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FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2012 State Sen.

Herron (D-Dresden) Wont Run for Re-election (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Longtime State Senator Roy Herron says he wont run for re-election this fall. Herron, a west-Tennessee Democrat, ran for Congress two years ago, but Republican Stephen Fincher won the contest. Herron was first elected to the state House about 25 years ago, and moved to the senate 10 years later. He says after finishing his term in the senate this year hell head up the Ned McW herter Center for Rural Development, helping young people go to college.

Herron wont seek re-election to Senate (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)

A state Senate Democrat announced Thursday he wont seek re-election in the wake of Republican-drawn redistricting maps that already have prompted a House Democrat to throw in the towel. Sen. Roy Herron, DDresden, announced he will not run again, ending a 26-year career in the General Assembly, first as a state representative and later in the state Senate, representing a rural West Tennessee area. Last week, state Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, announced he would not seek re-election. The first GOP-led redistricting of House, Senate and congressional districts in Tennessee history is expected to whittle minority Democrats strength in the General Assembly even more. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday signed into law the state House and congressional redistricting maps. In a news release, Herron said he will head the Ned McW herter Center for Rural Development, helping to expand efforts to help people attend college. In 2010, Herron briefly ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination before bowing out to make an ill-fated bid for Tennessees 8th Congressional District seat. He lost to Republican Stephen Fincher.

Herron says he won't seek re-election to Tenn. Senate (C. Appeal/Locker)

State Sen. Roy Herron, the Dresden Democrat who authored the Crime Victims Bill of Rights amendment to the Tennessee Constitution, announced Thursday he will neither run for re-election this year nor challenge U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher in the 8th Congressional District. Herron, 58, has represented much of Northwest Tennessee in both chambers of the legislature since 1986, when he won the first of five terms in the House seat vacated by the late Ned McWherter's successful run for governor. Herron moved to the Senate in 1996. He was the Democratic nominee in the 8th Congressional District in 2010 and had been considered likely to run again this year against Fincher, who defeated him two years ago and is the first Republican to hold the congressional seat since Reconstruction. Herron's decision to leave the General Assembly when his fourth Senate term ends in November sets up a political battle in a newly redrawn six-county Northwest Tennessee district at a time when Democrats are struggling to regain some of their heavy losses in the statehouse. The new, more compact Senate District 24 is arguably more winnable for Herron than the sprawling nine-county region he has represented since the last redistricting in 2002. But without an incumbent running, it will likely be a toss-up race between the two parties this year. Qualifying deadline for candidates is April 5. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Herron won't run for re-election or Congress (Jackson Sun)

State Sen. Roy Herron said Thursday that he doesn't plan to run for re-election or to run for Congress this year. "I do not intend to be on the ballot in 2012 for any position," Herron, D-Dresden, said in a phone interview. Herron, who has served 16 years in the Senate, instead plans to lead the Ned McW herter Center for Rural Development in expanded efforts to help young people go to college and create jobs for Tennesseans, he announced in a news release. The current session of the General Assembly is expected to adjourn by May, and elections will be held Nov. 6. Herron said after he finishes his state Senate responsibilities this year, he will work

actively as the president of the McWherter Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, charitable organization. The McW herter Center provides scholarships and educational opportunities for Tennessee students. "I am blessed to represent the most wonderful people on earth," Herron said in the release. "The people who have let me work for them as their representative and senator are my teachers, friends, and many are like family. I'm excited about working with them and other Tennesseans to help more young people go to college and help our state grow and gain good-paying jobs."

Haslam: Sales taxes 'too big' to ignore national fix (Nashville Business Journal)
Gov. Bill Haslam touted the merits of national online sales tax legislation today in a call with Tennessee businesses hoping to alter what they consider an unfair playing field. The Republican governor said he supported their efforts to give states the option to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. In Tennessee's case, receiving the tax which online shoppers theoretically owe but don't report could mean between $200 million and $300 million in additional revenue annually, Haslam said. He also gave a nod to the brick-and-mortar retailers' contention that it's not fair they collect and pay sales tax when online competitors don't. "It's just too big of a piece of our economy now to treat like we did 20 years ago," Haslam said. He's referring to national law that doesn't currently require retailers to collect sales taxes, leaving it up to customers to report to the government. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was also on the call, and, as the Nashville Business Journal first reported, is sponsoring legislation to create a framework for all states to require collection if they so wish.

Haslam proposes amendment to solidify judicial selection process (Nooga)

Joined by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell in the state capitol Wednesday, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to add an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution and cement the process by which Supreme and appellate court judges are appointed. The resolution, which is still being drafted, would ensure that the state's top judges would be installed under the same process as they are today. Under the current "Tennessee Plan," candidates are nominated by a commission based on merit, appointed by the governor, and kept in office by uncontested retention elections, where a simple majority is the only requirement to continue presiding in court. "I believe the current process has worked well during my time in office, and I've been pleased with both the quality of candidates and the process for choosing them," Haslam said in a news release. "The judiciary is the third and equal branch of government, and we are here to make this recommendation because we believe it is important for our Constitution to reflect the reality of how we select judges in Tennessee."

Haslam approves Press/Sher)







Republican Gov. Bill Haslam today approved the state House and Congressional redistricting map that already has caused one veteran House Democrat to throw in the towel. The map will whittle minority Democrats strength in the General Assembly even more. Although Haslam has not approved the Senate redistricting map yet, Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, announced he will not run again, ending a 26-year career in the General Assembly, first as a state representative and later in the state Senate, representing a rural W est Tennessee area. Last week, state Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, announced he would not seek re-election. In a news release, Herron said he will head the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development, helping to expand efforts to help people attend college. I am blessed to represent the most wonderful people on earth, Herron said in the release. The people who have let me work for them as their representative and senator are my teachers, friends, and many are like family. Im excited about working with them and other Tennesseans to help more young people go to college and help our state grow and gain good-paying jobs. breakingnews

Governor, first lady to co-chair children's cabinet (Nooga)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, with the help of his wife, First Lady Crissy Haslam, announced Jan. 26 that he will issue an executive order refocusing and restructuring the Governors Childrens Cabinet, which they will co-chair together. This makes the Governors Childrens Cabinet the only one in the country co-chaired by both a 2

governor and his or her spouse, according to the National Forum for Youth Investment, and the group, through collaboration and cooperation, will create a comprehensive strategy focused on issues such as childrens physical and mental health, education, safety and overall well-being. The group also will work to coordinate, streamline and enhance the states efforts in providing resources and services to Tennessees children. An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is now, Haslam said. Providing the best services and creating the best opportunities for Tennessees children to succeed must be a priority. By bringing together the childrens cabinet, Crissy and I want to share policy, coordinate, collaborate and cooperate, so the future for Tennessee kids is as bright as possible.

