News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE), January 10, 2013 – State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) said today he plans to move forward with legislation filed in the State Senate to ban preferential treatment based on race, gender or ethnicity. Summerville has filed several bills which he said makes up the “Civil Rights Initiative of 2013” for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“Certainly we all need to strive towards the goal of protecting citizens from discrimination,” said Senator Summerville. “But, at the same time that goal is hard to achieve if preferential treatment is part of our state’s public policy. If we hire, promote or give preferential treatment by race, gender or ethnicity, we will continue to divide by race, gender or ethnicity. In the coming months, I will ask my good colleagues of both houses and both parties to fight and win the last battle of the civil rights movement.”
The bills filed would:
•provide that state government will not give preferential treatment based on gender, race, or ethnicity, except where required by federal law;
•abolish such group preferences from Tennessee’s public colleges and universities; abolish the job categories of “diversity officers;”
•eliminate race, gender, or ethnicity as considerations for hiring K-12 teachers;
•prohibit any and all entities of State government from compiling and keeping statistics, or other data by race, gender, and ethnicity.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped to live to see an America where his children would be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Summerville added. “I think he’d be sad if he were among us today to see that this generation has failed in that hope. We can honor his memory by taking steps like California and Michigan have done. Tennessee, where Dr. King died, can become the first state in the South to realize his vision into law.”
“Although it took longer than it should have, our nation has opened the door of opportunity for all. Only character, intelligence, and hard work matter now,” he concluded.
Excerpt from an Andrea Zelinski story on Gov. Bill Haslam mulling whether a Tennessee Health Care Exchange is to be or not to be: Thousands of Tennesseans are weighing in on the issue. Gov. Bill Haslam’s staff said they have received some 4,000 emails and 2,000 phone calls about insurance exchanges.
While the staff didn’t break down the email messages to pros and cons, almost all of the phone calls were urging the governor to say “no Obamacare in Tennessee” — a decision that is out of the state’s hands — or ditch the exchange and let the federal government handle it.
Of the rest, about 75 said they were in favor of a state exchange. Another 32 spoke out against the state running it, but changed their stance after the choices were explained, according to the governor’s constituent services staff.
Almost 30 called wanting the state to secede, and eight urged nullification of Obamacare. Six called for a civil war.
….Haslam has until Dec. 14 to decide who will run the exchange. For months he has repeatedly said the state can run the program better than the federal government could, but he has shied away from committing to that route. He blamed the holdup on a lack of information from Washington, D.C., on details of how exactly the state-run exchanges and federal exchanges would work.
For example, the state would have at least some power to choose which health insurance carriers could sell on the exchange, but it’s unclear which details will be up to state officials to determine and which will be prescribed by the feds.
The same goes if the state opts to let the federal government run the exchange for Tennessee. State officials say they have no clue whether that means the state would be totally hands-off or would still have a role to play. In addition, the state could decide to partner with the federal government to run the program.
The feds handed the state $9.1 million in grants to help it do the homework to figure out whether to pursue an insurance exchange. So far, state officials say they’ve spent less than $1.5 million of it, mostly on salaries and benefits for staff researching insurance exchanges, although they say they still don’t have enough details to put forth solid recommendations.
Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, often blamed for the Confederacy’s staggering loss during the battles of Franklin and Nashville, might finally get his due 148 years later, reports The Tennessean.
A never-seen-before cache of Hood’s personal papers — including handwritten notes, letters and field orders written by Hood and other Civil War luminaries — is now being pored over by historians who say they paint a fuller, more sympathetic picture of Hood.
Sam Hood, a retired West Virginia businessman and “collateral descendant” of the general, and Eric Jacobson, Battle of Franklin Trust chief operating officer, discussed the papers on Friday. They are in the midst of transcribing the letters and documents.
….Union Gen. John Schofield’s troops crept by Hood’s men camped in Spring Hill on Nov. 29, 1864, giving them time to erect fortifications in Franklin that proved devastating to attacking Confederates the next day. Sam Hood said eyewitness accounts in the papers, including Hood’s medical records, dispute the popular story that the general was under the influence of painkillers when the Union troops slipped by and put the blame on other officers.
“There’s more than one letter from eyewitnesses (identifying) who it was on the Confederate side who was responsible for Schofield’s escape at Spring Hill,” Sam Hood said.
(The article does not suggest who was responsible.)
Sarah Moore Greene, one of Knoxville’s most influential civil rights icons and community leaders, died this morning, reports the News Sentinel. Ms.Greene — who celebrated her 102nd birthday in February — had been recovering from an illness and had been in and out of the Holston Health & Rehabilitation Center for physical therapy after a bout of pneumonia.
John Sibley, 64, Ms. Greene’s godson, said Ms. Greene was taken Monday to the Physicians Regional Medical Center on Broadway because of dehydration.
