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Thurs., June 21 News Summary

Thurs., June 21 News Summary

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Published by: TNSenateDems on Jun 21, 2012
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THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2012Dems Request Special Session to Freeze Tuition (TN Report)
Democrats are urging the governor to head off college tuition hikes by calling lawmakers back to Nashville thissummer, though their plea is not likely to prompt action. They say lawmakers should freeze college tuition ratesas officials at the state’s Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees contemplateincreasing college costs. “You could call it a tuition increase. But what it really is, is a tax increase,” said JimKyle, the leading Senate Democrat, at a Capitol Hill press conference. “It is a tax increase on people who aretrying to improve their lives and improve Tennessee by getting a better education.” UT trustees are expected todecide this week whether to go along with proposed tuition hikes of 8 percent at the Knoxville campus, 6 percentat Chattanooga and Martin, and 4 percent at the Health Science Center in Memphis. The Board of Regents,which oversees the rest of the state’s public colleges, is considering increases ranging from 3.4 percent at AustinPeay State University to 7.3 percent at East Tennessee State University.http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/06/20/dems-request-special-session-to-freeze-tuition/ 
Democrats urge Haslam to call summer session on taxes, tuition(Tennessean/Sisk)
Party wants summer session Democrats in the state legislature asked Gov. Bill Haslam to bring lawmakers backto Nashville for a special session this summer to implement a freeze on college tuition and another cut to thesales tax on food. With tax dollars beating expectations, Democrats reiterated previous calls to block a plannedtuition increase at the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents schools. They also said the state shouldspeed up plans to reduce the food tax by one-quarter of a percentage point. They said lawmakers, whoadjourned for the year May 1, should come back to the Capitol to pass legislation doing both as soon aspossible. “These students will be returning to school in August, and this is an issue that needs to be dealt withsooner rather than later,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney, D-Jackson. Democrats andRepublicans have been battling for months over what to do with tax revenues that have consistently outpacedprojections.http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120621/NEWS0201/306210058/TN-Democrats-urge-Gov-Bill-Haslam-call-summer-session-taxes-tuition?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE&nclick _check=1(SUB)
Tennessee Democrats call for special session (Times Free-Press/Sher)
Senate and House Democrats today called on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to convene a special session of theLegislature and use state revenue surpluses to offset planned higher education tuition hikes and cut the sales taxon groceries further. “The money is there,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, said at a newsconference. “The issue on the table is what are we going to do with the taxpayers’ money? Are we going to helpthe folks who are trying to go to school, who are buying food, or are we going to hold it?” Democrats say staterevenues so far this fiscal year are about $225 million above original revised estimates. They want to use $78million of that to offset planned tuition increases that the University of Tennessee system is expected to approveon Thursday and similar increases before the Tennessee Board of Regents system next week. Haslam and theRepublican-controlled Legislature this year, with Democrats’ support, cut the existing 5.5 percent sales tax onfood to 5.25 percent. Democrats at the time unsuccessfully argued it should be more. Cutting the sales tax ongroceries by a penny would cost the state about $85 million annually.http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jun/20/tennessee-democrats-call-special-session/?local
Governor expected at Chamber shrimp boil (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
Gov. Bill Haslam is among the expected guests at Thursday's Peelin’, Pickin’, and Politickinshrimp boil,sponsored by the Knoxville Chamber. The annual event is aimed at giving local business leaders an opportunityto interact with political candidates and lawmakers, and is happening six weeks before the Aug. 2 state primary.The shrimp boil will take place from 5 to 7:30 at The Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm, 9111 Hunter Valley Lane.Other guests expected to attend include Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett,state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, state Rep. Steve Hall, and state Rep. Ryan Haynes. Haslam, the formerKnoxville mayor, was elected governor in 2010 and will not be on the ballot this year, although he has indicatedhe will support some incumbent Republican lawmakers in their primary elections.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jun/20/governor-expected-chamber-shrimp-boil/ 
Tweaks to State Teacher Evals Planned (TN Report)
Tennessee education officials are revising the freshly implemented teacher evaluation system following criticismthat it fails to adequately grade teachers who instruct in subjects not tested at the state level. EducationCommissioner Kevin Huffman says he expects to reveal by mid-July how the department wants to assessteachers of subjects like art or younger age groups not subject to standardized testing. He declined Wednesdayto comment on the changes, saying it was still subject to “internal discussion.” The Department of Education isexpected to announce that revision before it releases its own study of the evaluation system next month, saidHuffman. He said he expects several of their proposed changes to kick in for the upcoming school year. “We’retrying,” Huffman said, “to improve a system that has not generated the kind of student results we all wish itwould. So it’s incumbent on everyone in the system every year to get a little bit better.”http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/06/20/tweaks-to-state-teacher-evals-planned/ 
Teacher Evaluation Report Due to General Assembly in Mid-July (WPLN-Radio)
The state’s top school leaders are due to issue report to the legislature in a few weeks on Tennessee’s teacherevaluation system. A press release from the state’s largest teacher’s union says it will likely contain a new planfor handling grievances. State officials won’t get into that kind of detail, but some degree of change is expected.Although he says the specifics are still a matter of discussion within the department, Education CommissionerKevin Huffman says next month’s report to the legislature will include tweaks to the way teachers are graded.And he says the evaluations will likely continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. “We’re trying to improve asystem that has not generated the kind of student results that we all wish it would and so it’s incumbent oneveryone who works in the system every year to try and make it a little bitbetter.”http://wpln.org/?p=38444
