SUNDAY,AUGUST25, 2013 HaslamAnnouncesFormationof TaskForceon Aging(TN Report

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of the Task Force on Aging, a group charged with creating a plan to improve the lives and care of older Tennesseans and their families through a collaboration of public, private and nonprofit leaders. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 14 percent of Tennesseans are 65 years of age or older, and the national average is 13.7 percent. Tennessee’s number is expected to grow to more than 22 percent by 2020. Haslam has asked the task force to focus on three areas: promoting healthy aging; creating livable communities; and supporting family caregivers. “I want to thank the task force and all those involved for dedicating their time and effort to improving the lives of others,” Haslam said. “The Task Force on Aging will develop a strategic plan, drawing on the public, private and non-profit sectors to better meet the needs of older Tennesseans and their families, now and into the future.”

Declinesin enrollmentchalkedup to bettereconomy,fear of debt(DNJ)
For the second year in a row, Middle Tennessee State University is on track for a decrease in enrollment, and at least one area student said fear of debt is keeping him from enrolling. “Hearing about student-loan debt and higher interest rates just makes me feel like I want to run away from it and forget about it,” said Mitchell Stem, a 2008 graduate of Riverdale High School. “It seems too much trouble for what it’s worth in the end. I already have a job I like that I know I can move up in.” But enrollment decreases are not only plaguing MTSU, national statistics show nearly every kind of post-secondary institution is experiencing low numbers, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Enrollment was down 2.3 percent in the spring, and while most of that percentage represented community and for-profit colleges, public universities also saw decreases. More than 25,000 students are anticipated to start classes in the fall at MTSU, according to officials, which means the school could potentially see 400 fewer students than they did last fall. (SUBSCRIPTION)

TennesseeVirtualAcademyhits bottom,getsreprieve(Tennessean/Sisk)
Students at the Tennessee Virtual Academy, an online school run for profit, learned less than their peers anywhere else in Tennessee last year, data released by the state last week show, but efforts to crack down on the school have been delayed by heavy lobbying on its behalf. Results from standardized tests show that students in the Tennessee Virtual Academy made less progress as a group in reading, math, science and social studies than students enrolled in all 1,300 other elementary and middle schools who took the same tests. The school fell far short of state expectations for the second year in a row. But the school will remain open this year after an effort by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration to rein in the school if it failed for a second year was turned back by the school’s owner, Virginia-based K12 Inc. The company, which relies on online learning to educate its students, waged a public relations campaign that involved the school’s teachers, some of its parents and lobbyists. Nearly a year after Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman declared the Tennessee Virtual Academy’s results “unacceptable” and demanded an immediate turnaround, the school stands to collect about $5 million in state funds this school year. Last year, the school took in an estimated $15 million. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Statelawmakersdraftinghempbill (AssociatedPress)
Two state lawmakers in Tennessee are pointing to Kentucky’s recent approval of hemp farming as they push for a similar measure. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Republican Sen. Frank Niceley, of Strawberry Plains,

is drafting a bill with Republican Rep. Andy Holt, of Dresden, and they plan to introduce the measure in next year’s legislative session. Nicely said Kentucky and six other states have passed measures legalizing hemp even though federal law prohibits it. Nicely said there also is support for changing federal laws, notably from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, both from Kentucky. He said introducing the measure in the Tennessee Legislature would “put pressure on Congress” to repeal its prohibition on growing the plant. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Ethicsboardaskedto investigatedistrictattorney(AssociatedPress)
Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell has filed a complaint asking an ethics panel to investigate 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Harwell said in a statement on Friday that she asked the Board of Professional Responsibility to conduct a “thorough, prompt investigation and appropriate action.” Two other lawmakers have filed similar complaints. Bebb did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment. A Times Free Press series published last year detailed wide-ranging allegations of misconduct by Bebb and people he supervised. In March, state Attorney General Robert Cooper released a report saying Bebb exhibited poor judgment and bad record-keeping, but Cooper did not find any prosecutable violations. Harwell said lawmakers would review the findings of the ethics panel and take appropriate action. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Mt. Juliet maylet city employeescarryguns(Tennessean/Humbles)
The Mt. Juliet City Commission is considering an ordinance to allow city employees with valid handgun carry permits to carry guns at work. It passed the first of two required readings, with a second reading slated for Monday night. Officials are trying to determine potential ramifications for the city’s insurance costs. Mt. Juliet has about 120 employees. That includes more than 40 police officers, who already are authorized to carry firearms on city property. Commissioner Art Giles sponsored the ordinance, initially designed to amend Mt. Juliet’s personnel manual so city employees could leave guns in parked vehicles on city property. The original ordinance also requested that only department heads and commissioners with valid permits be allowed to carry handguns onto city property. The amended ordinance passed 4-1 on first reading. “I see benefits to a person after hours by themselves,” said Mayor Ed Hagerty, who voted for the ordinance. Jim Bradshaw voted against the measure on first reading.|topnews|text|News (SUBSCRIPTION)

