Category Archives: boards and commissions

Recent Haslam board, commission appointments

News release from the governor’s office
Nashville – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of 176 Tennesseans to 75 boards and commissions.
“Serving on a board or commission is an important responsibility, and I thank these Tennesseans for their commitment to serve our state,” Haslam said.
Appointment terms are varied due to differing statutory requirements or term limits determined by specific qualifications. The appointments are: Continue reading

Museum board boss: No more emailing

The chair of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, Tom Smith, has informed all fellow members that they should no longer email each other, about anything, at any time, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“It has come to my attention that one or more Commission members have been communicating with other Commission members by e-mail,” Smith wrote (in an email) last week. “Per my conversations with the Attorney General’s office these e-mail communications could be viewed as discussions and/or deliberations in violation of Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act and otherwise foster a perception of a lack of transparency by this public body.

“Accordingly, in order to ensure that we are in full compliance with Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act, as Chairman, I am directing that that there be no further email communications between and among members of this Commission in their capacity as members of this Commission,” Smith added (emphasis his).
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Parole board rejects exoneration of McKinney

The state Board of Parole has voted against recommending exoneration of a Wilson County man who served 31 years in prison on a rape and burglary conviction before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime, reports The Tennessean.

The board, which voted 7-0 not to recommend the formal exoneration to the governor, still questioned his innocence.

Lawrence McKinney, 60, was released in 2009 after his 1978 conviction in Memphis was overturned. His record was expunged after his release, but attempts to get an executive exoneration have been mired in red tape, according to his supporters.

McKinney remained upbeat as his legal team plans to request an exoneration directly from Gov. Bill Haslam. The governor ultimately decides exoneration cases and is not bound by the board’s recommendation.

“I got two good lawyers that God put by my side, then I got a pastor and I got a church who going to stand behind me, and I’m going to do the best that I do to show who Jesus Christ is and I got a beautiful wife …” McKinney said.

Having criminal records expunged is a judicial process, but exoneration is an additional declaration of innocence awarded by the governor. If granted, the exoneration enables a person to file for compensation with the Tennessee Board of Claims.

“We’re going to go to the governor, we’re going to ask the governor to exonerate this man; he is not bound by this decision and I think public support for Mr. McKinney is overwhelming,” said David Raybin, one of McKinney’s attorneys.

McKinney’s hearing lasted nearly four hours and had the feel of a trial. He testified on his own behalf and said he was offered a deal of five years when he was arrested for the rape to testify against a co-defendant. But he turned it down “because I didn’t know anything about the crime.”

McKinney was sentenced to 100 years for the rape and 10 to 15 years for the burglary. Continue reading

Lois Riggins-Ezzell, TN State Museum director, retiring

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday that Lois Riggins-Ezzell, the longtime director of the Tennessee State Museum, is retiring at the end of the year.

Riggins-Ezzell first became the museum’s director in 1981, when it had a staff of six people working in a basement of the War Memorial Building. She oversaw the museum’s transition into its current space in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where it employs 42 employees and has an annual budget of $3.8 million, not counting private donations.

The retirement comes as the state is spending $120 million to build a new museum north of the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville, with another $40 million being raised from private sources.

A state attorney general’s opinion issued last week found that the Tennessee State Museum Foundation that is raising the private money is not required to disclose its donors under the state’s open records laws.

Riggins-Ezzell had previously said she wanted to remain in charge of the museum until the new facility is complete in 2018, and raised eyebrows around the state Capitol when she declared to a reporter last year that “I am the museum.” Continue reading

Mike Krause named new executive director of THEC

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Mike Krause as executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

Krause has served as executive director of the Drive to 55 since 2014 and successfully managed the launch and implementation of Tennessee Promise and the other initiatives under the Drive to 55 umbrella.

“Mike’s enthusiasm for higher education and his passion for making college accessible to all Tennesseans have led to the success of Tennessee Promise. He has been an instrumental part of my administration, leading our efforts to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025, and I know he will use that same drive and focus to help lead THEC during this exciting time for higher education in Tennessee,” Haslam said.

Dr. Russ Deaton, who has served as THEC’s interim executive director since the retirement of Dr. Richard Rhoda in 2014, will serve as deputy executive director of THEC. Deaton began at THEC in 2000 as a policy analyst and later served nine years as the director of fiscal policy analysis.

“I am grateful to Russ for his steady leadership at THEC over the past two years and excited that we’ll continue to have his depth of experience on our higher education team,” Haslam said.

Krause takes the helm at THEC as it assumes an enhanced role under the Focus On College and Student Success (FOCUS) Act, which charged THEC with providing greater coordination of Tennessee’s higher education systems across the state, including capital project management, institutional mission approval and higher education finance strategy.

Established in 1967, THEC oversees development of the state’s master plan for higher education, makes recommendations for capital appropriations in the governor’s budget, establishes tuition levels and approves new academic programs.

In addition, Krause will jointly lead the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC), which administers state and federal student financial assistance programs, including the state lottery scholarship program, which serves 100,000 students with $300 million in awards.

“Three years into our Drive to 55, we have more Tennesseans going to college and fewer students needing remediation once they get there. We’ve made remarkable progress in higher education under Governor Haslam’s leadership, and I am excited to work with our legislators, employers and higher education leaders to further leverage this momentum to benefit Tennesseans,” Krause said. ”In Tennessee, we’re working to make sure that every student – from the high school graduate to the returning adult – has the tools he or she needs to access and succeed in higher education and find a quality job in the workforce.”

