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Fri., May 18 News Summary

Fri., May 18 News Summary

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Published by: TNSenateDems on May 18, 2012
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05/18/2012

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FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2012Haslam signs cash grants plan (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a measure to increase the amount of cash grants available to companies looking toinvest in Tennessee. The administration legislation will allow the state to provide Fast Track grants for retrofitting,relocation, office upgrades or temporary space for companies investing in Tennessee. The measure passed theSenate 29-1 last month and the House concurred with that version 92-0 the next day. The current Fast Trackprogram is limited to jobs training and infrastructure improvements. The state has appropriated $217 million tothe program over the last three budget years and Haslam proposed pouring another $80 million for the currentand upcoming budget year.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/17/haslam-signs-cash-grants-plan/ 
Haslam signs FastTrack bill to attract more companies to Tennessee (TFP/Sher)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that offers more outright cash grants than tax incentives to attract companiesto locate or expand in Tennessee. The legislation aims to support economic development in rural communitiesand on major projects with significant impact. Tennessee's current FastTrack program makes grants to localindustrial development boards for employee job training and infrastructure improvements, such as atVolkswagen's Chattanooga plant. Haslam's initiative expands the program to help pay costs for relocation,retrofitting, office upgrades or temporary space for companies making investments in the state. "Tennessee isrecognized as one of the best places to do business in the country," Haslam said in a statement. "This legislationgives us another tool in the toolbox to help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs by focusing on our rural communities and recruiting and growing significant jobs."http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/18/chattanooga-haslam-signs-business-fasttrack-bill/?businesstnvalley
Gov. Bill Haslam signs legislation to expand FastTrack program (Nooga)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced today that he has signed legislation to expand the state’s FastTrackprogram to specifically support economic development in rural communities and for exceptional projects. Thegovernor proposed the legislation, HB 2344/SB 2206, in January to create the FastTrack Economic DevelopmentFund, an expansion of the Department of Economic and Community Development’s current infrastructure and job-training program. The legislation resulted from a 12-month review of ECD’s incentive programs with inputfrom companies, site-selection consultants and economic development stakeholders. By making reimbursablegrants to local industrial development boards, the fund provides additional grant support for companiesexpanding or locating in Tennessee, and the legislation stipulates that the fund will only be used in exceptionalcases where the impact of the company on a given community is significant.http://www.nooga.com/155377/gov-bill-haslam-signs-legislation-to-expand-fasttrack-program/ 
AP Interview: Haslam Mulls Expansion of Pre-K (Associated Press/Schelzig)
Gov. Bill Haslam says he's considering a funding increase for the state's public pre-kindergarten program, amove that would put him at odds with some fellow Republicans in the Legislature. The governor told TheAssociated Press in an interview this week that Tennessee's improving revenue picture could allow the state toresume pre-K expansion. The pre-K program is currently available to at-risk children – education jargon for thoseeligible for free and reduced lunches. Haslam's Democratic predecessor Phil Bredesen had called for makingpre-K available to any family that chooses to enroll their child, but those plans were put on hold because of therecession. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville is among several Republican lawmakers who have beenvocal critics of the pre-K program.
 
