Tag Archives: new

Book shedding new light on TN history

From “History Bill” Carey:
Paul Clements spent 11 years researching first-person accounts of the early settlements of Middle Tennessee. He assembled every available account of events such as the journey of the Donelson Party, the Battle of the Bluffs, the Nickajack Expedition and countless other events between 1775 and 1800. He recently published many of these in the book “Chronicles of the Cumberland Settlements.” This amazing 800-page volume sheds new light on the early history of Nashville and proves that many of the stories we have heard only tell part of the story.
Carey’s Q and A session with Clements is HERE.
And Carey has a piece in the City Paper. An excerpt from that:
A native of Nashville who doesn’t even have a degree in history, Clements just moved the understanding of Nashville’s early history forward one very large step. He did this the old-fashioned way — by staring at microfilm for more than a decade in places such as the Metro Nashville Archives and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
“I’m in awe of what Paul has done,” said John Egerton, Southern historian and the author of Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South. “The very idea that such a thing could happen at this stage is astonishing.
“The only way it could have happened is because of a guy like Paul.”
You see, in the 1840s, a man named Lyman Draper interviewed many of the people who were here when present-day Davidson and Sumner counties consisted of nothing more than a series of forts and homesteads. Draper conducted these interviews intending to write a long book about the history of the American frontier.
Draper never wrote the book, but he wrote transcripts of the interviews. In some cases, the notebooks containing these interviews had never been translated from his mid-19thcentury handwriting — until Clements did it.
Furthermore, about 75 pages of handwritten notes written by someone who interviewed Edward Swanson in the 1820s were discovered in a West Tennessee home in the 1980s. This was a remarkable discovery. Swanson, you see, was one of Middle Tennessee’s earliest settlers; he came to the “French Lick,” as Nashville was once known, before the Donelson Party got here. Swanson’s notebooks were detailed, containing accounts of events such as the Battle of the Bluffs, and descriptions of the fort that used to be in present-day downtown Nashville.

‘Guns in parking lots’ and bunch of other legislation took effect today as new laws

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A measure that allows people with handgun carry permits to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked is among a number of new state laws that take effect Monday.
The gun law will go into effect despite questions about what it means for employment law in Tennessee — the measure allows workers to store guns in cars while parked in their employers’ parking lots.
The state attorney general said in a legal opinion released in May that under the law, employers would still be allowed to fire workers who violate gun bans.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey disagreed with the opinion, saying in a statement that the “General Assembly created a clear statutory right allowing permit holders to lawfully keep a firearm stored in their car while at work.”
“Any employer explicitly terminating a permit holder for keeping a gun locked in his car would violate the state’s clear public policy, opening himself or herself up to legal action,” the Blountville Republican said.
Other measures taking effect include a law that allows school districts to let people with police training be armed in schools, and one that would require incoming students at public higher education institutions to show proof they’ve had meningitis shots.
(Note: Full list of laws taking effect today is HERE.)

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If you’re into reading up on new Tennesee laws…

A bunch of new laws enacted by the General Assembly take effect on July 1. The full list, with the official “caption” description of each, is posted on the legislative website HERE.
A list compiled by Darlene Schlicher of the Senate Republican Caucus – not all-inclusive but pretty close – has more detailed descriptions in many cases. It is HERE.

Lawmakers Approve Letting Cities Start New School Systems

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation that would clear the way for cities to begin forming municipal school systems is needed to continue education reform in Tennessee, proponents of the measure said Monday.
The proposal was overwhelmingly approved 70-24 in the House before passing the Senate 24-5. The measure is headed to the governor for his consideration.
The legislation would lift a 1998 ban that forbids municipalities from starting their own school systems.
The measure would benefit six Memphis suburbs seeking to bypass a merger of the Shelby County and Memphis school districts and run their own schools.
The suburbs voted in August to create their own districts after the Legislature passed a narrowly crafted bill that allowed it.

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Bill Lets New Car Owners Avoid Emission Tests, Worries Business

Legislation that would exclude newer cars and trucks from annual emissions testing sounds good to vehicle owners and to state lawmakers, who whisked it through a Senate committee and House subcommittee last week, reports Andy Sher.
But state regulators and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry are nearly choking over the potential impact on existing and future businesses in six affected counties including Hamilton County, home to Volkswagen’s assembly plant.
In addition to Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties, and Memphis, require vehicles to pass annual emissions tests to get tags.
The county and city governments adopted the tests and other measures to comply with 2009 federal ozone standards aimed at improving air quality and health.
Receiving a “non-attainment” designation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can impact existing businesses or scare off new companies that might have to install costly pollution control equipment.
“We are opposed to the bill,” Wayne Scharber, the Tennessee Chamber’s vice president for environment and taxation, said last week.
The bill to exempt vehicles in the three most recent model years raised a dust storm in the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Senate Transportation Committee last week.
“I understand that Volkswagen is under very stringent restrictions to stay within a certain [level] that EPA has put on them,” said Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer.
“If we stop doing this, is that going to put that particular facility in danger of being over the level that the EPA has given them … and consequently will that cause them large expenditures to get back underneath their limit there?”
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation outlined a chain of circumstances they said could affect Volkswagen and other companies in the six counties and Memphis.
Barry Stephens, director of the state’s Air Pollution Control Division, said the state runs a complex model on sources of ozone emissions. The EPA awards credits for certain actions to keep down the emissions.
“If you remove certain model years [of vehicles], then they reduce the amount of credits you get for the reduction,” Stephens said. “So if you remove three years, then we’ve got to find those tons [of emissions] somewhere else.”
That could come by requiring heavier vehicles now exempt from emissions testing, he said, or from requiring “stationary” source of emissions — power plants, heavy industry and petrochemical manufacturers — to cut back.

