News release from Secretary of State’s office:
ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), currently holding its annual summer conference in Anchorage, Alaska, today inducted its new slate of national officers for the 2013-2014 cycle. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett will serve as president of the professional organization for state officials through July 2014, marking the first time in more than three decades that a Tennessee official has held this position.
“I look forward to continuing the strong leadership that my predecessors have provided to NASS for almost 110 years,” said Hargett of Tennessee. “Now more than ever, citizens are looking for collaborative bipartisan leadership from their state officials. Citizens are counting on us to lead the way in developing and sharing best practices for running honest and efficient elections, for increasing voter turnout and civic awareness and for protecting our people and our businesses from unnecessary federal laws and regulations.”
Hargett added that under his leadership, NASS will continue to serve as a forum where members can learn from each other how best to provide the services their offices are charged with delivering to the public.
From the Tennessee Historical Commission:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission announced three Tennessee sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources. The Tennessee Historical Commission administers the program in Tennessee.
“The National Register honors places that help Tennesseans understand our heritage and what makes our communities unique and enjoyable,” said Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission. “We are confident this recognition will help retain these unique sites for future generations to know and appreciate.”
Sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places include:
Gov. Bill Haslam has been named co-chair of a National Governors Association task force on “health care sustainability” with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
Haslam has rejected Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obama- care,” while Oregon was among the first states to accept Medicaid expansion.
But Haslam is still negotiating with federal officials about possibly accepting expansion, if they go along with his notion of using federal money — more than $1 billion in Tennessee’s case — to buy commercial insurance policies. He says recent talks have been “encouraging: and expects a final result by the end of the summer.
Oregon, meanwhile, is operating its Medicaid program under a federal waiver that includes a departure from fee-for-service payments to health care providers in favor of what are called “outcome-based” payments. That is also part of Haslam’s expansion proposal, which he calls the “Tennessee plan.”
An NGA news release says the task force will review and report on “developing innovative Medicaid programs” and declares that governors “must retain flexibility to implement these measures.”
The news release has quotes from both Haslam and Kitzhaber.
“Right now states are looking to change how they do business in order to more effectively serve their constituents,” Kitzhaber said. “This task force will help states sit down together to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and identify how the federal government can best support these efforts.”
“Governors are working in their states to find ways to cut costs when it comes to health care,” Haslam said. “It is our responsibility to examine every possible option in an effort to make sure promising new initiatives can be fully utilized.”
News release from National Governors Association:
WASHINGTON–As lawmakers at both state and federal levels of government look for ways to improve the quality of health care and reduce the costs of public programs, governors are developing innovative Medicaid programs and must retain flexibility to implement these measures.
To assist in these efforts, the National Governors Association (NGA) today announced the members of a new Health Care Sustainability Task Force (Task Force). Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will serve as co-chairs of the Task Force.
Other governors serving include Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, California Gov. Jerry Brown, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. NGA Health and Homeland Security Chair Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vice Chair Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will serve as ex-officio members.
“Right now states are looking to change how they do business in order to more effectively serve their constituents,” said Gov. Kitzhaber. “This Task Force will help states sit down together to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and identify how the federal government can best support these efforts.”
“Governors are working in their states to find ways to cut costs when it comes to health care,” said Gov. Haslam. “It is our responsibility to examine every possible option in an effort to make sure promising new initiatives can be fully utilized.”
The Task Force will focus on state innovations that require the redesign of health care delivery and payment systems with the objectives of improving quality and controlling costs. Through the sharing of state experiences and best practices, the Task Force will work to identify areas where federal legislative or regulatory action is necessary to reduce barriers and further support state initiatives.
A peace treaty formally ending the infamous Coal Creek War of 1892, whick left 27 coal miners killed and more than 500 under arrest, was signed Friday in a ceremony on Vowell Mountain overlooking Lake City.
From the News Sentinel report: The ceremony also recognized the site as the location of Fort Anderson, where Tennessee National Guardsmen fought a pitched battle with striking coal miners upset that the state had brought in convicts to work in their mines.
Trenches dug by guardsmen as battlements and protections from attacking coal miners are the only visible remnants of the fort.