Online Writing Assessment Tests Present Issues (Metro Pulse)
Is Tennessee testing student writing skills or typing skills? Beginning this next school year, the writingassessment tests for eighth grade students will be done online instead of with pencil and paper. There are someissues, as they say. Keyboarding isn’t taught until ninth grade and most eighth-graders’ typing skills consist ofphone texting with their thumbs. Due to the number of computers available, the writing tests will be done over aweek-long period instead of the current practice of giving all the tests on the same day. The same-day rule hadbeen for security in the testing program. Now students taking the test late in the week could have received helpfrom students who take it early. Local systems are still talking with the state department of education. Same-daytests use the same essay question, to which the student writes a five-paragraph response. If the same questionis used over a week-long period, later tested students would have an advantage. But if it isn’t the same question,is it a standardized test?http://www.metropulse.com/news/2012/jun/20/online-writing-assessment-tests-present-issues/ 
TN first Lady to visit W’town Library (Wilson Post)
Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam recently launched the Read20 Family Book Club with the goal of promotingearly child literacy and parental engagement in their children’s academic lives. Haslam is encouraging familiesthis summer to read 20 minutes daily. Each month a book will be featured on the website (www.tn.gov/read20).Children and families can participate and find family engagement ideas, reading activities and tips. “I am veryexcited to launch the Read20 Family Book Club,Haslam said in a news release. “Families reading together
build a foundation for strong relationships and academic success for our Tennessee students.” The First Ladyselected Frindle by Andrew Clements as June’s featured “Book of the Month.” Frindle is a story about a boynamed Nicholas who encounters all kinds of adventures after creating a new name for the pen: “frindle.” Shesaid she thinks children and families will “enjoy the imagination and creativity of the main character in Frindle. It’san exciting narrative that I hope will create a great opportunity for families to spend quality time with books thissummer.”http://www.wilsonpost.com/news/8399-tn-first-lady-to-visit-wtown-library-thursday
Tennessee grants $7.5 million for ‘Nashville’ TV show (Memphis Biz Journal)
Move over “Memphis Beat.” “Nashville” is ready to take the Volunteer State to the small screen. The TennesseeDepartment of Economic and Community Development has approved a grant for up to $7.5 million forproduction on “Nashville,” a scripted television drama that will air on ABC this fall. The show — reportedly aboutcountry music, love, politics, family and sex — combines the film and music sectors of the state’s economy intoone production, a factor that makes it worth the attention of economic development, according to ECDCommissioner Bill Hagerty. “The unique confluence of film and music that ‘Nashville’ offers is central to our aimof highlighting Tennessee’s great strength as a center of creative excellence in the music industry,” Hagerty saidin a statement. “Additionally, the consistent employment afforded Tennesseans as a result of this multi-episodeseries will result in constructive training and talent development and longer-term employment for Tennessee’sentertainment industry.”http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/blog/2012/06/tn-grants-75-million-for-nashville-show.html
"Nashville" TV series to receive state incentives (Tennessean/Sisk)
ABC’s new TV series about the Nashville music scene will receive up to $7.5 million in cash through the state ofTennessee’s incentive program for the film industry. The Department of Economic and Community Developmentannounced Wednesday that it had approved a grant for Nashville, an hourlong musical drama co-produced byABC Studios, Lionsgate and Gaylord Entertainment. The show, which debuts in the fall, is currently in pre-production. Principal photography is set to begin in mid-July, economic development officials said. State officialsestimate the show will employ 350 people in various crew positions. “The unique confluence of film and musicthat Nashville offers is central to our aim of highlighting Tennessee’s great strength as a center of creativeexcellence in the music industry,” said Bill Hagerty, head of the economic and community development agency.“Additionally, the consistent employment afforded Tennesseans as a result of this multi-episode series will resultin constructive training and talent development and longer-term employment for Tennessee’s entertainmentindustry.”http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120621/NEWS01/306210048/-Nashville-TV-series-receive-state-incentives?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE&nclick_check=1(SUBSCRIPTION)
Tennessee launches corporate site certification program (Memphis Biz Journal)
Tennessee is formally launching a statewide site certification program, which proponents hope will spurcorporate recruitment and expansions in the state. More information on the program is available at a newwebsite. The following are excerpts from the state's announcement: The Tennessee Department of Economicand Community Development announced today that it is launching a new, statewide site certification program.The Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program helps Tennessee communities prepare available sites forinvestment and expansion. The program sets a consistent and rigorous standard upon which companies can relyin making critical location decisions. “This program is an innovative new way to take Tennessee to the apex ofsite locations and show the world that Tennessee is ready for business,Commissioner Bill Hagerty ofTennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said.http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/06/20/tennessee-launches-corporate-site.html
State creates new site certification program (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
The state Department of Economic and Community Development said Wednesday that it is launching a new sitecertification program. According to a news release, the initiative will help communities prepare available sites forinvestment and expansion, and sets a consistent and rigorous standard that will help companies make locationdecisions. “In our day-to-day work with site selection consultants and corporate officials, we hear over and overagain the importance of demonstrating our readiness for new business investment and expansion,” ECDCommissioner Bill Hagerty said in the release. “The Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program provides a

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