'Coolfactor' of tintedcar windowscostlyfor violators(CA/Garlington)
Local authorities say the “cool factor” of dark tinted windows is costing some drivers $100 or more for violating Tennessee’s window-tinting laws. Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies have written 2,110 tinted or cracked window violations since January, and over half were warnings. They were unable to separate the two as both fall under the same county ordinance. Memphis Police ticketed 1,947 drivers for the same period. Similarly, suburban police officers have written 635 such tickets in Bartlett, 138 in Collierville and 32 in Germantown. “People from all walks of life get their windows tinted. It looks cool for some people. The majority aren’t trying to conceal anything,” said Bartlett Police Capt. Marlon Jones. When stopped, he said drivers sometimes say they are unaware of the tinting laws or bought the car with an added tint. Car companies also run ads that often show the dark tinted windows to make the lines of the vehicle standout said International Window Film Association legislative consultant Lynwood Butner of Martinsville, Va. “A driver will say, ‘I want a limo tint on my car.’ That creates problems with the industry,” he said. “That’s why we support the enforcement laws.” The Tennessee law requires that car windows must allow at least 35 percent of light through. Other states percentages vary with Mississippi requiring a total of 28 percent and Arkansas mandating 25 percent of light passing through. (SUB)

RoeoutlinesGOPapproachto immigrationreform(TimesNews)
A series of Republican U.S. House legislative initiatives to execute immigration reform has a “50-50 chance” of passing Congress in September, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe predicted in a meeting with members of the Times-News Editorial Board. Last June, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform measure that would add 20,000 Border Patrol agents and at least 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, plus spend $4.5 billion 2

on surveillance technology and mandate an E-Verify system for all employers. But during the summer, Roe noted a House Judiciary Committee has taken a step-by-step approach to immigration reform by advancing separate bills. One is called the “SAFE (Strengthen And Fortify Enforcement) Act,” which would empower local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, the Western States Sheriff’s Association, and the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers have endorsed the bill. “It will allow our local police and sheriff’s departments to assist ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and make the border more secure. And it adds almost nothing to the budget,” Roe, R-Tenn., said of the bill.

Sen. LamarAlexanderpointsto oppositionof Obamacarein newradioad (Nooga)
Two days after a conservative PAC targeted Sen. Lamar Alexander in a radio ad challenging the senator to vote to "defund Obamacare," the senator's campaign for re-election is defending his stances against the law with an ad buy of its own. On Friday, Alexander's campaign announced a statewide purchase of radio airtime to run an ad touting the senator's opposition to President Barack Obama's signature health law. In the 60-second spot, Alexander can be heard challenging Obama on details of the law and its costs on premiums at a White House health care summit. "Sen. Lamar Alexander has voted 23 times to get rid of Obamacare," the ad's narrator says, before cutting to the clip. "Lamar stood up to the president at the White House health care summit." The campaign did not specify how much they spent on the ad or mention how long the spot would run. Also on Friday, Alexander's office compiled a lengthy list of times the senator had voted to repeal or defund the health law, sponsored bills or written letters against it, or spoken out in criticism of it. The list is hundreds of items long.