Gov. & First Lady to co-chair Governor's Children's Cabinet (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam have announced the governor will issue an executive order refocusing and restructuring the Governor's Children's Cabinet, which they will co-chair. This makes the Governor's Children's Cabinet the only one in the country co-chaired by both a governor and the spouse, according to the National Forum for Youth Investment, and the group through collaboration and cooperation will create a comprehensive strategy focused on issues such as children's physical and mental health, education, safety and overall well-being. The group also will work to coordinate, streamline and enhance the state's efforts in providing resources and services to Tennessee's children. "An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now," Haslam said. "Providing the best services and creating the best opportunities for Tennessee's children to succeed must be a priority. By bringing together the Children's Cabinet, Crissy and I want to share policy, coordinate, collaborate and cooperate so the future for Tennessee kids is as bright as possible."

Auto suppliers bring additional jobs to Middle TN (Tennessean/Williams)

Suppliers set up shop as GM, Nissan ramp up production As Nissan and General Motors gear up to expand operations in Smyrna and Spring Hill, there is an often overlooked benefit: Auto suppliers that do business with the two giants often build nearby and bring additional jobs. For each direct new hire made by the automakers themselves, there will be as many as three new positions created by suppliers to the auto plants, many of which will locate close to the vehicle-assembly facilities, said David Penn, an economist at Middle Tennessee State University who tracks employment trends. In Tennessee, the ripple effect for job creation in auto manufacturing is the highest for any manufacturing sub-sector that we have, Penn said. As these plants build up and fill in with more of these suppliers, the jobs can only increase. In Rutherford County, there will be about 400 new supplier jobs by late next year, in addition to about 1,300 positions at the Nissan plant itself.|newswell|text|News|p

TN college leaders set ACT benchmark (Tennessean/Hubbard)

A more streamlined effort by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and State Board of Education is working behind the scenes to ensure that Tennessee students enter college ready and then leave prepared. The departments held their annual meeting Thursday, reviewing new legislative policies and federal Race to the Top efforts helping bridge the gap. One is the Move on When Ready Act, which allows high school students to take college courses, earning dual credit. The commission set the benchmark for participation at 27 on both ACT math and English. The groups also discussed an online bridge math course being developed by Tennessees community colleges to give earlier help to students who score a 19 or below on the ACT. There is this feeling like, Why wait until they get to college when you can address this in high school? said THEC Executive Director Rich Rhoda. odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

SCORE lays out its plan for teacher evals (Tennessean/Sisk)

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education laid out its plan Thursday to gather feedback on Tennessees new teacher evaluation procedures and tenure rules. SCORE said it will hold eight roundtables, including one in Nashville on Feb. 23, for teachers, administrators and others to air their thoughts about the new system in which teachers are graded based on classroom evaluations and student test scores. The group also plans to launch an online survey March 1 and will form an educator work team that includes teachers and principals from across 3

the state. After complaints from teachers and education groups, Gov. Bill Haslam announced last month that he had asked SCORE to solicit feedback from teachers on his administrations behalf. The effort will run through May. Information is available at . odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

County Unemployment Figures Show Mixed Results (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

December unemployment rates dropped in more than half of Tennessees counties. Still, jobless figures remain in the double-digits in 40 counties. The states highest unemployment rate is almost 19 percent in Scott County, about 60 miles northeast of Knoxville. Some of the biggest employers there are building supply manufacturers that have made major cutbacks during the housing slump. Scott Countys jobless rate grew more than one percent from November to December On the other end of the spectrum, Williamson and Lincoln counties are tied for the states lowest rate, at 5.4 percent. And among Tennessees major metropolitan areas, Davidson County has the second lowest jobless figure of 6.9 percent, down nearly half a percent from November. p=33452

Memphis unemployment rate falls to 8.8% in December (Memphis Biz Journal)

The Memphis metro area's unemployment rate continued its quick descent in December, dropping below 9 percent for the first time since December 2008. The Memphis MSA's December 2011 jobless rate was 8.8 percent, down from a revised 9.2 percent rate in November, according to data released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and W orkforce Development. In October 2011, the metro area which includes Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties in Tennessee and portions of Arkansas and Mississippi had an unemployment rate of 10 percent. It was as high as 10.9 percent in June 2011, marking a more than 2-point downswing in half a year. Shelby County's December jobless rate also was 8.8 percent, down from 9.3 percent the previous month. The city of Memphis' unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, down from 10.1 percent. The local rate was in line with the state's 8.7 percent December unemployment rate. Nationally, the December rate was 8.5 percent.

Unemployment rate for Memphis area fell to 8.8 percent in December (C. Appeal)
Unemployment in the eight-county Memphis metropolitan area fell to 8.8 percent in December. That represents a drop of four-tenths of a percentage point from November's revised rate of 9.2 percent, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday. Shelby County, the biggest county in the Memphis metro area, was among 56 Tennessee counties that saw their jobless rates fall last month. Its rate fell to 8.8 percent, from 9.3 percent in November. Among major metropolitan counties, Knox (Knoxville) had the state's lowest jobless rate of 5.9 percent, down from 6.3 percent in November. Davidson County (Nashville) was 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County (Chattanooga) was 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent. The jobless rate for the city of Memphis, all of which is in Shelby County, fell to 9.5 percent last month, down from 10.1 percent in November. The state estimates that there were 55,610 unemployed people looking for work in the Memphis area last month, and that 54 percent of them live in the city of Memphis. Tennessee's unemployment rate last month was 8.7 percent; the national rate was 8.5 percent. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Knox County jobless rate falls to 5.9 pct. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Knox County's unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in December, down from 6.3 percent in November, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday. Knox County had the lowest metropolitan jobless rate in the state. Rates in other major metro markets were also down. Davidson County's December unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent, and Shelby County was 8.8 percent, down from 9.3 percent in November. Unemployment rates dropped in 56 counties and increased in 27 counties and were unchanged in 12 counties, the state reported. Williamson and Lincoln counties registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 5.4 percent. Both counties had higher rates in November with Williamson at 5.8 percent and Lincoln at 5.6 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.8 percent, up from 17.5 percent in the previous month, followed by Obion County at 15.3, which was unchanged from the November rate. Tennessee's unemployment rate for December fell to 8.7 percent, down from the November revised rate of 9.1. The national unemployment rate for December 2011 was 8.5 percent, down from 8.7 percent in November. 4

