News & Opinion Notes on Matters Before the Legislature

‘Deeply Torn’ Vs. ‘Revenge Politics’
Sen. Rusty Crowe is “deeply torn” on teacher collective bargaining legislation, which is forcing him to “make one of the toughest decisions he has ever had to face in his (20-year) legislative career,” reports Robert Houk in a Sunday column based on appearances of two legislators before his ETSU journalism class. As for the other legislator:
Meanwhile, his colleague in the House, Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, says he suffers from no mental anguish or political confusion when it comes to collective bargaining. Ford (always a plain talker) told my students last week he believes the effort by some of his GOP colleagues to end collective bargaining is “baloney” and amounts to nothing more than “revenge politics.” Ford said he refuses to support any legislation that would hurt teachers.
“I’m for helping teachers,” he said. And you don’t help teachers, Ford said, by eliminating collective bargaining.

Budget Cuts State Library Services
Upcoming budget cuts will affect those interested in studying Tennessee history, according to a Cumberland University history professor writing in The Tennessean.
The budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam recommends the cutting of seven full-time positions at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, proposed cuts to TSLA were delayed by federal stimulus funding, but that funding is no longer in place.
According to the 2011-12 budget, beginning this summer, public access to TSLA will be reduced from 60 hours to 37.5 hours. State Librarian Chuck Sherrill has indicated that TSLA, which is currently open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p. m. will change its hours to Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These changes in the hours of operation will not meet the budget as currently written, however, so another five hours will need to be cut beyond what Sherrill has identified.
The seven TSLA staff positions targeted for elimination, which is the other major identified cut, will almost certainly be longtime staff members. These losses are in addition to the five positions lost under the last budget.

Layoff Notices Delivered at Greene Valley
About 280 of the more than 1,000 workers at Greene Valley Development Center received written notice (last week) that they may be without a job when the new state budget year begins July 1, reports the Johnson City Press.
The notices are part of Gov. Bill Haslam and the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ proposal to reduce Greene Valley’s work force by 600 positions, including 103 unfilled positions and another 211 workers whose jobs will be eliminated if the budget is passed without amendment.
The governor’s budget proposal also includes the elimination of 248 jobs at the Clover Bottom Developmental Center in West Tennessee that is in the process of closing, leaving Greene Valley as the state’s last remaining residential development center for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Summers Vs. Beavers
The Tennessean has a guest column by former Attorney General Paul Summers supporting the current system of selecting the attorney general by Supreme Court appointment and another by Sen. Mae Beavers, sponsor of bills to change the status quo. The newspaper also sides with Summers.
God in the Classroom?’
Under a headline declaring ‘Bill Would Let God in the Classroom,’ The Tennessean has a rundown on legislation that proponents say is a means of encouraging “critical thinking” in science classes and which opponents say is a backdoor means of promoting the teaching of intelligent design and such.

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