bill haslam

Haslam headed to Europe for a week

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe will travel to Europe from June 26 to June 30 for an economic development trip designed to strengthen ties with European businesses and increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in Tennessee.

During the weeklong trip, Haslam and Rolfe will pitch Tennessee’s advantages to a number of European businesses interested in establishing operations in the Southeast U.S. The trip will include stops in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Germany.

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Haslam appoints Knoxville lawyer to TN Claims Commission

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has named William A. Young of Knoxville to the Tennessee Claims Commission, replacing William O. Shults of Newport whose terms expires June 30.

The appointment is for the Eastern Division and is subject to confirmation by resolution of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly.  The three commissioners hold eight-year terms.

(Note: Shults was the last appointee of former Gov. Phil Bredesen on the commission and had served since 2006, first filling a vacancy and then to a full term in 2009. The salary is about $160,000 annually.)

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Haslam signed everything the legislature sent him this year (524 bills and resolutions)

Gov. Bill Haslam signed everything the General Assembly sent to his desk this year, leaving his list of vetoes since 2011 to stand at four.

From an AP brief:

The Republican governor signed all the 524 measures sent his way this session, declining all calls for vetoing bills like a new law requiring the use of the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state law that gay rights groups have contended is a sneaky way to deny same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a “husband,” a “wife,” a “father” or “mother.”

Others had unsuccessfully lobbied Haslam to veto a bill that allows people with handgun carry permits to be armed on all local government properties unless city and counties use metal detectors, hire security guards and check people’s bags.

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‘Interested observer’ Haslam eyes would-be successors, recalls ‘personal vulnerability’ of campaigning

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s an “interested observer” in the developing campaign to succeed him and doesn’t have a favorite in the Republican primary, reports the Times Free Press – with a bit of reminiscing about the campaign that led to his 2010 election.

Haslam said he’s spoken with almost all the major announced or expected Republican and Democratic candidates and knew most of them already. The governor said he’s keeping up with the campaign for several reasons.

One is strictly personal and includes empathy for anyone embarking on a statewide campaign, an ordeal he described from experience as a “physically grueling process that has a certain personal vulnerability to it that takes most people a while to get used to.”

Haslam’s other interest deals with his own administration’s legacy. “You know, you do this job for now coming on 6 1/2 years, and you put certain things in place. You’re really interested in who takes your place.”

…Haslam, a billionaire whose father founded what’s now the nation’s largest truck stop chain, Pilot Flying J, was in a four-person GOP primary. Plenty of sharp elbows ere flung, mostly at him.

“There’s a certain vulnerability to being a candidate on the statewide stage for a two-year period that you’re probably not used to,” Haslam said as he reflected. “I’ve been a mayor and so we’d had local media, but it’s a different thing having statewide media.”

…Then-U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, another candidate, repeatedly questioned Haslam’s accomplishments as company president at Pilot. At one point Wamp compared Haslam to the character of nice-guy Bobby Ewing on the 1970s/1980s prime-time soap opera “Dallas.”

“He’s a nice man — Bobby was the nicest guy in that family — but he was never in charge,” Wamp said as he sought to belittle Haslam’s achievements. Wamp also charged that a Pilot Travel Centers subsidiary “operates casinos and other casino games in at least three states” and has ties to “international gaming interests.”

Haslam found what he’s looking for at Bonnaroo?

Tweet from the governor of Tennessee while visiting the Bonnaroo music festival near Manchester on Saturday — pictured with Crissy and members of the band U2.


Haslam differs with Trump, Beavers on highway funding

Gov. Bill Haslam, who toured the state Monday for ceremonial signings of his “IMPROVE Act,” declared along way that he’s not too keen on President Trump’s infrastructure plans — or on state Sen. Mae Beavers declaring she’ll push to repeal of the IMPROVE fuel tax hikes if elected to succeed him as governor.

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The governor’s ceremonial IMPROVE Act signing tour today

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday, June 5, will hold ceremonies in each of the three grand divisions of the state to sign the IMPROVE Act, a key piece of his NextTennessee legislative agenda that delivers a safe, reliable and debt-free transportation network for the next generation of Tennesseans while providing the largest tax cut in state history and making Tennessee more competitive in recruiting manufacturing jobs.

 Monday, June 5

10:15 a.m. EDT – Hamilton County Welcome Center, I-75 North, Chattanooga

(This location is near the site of the I-75/I-24 interchange modification project in Hamilton County to improve traffic flow at one of the most heavily traveled areas of Chattanooga through which more than 100,000 vehicles travel per day.) 

1:00 p.m. CDT – Acklen Park Drive (on I-440 overpass), Nashville

(This location is over the stretch of I-440 from I-40 to I-24 in Davidson County. The project includes pavement replacement and safety improvements to the 30-year old interstate that serves more than 100,000 vehicles per day.) 

