDickson, to make it an even more vibrant and inviting place, we think is real important.” Dickson officials and MStreet merchants rallied for the money some years ago. Phase I, a $1.5 million renovation headed up by Nashvibased architecture and engineering firm Lose & Associates, was completed in November. Commuenhancement grants established by Congress, Haslam added, were fiscally sound because the money goes tostates and states decide on local projects.http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20120725/DICKSON01/307250157/Haslam-announces-nearly-630K-grant-downtown(SUBSCRIPTION)
Haslam Defends Ali As “Very Tennessee” (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Governor Bill Haslam says he has not spoken with the Muslim woman whose job with the state has drawn theof several county Republican parties. But Haslam has strong praise for the state’s international directorEconomic and Community Development, Samar Ali. Some county Republican groups have passed resoluti
against Haslam, saying they worry Ali is an inroad for spreading Sharia law in state government. Haslam defendher at an event in Dickson. “She’s a product of not very far from here, in Waverly, Tennessee, where she was mlikely to succeed in her class, a member of the 4-H. Her dad is a colonel in the Tennessee National Guard. Thisomebody that’s very Tennessee, and I think maybe the important thing to recognize is this is somebodycould have a lot of great jobs in a lot of places.” Haslam says Ali could make more money working somewhelse, but she cares about her home state; he says he’s grateful to have her on the team.http://wpln.org/?p=39769
Kids Count: More kids in Tennessee poor, but insured (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
An annual report that ranks the well-being of children in each state places Tennessee 36th in the nation. Ththree notches better than last year, partly because the report used new methodology. Tennessee fared best inarea of child health, ranking 16th. That category looks at low-birth weight, child and teen deaths, teen substaabuse, and the number of kids that are insured. There’s been a steady rise since 2008 in the number of childcovered by health insurance in the state. This isn’t all good news, though. The increase is because more familare falling into poverty, with their kids becoming eligible for Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare. Tennesdid show slight improvements in the number of students graduating from high school on time and the numbeparents who hold a high school diploma. The state also had a reduction in teen births. This is the 23rd year forAnnie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count report.http://wpln.org/?p=39762
State Ed. board director recommends overturning Great Hearts denial (CP/Garriso
Tennessee State Board of Education Executive Director Gary Nixon has recommended overturning the Nashvschool board’s prior charter application denial of Great Hearts Academies. Nixon, however, says state statallows the authorization of only one charter school at a time — four fewer than the five the Phoenix-based chagroup is hoping to open in Nashville. The recommendation, made public Wednesday, is nonetheless a major bofor Great Hearts’ appeal with the state board to open a school off unidentified property on White Bridge RoadWest Nashville. After raising concerns over Great Hearts’ student diversity plan, the Metro school board twrejected the charter group’s proposal, prompting Great Hearts to take its fight to the state. Though Nixonrecommended approval of Great Hearts’ application, the ultimate decision is in the hands of the nine-member GBill Haslam-appointed state board, which is scheduled to vote on the matter Friday, July 27. Nixorecommendation to overturn Metro is contingent on three criteria: Great Hearts show a diversity plan thatconsistent to Metro’s diversity plan for choice schools; the school hires licensed teachers; and the state authorione school as opposed to five.http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/state-ed-board-director- recommends-overturning-metro-boards-great-hearts-denial
Grade-Fixing Allegation May Complicate TSU’s Search (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Allegations of grade-fixing at Tennessee State University could make it harder for the school to recruit a new ftime president. That’s one concern from the state senator who will lead a hearing on the matter next month. Tofficials say they were following new state guidelines and trying to give fewer incomplete grades. They’re accuof changing hundreds of incompletes to ‘C’s. Jim Summerville heads the state senate’s subcommittee on higeducation. Summerville says the matter could hurt TSU’s credibility “And that’s the last thing Tennessee Stneeds right now. They’re trying to find a new president. It’s going to make that job harder. Nobody wants to coin the middle of a concern like this, so we’re trying to get this settled and resolved and behind us. I’d like that syou should know the truth and the truth shall set you free. That’s what we wanna do.” Right now TSU is headedInterim President Portia Shields, who is expected to appear at Summerville’s hearing next month.http://wpln.org/ ? p=39778
TSU President Portia Shields' legacy divides students, faculty (Tennessean/Wilso
