Tennessee

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tennessee Senate Republicans are proposing legislation that seeks to prevent expansion of the state Medicaid program under provisions of President Obama's health care law.

The measure, called "TennCare Fiscal Responsibility Act", was filed Thursday by Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown and has 15 Senate co-sponsors. A similar version of the proposal was filed last week in the House. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the right to opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing pre-existing federal Medicaid funding.

Members of the Tennessee Board of Pharmacists will be discussing additional measures the state could take in regulating compounding pharmacies in the wake of a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has sickened hundreds of people across the country.

Doctors in Tennessee were among the first to link the outbreak to steroid injections prepared by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Across the county, 45 people, including 14 in Tennessee, have died after getting the shots.

A task force formed by the state board to look at state laws in regard to compounding pharmacies is expected to make recommendations during a meeting Thursday.

Wine Sales in Tennessee Supermarkets?

Jan 31, 2013

Supporters of a bill to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine are scheduled to unveil the details of their legislative proposal Thursday. State Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and fellow Republican Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol are the main sponsors of the measure that would end the exclusive right of liquor stores to sell wine in Tennessee.

The measure is expected to seek to put the option of whether to allow wider wine sales o the voters in local cities and counties. The Republican House and Senate speakers support the change. But opponents argue the change would unfairly disrupt the existing business rules that liquor store owners invested under, and that the measure would make higher-alcohol drinks more widely available to minors.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander's reelection campaign announced four upcoming fundraising events that he predicted would add more than $3 million to his $1 million war chest. Politico is reporting observers see the announcement as a way to scare off would-be conservative primary challengers.

Fellow Republican Tennessee Senator Bob Corker will host the first fundraiser at his house in Chattanooga in April. The others will be in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis. The 72-year-old Alexander, who is seeking his third term, has been seeking out so-called "bundlers". Ten supporters have already agreed to raise $100,000. The campaign is trying to get 25 others to agree to bring in at least $50,000.

Alexander has been aggressive about shoring up support early. In December he named five Republicans in the House delegation, Governor Bill Haslam and Speaker Beth Harwell as co-chairmen.

Governor Bill Haslam’s new budget proposal would increase funding for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, which has come under fire recently for refusing to turn over records in the cases of child deaths. Haslam’s spending plan would boost DCS funding by nearly $7 million--money The Tennessean reports would be used to hire 62 more caseworkers and investigators, while boosting pay for those already on staff.

Tennessee lawmakers are scheduled to hold hearings into why more than 70 children died last year after having some contact with the department. A group of media outlets in the Volunteer State is suing the DCS for refusing to make public agency documents concerning child deaths.

Last week, A Davidson County Chancery Court Judge ruled the DCS must provide more information regarding the causes of death, the department’s prior involvement with the children, and the results of prior contact provided to those who later died.

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