bill haslam

Haslam grants 10-day execution delay to prepare electric chair

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in Nashville on March 1, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A statement from Gov. Bill Haslam about his decision to grant a 10-day delay in the execution of death row inmate Edmund Zagorski:

I am granting to Edmund Zagorski a reprieve of 10 days from execution of the sentence of death imposed upon by him by a jury in 1984 which was scheduled to be carried out later today. I take seriously the responsibility imposed upon the Tennessee Department of Correction and me by law, and given the federal court’s decision to honor Zagorski’s last-minute decision to choose electrocution as the method of execution, this brief reprieve will give all involved the time necessary to carry out the sentence in an orderly and careful manner.

Haslam won’t intervene in Zagorski execution

A statement from Gov. Bill Haslam about death row inmate Edmund Zagorski, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday:

After careful consideration, I am declining to intervene in the case of Edmund Zagorski, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 by a Robertson County jury for the murders of John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter. Zagorski requests clemency based upon his behavior while incarcerated and juror affidavits obtained nearly 35 years after the trial stating that some jurors would have preferred to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which was not an option under Tennessee law at the time. While Zagorski has exhibited good behavior during his incarceration, that does not undo the fact that he robbed and brutally murdered two men and attempted to kill a police officer while on the run. Further, while juries today have the option of imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in capital cases, the jury in Zagorski’s case heard the evidence at trial and rendered a unanimous verdict in accordance with the law at the time and their duty as jurors. Ten courts, including the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, have reviewed and upheld the jury’s verdict and sentence, and the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that the addition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option does not affect previous verdicts.

Haslam administration awards $35M in school safety funding, grants

Gov. Bill Haslam delivers his final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s office has announced how it will allocate $35 million in school security funding across the state. About $10 million of the money is in the form of recurring funding, while $25 million is in the form of one-time grants.

“We have made security for children at our schools a priority, so there was an urgency to have all schools assessed and the funding allocated to increase school safety as we started the school year,” Haslam said in a release.

The grants will allow school districts to make various security enhancements, including better door locks, improved visitor screening procedures and shatter-resistant glass. Some districts are using grants to improve mental health services for students and to pay for school counselors and child psychologists. Additional local funding has led to 213 new school resource officers to be hired around the state.

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Tennessee unemployment edges up, but still ‘historically low’

Tennessee’s unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% in August, a 0.1 percentage point increase from the previous month. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said that despite “this very small fluctuation,” Tennessee’s jobless rate is still among the lowest in the nation.

“The fact the rate has seen such little movement over the last year reflects the strength of our state’s economy and our work over the past eight years to develop Tennessee’s workforce to meet the needs of today’s employers,” Haslam said in a statement.

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Haslam announces listening tour on student testing

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at the state Capitol in Nashville on Aug. 21, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a multi-phase plan, highlighted by a statewide listening tour, to improve delivery of the state’s elementary and secondary assessments known as TNReady. The goals of the engagement plan and tour are to:

1 Engage in an open conversation about assessment and ways to improve administration;

2 Gather feedback that can inform a smooth delivery of state assessments this school year and beyond, including feedback on the selection of the state’s next assessment partner to be chosen later this school year; 

3 Discuss how to better provide schools, educators, parents and students with meaningful and timely results from assessments; and

4 Distinguish assessment content from delivery in an effort to focus on the value assessments can provide.

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Haslam goes to bat for Bill Lee in RGA ad

Gov. Bill Haslam espouses the virtues of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee in a new ad released by the Republican Governors Association — the national group that Haslam chairs.

“We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones,” Haslam says in the ad.

Here’s the script:

For eight years I’ve had the privilege of being your governor. Together, we’ve made a lot of progress. More people have jobs than ever before. Our taxes are lower, our students are improving faster than anywhere in the country. Tennessee is stronger than ever. Bill Lee is the right choice to take Tennessee to the next level. We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones. He’s been doing that his whole life. I’m asking you to join me in supporting Bill Lee for governor.

Textile mill that planned 1,000 jobs in Pikeville only employs 26

Only 26 positions have been filled more than a year after Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Pikeville to announce that a new textile company would bring 1,000 jobs to Bledsoe County, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. While Textile Corporation of America has received $3 million in state aid, the company has yet to install any sewing or stitching equipment at the site.

The owners of the company are engaged in a court battle about who is in control of the enterprise, and nearly $30,000 in property taxes have yet been paid.

“Somebody got $3 million from the state of Tennessee, and where that money has gone? I don’t know,” Dunlap attorney Tommy Austin said during a chancery court hearing over a proposed foreclosure action

Textile Corp. manager Karim Sadruddin said at the hearing that the company plans to start hiring soon and that it plans to have 300 workers by the end of the year and the full 1,000 within five years.

“We had unfortunate and unforeseen issues, but we are committed to the plant and people of Pikeville,” Sadruddin said.

Haslam grants clemency to four Tennesseans

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has granted executive clemency to four Tennesseans: Michelle Lea Martin, Ralph Randall Reagan, Robert James Sheard Jr., and Steven Lee Kennedy. “The governor continues to review and consider additional clemency requests,” according to a release.

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Haslam to successor: ‘Everything changes now’

Gov. Bill Haslam gives a preview of his State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 29, 2018. (Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam has written an op-ed for the Tennessee Gannett newspapers in the form of a letter to his successor. In it, he warns that  “a lot of what was talked about during the campaign will not be the issues that end up on your desk as governor.”

“You have spent these last months trying to get in front of as many of Tennessee’s 6.6 million citizens as you could to tell them your story. Everything changes now,” he wrote.

“The most important thing you can do right now is start to hire your team. You have 23 commissioners who will lead the agencies and several key positions in the governor’s office,” Haslam said. “Nothing is more important than hiring the right people for those roles…. Hire great people!”

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Claude Ramsey — former deputy governor, mayor and legislator — dies aged 75

Claude Ramsey, who rose from third-generation Hamilton County strawberry farmer to deputy governor of Tennessee, died Monday at the age of 75, reports the Times Free Press.

In more than 40 years of public service, he was elected five times as county mayor, four times as assessor of property, twice to the Tennessee General Assembly and once as county commissioner. Ramsey never lost an election.

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