3:00 p.m. CDT – U.S. 51 S. (at the future I-69 construction site, 0.5 miles southwest of Quality Inn), Union City

(This site will become the future I-69 in Union City and connect Obion County to the vital north-south corridor, creating greater access to other communities in west Tennessee and other states.) 

The IMPROVE Act, “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy,” cuts nearly $300 million in taxes next year and more than $500 million in taxes annually at full implementation, including a 20 percent decrease in the sales tax on groceries and a $113 million reduction in business taxes on manufacturers.

 Nearly 1,000 road and bridge projects across all 95 counties will be delivered through a conservative, responsible and user-based approach of raising the gas tax by six cents and diesel tax by 10 cents, each over the next three years.

 Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Reps. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) and Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) sponsored the legislation.

Vandy Poll: Trump approval at 52 percent in TN (same as Corker; bit ahead of Alexander)

Some findings in a Vanderbilt University poll of 1,005 Tennessee voters, conducted May 4-15:

-President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 52 percent, about 10 points higher than President Obama’s approval rating in a late November 2016 poll. He carried the state with 61 percent of the vote last November. Responding to a separate question on whether they believe Trump will change things for the better, 41 percent said yes and 54 percent said no.

-Among announced and potential candidate for governor, Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black had the highest name recognition, 49 percent followed by Democrat Karl Dean, former Nashville mayor at 38 percent. Others: House Speaker Beth Harwell 34 percent; , Sen. Mae Beavers 28 percent, former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd 26 percent; Sen. Mark Green 21 percent, businessman Bill Lee of Franklin and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, both 14 percent, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, 8 percent.

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Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

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State officials give final approval to five-year outsourcing contract with JLL

News release from Department of General Services

The State of Tennessee has executed a five-year contract with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to provide statewide facilities management services.  The contract is effective today (May 26, 2017).

JLL was selected following a two-year multi-step procurement process led by the state’s Central Procurement Office that included representatives from higher education, general government and the legislature.

As we have consistently said, the contract will protect the livelihoods of current state facilities management employees, and is another tool for state departments and institutions to use to keep their expenses low, reducing the need for cost and tuition increases.

To view the contract, (go HERE.)

 Contract Background and Highlights

 ·         The State of Tennessee began to look at opportunities in professional facilities management services after studying results from 10 million square feet of state-owned office buildings currently under a similar arrangement in which taxpayer savings of about $26 million were achieved over three years. An additional third-party inspection of the cost analysis upheld forecasted savings if the program were expanded to more state buildings.

·         Participation by state agencies and institutions is voluntary.

·         The contract includes strict provisions that JLL will retain all current state facilities employees (provided they pass a background check and drug screening).

·         JLL will provide compensation equalization for every employee that is transitioned to ensure that they are made whole at the time of transition.

·         Tennessee’s facilities management program implemented in 2013 is considered innovative nationally, receiving awards from the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) in 2014 and from the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) in 2015.

Today the state is also announcing Charles Burkett as the contract governance executive.  A Memphis native, Burkett is a 41-year veteran of the financial services/ banking industry, and most recently a member of the University of Memphis leadership team serving as advisor to the president.  In his role at the university, Burkett was responsible for a range of strategic initiatives including implementation of quality improvement measurements of student satisfaction and managing residence life and dining.

In his new contract governance role, he will be responsible for ensuring the overall oversight of the statewide contract to ensure best service across all stakeholders, and for serving as the main point of contact for interested entities that would like to request a quote for service.

Burkett is a former member of the state’s FM Steering Committee, and will continue to serve as a liaison between the statewide contract with JLL and committee members, which will transition in name to Board of Advisors. Representatives on this advisory committee are from higher education and general government leadership.

Note/UPDATE: The Nashville Post reports Burkett will be paid $95 per hour under a contract, which would be $197,600 for a full year of 40-hour week – more than $20,000 more than his salary at the University of Memphis. Further:

He (Burkett) also was a member of the Facilities Management Steering Committee, which oversaw the secretive two-year process that resulted in JLL’s contract. Roberson said the steering committee will transition to a “Board of Advisors” overseeing the contract.

Roberson said the membership of the new board of advisors could be shaken up, but as it currently stands it consists of the head of the Department of Customer Focused Government, Terry Cowles (salary: $150,000); Bob Oglesby, the commissioner of the Department of General Services (salary: $159,996); Mike Perry, the head of procurement in General Services (salary: $147,900); Larry Martin, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration (salary: $190,260); Brock Hill, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Environment & Conservation (salary: $146,532); Russ Deaton, the deputy executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (salary: $155,004); Rick Nicholson, the budget analysis director for the Senate (salary: $110,220); and David Miller, the CFO of the UT system (salary: $310,000). TBR has not had a member on the committee since Warren Nichols left for a new job at the beginning of the year but is expected to appoint someone soon.


Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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