Monthly Archives: November 2017

DeVos in TN speech: ‘I’m just getting started!’

Speaking in Nashville at the National Summit on Education Reform, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rallied education leaders to expand “school choice,” took swipes at teachers unions and Democrats, and put in a good word for her boss’s campaign to overhaul the nation’s tax structure.

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Sheriff fires daughter, son-in-law for using illegal drugs

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal has fired his daughter and son-in-law last week after discovering communications between them discussing their use of illegal drugs, reports the Johnson City Press.

Shelly Graybeal and her husband, Scott Johnson, who had each worked at the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, were terminated from their employment Nov. 20, Chief Operations Officer Leighta Laitinen said.

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Former Rep. Billy Spivey joins GOP field in Senate District 14

Former State Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg has become the third Republican to declare himself a candidate to succeed former state Sen. Jim Tracy, who has resigned his Senate District 14 seat and triggered a special election.

He joins former State Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and Murfreesboro businessman Shane Reeves in seeking the GOP nomination for a district that covers Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties along with part of Rutherford County. The primary date is Jan. 25.

Gayle Jordan of Murfreesboro is so far unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Continue reading

Auditors find troubles at DIDD and see looming caregiver crisis

In an audit of the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities released today, the state comptroller’s office found shortcomings in several areas and included an “emerging issue” observation that the state faces “a critical shortage of caregivers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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TN Beacon Center sets up ‘advocacy’ affiliate

Press release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Today, the Beacon Center of Tennessee announced the formation of Beacon Impact, a new 501(c)(4) organization that will serve as the think tank’s advocacy partner. 

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U.S. Senate panel hears from Trump nominees to TVA board

A U.S. Senate subcommittee heard testimony Tuesday from President Trump’s four nominees to the TVA Board of Directors. Jeffrey Smith, deputy director of operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the only Tennessean among the four, emphasized the need for clean energy in recruiting new business investment within the region, reports WPLN.  No vote was taken.

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NAACP affiliate opposes Norris confirmation as federal judge

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) announced its opposition to the confirmation of state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) as a federal judge, reports Nashville Post. At least two other ‘progressive groups’ are opposing confirmation.

Norris, an attorney with Adams and Reese, was nominated to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee by President Donald Trump earlier this year. He was questione by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in October, but it has not yet voted on his nomination. If the committee votes in favor of his appointment, the vote would move to the full Senate.

In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, Sherrilyn A. Ifill, the president of the LDF (a separate institution from the NCAAP itself) cites concerns with Norris’s record as a legislator.

“Norris has developed an appalling record opposing equal rights that stands out even among President Trump’s long line of anti-civil rights nominees,” Ifill writes. “Norris’s record of hostility toward vulnerable and marginalized communities in Tennessee – that is, the very people who depend most on the courts to protect their rights – shows that he cannot fairly and impartially provide equal justice under the law.”

 

Decline in Tennesseans seeking work tied to record low unemployment

Though the labor market has grown robustly nationwide this year, progress has been uneven across blue states and red states, reports the Wall Street Journal — using Tennessee as an example.

An increasing number of people in red states have stopped looking for work, while a larger share of people in blue states are actively in the workforce.

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UT trustees donate to Republicans; faculty and staff to Democrats

Members of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees have made more than $90,000 in political donations so far this year in federal-level campaigns, reports the UT Daily Beacon after a search of FEC data. All but $2,500 went to Republicans while UT staff and students collectively gave $38,000 with only about $1,500 to Republicans.

Ten of the board’s 25 members made political contributions.

In total, (board) members gave $5,900 to Tennessee Republican John Rose, a candidate for the 6th Congressional District; $5,400 to 7th Congressional Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, a senatorial candidate; and $1,500 to Knoxville County Mayor Tim Burchett, Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

(Raja) Jubran, who served on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s 2010 campaign finance team prior to his appointment to the Board of Trustees in 2012, has donated $59,200 to candidates and political committees this year, making him the largest donor on the board. Haslam, an ex-officio board member, has made $52,700 in political contributions.

On the other hand, employees at UT, including faculty, staff and graduate students, have made 2,311 contributions this year, totaling over $38,000. In contrast to the Board of Trustees, only $1,578.75 of these donations were made to organizations affiliated with the Republican Party.

Corker gets requested revision and votes for Senate GOP tax bill; Alexander involved with Obamacare deal

The Senate Budget Committee voted to advance the GOP tax reform bill on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with both Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) backing the measure a day after threatening to withhold their support, reports Politico.  That critical vote came after President Donald Trump came to Capitol Hill to rally the troops in the tax battle.

Johnson voted for the tax bill after a back-and-forth with Trump during the lunch, according to multiple sources, over the Wisconsin Republican’s main concern: that the proposal currently gives more benefits to corporations than to businesses that pay taxes through the individual system.

… Corker, one of the fiscal hawks concerned about the deficit impact of tax cuts, said he was satisfied with details for a “trigger” to reverse tax cuts if economic growth fell short of projections in years to come. He expects details to be released Thursday.

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