Tennessee

Education
8:07 am
Thu February 14, 2013

In Tennessee, Questions are Raised Regarding Efforts to Boost Minority Rates at Universities

University of Tennessee in Knoxville

A few Tennessee lawmakers are voicing concerns with a bill that aims to end any preference shown to minority groups on public college campuses. The legislation was delayed after a long committee hearing at the state capitol.

The proposal comes from out of state. A former university Regent in California who is an African American has helped pass similarly worded constitutional amendments in a few western states.

Ward Connerly says he’s attempting to re-level the playing field after years of informal affirmative action.

“We have evolved this theory that as long as we’re discriminating for good things, that that’s alright," said Connerly.

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Regional
8:18 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Original Emancipation Proclamation On Display in Tennessee

The original Emancipation Proclamation, a document that changed the lives of countless African-Americans during the Civil War, is on display in Nashville as the fragile historical document makes its only stop in the Southeast on a 150th anniversary tour.

The exhibit opened Tuesday — fittingly on President Abraham Lincoln's birthday — at the Tennessee State Museum and runs through Monday. It's a rare visit outside the nation's capital for the original document Lincoln signed in 1863 declaring "forever free" all slaves held in Confederate states rebelling against the Union.

Because lights are harmful to the papers, the document can only be viewed for 72 hours over the course of the six days. After Feb. 18, a replica of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display until the exhibit ends Sept. 1.

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Health
2:10 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Tennessee Dept. of Children's Services Deleted Pages from Child Death Records

Someone at the Department of Children's Services redacted numerous pages of information about child fatalities in meeting minutes that were provided to the media.

DCS spokeswoman Molly Sudderth told The Tennessean the department is still investigating who redacted the information and why.

Because the documents were redacted on a computer, it was impossible to tell that many sentences and paragraphs had been completely removed. These included potentially damaging information about caseworker actions.

The meeting minutes of the department's internal Child Fatality Review Team were requested by The Tennessean and The Associated Press.

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Politics
8:09 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Tennessee Senate Approves "Guns in Trunks" Bill on 28-5 Vote

The Tennessee Senate on Monday passed a bill to give people with handgun carry permits the right to store their loaded firearms in their vehicles wherever they are parked, brushing aside concerns raised by businesses and higher education administrators in Tennessee.

The chamber voted 28-5 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville after rejecting Democratic efforts to add potential exclusions for businesses if they were approved by the state Department of Safety.

"If you allow people to come onto your parking lot then they have the right to have that firearm in the car," Ramsey told reporters before the vote.

Ramsey has been pushing for the quick adoption of the bill to avoid a repeat of a drawn out fight last year between gun advocates and the business lobby.

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Business
7:21 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Plant Expansion in Northern Tennessee to Add 70 Jobs

State economic development officials say auto transmission products supplier U.S. Tsubaki Automotive plans to expand its facility in Portland, TN, adding 70 jobs in the process. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development says the company's expansion in Sumner County represents a $1.9 million investment.

Tsubaki Automotive offers state of the art power transmission products. The company supplies complete chain drive systems for engines and transmissions, including cam drives, balancer drives and oil pump drives. The systems typically include chains, tensioners, guides and sprockets.

Tsubaki's customers include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Honda. The company plans to host a job fair February 11th at the Sumner County Career Center.

Politics
8:26 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Tennessee House Speaker: "Guns in Trunks" Bill Will Pass

The so-called “guns in trunks” bill is up for a vote in the full Tennessee Senate Monday, and it now appears set for smooth sailing in the state House. Speaker Beth Harwell says the controversial measure will likely pass her chamber.

The bill is revised from last year, when Harwell and other Republican leaders prevented it from coming to a vote at the wishes of big employers.

“By limiting it to gun carrying permit holders put some safeguards in place. And the liability issue, we just had to address that. That’s just something we had to do for business,” said Harwell.

The legislation includes immunity for the property owner if someone is shot with a gun stored in their parking lot. However, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce is still opposed, saying that business owners should have the right to prevent firearms from being brought on to their property, including parking lots.

Health
5:52 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Tennessee Hospitals Say Not Expanding Medicaid Will Cost Thousands of Jobs

Tennessee's hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur. 

Without expanding who is covered by Medicaid – known as TennCare in Tennessee – hospitals say there could be a “recessionary impact.” Hospitals agreed to cuts that total billions of dollars, believing they would see fewer uninsured. But that assumption is in jeopardy.

State Senator Brian Kelsey is trying to prevent the state from expanding Medicaid.

“Look, my job is not to bail out the special interest hospital lobby. My job is to represent Tennessee taxpayers," said the Germantown Republican.

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Education
2:55 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Advocacy Group Pushing for Higher Standards for Tennessee Teachers

An education advocacy group in Tennessee is pushing for teacher candidates to face higher academic standards before they even begin taking college classes.

The move by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education comes after Tennessee education officials linked teacher effectiveness to better ACT scores.

It said some colleges and universities admit teacher education students who score as low as 15 on the college admissions test.

A score of 21 on the ACT is considered the standard of readiness for college.

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Politics
11:15 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Tennessee's "Guns in Trunks" Measure Headed for Full Senate Vote

Closely watched legislation in Tennessee that would allow guns to be stored in cars – even on someone else’s private property – is headed for a vote in the full state Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the so-called “guns in trunks” measure against the wishes of some of the state’s largest employers. Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, says plans to expand or invest in the state hinge on whether a corporation can still keep weapons out of their own parking lots.

“It is certainly more of a concern than you might otherwise think," said Ozier.

The bill has yet to begin making its way through the Tennessee House.

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Regional
12:54 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Tennessee DCS Commissioner Resigns as Questions Remain Over Children Who Died

The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has resigned amid scrutiny of how her agency was handling cases of children who died after investigations of abuse and neglect.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced in a news release Tuesday that Kate O’Day had decided to resign because of concerns that she had become the focus of attention rather than the children the agency is meant to serve.

Haslam last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.

DCS had been sued by The Tennessean, The Associated Press and 10 other news organizations to obtain case records of 150 children who died after the state launched abuse or neglect investigations.

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