Haslam announces Larry Martin to oversee TEAM Act Implementation (C. Online)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced that Larry Martin will join his staff to oversee implementationof the Tennessee Excellence and Accountability Management (TEAM) Act. His responsibilities will includecoordinating and collaborating throughout state government agencies to effectively begin recruiting newemployees on all levels, updating performance evaluations in all departments, and a review of employeecompensation that includes the salary study funded in the governor’s FY 2013-2014 budget. “Getting the TEAMAct passed into law was only the beginning of our work,” Haslam said. “Now we must make sure it isimplemented effectively, which includes creating meaningful performance evaluations, truly getting a full pictureof employee compensation, and changing the culture now that we can recruit the best and brightest to serve. Iam grateful that Larry has agreed to take on this challenge for the taxpayers of Tennessee. Our goal is to build astate workforce that is dedicated to and focused on customer service, efficiency and effectiveness.”http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2012/05/17/tennessee-governor-bill-haslam-announces-larry-martin-to-oversee-team-act-implementation/ 
Redesign Improves the Look and Function of State Website (WNWS-Radio)
The State of Tennessee has rolled out a dramatically redesigned and improved website, an important step in abroader overhaul of state web services. TN.gov receives millions of unique visits annually, and the redesignrepresents a substantial effort to make the state’s official web portal more usable, accessible, and innovative. Akey component of this effort is the extensive use of responsive design to transform and adapt TN.gov for a widevariety of mobile devices. Years of usage data indicated that mobile users were almost always in search of thesame content as desktop users. With TN.gov’s responsive design, mobile users are finally presented the samedesktop content, but perfectly adapted for smaller screens such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. “Formany Tennesseans, TN.gov is the primary way they interact with and experience state government,” Gov. BillHaslam said. “The goal of this new design is to enhance this experience by presenting users with a path to thecontent and services they need in the most efficient and effective way possible.”http://www.wnws.com/news/17128-redesign-improves-the-look-and-function-of-state-website
Haslam announces First Lady's Book Club at DIS visit (State Gazette)
On Tuesday morning, Dyersburg Intermediate School students and Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslamdiscovered what happened at the corner of Spring Street and South Grand Avenue - just one block from home -on a September afternoon. Although Haslam and the students never left the DIS gym, the group was transportedto the imaginary world of author Andrew Clements as Haslam read two chapters from Clements' 1996 children'snovel, "Frindle." Haslam read just enough to whet the appetite of students interested in finding out the rest offifth-grader Nick Allen's adventures within the book's pages. She reminded students of their promise to read 20minutes each day and encouraged them to allow books to take them places over summer vacation. "You cantake trips by reading books," said Haslam. "You can go on adventures by reading books. You won't ever bebored if you have a book. If you can get to your local library, then you can check out books and read all summerlong." Haslam told students about a new project, The First Lady's Book Club, scheduled to debut in June. DISstudents were presented a bookmark with book club information.http://www.stategazette.com/story/1850214.html
State Easing Into New ‘Common Core’ Curriculum (TN Report)
State officials are beginning to phase in changes to Tennessee’s public education curriculum to include moreanalytical thinking and, officials hope, less teaching to the test. The state is training 12,000 classroom instructorsthis summer how to teach math principles under the new “common core” curriculum in grades three througheight, a system Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says will better ready Tennessee’s youth for collegeand the work force. “Ironically, the schools that have the best test score gains, they’re not teaching to the test,”said Huffman. “They’re teaching really rich, complex critical thinking lessons that incorporate the skills. They’rethe ones who are getting the most gains. But we need to move everyone over in that direction,” he told reportersat the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville during a half-day workshop about the goals of the “common core,”hosted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/05/17/state-easing-into-new-common-core-curriculum/ 
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Tenn. jobless rate drops for 9th straight month (Associated Press)
Tennessee's unemployment dropped slightly in April, marking the ninth straight month of decreases in the state'sunemployment rate. The 7.8 percent unemployment rate is down from 7.9 percent in March and the lowest it'sbeen since November 2008. Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis said in a release thatthe decrease in the jobless rate is largely caused by fewer people seeking work. The national unemployment ratewas 8.1 percent in April, also 0.1 percentage point lower than the previous month. State manufacturing jobs sawthe biggest increase compared with last month, at a growth rate of 1.8 percent. Next were jobs in trade,transportation and utilities at 1.6 percent and positions in the leisure and hospitality sector at 1.5 percent.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/17/tenn-jobless-rate-drops-for-9th-straight-month/ 
State jobless rate now at 7.8% (Nashville Post)
Tennessee’s unemployment rate for April fell to 7.8 percent, down from the March revised rate of 7.9 percent,according to Tennesee Department of Labor and Workforce Development numbers released today. The nationalunemployment rate for April was 8.1 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the March rate. “WhileTennessee’s unemployment rate has declined for nine consecutive months, April’s decrease is mostlyattributable to a shrinking labor force,” department Commissioner Karla Davis said in a release. “This is similar tothe monthly change that occurred on the national level.” A few economic summary highlights from thedepartment: • The unemployment rate has declined for nine consecutive months. • Tennessee’s Aprilunemployment rate is the lowest since November 2008. • The number of unemployed persons is the lowestsince November 2008. • The number of unemployed persons has declined for 16 consecutive months. • Thelabor force number has declined for four consecutive months.http://nashvillepost.com/news/2012/5/17/state_jobless_rate_now _at_78
Tennessee unemployment rate lower in April (Memphis Business Journal)
Tennessee's unemployment rate fell slightly in April to 7.8 percent, continuing to inch downward throughout 2012and reaching its lowest point in three and a half years. The state's rate was 7.9 percent in March, 8 percent inFebruary and 8.2 percent in January, according to Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Developmentdata. The nation's jobless rate in April was 8.1 percent, keeping Tennessee below the national average for thefourth consecutive month. But Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis tempered any optimism on the lowerrate. “While Tennessee’s unemployment rate has declined for nine consecutive months, April’s decrease ismostly attributable to a shrinking labor force,” Davis said. “This is similar to the monthly change that occurred onthe national level.”http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/05/17/tennessee-april-unemployment-rate-falls.html
Tennessee unemployment continues to fall (Nashville Business Journal)
Tennessee's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in April, down from 7.9 percent in March, the TennesseeDepartment of Labor and Workforce Development announced today. It marks the ninth straight month that thestate's unemployment rate has fallen. Nationally, the unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent, down from 8.2percent in March "While Tennessee's unemployment rate has declined for nine consecutive months, April'sdecrease is mostly attributable to a shrinking labor force," said Labor Commissioner Karla Davis in a newsrelease. "This is similar to the monthly change that occurred on the national level." Tennessee's Aprilunemployment rate is the lowest since November 2008.http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2012/05/17/tennessee-unemployment-continues-to-fall.html
Unemployment Falls As Fewer Search For Work (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Tennessee’s unemployment rate ticked slightly down again last month. It’s now at 7.8 percent – just a hair betterthan the national rate. One reason is more Tennesseans who are out of a job seem have stopped looking forone. April marks the ninth straight month statewide unemployment went down. But officials with Tennessee’slabor department caution that doesn’t necessarily show finding work getting easier. Rather, the state’s overallworkforce has been shrinking all spring. Between March and April about 10 thousand Tennesseans evidentlygave up on job searches. And officials note when those discouraged workers start trying to get hired again, itcould push Tennessee’s unemployment rate back up.http://wpln.org/?p=37421
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