Judge Bob Moons death stuns Hamilton County officials (TFP/Haman, South)
An air of stunned disbelief hovered in the Hamilton County Courthouse as news of the unexpected death of General Sessions Judge Bob Moon filtered through the halls Thursday. You expect to see him like you would the walls of this building. The idea of Judge Moon being gone today is like having the courthouse crumble, said Lee Davis, a former prosecutor now a private defense attorney who tried many cases from both sides of the aisle before Moon. Courthouse staff placed Moons nameplate on the door and bench of his Division V courtroom, which sat empty Thursday. Sessions Court will be closed today in his honor, said fellow Sessions Judge Clarence Shattuck. He was a talented and articulate man, Shattuck said. He had a deep concern for young people and gave counsel to numerous schools and various groups and even from the bench, when appropriate. Moons wife of 35 years, Debbie I. Moon, found him dead at his computer early Thursday morning, said Hamilton County Commissioner Mitch McClure. Authorities believe it was a heart attack. The 60-year-old Moon first served as a part-time judge in Signal Mountain for 13 years while practicing law. In 1996, the Hamilton County Commission appointed him to a newly created Sessions Court seat.

Lawmakers promote camping ban on public property (Associated Press/Loller)

Lawmakers concerned about the Occupy Nashville encampment next to the state Capitol are promoting a bill that would criminalize camping on public property across the state. House Judiciary Chairman Eric Watson, who has a clear view of the 60-or-so tents from his office window, is sponsoring the legislation. He mentioned several reasons for wanting the encampment gone, including a couple last year having sex near his windows. "A fight broke out yesterday," he said in a Wednesday interview, "and there was a guy streaking today, running out here naked." But he said the main reason for the bill was to ensure equal access to the plaza for other groups, including schools that put on musical programs there. "They've been reluctant to come up here. We've even had weddings put off," W atson said. The bill, which would make it a misdemeanor to "maintain living quarters on publicly owned property that is not designated or permitted for residential use," comes several months after Gov. Bill Haslam's administration lost a legal battle over a curfew that was used to temporarily dislodge the encampment.|newswell|text|News|s

Lawmakers Tweak Their De-Occupy Nashville Bill (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Two state legislators working to clear the Occupy Nashville protest group off the plaza at the state capital say theyve gotten a green light from the Tennessee Attorney Generals office. Legislators often check with the state Attorney General for a fast, and free, opinion of whether a proposed law will stand up in court. State Representative Eric Watson and Senator Dolores Gresham, both Republicans, say the Attorney Generals staff did not raise any red flags on their bill. It would eliminate squatting on government-owned property, and is aimed at the Occupy Nashville protest, which has pitched tents on the War Memorial Plaza since early October. Watson says their bill isnt an attempt to squelch free speech. Me and the senator, were not trying to stop protesting at all. They can protest seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Lets just do it in a professional and clean manner, and allow others to protest as well. Watson says Occupy Nashvilles long stay on the Legislative Plaza protected by a federal court injunction barring police from evicting them has effectively barred the use of the area to anyone else.

TN bill would protect some remarks on gays (Tennessean/Sisk)

A Middle Tennessee lawmaker has filed a new version of a bill meant to keep some statements made about homosexuality from falling under school anti-bullying policies. State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, filed legislation Thursday that would require schools to write bullying policies that protect the First Amendment rights of students to express their beliefs. The measure also directs school officials to take specific actions to stop bullying. Essentially what we are trying to say is that bullying needs to be prevented, period, and reports of bullying ought not to be swept under the rug, said David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which has called for the bill. A similar measure was filed last year but went nowhere in the legislature. The latest version was filed one day after the father of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming man whose 1998 murder triggered a federal hate crimes law, criticized such measures as attempting to protect anti-gay bullying by citing the First Amendment. 5


Bills seek disciplinary authority for teachers (Columbia Daily Herald)

Two bills have been filed in the Tennessee General Assembly lawmakers say would give teachers more authority and protection in disciplining students. According to a press release from the state, Senate Bill 3122, sponsored by Representative Joey Hensley, (R-Hohenwald), and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, (R-Somerville), would give teachers protection from civil liability when defending themselves or when they intervene in a physical altercation at school. Senate Bill 3116, sponsored by Gresham and Representative Harry Brooks, (R-Knoxville), gives teachers basic rights to control their classroom and remove consistently disruptive or violent students, the release said. As I have listened to teachers, I have found they are afraid to even defend themselves if a student gets out of control for fear of liability, Gresham said in the release. He said the legislation would give teachers the right to defend themselves, so they would no longer have to fear lawsuits It will also allow the disruptive student to receive the help they need to learn to be able to control or alter their disruptive behavior, Hensley added.

Proposed school building bill angers Shelby Co. mayor (WMC-TV Memphis)
Tennessee State Rep. Curry Todd filed a bill that would transfer county school buildings to new municipal school districts, but would stick the countywide system with the remaining debt on the buildings. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said the recent bill filed by the Collierville lawmaker isn't necessary. "The state helped us out by giving us a plan," Luttrell said. "Now the state needs to take a step back and let local authorities - county government, school board - an opportunity to work through these issues." The legislation, which has not started through the review process, calls for any debt on the transferred buildings transferred to remain with the countywide system. Luttrell said he's not opposed to new municipal districts. "They're provided for in the law," he said. "I've taken the position all along that if municipalities want to move in that direction, that's their decision." But Luttrell said he doesn't think the state should tell Shelby County how to dispose of county property. "These are county buildings and for the state to come in and dictate to us how we dispense with our property, I don't think is an appropriate state relationship," he said.