DesJarlaiscalls for enforcementof U.S. immigrationlaw on MSNBC(Nooga)
Going on MSNBC Friday, Rep. Scott DesJarlais continued to defend his answer to an 11-year-old girl's question about what could be done about her undocumented father, who faces deportation proceedings. After a YouTube video of the congressman's answer at a town hall in Murfreesboro last week began to go viral, DesJarlais' comments received national coverage and drew the ire of immigration advocacy groups. Since then, DesJarlais has defended his answer, saying current U.S. immigration policy must be enforced, even if it means difficult answers to tough questions. "I think the answer is we are a nation of laws, we have immigration laws on the books, sometimes not being enforced the way they should, so there's a lot of confusion and a lot of gray zones," DesJarlais said. "But the bottom line is, we have an immigration problem in this country, and we need to enforce the laws we have on the books." The congressman later called the recently passed Senate immigration bill "the Obamacare of immigration" and said he was "concerned about doing the right thing" with any upcoming House legislation on the issue. DesJarlais said that because the U.S. government expected its citizens to abide by the laws of host countries when traveling internationally, the same should be expected of nationals entering the U.S.

RobertsonCountytobaccofarmersface roughyear (Tennessean/Young)
Robertson County tobacco farmer David Buntin is in a race against time. An unusually rainy summer has ravaged his crops, destroying about eight of the 21 acres of tobacco he farms with his father and son. “It will be a struggle to get it all back up and save what can be saved,” said Buntin, 46, who has worked on the farm all of his life. “Because of all the rain, we couldn’t get all the crops topped on time. That made them heavier, and when the storms came through, there was nothing to support them.” Buntin isn’t alone. Tobacco farmers across Robertson County are reporting troubles ranging from a delayed harvest to disease because of the wet conditions, according to Paul Hart, a University of Tennessee extension agent. In July, a little more than 9 inches of rain was reported in Springfield — about 6 inches more than normal, according to data from the National Weather Service in Nashville. John Cohen, a meteorologist at the service, blames unusual weather patterns for the excess rain. “It’s been a rather active summer,” he said. “We’ve seen numerous frontal passages in the month of July, and we usually don’t see that many. When you have the heating of the summer and then the cooler frontal boundary overhead, it goes a long way in producing the showers and storms that we’ve been seeing.” (SUBSCRIPTION)

Youthlearnstrategiesfor successat TENSESummit(NewsSentinel/Coleman)
Sometimes the only thing holding someone back from success is negative energy surrounding their ambition, said the organizer of the second annual “Teaching to Eliminate Negative Stereotypes through Education” Summit. The 3

TENSE Summit is the brainchild of Anthony “A.J.” Donaldson, a 2003 Austin-East High School graduate and public school teacher in Houston. About 150 turned out for the Saturday event at the James Haslam II Business Building on the University of Tennessee campus. Phillip Tucker co-founded the event. The idea behind is to teach important lessons to youth in a way they will understand and not feel like they are being scolded, he said. “It is very important the community is aware of issues that affect young people,” he said. Donaldson used the acronym “Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly,” to explain how youth sometimes make excuses rather than make an effort to better their lives. “I believe when we make excuses, we fail to look in the mirror,” he said. “When you stop making excuses, you empower yourself.” Each summit has focused on enhancing the lives of youth by focusing summit workshops on education, music and style.

The number of full-time cyberschools serving Texas public school students will double in the coming school year despite a history of lackluster performance and a new law limiting the number of online courses that public school students are allowed to take at the state’s expense. That bill’s sponsor, State Representative Ken King, Republican of Canadian, said its goal was to encourage virtual learning models that blended online classes with a traditional classroom experience. Mr. King said he added language limiting the number of tuition-free online classes that students could take to three per year because of concerns that the legislation might lead to more full-time online schools in the state and that the bill’s intent was not to have more “kids sitting on their couch at home taking online classes.” Despite the provision, three new virtual schools that obtained waivers from the Texas Education Agency will allow students to receive online instruction for all their classes as early as the third grade. They open this fall. The commercial companies that manage virtual schools have come under heightened scrutiny from lawmakers, who fear their outsize influence on public education policy. While many educators believe online instruction can benefit students in some circumstances, they have also raised concerns over insufficient financial oversight and poor academic performance in full-time virtual schools. ref=todayspaper&_r=0 (SUBSCRIPTION)