“She was resting in her room and just slipped away,” he said.
…Greene was the first black member of the Knoxville Board of Education and a Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention. She is also a former state and local president of the NAACP and over the years fought for desegregation and civil rights in schools and the wider community.
Every year around her birthday, the students at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Technology Academy honored her.
The school was named after Greene in 1974 and became a magnet school with a focus on technology in 1996.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday signed his plan to overhaul state civil service rules that make it easier for executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and allow merit raises for high-performing workers and pay decreases for poor ones.
The Republican governor put his name to the legislation in a ceremony across from the state Capitol. He was joined by state employees, legislators and members of his cabinet.
The bill will also require written performance standards and annual evaluations, set a minimum of three candidates to be interviewed for openings, and reduce the minimum layoff notice from three months to 30 days.
Veterans and their spouses will also receive preference if there are two candidates with equal qualifications and one is a veteran.
Haslam said the legislation is necessary because over the next five years nearly 40 percent of state employees will be eligible for retirement.
“In facing this challenge, it is our responsibility to build a top notch workforce for the future,” said Haslam, who lauded the team effort among state employees and lawmakers in making the legislation possible.
“I think we started with some things we thought were really important, but in the process there were a lot of voices that added to it and made the bill one that could pass and will work well when implemented,” he said. Note: News releases from the governor and TSEA below.
Memphis lawmakers aired their differences with Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris over suburban school districts Wednesday, at one point comparing the dispute to the Civil War, reports Richard Locker. The Shelby legislative delegation heard Norris outline his efforts on the issue for the first time this year at its weekly meeting, and he defended his work as helping the school unification process. Norris, R-Collierville, described the bill allowing the suburbs to conduct referendums and school board elections this year, in advance of next year’s lifting of the state’s 14-year-old ban on new municipal school districts.
Memphis lawmakers critiqued the effort as further balkanization of schools countywide.
“We could go from two to one … to perhaps seven” school districts, said Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis.
But Norris said allowing the suburbs to decide this year what they’re going to do next year will aid planning for merging Memphis and Shelby County schools, which becomes final in August 2013.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to overhaul state civil service rules headed to him Thursday to become law despite opposition from some lawmakers whose constituents are uncomfortable with parts of the legislation.
The proposal passed the Senate 30-3 on Thursday, a day after being approved 74-19 in the House.
The measure would make it easier for executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and would allow for merit raises for high-performing workers — and pay decreases for poor ones.
Other elements of the bill would require written performance standards and annual evaluations, set a minimum of three candidates to be interviewed for openings, and reduce the minimum layoff notice from three months to 30 days.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The House on Wednesday approved Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to overhaul state civil service rules after agreeing to changes needed to bring the Tennessee State Employees Association on board.
The measure that passed on a 74-19 vote would make it easier for the executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and would allow for merit raises for high-performing workers — and pay decreases for poor ones.
Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville, who carried the House bill on behalf of the Haslam administration, noted that negotiations with the TSEA had resulted in about 20 changes to the original bill, including that seniority will remain a factor in making decisions on staffing changes.
Dunn said the goal of the measure is “to reform and modernize the civil service system — the outdated employment system we have needs to be changed.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has approved Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to overhaul state civil service rules after agreeing to changes needed to bring the Tennessee State Employees Association on board.
The measure (HB2384) passed 74-19 on Wednesday would make it easier for the executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and would allow for more targeted merit raises for high performing workers. (Note: All 64 House Republicans voted for the bill, joined by nine Democrats and independent Rep. Kent Williams.)
Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville, who carried the House bill on behalf of the Haslam administration, noted that negotiations with the TSEA had resulted in about 20 changes to the original bill — including that seniority will still be a factor in making decisions on staffing changes.
The companion bill was scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Thursday.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday a compromise with the Tennessee State Employees Association on civil service reform legislation and plans to add about $28 million in spending to his proposed state budget for the coming year.
The governor’s proposed amendment to the state budget calls for increasing fees paid to local governments for housing prisoners in county jails, in part to reduce complaints about an administration bill to imposing longer sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders. Some local governments had protested what the called an “unfunded mandate” from the state, since they will have to cover the costs of keeping jailed offenders longer.
The increase in prisoner payments by $2 per day will cost the state an estimated $4 million per year. The increase in domestic violence sentences is projected to cost local governments collectively about $8 million per year.
Other changes in the$30.2 billion budget plan from the original version submitted in February include:
-The governor’s proposal to reduce the state sales tax on groceries from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent is revised to set the new rate at 5.25 percent next year. Under the Haslam plan, the rate would then fall to 5 percent in the following year. The change from 5.3 to 5.25 percent costs the state an estimated $3.3 million in lost revenue while saving consumer another nickel on a $100 grocery bill, or a total of 25 cents.