Police intensify crackdown on gang activity (Tennessean/Haas)

Metro Police detective Gerry Hyder and his partner were staking out a known gang hideout in October when a suspect they were tailing suddenly emerged from the woods and opened fire on their unmarked truck. The bullets tore through their truck, but they sped away, unharmed. That brazen violence did not surprise Hyder. I think we, as a department, have embraced the infection that we have, Hyder said. Police throughout Middle Tennessee ramped up the fight against gangs last year and they are on track to be even more aggressive in 2012 with a slate of proposed state laws and local initiatives. Murfreesboro recently got a federal grant to track and combat gangs. Wilson County has begun hosting public forums in light of a major 2011 gang investigation that showed the Vice Lords had set up shop in Lebanon. And, officials with the U.S. Attorneys Office vow to continue the crusade against gang-generated crime. I think from the perspective of the U.S. Attorneys Office, one way maybe to define 2011 was the year of the gang indictment, said U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin, who is in charge of federal prosecutions in Middle Tennessee. We had maybe 200 gang members indicted.

Plan to Constitutionally Formalize Selection Met with Early Skepticism (TNR)

Tennessees most powerful elected leaders want to amend the state Constitution to validate the current and, to some at least, controversial method of appointing high-level state judges. But some majority-party legislators arent so sure thats a good idea or that itll fly with voters. Flanked by House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Gov. Bill Haslam announced W ednesday hell press lawmakers to pass a resolution asking voters to approve language to the state Constitution enshrining Tennessees present selection practice for judges on the Tennessee Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals. I believe the current process has worked well during my time in office, and Ive been pleased with both the quality of candidates and the process for choosing them, said Tennessees Republican governor. The judiciary is the third and equal branch of government, and we are here to make this recommendation because we believe it is important for our Constitution to clearly reflect the reality of how we select judges in Tennessee. If the measure is approved this year and again in the next legislative session by a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate 6

voters would see the constitutional-amendment question on the 2014 general election ballot.

Rides available for voters to obtain photo ID (Commercial Appeal/Connolly)

License centers to open special time 2 Saturdays Rides are available to help people without photo identification get the documents they need to vote. A new Tennessee law requires people to present a photo ID in order to cast a ballot, and those who don't have any ID can make a trip to a government office to get one for free. Shelby County Commission member Henri E. Brooks announced this week that her office is partnering with churches to transport people to get photo identifications on Feb. 4 and March 3. Two driver service centers in Shelby County will be open on those two Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide free photo identifications. The service is not for people who already have a driver's license or other state or federally issued photo identification. The license centers are at 3200 E. Shelby Drive and 6340 Summer Ave., said state spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals. People who need rides can contact these churches and arrange for transportation: The New Olivet Baptist Church, 3084 Southern Ave., (901) 454-7777. New Sardis Baptist Church, 7739 E. Holmes Road, (901) 7543979. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corp. CEO responds to salary scrutiny (WATE-TV)
Gloria Ray, president and CEO of the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corp. said she isn't offended by all the questions being raised about her $405,000 pay package. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has already said the pay appears excessive. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett expressed the same concern Thursday. "It's just too much money," he said. Burchett was among those surprised that Ray makes $405,000 in pay and incentives to promote the city and county to tourists. Even more stunning to Mayor Burchett was that most members of KTSC's board didn't know either. "When I've talked to board members who are business professionals and confide in me that they don't know what's going on, I think we need to look at the shape of the board," Burchett said. Ray said the controversy is putting a spot light on what the organization does. "I think it's been a great opportunity for us to get our message out in terms of what we do," she said. "I think the meeting with the county commission (Monday) was tremendous in that they learned a lot of the complete information as opposed to some of the misinformation that is out there."

Davidson County Clerk Arriola says he has fixed issues in audit (TN/Sisk)
Davidson County Clerk John Arriola responded to a scathing state audit Thursday by saying his office had taken most of the steps recommended. Arriola said in a one-page statement that he had done everything requested by state Comptroller Justin Wilson before the audits release except for a recommendation that the clerks office turn over a $2 computer fee to the county trustee on a regular basis. Arriola said he has been following state law on the matter, which he said contradicts the comptrollers suggestion. Arriola also reiterated a statement made in the audit that the clerk should be considered a public officer independent of other parts of Metro government, and he noted that his office had turned over an $800,000 surplus during the most recent fiscal year. But Arriolas statement, which was released a day after the local news media obtained the audit, did not bring up the $40 fee charged by his office to perform weddings. Arriolas office collected $119,000 in wedding fees over nearly five years, triggering the controversy that led to the state audit.|topnews|text|News

Hamilton County (TFP/Haman)




boost in




Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond told other county officials his office would need an additional $2.56 million in the coming year just to keep our heads above water. Hammond said the funding would increase his $27 million budget by about 8 percent. He said he needs nine deputies, nine detectives and 15 corrections officers, among other things. However, county commissioners and County Mayor Jim Coppinger said after a Thursday lunch meeting with the sheriff that its too early to know what the budget will allow. Last year the county laid off workers and cut about $13 million from the overall budget. I think its premature to be having any budget discussions, Coppinger said. Eventually well see where we are. Commissioner Tim Boyd said the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is likely to be tight again. Its going to be a tough year for budgets, Boyd said. 7

W hat the commission is concerned about is the reduced tax income coming in. Every time theres a piece of commercial property switching hands, its switching hands at a lower value than is on the books.

Blackburn: Defense cuts could gut military (Associated Press)

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said proposed cuts to the defense budget that were announced this week would gut the nation's military that is already spread too thin and leave thousands of troops unemployed. The plan announced Thursday includes reducing ground forces by 100,000 and limiting military pay raises and has drawn quick criticism from Republican lawmakers. Blackburn, who represents communities on the Tennessee side of Fort Campbell, Ky., said in a statement she has spoken with Maj. Gen. James McConville, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, to assure him that she will push to protect resources for their soldiers and families. She also said that she will work to maintain the Tennessee National Guard.|newswell|text|News|s

Alexander, Corker voted in line with Obama more than peers did (Tenn/Bewley)
You might expect Tennessees senators to clash with President Barack Obama on most of their congressional votes. After all, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are no fans of the presidents policies. After the presidents State of the Union address Tuesday, Alexander nicknamed the nations economic doldrums the Obama economy, and according to Bloomberg, Corker told its next-day breakfast panel the speech signaled that for the next year were really not going to do much. But Alexander and Corker voted in line with Obamas positions 63 percent and 61 percent of the time last year, respectively more often than all but a few other Republican senators. Thats according to an annual analysis of votes by Congressional Quarterly, a nonpartisan publication that has tracked voting statistics since 1953. The CQ analysis also measured how often lawmakers stuck with their party on votes that split Republicans and Democrats. Corker voted with the GOP 94 percent of the time more often than the 86 percent average for all Republican senators. Alexander voted with the party 82 percent of the time.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Duncan: Putting colleges on notice about tuition a good idea (N-S/Collins)

