Category Archives: neighbor states

Alabama House speaker guilty on 12 corruption counts

By Kim Chandler, Associated Press
OPELIKA, Ala. — Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction on ethics charges automatically removes him from office and could mean years in prison for the powerful Republican.

Friday night, a jury found the one-time GOP star guilty of 12 counts of public corruption for using the influence and prestige of his political stature to benefit his companies and clients. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count.

The jury, which arrived at the verdict after nearly seven hours of deliberation, acquitted Hubbard on 11 other counts.

The conviction comes amid a season of scandal that has engulfed Republicans at the helm of Alabama’s legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. Chief Justice Roy Moore faces possible ouster from office over accusations that he violated canons of judicial ethics during the fight over same-sex marriage. And Gov. Robert Bentley has faced calls for his impeachment after a sex-tinged scandal involving a former top aide. Continue reading

Some TN reaction to bathroom lawsuit

From Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:

“Title VII and Title IX have long prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, and federal courts and agencies have recognized that this includes protections for transgender people. Like guidance issued by federal agencies for decades, the guidance in question does not change the law, but explains what agencies think existing law requires.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that you cannot sue an agency just because you disagree with the agency’s non-binding guidance. Moreover, because the guidance is nonbinding, this lawsuit appears to be nothing more than politically-motivated.

“But underneath all of the political bluster are real students, young people who should not have to live in fear of punishment or harassment every time they use the restroom like their peers, or be made to feel like second-class citizens merely for being themselves. We will continue to work toward a day when all students in Tennessee are treated fairly under the law.”

From Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville

“On behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus, we are pleased that Tennessee will join with other states in challenging the Obama Administration’s actions regarding the redefinition of the term ‘sex’ in connection with Title VII and Title IX and local education, and state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment.”

“We remain hopeful that the Attorney General will demonstrate similar resolve regarding enforcement of the Refugee Act, public safety and state sovereignty pursuant to SJR467.”

From Family Action Council of Tennessee

Today the state of Tennessee, through the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, joined a lawsuit filed in Texas by that state and several other states over the Obama administration’s attempt to redefine “sex” in Title IX to mean the “gender” by which people subjectively identify themselves, risking the privacy and safety of our citizens. (Link to complaint HERE.)

We are still reviewing the complaint, but give a hearty “amen” to the following statement in it: “Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
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AP story on 11 states (including TN) suing over bathroom directive

By Paul J. Weber, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The lawsuit announced Wednesday includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia. It asks a North Texas federal court to declare the directive unlawful in what ranks among the most coordinated and visible legal challenges by states over the socially divisive issue of bathroom rights for transgender persons.

The Obama administration has “conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” the lawsuit reads.

Many of the conservative states involved had previously vowed defiance, calling the guidance a threat to safety while being accused of discrimination by supporters of transgender rights. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has previously said “there is no room in our schools for discrimination.”
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Regents universities offer some big discounts on out-of-state tuition

For the first time, all six four-year universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system will offer big discounts in out-of-state tuition to some students this fall, according to WPLN. To get the discounts, students must live within 250 miles of the university and have high ACT scores.

This new rule covers a wide area. Take Tennessee State University: If you put the school in the center of a circle, and draw radius of 250 miles in all directions, you cover as far north as Indianapolis, northwest to St. Louis, east to Asheville, and down to Atlanta.

TSU senior Jordan Gaither is from Atlanta. He and his parents currently pay all his tuition out of pocket. “With me being an out of student, it is definitely a lot,” he says.

But under the new rule, his tuition for the upcoming year will be cut by about $9,000. It’s still not quite as cheap as the in-state rate, but it’s enough to take off a big burden, he says. “I don’t take that for granted at all.”

This kind of 250-mile program first started in 2014 at the University of Memphis. The campus is right on the border, and it already gave in-state tuition to students from neighboring counties, but the school wanted to attract more students from the whole region. Vice-provost Steve McKellips says some students might even stay in Memphis after college.

“This is a major initiative that helps the university, helps the community, helps the workforce development, helps the students — it kind of has a win on all four sides,” he says.

Philadelphia mayor bans travel to TN over new counseling law

Tennessee’s controversial new law allowing mental health counselors to turn away LGBT clients has prompted Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to ban publicly funded, non-essential travel by city workers to the Volunteer State, according to the Times-Free Press.

Meanwhile, a New York state assemblyman state is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do the same.

… Philadelphia Mayor Kenney’s order on Monday, first reported by NBC affiliate WCAU-TV, is the first action by a government over the Tennessee legislation, which Gov. Bill Haslam last month signed into law April 27 after fellow Republicans in the General Assembly passed the measure.

Kenney’s order extends his previously issued directive aimed at Mississippi and North Carolina to Tennessee and Oxford, Ala., all of which have enacted measures critics charge negatively impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

In a statement, Kenney said “I am announcing this ban in response to the enactment of legislation that infringes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in these jurisdictions.”

Kenney said he would “reconsider this ban if the States of North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama choose to repeal their discriminatory legislation.”

The mayor’s directive creates an exemption if the travel is deemed “essential to public health and safety.

Philadelphia’s action comes on the heels of last month’s announcement by Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, who said the new Tennessee law was partially responsible for her decision not to attend this summer’s conference of the nation’s 50 secretaries of state in Nashville.

‘Tennessee Trey’ wins Indiana GOP congressional primary

Joseph Albert “Trey” Hollingsworth III, the young multimillionaire who moved from Tennessee to Indiana last fall, Tuesday won the Republican nomination to a congressional seat in his newly adopted state after spending $2 million of his own money in the campaign.

Further from the Indianapolis Star:

Trey Hollingsworth, 32, won the nomination by portraying himself as a political outsider and knocking off three seasoned Republican politicians: Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Senators Erin Houchin and Brent Waltz.