As the search begins for a new president at Tennessee State University, students and some faculty don’t seeoutgoing administration in quite the same way. Several members of the faculty have demonized the outgopresident, Portia Shields, for running a dictatorship that shuts out much of the university community fromschool’s decision-making process. Talk to students, on the other hand, and a portrait emerges of a presidenthas made the university a better place. During Shields’ tenure, the university regained full accreditation fromSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, increased enrollment beyond previous highs, and eliminatedmajors and reshuffled departments in an attempt to cut what she saw as inefficient programs that few studemajored in. The latter decision, which eliminated undergraduate majors in physics and Africana studies in 20still draws criticism from faculty and students alike. But members of the faculty have other concerns about Shiel
leadership. Allegations emerged in June that TSU administrators changed more than 100 grades from incompleto letter grades without faculty consent.http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120726/NEWS04/307260045/TSU-President-Portia-Shields-legacy-dividesstudents-faculty?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CNews&nclick_check=1(SUBSCRIPTION)
TSU names graduate studies dean (Nashville Post)
Tennessee State University has recruited a dean for its School of Graduate Studies and Research from AlabaA&M University in Huntsville. Michael E. Orok has been associate provost for academic affairs and gradustudies at Alabama A&M, where he also was interim dean of its School of Graduate Studies. He has more thanyears of experience in higher education both as faculty and administrator. “Dr. Orok comes to the University witwealth of administrative experience and a dynamic vision that will move our School of Graduate StudiesResearch forward,” said Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, interim provost and vice president of academic affairsgraduate of Central State University in Ohio, Orok also has served for several years as professor and chair ofdepartment of history and political science at Albany State University in Georgia. He is the immediate former vpresident of the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools and a 2005 graduate of the Millennium LeadersInstitute of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.http://nashvillepost.com/news/2012/7/25/tsu_names_graduate_studies_dean
Hart Lane driver services center to reopen Thursday (Tennessean/Sisk)
The state’s driver services center in East Nashville will reopen Thursday after being closed temporarily becauslacked air conditioning. The Tennessee Department of Safety said its station at 624 Hart Lane closed around 3p.m. Tuesday after a unit servicing the main reception area broke down. Personnel from the DepartmentGeneral Services, which manages the building, were on able to repair the unit Wednesday, a spokeswoman sThe center will reopen at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Workers at the Hart Lane station were redirected Wednesday toDepartment of Safety’s driver services center at 6604 Centennial Blvd. in West Nashville. The department aoperates an express center in the William R. Snodgrass Building at 312 Rosa Parks Ave. and a licereinstatement center at 1601 Murfreesboro Road. Non-driver identification cards, which some voters may needcast ballots in the Aug. 2 primary, are available at all Davidson County locations.http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120725/NEWS0201/307250140/Hart-Lane-driver-services-center-reopen-Thursday?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CNews%7Cs&nclick_check=1(SUBSCRIPTION)
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probes Rhea County voting (TFP/Sher)
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing complaints about challenges Republican election officials hmade of some Rhea County voters seeking to cast ballots in the Aug. 2 GOP primary. But Rhea County ElectAdministrator Theresa Snyder said she is "very confident" the investigation will show she and others acted legin blocking Democratic voters. She charged there have been orchestrated efforts by some Democratic officialsget Democrats to cross over and vote in the GOP primary. The ballot includes a heated state House Districtprimary between Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, and GOP challenger Ron Travis, a Dayton businessman. Trafirst raised concerns last week when one of his supporters was challenged. Cobb has said he did not encourathe challenges, noting he figures Democrats would be voting for him, too. State Election Coordinator Mark GoinsRepublican, said Wednesday he is unaware of any similar challenges occurring statewide. "That doesn't mthere hasn't," Goins said. Election administrators in Sequatchie, Bledsoe and Roane counties said they areaware of any challenges based on voting history. All of Sequatchie and Bledsoe counties were added to the 3as well as part of Roane during redistricting this year.http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/26/tbi-probes-rhea-voting-tennessee-bureau-of-investi/?local
TBI probes rejection of alleged 'crossover' voters in Rhea County (NS/Humphrey)
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday that it has launched a probe into whether RCounty election officials illegally blocked voters believed to be Democrats from voting in the Republican primelection. Theresa Snyder, the county election administrator, said she and other officials did nothing wrongwere following state law. They took an active stance to block known Democrats from voting in the GOP primbecause of an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the 31st House District primary, she said. Snyder ssome Democrats are openly supporting Ron Travis, who is challenging state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, forseat. The county Democratic Party chairman, Doris Roy, said there is no orchestrated campaign and that sheheard from Democrats who intend to vote for Cobb as well as some saying they prefer Travis. There is

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