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. didn't care much for most of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, but he did hear something he liked. The Knoxville Republican is praising Obama for putting colleges and universities on notice that they risk losing federal dollars unless they hold tuition down to a reasonable level. Duncan's office said the congressman first made the same proposal in a newsletter to his constituents in July 2009. Duncan also has criticized the federal student loan program, saying in speeches and newsletters it is the main cause of today's high tuition rates. "The only way to get college costs down is to reduce federal loans at colleges and universities that do not hold their increases to the rate of inflation or less," Duncan said. Colleges and universities have been overcharging students and taxpayers for decades, Duncan said. "When I tell college students today that during my first year at the University of Tennessee tuition was $90 a quarter, gasps go through the room," he said. "Students used to be able to work part time and pay their way through college, and it should still be that way today. Almost no one left college in debt in the 1960s and early 1970s, but today almost everyone does."

Democrats say 3rd District congressional race winnable (TFP/Carroll)

To hear Hamilton County Democratic Party Vice Chairman Rodney Strong tell it, "Do-Nothing Chuck, Little Prince Wamp and maybe The Milkman" can be defeated. Strong renamed the Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; his 24-year-old son-of-a-former-congressman primary challenger, Weston Wamp; and another potential GOP opponent, dairy mogul Scottie Mayfield, at the local Democratic Party's executive committee meeting Thursday night. Wamp and a spokesman for Fleischmann declined comment. Mayfield could not be reached. In a brief interview after the meeting, Strong said Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District race is within reach for a party that hasn't tasted victory since 1992. Strong said the newly drawn congressional district, which includes parts or all of six fresh counties, could benefit Democratic hopefuls Mary Headrick, a physician from Union County, and Chattanooga businessman Bill Taylor, both of whom attended the meeting. "We're feeling good," said Strong, an assistant district attorney for Hamilton County. "The new district gives the Republican [candidates] no better name recognition than our own people." Name recognition could be a struggle for Headrick and Taylor, whose opening line tends to be "I'm Bill Taylor." Both are political newcomers looking quickly to find their footing in a race that could come down to money. 8

Federal funding in Cleveland grows (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Higgins)

The city received a record amount of federal grant money in the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to the latest audit. Ken Lay from the accounting firm Arnett, Kirksey, Kimsey, Pierce and Lay presented the annual audit to the Cleveland City Council this week. And on Thursday, Mayor Tom Rowland expanded on the economic situation during his annual State of the City address to the Cleveland Kiwanis Club. Unemployment for Cleveland and Bradley County is at 7.7 percent, lower than in many nearby areas, he said. "The only real disappointment was the announcement that Sears is closing its Bradley Square Mall store," Rowland said. "It seems sad because of the fact we have more potential customers coming." He urged people to join those who already have advocated by telephone or online for Sears officials to change their decision. Lay said the amount of grants received in the previous fiscal year, 2009-10, was a record with $11.2 million. This year it was more than $23.4 million, he said. The grants total includes $9.6 million for education, $8.4 million for airport construction, $2.1 million for tornado relief, $1.3 million for transportation grants, $1 million in criminal justice grants and nearly $1 million in community development grants, according to the audit.

Why redistricting commissions aren't immune from politics (Stateline)

Until recently, not many people in Colorado had ever heard of Mario Carrera. An executive at Entravision, which owns a number of Spanish-language TV and radio stations, Carreras world existed off-camera, far from the drama of politics playing out on the news on his stations. That changed last May when Carerra was appointed to serve as the lone independent on the state commission charged with handling state legislative redistricting in Colorado. By the end of the year, the man who came to be known as Super Mario was the most controversial person in Colorado politics. Upset with how the commissions political maps turned out, the Republican speaker of the state House of Representatives called Carerra a failure. The conservative group Compass Colorado went a step further when it called on Entravision to fire Carrera from his day job. The anger came from the fact that Carrera had sided with the commissions five Democrats and against its five Republicans on a new political map for Colorado. One GOP member on the commission said that Carrera hadnt been independent at all but rather a wolf in sheeps clothing, a view that Republicans saw as confirmed when word circulated that he had attended a fundraiser for President Obama while on the commission. For his part, Carrera pointed out that the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party had recommended his appointment.

'Dozing' security guard resigns (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Munger)

The government's Oak Ridge security contractor confirmed that a security supervisor resigned Thursday after confessing to violations of company rules including "dozing off" on the job and using a personal cellphone while on duty. Lee Brooks, senior vice president and general manager of WSI-Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy's security contractor, said the security officer a lieutenant on the protective force at Oak Ridge National Laboratory came forward and acknowledged the violations after incriminating photographs were distributed anonymously to his employer and other organizations. The News Sentinel received copies of the photos. Brooks said the WSI investigation concluded that the photographs were probably taken sometime in 2010, but he emphasized that the location was not in a classified area. The anonymous complaint said that the photographs were taken inside Building 3019, which is a high-security complex at ORNL that houses a large stockpile of fissile uranium-233 material that could potentially be used to make atomic bombs. Brooks would not comment on whether the room in the photos was at Building 3019, but he insisted the site where the security officer was photographed is an unclassified area at the lab. He said other, outside sources including the Department of Energy corroborated that conclusion.

Knoxville businesses join state alliance to require sales tax on online sales (WATE)
Small retailers say they're at a disadvantage competing with Internet sellers who don't usually charge sales tax. The issue gained traction in 2011 as expanded to Tennessee. Amazon agreed to collect Tennessee sales tax by 2014. However, a group is pushing for a nationwide solution. Business owners from across Tennessee joined together on a call Thursday morning to voice their opinions about what they say is an 9

unfair disadvantage. "We can compete value for value with diamonds from the Internet. When you go on top of that and you add that additional 9.25% sales tax, on a diamond that's $4,000, $5,000, $6,000. That's a big value," said Rick Terry, owner of Rick Terry Jewelry Designs. It's not just the online jewelry market, it's everything. They say not only is the state owed sales tax in online sales, but business owners also can't compete with online shops that don't have to charge it. "They have customers that ask them to eat the tax or to help make it up by lowering their prices. And you're already competing in a very competitive market so your prices are already low," said Garrett Wagley, with the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. The problem isn't new, but it has had a growing effect on businesses that depend on local sales.

