A proposed “Higher Education Equality Act,” intended to end affirmative action programs in the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems, was rewritten Wednesday to assure efforts involving federal funding and accreditation are not impacted.
But spokesmen for UT and the Regents said they still have concern with the measure (SB8), sponsored by Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, and the amendment offered by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
Anthony Haynes, a UT vice president, and David Gregory, a Regents vice chancellor, said the revised version basically tracks existing federal law, but there are differences that could cause problems and lead to litigation in courts.
“It’s like a lawyer’s dream come true,” Haynes told the Senate Education Committee.
Gregory cited language in the bill banning “preferential treatment,” a phrase of “vagueness” in the legal sense that is subject to various interpretation. Federal law also prohibits discrimination based on race or gender when that discrimination is “solely” the cause of an action. The word “solely” is lacking in the proposed state law.
Haynes envision a young man rejected for general admission to UT-Knoxville bringing a lawsuit because UT, in trying to form “a women’s golf team,” granted admission to a woman with a lower ACT score.
After Haynes and Gregory spoke, Campfield and Summerville agreed to put off a committee vote for another week and hold further discussions to see if differences can be resolved.
Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham went along with the postponement, but added that she wanted to “admonish” those involved, then declared: “Don’t come back here unless you are ready to vote on this bill!”
A “push poll” is being conducted in the state’s 18th House District race between Rep. Steve Hall, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat Anthony Hancock, a former University of Tennessee and NFL football player.
From Georgiana Vines: Both candidates said they did not know anything about the poll, which appears designed to help Hall based on the questions and the Republican strength in Knox County.
Such a poll has questions designed to persuade voters to vote for a specific candidate.
One person in the district who received it, who asked to be anonymous, said the first questions dealt with how the voter felt Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, all Republicans, were doing in office and which presidential candidate would get his or her vote in November.
The voter was asked if he or she would likely vote for Hall if he or she was a small-business owner, had voted for a balanced budget or voted to lower taxes on groceries. Hall recently retired as president of Interior Finishes Corp.
The Hancock questions were on whether it would matter to the voter that he is supporting President Barack Obama, a Democrat; if it mattered that Hancock was being investigated for campaign law violations; and that the same unions and special interest groups that support Obama are supporting Hancock.
…Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said Friday no complaints have been filed regarding Hancock’s campaign financing.
Hall said the poll was news to him.
“I haven’t heard about any of that stuff. I’ve never done any polling in any race I’ve been in. I can’t justify the cost. Things change too fast. What may be good today, tomorrow is irrelevant. For polling to be effective you have to do it often,” he said.
Hancock said the poll is “crazy.”
“It’s a ploy, I guess. It must be a fierce campaign. We haven’t got to early voting yet,” he said. Early voting begins Oct. 17 for the Nov. 6 election.
As for supporting Obama, “I support anybody who will be the right person. My campaign is not geared toward Barack Obama. It’s geared toward Anthony Hancock,” he said.
The University of Tennessee will split its government relations and communications department next month following the retirement of the vice president who oversaw those duties, President Joe DiPietro told staff in an email Wednesday.
From the News Sentinel: Hank Dye, vice president of public and government relations since 2005, will retire July 11, something he had discussed with the president since the beginning of the year, DiPietro wrote. Anthony Haynes, UT’s lobbyist in Nashville, will become vice president for government relations and advocacy, reporting directly to DiPietro.
Kurt Schlieter, UT’s advocate in Washington, D.C., will become assistant vice president for federal relations and continue to work out of D.C. DiPietro wrote in the email that he is still examining the system’s communications strategy and has asked a seven-person review committee to give recommendations for how to structure a department to handle communications, marketing and branding.
In the meantime, Gina Stafford, assistant vice president and director of communications for the system, will manage day-to-day operations.
Two Democratic state legislators said today they will introduce legislation that would implement “Caylee’s Law” in Tennessee. The bill, named after a 2-year-old Florida girl whose death led to the murder trial of her mother in Florida, would make it a crime for parents not to report missing children.
Republican state Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville, meanwhile, has told a TV station that he plans to introduce a “Caylee’s Law” as well. Haynes is traveling out of the country today and was not available for comment on the Democratic proposal, according to his legislative secretary.
Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, was found not guilty last week in a highly-publicized trial in Florida, though she had acknowledged not reporting the child’s death to authorities.
The jury verdict in the Casey Anthony trial has sparked a national movement to enact a “Caylee’s Law” in multiple states.
(In Tennessee, the proposals come after after Gov. Bill Haslam called for legislators to reduce the number of bills filed, noting there are sometimes multiple bills introduced on the same subject. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have voiced support for a reduction in bill filings, also noting there are often several bills on the same topic.)
More than 11 million people nationwide have signed an online petition supporting Caylee’s law.
The Democratic legislators’ press release is below.
When Ginger Lee, a Nashville stripper whose real name is Candice Raines, became a fan of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, she thought she was doing her part by supporting his stance on health care reform and women’s right to choose.
Instead, reports Richard Lawson of the Chattanooga TFP, the 28-year-old former porn actress got swept up in Weiner’s cyber scandal. Raines’ decision to follow the congressman on Twitter led to sexual innuendo-laced emails from him and made her a key figure in ending Weiner’s promising political career.
After the story broke in late May, she went into hiding to avoid the media that had camped out at her Tennessee home and hounded her.
In her first interview since Weiner’s resignation, Raines said her sole purpose for connecting with the congressman was to support his political stance on issues she cared about and that much of her blogging about him was taken out of context. She said her own troubles with obtaining health insurance because of chronic mental illness she’s had since a teenager — she once said she has paranoid schizophrenia — triggered the interaction with the former congressman. Raines also has lupus.
…Once Weiner’s texting indiscretions went public, it wasn’t long before she was pulled into the scandal. She released a statement Weiner provided her, asking her to lie, and then went into hiding.
“She just wanted to stay quiet and go on with her life,” said Raines’ Nashville attorney, Marian Fordyce. “But now she’s been portrayed as a Jezebel, whore or whatever.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A convicted murderer won the right Wednesday to wage a court fight to receive hate-filled white supremacist material in a Tennessee prison because he claims it’s part of his religion.
A federal appeals court ruled that a U.S. district judge should not have dismissed Anthony Hayes’ lawsuit against Tennessee and its prison system.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived Hayes’ lawsuit, saying it was improperly dismissed because neither the lower court nor the state of Tennessee addressed whether barring Hayes from receiving the mailings violated a federal law that strengthens religious freedom.
The law, known at the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, has been used by a variety of prisoners in legal battles.
It’s not clear if the state will appeal. A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Attorney General’s office said lawyers are reviewing the ruling.