News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Abbie Hudgens will oversee the new Workers’ Compensation Division starting July 1.
Hudgens will serve a six-year term leading the revamped Workers’ Compensation Division in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).
“I want to thank Abbie for taking on this new opportunity with the workers’ compensation system in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Abbie has experience in both the public and private sectors and at the state and local levels, giving her an incredible depth of knowledge of the system. She played an integral part in shaping this reform effort, and I appreciate her willingness to serve.”
The governor’s workers’ compensation reform legislation, HB 194/SB 200, simplifies the system while allowing employees to receive benefits faster and return to work sooner, bringing increased predictability to the business environment. Hudgens, a Tennessee native, has worked with the state since 2011 when she began at TDLWD, focusing on workers’ compensation.
Chas Sisk has a piece on signs of division in Tennessee Republican ranks. An excerpt with some of his examples:
A task force appointed by Haslam to come up with a plan for school voucher legislation wound up kicking the can down the road, as members could not agree about what limits should be placed on the measure in an environment where proponents think they can do almost anything.
Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey also have expressed public differences over guns-in-trunks legislation, an issue that has divided Republicans in recent years.
And on Wednesday, several Republican lawmakers joined in a rally at the state Capitol to oppose setting up a state-run health insurance exchange. Haslam — who emerged from this year’s legislative session with sky-high approval ratings, even winning over a majority of Democrats — has said he has not decided whether to go forward with an exchange. But state Sen. Bill Ketron, one of the top Republicans in the Senate, claimed a mandate to oppose state involvement.
“We spoke out loud and clear against Obamacare, and we elected supermajorities in both houses,” he told the crowd, some of whom brought along signs calling for Haslam to be fired. “We are a bold state of red who is making it clear where we stand.”
…Shortly after Thanksgiving, House Republicans agreed to nominate House Speaker Beth Harwell for a second term. The GOP caucus also punished one of the few voices of dissent to emerge by voting to strip state Rep. Judd Matheny, who publicly flirted last fall with the idea of challenging Harwell for the speakership, of his position as speaker pro tempore.
But even the smallest fractures within the caucus could be exploited. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh called on Haslam to consider vetoing any measure that would allow guns in the parking lots of colleges and universities, a reference to the governor’s differences with Ramsey over gun legislation.
…At Wednesday’s rally at the state Capitol, several conservative activists declared that the November election gave Tennessee Republicans a mandate to dig in their heels.
“We’re the majority,” radio host Steve Gill told the crowd. “Our no should mean more than their yes.”
Gill and several other speakers linked the dispute over health care exchanges to the battle at the state Capitol over an income tax in the early 2000s.
Columnist Gail Kerr, meanwhile, weighs in on one of the sources of GOP disagreement, advising Haslam to choose pragmatism over politics in the health care exchange debate.
But here’s the sticky wicket: Republicans loathe the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Haslam will have to get the legislature to pass whichever choice he makes, and if he opts to let the state run the program, that will not be easy. Lawmakers do not want to look as if they are endorsing Obamacare (and they wouldn’t be — they’d be following the law).
Add to the mix 250 tea party protesters who gathered last week at War Memorial Plaza with their wacky triangle hats and their tired signs. They don’t get it: The fight over the Affordable Care Act is over. The law passed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld it. Barack Obama was re-elected president, and this is his signature program. Staging a protest that you still don’t like it is akin to believing the tooth fairy is real
…Haslam told Republicans last week that he’s determined to find the “right answer” by Friday, and not let politics enter into the decision.
“The easy political answer is just to say no, we’re not doing a state-based exchange because it’s the easiest answer,” he said.
Haslam knows, and the GOP-dominated legislature needs to admit, the easy answer is not always the right answer. This is one of those times.
News release from the Secretary of State’s office:
As voters head to the polls Thursday, they should remember that the state Division of Elections has a toll-free hotline number for anyone who has questions or experiences problems during the voting process.
That number is 1-877-850-4959.
Election officials staffing the hotline can answer questions about the state’s new photo identification law or any other election-related issues.
“This hotline is offered as a public service to Tennesseans and it is the definitive source for information regarding Tennessee elections,” Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins said. “I hope citizens will use the hotline to resolve any questions they may have about elections, today or in the future.”
Accurate, official election information can also be found on the Internet at: www.GoVoteTN.com.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Division of Elections has developed a town hall video about a new law requiring voters to show a state or federally issued photo ID at the polls next year.
The video provides information about the acceptable forms of photo identification. It lists the options for voters who do not have such a valid ID.
The video can be found on the division web page at http://www.GoVoteTn.com.