The location, featuring nine markers describing that bloody chapter of Anderson County’s past, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Barry Thacker, president of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.
The nonprofit organization for 13 years has been working to improve the environment, living conditions and the education of residents of the isolated mountainous area, pockmarked by abandoned coal mines.
And Friday’s ceremony was another bid to acquaint students of tiny Briceville School with their area’s colorful past.
Thacker said the Coal Creek War was never officially ended, prompting Friday’s event.
“This is a really great way to involve young people in history,” said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “We don’t spend enough time learning it and teaching it to young people.”
McNally, like other participants, wore a green bandana knotted around his neck in recognition of the occasion.
Striking miners wore such bandannas as a way to identify fellow members of their ragtag insurrection.
State Rep. Jeremy Faison says he will sponsor legislation next year to lower the legal standard for a presumption of drunken driving in Tennessee from 0.08 blood alcohol content to 0.05 as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.
“I think it’s an important thing to do. What we’ve been doing is not working and we have tens of thousands of Americans dying because of drunk driving,” said Faison, R-Cosby.
The NTSB this week recommended that states lower the threshold for a presumption of drunken driving from 0.08 to 0.05, the standard already in place for more than 100 other countries around the world. No state currently has a 0.05 general standard.
Faison said Tennessee was among the last states to lower its DUI standard from 0.10 to 0.08 and being the first to drop the standard to 0.05 would position Tennessee as leader in combating drunken driving instead of a follower.
While there has been “an awful lot of emphasis lately on guns with high-capacity magazines” in crime, Faison said drunken driving causes far more violent death and thus deserves far more attention “if we’re going to champion life.”
The legislator, who serves as vice chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, said his personal interest in the subjects dates to the death of his sister, Becky, in an accident caused by a drunken driver a week after her 16th birthday, when he was 14.
“He (the drunken driver) basically got off with probation,” said Faison, who said he would otherwise like to see DUI laws strengthened to include seizure of a first offender’s vehicle. Current law provides for seizure of a vehicle only after multiple convictions.
“If the punishment doesn’t outweigh the pleasure of the crime, people are going to keep on doing it,” he said.
The Legislature earlier this year voted to require for the first time that first DUI convicts be required to obtain an ignition interlock device, which requires the driver to take a breath alcohol test before his or her car will start.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Office website, fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired drivers declined by 31.8 percent in Tennessee from 2007 through 2011 — or from 377 to 257 in that period. The preliminary figure for 2012 is 246 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
The office also says that Tennessee Highway Patrol arrests for DUI increased by 25.4 percent from 2007 through 2012.
Faison said he will either file a bill lowering the standard to 0.05 next year himself or sign on as a co-sponsor to a more senior member willing to push the measure.
Faison, who is in his second term as a representative, said he that “with the way things work” a veteran lawmaker likely would have a better chance of success with passage of a potentially controversial measure.
News release from Tennessee Attorney General’s office:
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — National Health Investors, Inc., (NYSE:NHI), National HealthCare Corporation (NYSE MKT: NHC, NHC.PRA), the court-appointed Receiver for two Tennessee nonprofits, SeniorTrust of Florida, Inc., (“SeniorTrust”) and ElderTrust of Florida, Inc., (“ElderTrust), and the Tennessee Attorney General announced today that they have agreed to resolve a long-standing dispute that has been the subject of litigation. The resolution of the litigation, together with the Receiver’s sale of 14 nursing homes and liquidation of the nonprofits’ assets, will ultimately result in approximately $40M for charitable purposes in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Attorney General had previously asked the Davidson County Chancery Court to place both of these nonprofits in receivership. The Receiver subsequently filed suit against National Health Investors, Inc. (“NHI”) and National HealthCare Corporation (“NHC”).
NHI helped to establish SeniorTrust and ElderTrust, two Tennessee 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations, in 2000. Between 2001 and 2004, NHI sold a group of skilled nursing facilities in Missouri and Kansas to SeniorTrust and a group of skilled nursing facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to ElderTrust. The Receiver’s primary dispute with NHI concerned the financial terms on which NHI had sold and financed the purchase of the facilities to the nonprofits.