Local businesses show support for move to charge online sales tax (WBIR-TV)
Dozens of Tennessee businesses are coming together in support of a level playing field between brick and mortar retailers and online retailers. Right now, online retailer don't have to collect state sales tax. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is one of the sponsors of a Senate bill which aims to close the loophole. Alexander said it would give states the right to collect sales tax already owed. Businesses met in six cities across the state on Thursday including Knoxville to support the efforts. Governor Bill Haslam is also in favor of the legislation. Proponents of the bill said Tennessee is loosing hundreds of millions of dollars in state sales tax. "Just give us a fair playing field. We just would like for it to be fair. With diamonds and jewelry being a large ticket item, than 9.25% sales tax, thats a big number," said Rick Terry with Rick Terry Jewelry Designs. Online Sales tax exemptions have been in the headlines a lot lately especially because of However, Tennessee and Amazon have already worked out a deal. Last year, Amazon agreed to start collecting Tennessee sales tax in 2014.

Backers of U.S. bill confer with brick and mortar retailers (Times FreePress/ONeil)
When Terri Holley started selling shoes in high school, it was a simpler time for businesses. Chat with the customers, learn their clothing wants and fit them in the perfect pair of stilettos, boots or flats. W hen she opened Embellish, a Warehouse Row shoe and clothing boutique, customer service remained a top priority, but the smiles and friendly conversations with customers all too often changed to curt thank-yous and cool departures. "We spend time with them, help them determine the right style, the right size, and then they go to the Internet," Holley said. "They view it as a discount." Brick-and-mortar retailers are required to collect state sales tax, but the Supreme Court has ruled that online retailers don't have to collect local sales taxes in states where they have no retail stores or physical nexus. As a result, Chattanoogans are able to effectively buy untaxed goods online for 9.25 percent less than comparable goods sold at local brick-and-mortar stores that must collect state and local sales taxes. A bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators, including Tennessee Republicans Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, recently introduced a bill that would allow states to compel online retailers to collect sales tax.

TN business owners want to close online sales tax loophole (W VLT-TV Knoxville)
Tennessee's small business owners say the state's sales tax policy isn't fair. They have to pay it but internet and out of state companies don't. They want state legislators to close the online tax loophole. "The internet has obviously taken business away from local merchants," said Paper Paraphenalia owner Kay Leibowitz. Rick Terry, another small business owner has seen it firsthand. Internet sales aren't always taxed in Tennessee, so people come into his Lenoir City jewelry shop, pick out and size engagement rings, then buy them online. "They have a huge advantage right now with that 9.25% sales tax, and we just want a level playing field. That's all we want. Because we can compete," Terry continued. The ticket price on one of his diamond rings is $9,025. W ith a 9% sales tax in Loudon County, Terry's customers end up spending an additional $700 in taxes. Terry added, "If we have to compete dollar for dollar with an internet company, that's going to really hit the profit margin." So why don't they launch websites of their own? 38159234.html


Grads question Hemlock jobs program (W SMV-TV Nashville)

Fewer than half of the students who graduated from a two-year chemical engineering program designed for Hemlock Semiconductor have been hired by the company. The program cost taxpayers more than $6 million. The day Hemlock Semiconductor announced it was bringing 500 new jobs to Clarksville was a day of celebration. The state stepped up to do its share, promising to provide an educated work force trained with the special skills the solar industry needs. But some students who graduated from the specially-designed program at Austin Peay State University are disappointed they haven't been hired by Hemlock. One student, who asked us not to use his name, started college at 34, and juggled raising a family with math and chemistry classes. He graduated with an associates degree in Chemical Engineering Technology, but says he doesn't know anyone in his graduating class who has been hired by Hemlock. "It's real discouraging," the student told us. "That was the whole reason for taking the classes; to get a job at Hemlock." "You feel like you wasted the last two years of your life," the student says.

Briggs & Stratton to close Newbern plant (Associated Press)

Power equipment maker Briggs & Stratton has announced a consolidation that will close the companys factory in W est Tennessee. A news release from the Milwaukee-based company on Thursday announced the closure of the plant in Newbern, laying off about 240 regular employees and 450 temporary employees. The plant makes walk-behind lawn mowers and snow blowers for the U.S. domestic market. The work is being moved to a Briggs & Stratton plant in McDonough, Ga. The company also is closing a Czech plant, sending that work to its plant in Murray, Ky., and ending 77 overseas jobs. The Newbern plant will be shuttered by about May 15, according to the company. S01/120127002/Briggs-Stratton-closeNewbern-plant

Briggs & Stratton to close Newbern facility (State Gazette)

Briggs & Stratton announced on Thursday it would move existing manufacturing from its Newbern, Tenn. facility to its McDonough, Ga. facility, essentially closing the plant down. According to Laura Tim, Briggs & Stratton director of corporate communication, employees at the Newbern facility were delivered the news of the closing at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday at an employee meeting. "We gave the employees time to digest the news," said Timm. "It was really important to give them that personal time. It was a very highly emotional day for everyone involved." The facility, which opened in 2007, currently manufacturers walk behind lawn mowers and snow throwers for the U.S. domestic market. Timm stated the move is reflective of a significant decline in demand for U.S. lawn and garden products over the last several years. "We've seen a decline over the last five years," said Timm. The company will also close its Ostrava, Czech Republic plant, shifting production to the company's Murray, Ky. facility. Also, the company will continue reducing capacity by reconfiguring and idling certain assets at its Poplar Bluff, Mo. facility. According to Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce statistics, the Briggs & Stratton Newbern facility is Dyer County's third largest industrial employer, behind Sara Lee and ERMCO. The closing will affect approximately 240 regular employees and 450 temporary employees.

