(NASHVILLE, TN) December 22, 2011 – State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) announced today he has introduced legislation that would reform the way pensions are calculated for new state employees.
The plan would be offered for new state employees but not for local government employees or for education workers. Kelsey said the proposal would establish a privately managed cash-balance plan to eventually replace the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System defined benefits plan, participation in which would continue to remain available for current employees.
While Republicans continue to draft new state legislative districts, state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, says he’ll introduce an alternative redistricting plan for Shelby County that will increase the number of majority black voting districts from nine to 10, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The plan would also protect Democratic incumbents, just as Republicans will likely do for their incumbents.
The Republicans control both houses of the legislature and could simply ignore the plan and others like it that Hardaway and others introduce. Republican leaders drawing maps have not yet released them publicly.
However, Hardaway said that he and supporters are preparing for a possible lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act, which prevents dilution of the voting power of African-Americans or other minority groups.
Hardaway said he’s working with other members of the legislature’s black caucus as well as groups that include the NAACP and the Durham, N.C.-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
….Because other parts of the state have gained population relative to the Memphis area, Shelby County is likely to lose one of its six state Senate seats and two of its 16 state House seats. ….(Rep.) Barbara Cooper, a Democrat, has said her District 86 would be combined with Hardaway’s District 92.
Note: There’s a lot of speculation that the primary targets of Republican redistricting in Shelby County are white, not black. By some accounts, Reps. Jeanne Richardson and Mike Kernell can expect their districts to effectively be disintegrated and distributed among districts now held by African-Americans. Something along the same lines is likely to impact Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle’s district.
News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman today released his strategic plan, outlining the department of education’s four strategies for supporting districts in reaching their ambitious academic goals:
Expand kids’ access to effective teachers and leaders
Expand families’ access to good schools
Expand educators’ access to resources and best practices
Expand public access to information and data
Undergirding each of the priorities is the commitment to structure an effective state agency that serves as a support system to school districts, rather than a regulator, while allowing for policies that remove bureaucracy and unleash innovation. In every priority, the department will focus on improvement in rural schools and reducing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.
“Everything we do in this department should be focused on making sure Tennessee kids learn more every day, and Tennessee educators are supported in the important work that they do,” Huffman said. “The goals we set out in Race to the Top are our department’s goals, and we will work diligently to become the fastest-improving state in the nation.”
Visit www.tn.gov/education to see the Tennessee Department of Education’s strategic plan.