Hollingsworth picked up the win with 34 percent… Houchin received 25 percent of the vote; and Zoeller had 22 percent.

He will square off in November against Indiana University professor Shelli Yoder, who won the Democrat primary with 70 percent of the vote.

…Hollingsworth, who moved to Indiana from (the East Tennessee town of Clinton) last year, out-spent his competitors by a wide margin and got a boost from a super PAC funded primarily by his father, who spent about $500,000 on ads attacking Zoeller as a political insider. It was an approach, political observers said, that played perfectly to a Republican electorate fed up with Washington politics — the same voters who propelled Donald Trump to a decisive Indiana win that knocked Ted Cruz out of the race.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Houchin and a new super PAC, funded primarily by Indianapolis businessman Bill Oesterle, struck back at Hollingsworth. The one-two punch included mailings and radio commercials labeling Hollingsworth as “Tennessee Trey,” a rich carpetbagger who moved to Indiana to buy a seat in Congress.

Candidate runs for Congress in two states — TN and GA

Allan Levene, who in 2014 ran for Congress in his home state of Georgia as well as in Florida, this year is running for Congress in Georgia and Tennessee.

From the Times-Free Press:

(Levene) qualified for the Republican primaries in the 3rd Congressional District in Tennessee, opposite incumbent Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, and in Georgia’s 14th District, whose incumbent is Republican Tom Graves, of Ranger, Ga.

Levene doesn’t live in either district — he lives in Kennesaw, Ga. His district campaign headquarters consist of mailboxes at UPS stores in Rome, Ga., and on Signal Mountain Road.

He’s apparently the first congressional candidate in history to figure out he can run anywhere he can get on the ballot — federal law says he only has to live in the district if he’s elected.

So he’s going to try any way he can to get elected, Levene said in an interview Friday.

“Running in multiple states is not a gimmick, it’s a means to an end,” he said. “You can only fix problems if you have a vote — if you don’t have a vote, you’re just noise.”

And he says it’s crucial, life or death for the Republic, that he get into office so he can stop the economic collapse he sees looming.

“This country is falling apart, and it is so easy to fix,” said Levene, 66, a British native and naturalized citizen who is passionate about the freedom and opportunity in his adopted country but says wrongheaded government is bringing the nation down.

Here’s the beginning of a 2014 Politico story on Levene’s efforts then (both unsuccessful):

Allan Levene is what you might call a way outside-the-Beltway candidate. That’s not just because he is British-born and grew up in West Ham, on London’s dodgy East End, playing in the rubble of bombed-out buildings leveled by the Blitz. Or because he’s running for Congress in Hawaii’s 1st congressional district, 5,000 miles away from Washington. It’s also because Levene is running for Congress in Georgia’s 11th district (where he lives) and tried to mount runs from Minnesota’s 6th, Michigan’s 8th and Michigan’s 14th districts—all in the same election cycle.

Millionaire Tennessean moves to Indiana, runs for Congress with dad’s help

By Brian Slodysko, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — A multi-millionaire businessman who recently moved to Indiana to run for an open seat in Congress is receiving a significant financial boost from his father, who is funding a super PAC targeting his son’s leading GOP primary opponent with negative ads.

Joseph A. Hollingsworth Jr., the father of 32-year-old Trey Hollingsworth, is the sole donor to the Indiana Jobs Now super PAC and has contributed a total of $370,000 to the fund since January, according to a filing made Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

The super PAC has promoted Trey Hollingsworth, a Tennessee native who moved several months ago to southern Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District, as a businessman, job creator and “conservative outsider.” The ads have also derided state Attorney General Greg Zoeller as “another career politician.”

Hollingsworth and Zoeller are facing off for the state’s Ninth Congressional district seat, which is being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Young, who is running for Senate. Republican state Senators Erin Houchin and Brent Waltz are also running for the seat, which stretches from the south suburbs of Indianapolis down to the Ohio River and the Kentucky border.
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Feds OK sending Oklahoma wind energy to Memphis

Plains & Eastern Clean Line Energy says construction could begin in 2017 on a $2.5 billion electric transmission line bringing Oklahoma wind power across Arkansas to Memphis now that the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the project, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Early plans call for installing $4 billion worth of wind turbines near Guymon, Oklahoma. Their electric power would run through a 700-mile-long copper line that would end in Shelby County.

In Memphis, the city-county EDGE board earlier approved a property tax break for Clean Line’s proposed $259.8 million apparatus that would funnel the electricity into TVA for use across its seven-state region.

Friday’s decision could lead to a legal fight in Arkansas led by land owners opposed to the transmission line route.

Arkansas’s congressional delegation opposed the federal decision in a statement Friday that contends state control over transmission lines is being trampled, the Arkansas Times reported. The state’s lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation to keep authority in the states.

Note: Related press release below. Continue reading

Meanwhile, in the Kentucky legislature

By Adam Beam, Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Democratic majority in Kentucky’s House of Representatives wants to offer free community college tuition to all of the state’s high school graduates, signaling a likely confrontation with new Republican Gov. Matt Bevin over state spending.

Bevin, who took office in December, has proposed slashing $650 million in state spending over the next two years, including cuts of 4.5 percent this year and 9 percent in each of the next two years for the state’s colleges and universities. Bevin wants to use the money to begin paying down the state’s $36 billion public pension debt, which he and other Republican leaders say could bankrupt the state if left unchecked.

College presidents have pushed back, promising tuition increases and academic program cuts if the reductions stay in place. On Wednesday, House Democrats said their budget proposal will take as much as $33 million from Bevin’s pension plan over the next two years and use it to pay the tuition for all Kentucky high school graduates who can meet certain standards. It is modeled after a similar program in Tennessee that was enacted by a Republican governor and state legislature.
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