Shelby Bill Likely to Allow New School Systems Statewide

State legislators representing Shelby County suburban cities say they may file a bill this week to repeal Tennessee’s 15-year-old prohibition on new municipal school systems statewide, according to the Commercial Appeal.
(Note: The bill filing deadline for the 2013 session is Thursday.)
The state legislature last year lifted the ban only in Shelby County, but a federal judge in Memphis ruled a Shelby-only bill violated the Tennessee Constitution.
That municipal school approach is favored by suburban leaders over a plan for converting schools in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington into charter schools under the municipalities’ control. The suburban mayors had focused on charter schools in their negotiations with the County Commission and City Council but ended the talks Friday after declaring an impasse primarily over how much control the suburbs would have. A charter school approach could remain on the legislative table as a backup plan.
If the legislature legalized the creation of new municipal school systems across the state, it could negate the key provision that U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays overturned Nov. 27 — but other issues, including Equal Protection considerations over the possibility of resegregation of schools in Shelby County, are before the judge for review.
Shelby’s suburban state legislators struggled through the 2012 legislative session, especially in the House of Representatives, to win approval of the bill that allowed the suburban cities to hold referendums on creating new municipal districts and elections for school board members after voters approved the new districts. House leaders resisted lifting the ban statewide and eventually limited it to Shelby County.
But with Mays’ ruling forcing them to regroup, suburban mayors and legislators are more confident they can win approval of a statewide repeal because of several reasons:
Richard Montgomery, the Sevierville Republican who chaired the House Education Committee in 2011-12, lost re-election to a GOP primary challenger last August. Montgomery had favored limiting last year’s bill to Shelby County.
The new chairman, Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, participated in a Nashville meeting Tuesday with all of Shelby County’s suburban legislators, the mayors or city managers of the six municipalities, legislative staff attorneys, attorneys for the suburbs and others to lay the groundwork for another legislative push. Brooks could not be reached this weekend but is likely more willing to consider a statewide repeal.
There has been so much turnover in the legislature that few members know why their predecessors in 1998 banned new municipal districts and have no institutional commitment to keeping the ban in place. The 1998 move was part of a comprehensive reform of Tennessee law governing municipal annexations, land-use and urban-growth planning, and when and how new towns can be established.

The State Capitol is More Secure This Year

Officials are rolling out new security measures at the state Capitol this year, including machines that can scan identification cards, more cameras and permanent guard stations at each public entrance, observes The Tennessean. Similar measures are being implemented at adjoining Legislative Plaza, where lawmakers have their committee meetings.
Tighter security comes as state and national lawmakers prepare to debate the place of firearms in workplaces and schools. It also comes as the nation reacts to last year’s shootings in Connecticut, Oregon and Colorado.
But state officials deny there is a direct connection.
“It wasn’t a reaction to any one particular incident,” said state Comptroller Justin Wilson, a member of the State Building Commission, which signed off on the improvements.
“There’s just a need for greater security.”
The improvements are part of a larger renovation of the Capitol. Completed in December, the $15.7 million project mainly restored the Civil War-era building’s interior and upgraded the heating and cooling system. As planning for the project got under way, the Department of Safety and the Department of General Services recommended beefing up security.
The State Building Commission, most of whose members have offices in the Capitol, signed off on the improvements in late 2011. The decision came before the latest round of shootings, but it took place months after the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a political rally in Arizona. Occupy Nashville protesters were camped outside at the time.