OPINION Editorial:Tennessee'sapproachto highered is noteworthy(JacksonSun)
In what some might consider a bipartisan peace offering, President Barack Obama cited Tennessee as a model for funding and promoting higher education. Obama unveiled his proposal to rank the nation’s colleges and universities by including a cost component that could be tied back to providing federal financial aid. Obama further urged higher education institutions to do more to tie higher education to job opportunities, and to increase college graduation rates. Tennessee already has been working along these lines for three years. State higher education funding takes into consideration graduation rates and student course completion rates. In other words, state colleges and universities are funded, in part, based on results. We have long supported that approach. Whether Obama’s plan to rank colleges and universities according to affordability, and to tie that to federal financial aid, is a good idea remains to be seen. Like so many things coming out of the Obama administration, it’s best to see the details before passing judgment. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Editorial:Haslamfacescrucialdecisionon Medicaidexpansion(Tennessean)
It’s safe to say that there is one decision no one envies Gov. Bill Haslam for having to make: whether to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee. Not that there aren’t many people who feel they could quickly and easily decide — either to allow the expansion, which would make an additional 400,000 people eligible for TennCare, or to reject it as a costly federal intrusion. But those people aren’t caught between a legislative majority that is hostile to the Affordable Care Act and an Obama administration that still is trying to sort out all the details of how “Obamacare” will work. As difficult as the governor’s decision will be, we look to it as a pivotal moment for our state and for the Haslam administration. There is a lot of money at stake: enough to pay for 100 percent of the cost of insuring new enrollees through 2016 — about $2.8 million a day. After that, the federal government would phase down to 90 percent in 2020. Haslam worries about the 10 percent state obligation; which, according to various estimates, could range from $198 million to $250 million a year. That’s a lot for a state with a $32 billion budget. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Editorial:PublicpromptsTDOTto changeparkwayroute(KnoxvilleNewsSentinel)
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has proposed a modified route for the James White Parkway extension in South Knoxville that reduces its encroachment on the Knoxville Urban Wilderness. The road would be narrower and built to accommodate the area’s trail system, according to TDOT. TDOT also plans to solicit more public comment and hold two public meetings in October before making a final decision on the long-delayed and much-debated South Knoxville roadway. Though we would prefer TDOT and the city make improvements to Chapman Highway and its connecting roads before making a decision on the parkway project, the agency’s willingness to alter the route and design of the extension in response to public concerns is a welcome development. The James White Parkway originally was conceived in the 1970s as a way to route tourists bound for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park around downtown and South Knoxville. The first phase of the project runs from Interstate 40 across the newly built South Knoxville Bridge to Moody Avenue.

Guestcolumnists:Directelectionof judgesposesseriousdangers(Tennessean)
Voters will vote on three proposed amendments to the Tennessee Constitution in November 2014. One of these amendments concerns the selection of appellate judges, including the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court. This amendment would allow the governor to nominate appellate judge candidates to be confirmed by the state 5

House and Senate. Tennesseans would then vote on whether to retain these judges in elections. Circuit, criminal and chancery court judges would continue to be subject to direct and contested elections. For the following reasons, Tennesseans should vote “yes” on this amendment. The previous method for selecting appellate judges, known as the “Tennessee Plan,” ceased to exist on June 30. This plan, highly regarded by lawyers, involved a judicial nominating commission, which would send a list of three names to the governor, who would then choose one of the named candidates. The people would then vote in retention elections at the end of the judge’s term. The advantage of the Tennessee Plan was that it preserved a merit-selection process and the political independence of the judiciary. (SUB)

LamarAlexander:Studentloanbill will makecost of borrowingeasier, cheaper(NS)
A new law I worked to help enact lowers interest rates for every new federal student loan this year, making it easier for 11 million borrowers — including 200,000 Tennessee students — to pay for college. Undergraduates will pay 3.86 percent interest instead of 6.8 percent under previous law, graduate students with Stafford loans will pay 5.41 percent instead of 6.8 percent, and parents and graduates with PLUS loans will pay 6.41 percent instead of 7.9 percent. So, every single new loan will have a lower interest rate. This will save tens of millions of dollars in college costs for Tennessee students alone. In a refreshing development, Congress and President Barack Obama agreed on this good result. The president proposed the idea, the House of Representatives voted 392-31 for the law, and in the Senate, it gathered the support of 45 of 46 Republicans. Not only does this law make student loans cheaper, it also makes them simpler and more certain, because this solution is permanent and market-based. Before 2006, student loan rates were tied to the market. But in 2006, Congress decided to play politics with students’ futures and set student loan interest rates arbitrarily — at 6.8 percent and 7.9 percent. The game continued when Congress temporarily cut rates in half for just 40 percent of loans, relief that ended on July 1 of this year.