Former Erlanger v.p. Fisher gets years pay in severance package (TFP/Martin)
An Erlanger vice president and father-in-law to the public hospitals former CEO has accepted a voluntary severance agreement that pays him a years salary in a lump sum, unused vacation time and provides health insurance for a year. Doug Fisher, who served as Erlangers vice president of government affairs, marketing and community relations, left the hospital on Jan. 13 as part of an executive restructuring. The process, which officials with the struggling hospital have said will save them up to $1.6 million a year, included eliminating six vice president positions. Four of the people in those positions have moved to other positions within Erlanger, organizations related to Erlanger or to the University of Tennessee. One position, senior vice president of physician services, was vacant. Dr. Keith Helton previously held the physician services position but has not been in a leadership role at the hospital since September, spokeswoman Pat Charles said Thursday. Heltons employment with Erlanger ended earlier this month, Charles said. In a statement Thursday, Fisher cited numerous achievements in which he played a role during his tenure, including starting a team of Physician Liaisons in 2009, the Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive project, the states hospital enhanced fee legislation and increased trauma funding in both Tennessee and Georgia. 11

Area farmers, Memphis City Schools plant seeds of support (C. Appeal/Roberts)
Growers come to table for nutrition programs Area farmers met with state school nutrition experts here Thursday, working out the crop rotations and logistics it will take to have locally grown sweet potatoes, collard greens -even strawberries -- on Memphis City Schools lunch menus by fall. "I haven't seen an opportunity like this in a long time," said Bob Levy of W illow Oaks Flower Farm in Brownsville, Tenn. "If small farmers don't step up, the mega farmers will." The city schools intend to contract $10 million in local produce -- hoping for regional lettuce in salad bars and fresh tomato slices on hamburgers. MCS currently gets its food from the federal commodity program and commercial vendors. The all-day meeting at the Central Nutrition Center on Jackson was the first of the National Farm to School Network meetings in the state and included growers from as far a way as the Florida Panhandle discussing the benefits and obstacles of contracting with schools. With outdoor hoophouses costing from $8,000 to $15,000 apiece, "we can't as farmers put all our capital out unless we see some sustainable growth," said Randy Ferrara, who owns Strawberry Creek Farms in Savannah, Tenn. (SUB)

School transition panel hires PR firm (Commercial Appeal/Kelley)

Company to spread merger message The Transition Planning Commission Thursday agreed to contract with the public relations firm Red Deluxe Brand Development, in partnership with Trust Marketing, to help develop and communicate with the public about a plan for the merger of Memphis City and Shelby County Schools. Total fees to be paid under the contract will not exceed $99,500. Communications and Community Engagement Committee chairman Jim Boyd said the company will go to work "as soon as possible" and will be on the job through all three phases of the commission's work, which sets the stage for the two districts to combine operations in the fall of 2013. Red Deluxe was among seven bidders for the project and stood out among the pack because of its current involvement in the community and its commitment to help the TPC carry out its work, Boyd said. Tasks will include website development, development of Facebook and Twitter feeds, assisting with the listening tour the TPC is engaged in to gather public input on its work, subcontracting with Yacoubian Research to gather community attitudes, and other typical public relations responsibilities. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Bartlett to tour E. Tenn. schools (Commercial Appeal/Bailey)

Bartlett officials will head out on their own education field trip to the Tri-Cities region of East Tennessee early next week. With stops in Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport, the entourage will try to get an inside look at the operation of schools similar in size to a potential Bartlett municipal school district. Mayor Keith McDonald, along with Aldermen Emily Elliott, Bobby Simmons and Jay Rainey, are scheduled to leave Sunday and return next Wednesday. Chief Administrative Officer Mark Brown also will go on the trip. Bartlett and the other Shelby County suburbs are studying whether to form their own municipal school districts to circumvent the unified school system that resulted from the Memphis Board of Education surrendering its charter. Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport are among 27 municipal school districts in Tennessee, according to a feasibility study by Southern Educational Strategies. The Tri-Cities region is in the northeastern corner of the state. The three cities all have kindergarten through high school programs with from eight to 12 schools in the respective systems. The enrollment ranges from 6,574 in Kingsport to 7,381 in Johnson City, according to the consultants' feasibility study. The consultants showed a Bartlett system would have 9,029 students in 11 schools. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Trio indicted for allegedly stealing money from state Dept. of Human Services (CP)
A Davidson County grand jury has indicted three women for stealing more than $60,000 from the state Department of Human Services. Clarissa Jones, 34, Sharron Katherine Luckey, 40, and Shonnekia Peacock, 36, were each charged with one count of theft of $60,000 or more, one count of money laundering and two counts of identity theft. According to the indictment filed Wednesday, the women rerouted child support payments and deposited them into accounts at Avenue Bank where the funds were thereafter withdrawn with the intent to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the criminally derived proceeds. The alleged theft and money laundering coincided with the identity theft of two individuals from June 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009. A spokeswoman with the Davidson County District Attorney Generals Office said information about the scope of the theft wouldnt be available at this stage of the investigation. They are facing the highest level of felony theft charges. 12

Ex-judge gets meth sentence (Jackson Sun)

A Crockett County attorney and former judge appeared in U.S. District Court in Jackson on Thursday for sentencing following his guilty plea last year on a methamphetamine charge. Shannon Jones testified at the sentencing hearing, saying once he started treatment for his drug addiction, it was a "relief" to have been discovered. "I was ready to quit all the lying. It was a relief to be there. I was using pretty heavily," he said. Federal court Judge J. Daniel Breen sentenced Jones on Thursday to six months in prison and three years of supervised release, issued a $100 special assessment fee and ordered Jones to pay more than $3,300 in restitution to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Breen said Jones must continue to be subject to random drug screenings through his rehabilitation agreement with Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and also is prohibited from owning firearms. He also must cooperate in the collection of his DNA, Breen said. Jones, a former Crockett County General Sessions judge, pleaded guilty in October to a charge of conspiracy to manufacture and possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. After hearing testimony from numerous experts and supporters of Jones, Breen dismissed all charges except for one count of conspiracy.

OPINION Editorial: Judicial selection plan worthy of public support (News-Sentinel)

So much fog surrounds the selection process for Tennessee's top judges that some light on the matter is welcome. Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell have joined solidly behind an effort to clarify the legal status of the process. "There have been so many discussion on this, I think there's a need for finality and clarity," Haslam said last week. Questions about the constitutionality of the system have swirled about for years. The constitution declares that judges of the state Supreme Court and lower appellate courts must be "elected by vote of the people." While that seems straightforward, Tennessee's actual selection process, which dates back to the 1970s, is anything but simple. First, a body called the Judicial Nominating Commission supplies the governor with a list of possible nominees. The governor makes his selection from that list. The vote of the people comes at the end of the judges' terms, when voters choose whether to retain the judges. The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission reviews each judge's work and issues a report prior to the election.