Prior to directing the Drive to 55, Krause, 34, served as assistant executive director for academic affairs at THEC, where he led the successful statewide expansion of the SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support) program, pioneered state efforts in massive open online education and coordinated multiple grant programs.

Before joining state government, Krause served for eight years in the United States Army and Tennessee Army National Guard. He completed three combat tours as a member of the 101st Airborne Division and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

An eighth generation Tennessean, Krause earned his bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University and master’s in public policy from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife, Chrissi, live in Williamson County and have a young son, Max.

Krause joins THEC on August 1.

List of recent Haslam appointments to boards & commissions

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of 120 Tennesseans to 50 boards and commissions.

“These Tennesseans are giving their time and talents to help make our state better. I am grateful for their willingness to serve and their commitment to our state,” Haslam said.

The governor continues to evaluate the state’s complete range of boards and commissions to ensure Tennesseans have a government that is responsive, effective and efficient.

Appointment terms are varied due to differing statutory requirements or term limits determined by specific qualifications. The appointments are: Continue reading

Alcoholic Beverage Commission hires new executive director

The state Alcoholic Beverage Commission has selected attorney Clay Byrd as its new executive director, reports The Tennessean.

Byrd, 31, previously served as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Secretary. Before that, he worked as an attorney for the legislature, where he helped develop alcohol regulations.

Byrd, who will officially start in two weeks, will take over for Ginna Winfree, who entered the position on an interim basis in late March after then-executive director Keith Bell abruptly resigned.

Although the reasons for Bell’s departure remain unclear, some worried the timing could complicate the rollout of the new wine in grocery stores law.

Further complicating matters, Winfree was expected to join Nashville-based law firm Gullett Sanford Robinson and Martin, a firm with several attorneys and lobbyists who work on alcohol-related issues. Winfree was set to join the law firm in April but opted to serve as interim executive director of the commission until a new one was selected.

After Byrd was congratulated by Mary McDaniel, who serves as chairwoman of the three-member commission, for his selection, he promised to be “business friendly, objective and fair.”

McDaniel later told The Tennessean that Byrd was one of more than 20 applicants for the position.

Byrd said he understands people are keeping a close eye on the rollout of the wine in grocery stores law, while offering assurances that he will work quickly to ensure its success.

“This is a large undertaking,” he said. “I saw it as an avenue to contribute to the public good, and that’s the reason I got involved in public service to begin with.”

115 prisoners released without mandated anti-violence classes

At least 115 state prison inmates have been released without taking domestic violence classes mandated by the state Board of Paroles, according to WSMV TV.

Board of Parole member Patsy Bruce says she first learned of the situation when an inmate contacted her last year to say the courses on “batterers intervention and victim impact” that he was supposed to take were not available. A check indicated 428 inmates mandates to attend the classes did not do so in a five-month period last year and 115 were released without attending since their sentences expired.

“That’s the scariest thing you can hear – is that you have released somebody, and they are not even getting any kind of help to not do what they’d done many times – or sometimes before,” Bruce said.

Lisa Helton, a Department of Correction field services administrator, said there was a backlog of parolees assigned to classes because there wasn’t enough parole officers to teach them.
The state has since contracted with a private company, called Spectrum, to teach the classes. The 115 inmates already released were offered a chance to take them afterwards, but none did.

State Museum board picks new chairman

News release from Tennessee State Museum
NASHVILLE— May 13, 2016— The State of Tennessee Museum announced today new officers were elected to the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission at the commission’s quarterly meeting held Monday, April 11, 2016. Nashville real estate investor and developer Tom Smith, Chairman of Smith/Hallemann Partners, was elected as Chair of the 14-member Commission whose primary purpose is to oversee the operations of the State Museum. Nancy Baker De Friece, a Bristol native, was re-elected as Vice Chair.

In addition to serving as the new Commission Chair, Smith also serves on the Governor’s New Museum Task Force, which is involved with the development of a new $160 million State Museum facility to be located in downtown Nashville’s Bicentennial Mall. Ground was broken by Governor Bill Haslam and other state officials on April 6, 2016. Smith was appointed to the Commission by Governor Haslam in 2012. He has previously served as the chair of the Commission’s Audit Committee and Chairs the Search Committee which is overseeing the new museum’s succession planning. Smith succeeds Deputy House Speaker and State Representative Steve McDaniel who will remain as a Commission member.

Smith is active in real estate and private company investments in Nashville and Cincinnati, Ohio. He also serves on the Investment Committee of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

The public can now find out more information about upcoming Commission meetings, Committee meetings and agendas, as well as the background of Commission members, at the Tennessee State Museum website at:

A ‘seismic shift’ in legislative control over state government rules

With generally strong backing from the business lobby, Tennessee legislators made a theme this year of curbing the power of state departments and agencies while enhancing the General Assembly’s oversight of their rules and regulations.

The move with perhaps the greatest long-range consequences came with passage of HB2068 by Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.

The bill, signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam despite concerns from several of the departments he oversees, makes it more difficult to promulgate rules and regulations. And it makes clear that the Legislature, acting through the Government Operations Committees of the House and Senate, has absolute authority to reject any rule that a majority want to overturn.

As Daniel put it: “The primary effect of this bill will be to eliminate the liberal construction of the Administrative Procedures Act.” Currently, the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) contains provisions that say, more or less, that if there’s a doubt about the authority of an administrative agency, the dispute will be resolved in favor of the agency having the authority to act.

The bill effectively flips that. The presumption now is that the agency does not have authority and must establish that the rule is necessary through “convincing” evidence. During debate, Democrats said the move is an unprecedented revision to the UAPA, a model law that has been adopted to govern administrative operations in all states, though each state can make modifications.
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