FrankDanielsIII: Corkeris realistic, keenon political process(Tennessean)
Call me Pollyanna. We hear a lot about how broken Congress is, and a review of recent Gallup polls reinforces our collective perception that our elected representatives are more interested in playing mumblety-peg than carving out solutions to the problems besetting our citizens. So, it was interesting to chat with Sen. Bob Corker this week on his view of the subtle shifts he is seeing in Washington. The senator visited with The Tennessean editorial board on Thursday to discuss a range of topics: what he learned from his recent trip to the Middle East; his work on pushing for a sensible solution on immigration reform; his work on addressing the fiscal fix, “our No. 1 problem”; and his decision to skip the president’s speech at the opening of Amazon’s new distribution center in Chattanooga. The story of his decision process to skip the president’s speech in his hometown, easily construed to be petty politics, to me revealed the maturation of political nuance that must occur for us to find a path through the rhetorical wreckage we have made of our governance. In response to a question about his decision, the senator used one of his favorite words to launch a long and unusually descriptive recounting. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Editorial:Waron bipartisanshiptakesa toll (CommercialAppeal)
If we’re lucky, the recent trend in political discourse calling for the disqualification of elected officials who cooperate with opposing parties doesn’t catch on. The gridlock that has held back progress in Washington could be worse. Perhaps it was the dream that some day America will become a one-party state that inspired 20 tea party and conservative organizations — including several county organizations in Tennessee — to call on Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to resign because he has worked with Democrats. The war on bipartisanship could have consequences. In today’s Senate, a Republican who never made an effort to work with members of the majority party would leave Tennesseans toothless. The petitioners, who claimed to represent about 10,000 members, criticized the 73-year-old senator for the “compromise and bipartisanship” that “our great nation can no longer afford.” Alexander said it best in his reply, published in an op-ed piece in The Tennessean newspaper. “Sen. Bob Corker and I have introduced a plan to reduce runaway entitlement spending by a trillion dollars,” Alexander wrote. (SUB)

TomHumphrey:Carr's candidacycouldmakeracemoreinteresting(NewsSentinel)
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been wisely running scared since announcing a year ago that he would seek a third term, aware that the recipe for unseating old-school Republicans is now public knowledge and most of the ingredients may be available right here in Tennessee. The first line of defense in the apparent Lamartian strategy was to keep any potential challenger with a modicum of credibility out of the race. He boldly cast this building of 6

war chest, assembling of allies and other tactics in military terms of “shock and awe” in one Washington interview — tea party critics call it “intimidation” — while simultaneously engaging in diplomacy. He met with prospective opponents that he heard about and talked them out of running — whether by shock and awe, by generous surrender terms or both, one can only speculate. That first line of defense was bypassed last week as state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, declared himself a candidate. He has a modicum or two of credibility, though not enough to cause too much alarm in the Alexander army. There are other lines of defense before getting to the “shock and awe” counterattack stage.

Columnist:Gettingreadyfor Obamacare(KnoxvilleNewsSentinel)
A marketplace like no other is opening soon. Beginning Oct. 1, people without health insurance can shop for what is promised to be affordable health care coverage. It’s all part of the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010. For the last three years, various parts of the law have been implemented: Young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26; insurance companies are prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential services such as hospital stays; people with Medicare get free preventive services. Next up is a part of the law that requires most Americans to maintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage. It’s one of the more controversial provisions of the law commonly referred to as Obamacare. Remember all the fuss about the Supreme Court weighing in on this mandate? The court ruled last year that the government could make people buy insurance. So unless you are exempt or you are covered through your employer or a government program, you have to purchase insurance from a private company or face a penalty. Open enrollment runs from Oct. 1 to March 31.



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