Alexander, Corker Vote Yes as Tax Deal Clears Senate

Both of Tennessee’s U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, voted yes on the tax deal that was approved by the Senate in the early on New Year;s day.
Here’s Alexander’s statement on the vote from his media office:
“This agreement rescues 99 percent of Americans from individual and estate tax increases in 2013, and then makes these lower rates permanent, providing certainty and creating jobs. But the Medicare fiscal cliff is still ahead of us, which is why Senator Corker and I have a proposal to deal with the out-of-control spending that will soon bankrupt the programs seniors rely on to pay their medical bills. If we don’t deal with this during the debt ceiling debate, we are on the road to becoming Greece.”
Here’s Corker’s statement on the vote from his media office:
WASHINGTON – After voting in favor of legislation to rescue 99 percent of the American people from a tax rate increase, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said “it’s time to move on to the spending reductions that will be part of the debt ceiling package.”
“I am disappointed we could not address our country’s fiscal issues all at once, but unfortunately, the president made it clear that he was only willing to do this in two steps and leveraged the country and the economy to force revenues to be dealt with first. Now that we’ve addressed the revenue part of the equation, it’s time to move on to the spending reductions that will be part of the debt ceiling package. Passing fundamental entitlement reform is the most important action we can take in ensuring our country’s solvency and now we must have the courage to finish the job and make the tough choices necessary to get these problems behind us once and for all,” said Corker.
Earlier this month, Corker offered legislation to raise the debt ceiling by roughly $1 trillion in exchange for roughly $1 trillion in reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Here’s the AP’s summary of what the bill does:
Highlights of a tentative agreement Monday between the White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., aimed at averting wide tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to take effect in the new year. The measure would raise taxes by about $600 billion over 10 years compared with tax policies that expire at midnight Monday. It would also delay for two months across-the-board spending cuts otherwise set to begin slashing the budgets of the Pentagon and numerous domestic agencies.
Highlights include:
–Income tax rates: Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.
–Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.
–Capital gains, dividends: Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.
–Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000. The tax was originally designed to ensure that the wealthy did not avoid owing taxes by using loopholes.
–Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and an up to $2,500 tax credit for college tuition. Also extends for one year accelerated “bonus” depreciation of business investments in new property and equipment, a tax credit for research and development costs and a tax credit for renewable energy such as wind-generated electricity.
–Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.
–Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula.
–Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2 percentage point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2 percent.
–Across-the-board cuts: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rules changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs.

Miscellaneous TN News Notes, 12/30/12

New Legislature Faces Familiar Topics
Chas Sisk has first here-comes-the-legislature roundup story for 2013 (appearing before 2012 has ended). The summary sentences:
Pass a budget. Resolve debates on guns, charter schools and wine. Get out of Nashville quickly.
Tennessee lawmakers do not reconvene until Jan. 8, but already their list of resolutions for the 108th General Assembly is becoming clea
There’s also a sidebar with brief discussion on the following topics: Guns, health care reform, vouchers, charter schools, wine in grocery stores, workers compensation, solar industry tax breaks, pre-kindergarten, campaign finance.
Legislator Surprised to be in Office
Chris Carroll reports that some legislators don’t realize they officially take office on election day in Tennessee. Opening line:
Not even Todd Gardenhire knew when he became Sen. Todd Gardenhire.
There’s a list of some other Southeastern state rules on when legislators assume office. It appears Tennessee is the earliest listed, though Alabama lawmakers are close – the day after election. Florida legislators take office “upon election,” but that may mean when the votes are certified?
Knoxville Had a ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Rally
Nearly two dozen people rallied outside the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse in downtown Knoxville Saturday to urge Tennessee’s congressmen to pass a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle class and head off the looming “fiscal cliff,” reports the News Sentinel.
Local residents gathered about 10:30 a.m. and stood outside for about an hour, said organizer June Jones.
“They’re just playing politics, and we’re just putting a light on the subject,” Jones said. “They’re just playing with people’s lives and making a lot of people very nervous.”

No Free Ride for Putnam’s New Year’s Eve Celebrants
In Putnam County, a New Year’s Eve tradition of providing free rides home for drunken celebrators won’t be functioning this year, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, because the Upper Cumberland Human Resource won’t furnish vehicles and drivers.
“We provided the vans and our staff volunteered in coordinating the services, drove the vehicles and a separate staff volunteer went as an escort in each van,” Randall Killman, field operations specialist with UCHRA, explained. “In recent years, the agency has experienced some issues with intoxicated passengers that put our volunteer staff at risk.”

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Full List of New TN Laws Effective Jan. 1, 2013

Following is a list of state laws taking effect on Jan. 1, 2013, as compiled by Legislative Information Services. The first number is the “public chapter” number of the new law, followed by the bill number as it appeared during the legislative session, the subject and then the description. (Below the LIS list is a listing compiled by the Senate Republican Caucus that contains more description in some cases.)
1020 SB3341 Teachers, Principals and School Personnel – As enacted, specifies
that a teacher may not teach a course in which an end of course
examination is required for students to satisfy graduation
requirements set by the state board of education, if the teacher’s
license does not carry a subject specific endorsement for the
subject area of the course, unless the teacher demonstrates
sufficient content knowledge in the course material by taking, at the
teacher’s own expense, and passing a standardized or criterion-
referenced test for the content area. – Amends TCA Title 49,
Chapter 6.
1030 SB2923 Workers Compensation – As enacted, clarifies that either party in a
workers compensation dispute may bring suit in the county in which
the employee resided at the time of the injury when issues remain
after the benefit review conference; reduces from $100 to $50.00 the
maximum amount that the secretary of state may charge for certain
fees concerning construction service providers and workers
compensation. – Amends TCA Title 50.

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