In 2007, NHC acquired the lease of a long-term care facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, known as Standifer Place from SeniorTrust. The Receiver’s primary dispute with NHC concerned the financial terms on which NHC acquired the lease.
The Receiver for SeniorTrust and ElderTrust claimed that the financial terms of the various transactions with NHI and NHC were unfair to the nonprofits, a claim NHI and NHC disputed.
Sen. Stacey Campfield is drawing national media attention again, this time for a blog post joke calling for “pressure cooker control” after pressure cookers were fashioned into bombs for the Boston marathon explosions that killed three people.
The unapologetic Campfield had an interview/argument with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Thursday, saying he was “just pointing out the hypocrisy of the left” and comparing gun control as a curb to violence to “spoon control” to curb obesity.
He also got in a few digs at Morgan, such as: “When are you going to move back to England? People in Tennessee are dying to know.” (Video HERE)
And here’s an excerpt from an ABC News story, which notes the blog post had a photo of a pressure cooker with “Assault Pressure Cooker (APC)” printed below it.: The photo had labels and arrows pointing to all of the pot’s “dangerous” features including a “muzzle break thingy that goes ‘up'” and a “tactical pistol grip.”
It’s also described as “large-capacity, can cook for hours without reloading” and the color was “evil, black.”
The blog post was titled, “Here comes Feinstein again,” an apparent dig at Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the leading proponents in the battle for gun control. The image implied that pressure cookers might be her next target.
Two pressure cookers were turned into bombs in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260 people.
Campfield dismisses the criticism.
“I think it’s tasteless when Obama will drag everybody he can up to Capitol Hill and try to pass gun control,” Campfield told ABCNews.com today. “I think that was classless and tasteless. I don’t hear them complaining about that too much.”
“I was showing the hypocrisy of Diane Feinstein, the gun grabbers, of their inability to realize that it is a person that does activity, not an inanimate object, be it a gun or a pressure cooker,” he said.
Gov. Bill Haslam warns federal spending cuts looming at the end of this week would affect not just the state’s budget, but also Tennessee’s economy as a whole, reports WPLN.
The sequester would furlough some federal workers in places like Fort Campbell and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, potentially setting back local economies.
Haslam is careful to say he believes the federal government should spend less money, but he sees the sequester as the wrong approach, pointing to across-the-board cuts in places like Oak Ridge. They would do equal harm to projects that are needed, Haslam says, as to those he called a nice-to, but not a have-to.
“Take a workforce development program or training program – that would be cut 8 percent, just like cleaning up mercury out of the water and land that they’re in the middle of a process. And you’re gonna call the project off; the contractor who we’ve hired to do that, I guarantee you it’ll cost more to pull them off and send them back than the money you save there.”
The Hill talks with Tennessean Ward Baker about his new job as political director of the Republican National committee and his assignment: win enough seats to give the GOP control of the U.S. Senate after the 2014 elections.
An excerpt: In his new role, Baker will allocate the NRSC’s budget, shifting resources as the map develops. He’ll also do much of the hiring for the committee’s independent expenditure arm and help shape the messaging and strategy needed to achieve the GOP’s 2014 goal of regaining the Senate majority.
Baker readily admits that, coming out of 2012, there are things the party needs to do differently, particularly in terms of expanding the GOP’s appeal.
“We’ve got to do a better job of reaching new voters. I agree with a lot of what [Louisiana Gov.] Bobby Jindal said. … We should not run away from our party,” he said.
Jindal charged during his keynote address at the RNC’s winter meeting that while the Republican Party shouldn’t change its values, it “might need to change just about everything else we are doing.”
Baker indicated that one of the biggest changes coming to the NRSC will be in recruitment.
“There are a lot of senators that have offered to help us recruit” besides the NRSC’s two vice chairmen, Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ted Cruz (Texas), Baker said.
Baker is bringing a winning track record — and wealth of experience in hard-fought races — to the NRSC. But his career began in the military.
After graduating high school in Tennessee, Baker eschewed college in favor of joining the Marines. He was stationed at the 8th and I location on Capitol Hill as a member of the ceremonial drill team.
He credits his military training with giving him the self-discipline and team ethic that has guided him in his career in politics.