Editorial: Change constitution, but use plain language (Paris Post-Intelligencer)

End, once and for all, the confusion over how Tennessee should select its appellate judges, those who sit on state appeals courts and the Supreme Court. Thats the aim of Gov. Bill Haslam, who on Wednesday proposed a constitutional amendment that would in plain, no-contest language write the current Tennessee Plan into no13

contest law. Its a good idea. Some critics say an amendment isnt needed, because courts already have held that the plan does not violate the state constitution. But there is the nagging concern about those words in the constitution that say judges shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state. The Tennessee Plan does that, sort of. It provides for a nominating commission to propose three candidates for a vacant judgeship, from which the governor appoints one. Then every eight years, these judges face yes-or-no decisions by voters on whether they should be allowed to stay in office.

Editorial: Time to secure appointment of Supreme Court justices (Jackson Sun)

Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell are right to sponsor legislation to allow Tennessee voters to decide how best to select state Supreme Court and appeals court judges. Their bills to place a change in the state constitution on the ballot should be approved. The Tennessee constitution is clear on the matter: "The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state." But that is not how the judges are chosen these days. Therein lies the conflict between the state constitution and the way higher court judges get their jobs. Instead of direct elections, Supreme Court and appeals court judges are nominated by a commission, and a slate of candidates is sent to the governor who makes the final choice. Only when they come up for a retention vote on an eight-year schedule do voters get a direct yes or no vote. The current system has been challenged, and the state Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. But, clearly, the judges appointed under the system have at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. The best way to resolve the issue is to change the constitution. That can be a risky undertaking. A public vote in favor of the change would eliminate potential problems. But if voters defeat the amendment, the current system surely would be in jeopardy.

Pam Strickland: Plan needed for Lakeshore transistion (News-Sentinel)

The annual luncheon with legislators hosted by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists last Saturday was proving itself too routine, as in nothing newsworthy was emerging, when state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, said closing Lakeshore Mental Health Institute was going to save the state $500 per patient per day. Afterward, I asked Haynes to confirm the number. And both he and state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, the county's new GOP lawmaker, assured me that they would both make sure that the money would stay local. Next I asked Grant Lawrence, public information officer with the state Department of Mental Health, about how such drastic savings are possible. It's the difference between the cost per day of an acute-care patient at Lakeshore, which is $900, and the new contract with the private providers for the same services, which is $450, Lawrence said. "This is possible largely because of the fixed overhead, costs and regulations that the state is subject to and the privates are not," Lawrence wrote in an email. "This means that we can effectively treat double the number of people across the state as that money is reinvested in the community."

Ken Yager: Updates on redistricting, teacher evaluations (Oak Ridger)

The second session of the 107th General Assembly convened Tuesday, Jan. 10, to face a full array of issues. During the first week, the issue of redistricting took center stage. Since 1790, the federal government has conducted a Census every 10 years. Upon completion, the state legislatures are required to redistrict the state and federal legislatures to reflect changes in population. In a famous Tennessee case, Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court of the United States added all districts had to comply with the "one man -- one vote" principle. In Tennessee there are 99 House seats and 33 Senate seats. According to the Census, Tennessee now has more than 6 million people. The optimum population for a House district is 62,000 and it's 192,000 for a Senate district. The legislature held over for a rare Friday session last week (Jan. 13) to adopt the redistricting bills. These bills will comply with the Constitution and divide fewer counties than previous legislation. Many thanks to Speaker Ron Ramsey and Majority Leader Mark Norris for their leadership to get these bills through with minimal partisan bickering.

Carly Harrington: Businesses urge closing online sales tax loophole (N-S)
This past Christmas, I did something I had never (shockingly) done before I bought something from I didn't intend to make my purchase there. I had gotten in my car and tried to get it right here in Knoxville first, but to no avail. I took my frustration to the interwebs and let my fingers do the shopping. It led me 14

straight to the world's largest online retailer, and I kind of liked it. It was quick. It was easy, and yes, it was cheaper. It's that latter part that really irks brick-and-mortar retailers. They say Internet-only businesses like Amazon have an unfair price advantage because they don't collect sales tax in states like Tennessee, where consumers are supposed to "voluntarily" pay. In Knoxville, the sales tax rate is 9.25 percent. "People are trying to save money, and I understand that but it's just not fair," said Kay Leibowitz, who has owned her Knoxville stationery and invitation business, Paper Paraphernalia, for 32 years. Leibowitz along with Rick Terry of Rick Terry Jewelers in Farragut and Lenoir City and Garrett Wagley of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce played host to media on Thursday at her store, where they urged passage of federal legislation that would close the loophole.

Times Free-Press: Target grant boosts high-achieving Chattanooga school (TFP)

It is great news for public education and some local students that Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts has been "Targeted" to receive a generous grant of $100,000. Target Corp., a prominent national retailer with a presence in our community, selected 50 schools across the country for a total of $5 million in grants. Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts is one of the fortunate and deserving winners. Principal Debbie Smith was understandably overjoyed to hear the news that her school, which has a reputation for academic excellence, was getting the money. "How often do you get a phone call that says you're going to get $100,000?" she asked. The school, in the former Chattanooga High School building, serves nearly 600 students in grades six through 12. Students are admitted through an audition process. It is worth noting that part of the school's success undoubtedly comes from the high level of involvement by parents. Boosting art supplies and technology are among the things that the grant will be used for.

Guest columnists: Health reform takes shape (Tennesseean)

Analysis says 558,000 in TN will gain coverage The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have a profound impact on how health care is delivered in Tennessee. The most sweeping changes will be in access to health insurance for the uninsured. These changes will impact all residents of Tennessee and not just those without insurance. They will also present both opportunities and challenges. We, as members of a team of researchers from the University of Memphis, recently completed an analysis of the new laws impact on the state. Our analysis indicates that more than 558,000 of the states 910,000 uninsured residents under 65 will gain insurance coverage after full implementation of the reforms. Of these newly insured, 228,000 will be covered through expansions of private insurance opportunities and about 240,000 will be covered through expanded Medicaid eligibility. In addition, more than 90,000 young adults will gain insurance coverage under their parents policies. Reducing the number of uninsured by over half will significantly improve access to health care and the well-being of the newly insured. odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p ###