Tag Archives: policy

Trace Sharp Named XD of Crockett Policy Institute

Trace Sharp, veteran Tennessee blogger (Newscoma) who worked in Democrat Mike McWherter’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign, has been named executive director of the Crockett Policy Institute.

Here’s the announcement of her appointment, cut and pasted from today’s edition of Out of the Blue, “The Daily Buzz,” an emailed, Democrat-oriented Tennessee politics/public policy newsletter launched by Sharp and soon to be distributed by Crockett Policy Institute. (Note: It’s free, but you have to sign up for it, HERE.)

In 2011 we created Crockett Policy Institute as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, dedicated to improving the lives of Tennesseans by promoting practical, workable and fair solutions to the challenges facing Tennessee and the surrounding region. Since that time we have focused on jobs, education, energy, and governance seeking to encourage reasonable and bi-partisan approaches to solving problems in those four areas. We think Tennesseans are tired of the extreme partisan rhetoric and ready for creative and thoughtful ideas, from whatever source, that can make life better for us and for our children.

In a step forward we are proud to announce that Trace Sharp will be our new Executive Director responsible for the day-to-day operations of CPI. She has been the moving force behind the electronic publication “The Daily Buzz” providing a rundown of critical issues facing our region. Beginning September 3d, Trace will bring an extensive background in journalism, public service, and civic action to our organization. Her many talents will be well utilized as CPI expands its depth and reach.
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Bredesen to UT Students: 50-cent Gas Tax Increase Not a Great Idea

University of Tennessee graduate students got some practical advice for their national energy policy ideas that might be politically unpopular from two former public figures who have governed in the real world, reports Georgiana Vines.
The occasion was Thursday when presentations by a policy studies class in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education were made to the center’s namesake, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, acting the role of “president.”
Then walked in his friend and “vice president,” former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who’s also been a U.S. secretary of energy and a diplomat. Richardson was in Knoxville as a guest of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.
…On increasing the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, the students recommended a 50-cent increase as a “shock” price that would see consumption go down initially; then, as consumers got used to it and started purchasing gas again, another increase would be imposed.
Bredesen said the amount might not seem like much, but when people have limited income and also need transportation, it’s not an easy idea to sell.
“This is a very privileged group of people,” Bredesen said, speaking of the students. “When you present your ideas in the public sector, you’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of those who are not.”
Think of a single mom with a kid at home, he told them.
“She’s spending a dime and then some to stay afloat,” Bredesen said.

Sponsor Drops Push to Strip Vanderbilt of Police Powers

A bill that would strip Vanderbilt University of its police powers is being dropped by its sponsor after an opinion from the Tennessee attorney general that it violates the U.S. constitution, according to Chas Sisk.
State Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, announced Monday that he will withdraw House Bill 1150. The measure would have taken away the Vanderbilt University Police Department’s ability to make arrests and enforce criminal laws unless the school abandons its “all-comers” nondiscrimination policy.
“I want to be sure to stand up for our students’ religious rights without overstepping our state authority,” Pody said in a prepared statement announcing he would not pursue the bill. “At this point, I am still not satisfied with the ‘all-comers policy’ at some private institutions. However, it needs to be addressed in a different way.”
Vanderbilt has battled with several student groups over a requirement that all organizations it recognizes abide by the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Religious groups say the policy tramples on their freedom of worship.

Concussion Bill Goes to Governor for Signature

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Coaches and school athletic directors would be required to complete a concussion safety education course under legislation that’s headed to the governor for his consideration.
The measure, which would require schools and other organizations with youth athletic programs to adopt concussion policies, was overwhelmingly approved 93-3 in the House on Thursday. The companion bill unanimously passed the Senate 30-0 last month.
The legislation is similar to laws passed in 42 other states and the District of Columbia that include provisions requiring students to be removed from an event if they show concussion symptoms like headaches, dilated eyes or vomiting.
The Tennessee proposal would require schools to adopt guidelines to educate coaches, school administrators, athletes and their parents about the symptoms and dangers of concussions. Under the measure, injured students wouldn’t be able to resume the sport until a medical professional clears their return.

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Bill Requires TN Schools Develop Policies to Prevent Concussion

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation that would require schools and other organizations conducting youth athletic programs in Tennessee to adopt concussion policies is headed to the floor of the Senate.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville (SB882) was approved 8-0 in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and now goes to the full Senate. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, in the House.
The measure is similar to laws passed in 42 other states and the District of Columbia that include provisions requiring students to be removed from sporting events and evaluated if they show signs of having a concussion.
NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch, who oversees law and labor policy for the league, testified before the committee. He said the league supports such legislation and hopes all states will eventually adopt similar measures.
Under the proposal, schools are required to “adopt guidelines … as approved by the department of health to inform and educate coaches, school administrators, youth athletes and their parents or guardians of the nature, risk and symptoms of concussion and head injury, including continuing to play after concussion or head injury.”

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Education Reform Group Rates TN 11th Nationally in Education Policies

News release from StudentsFirst:
NASHVILLE- Today, national education reform advocacy organization StudentsFirst published its first-ever State Policy Report Card, a new tool for improving student achievement that does not look at individual or school-wide test scores or teacher effectiveness, but instead gauges how well each state’s education policies are serving students and schools.
The national report raises serious questions about whether states’ education laws and practices are contributing to student success. Nationally, nearly ninety percent of the states received less than a “C” grade on the State Policy Report Card, and no state earned higher than a “B-“.
Tennessee was awarded an overall grade of “C-,” with a grade point average of 1.75, for its performance in three critical areas: elevating teaching, empowering parents and spending public dollars wisely. The state ranked 11th nationally, but was praised in the report for implementing a comprehensive system for meaningfully evaluating teachers and principals that positions the state far ahead of most in the country.
“The StudentsFirst Policy Report Cards serve as a roadmap for leaders and policymakers in Nashville, and an opportunity to continue building on the meaningful reforms that put students first,” said Brent Easley, Tennessee state director for StudentsFirst. “We believe that every child in Tennessee can learn regardless of their background or circumstance, but we must have the right policies in place that offer a supportive and enriching educational environment for reform to thrive. That includes empowering parents, and offering high-quality options for students throughout Tennessee.”

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Cato Gives Haslam a ‘D’ on Fiscal Policy

The Cato Institute, in a “fiscal policy report card” for the nation’s governors, has given Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam a ‘D.’ His numerical score is 43 on the Cato scale, which is lower than such governors as Jerry Brown of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York.
Here’s what Cato had to say about Tennessee’s governor:
Bill Haslam is a former businessman and mayor of Knoxville. As governor, his best fiscal move so far is to repeal Tennessee’s inheritance tax. Haslam says the tax is prompting “a whole lot of people” to leave the state because “it’s cheaper to die in Florida.” Haslam originally called for an increase in the exemption amount, but he ultimately agreed to a full phase-out of the inheritance tax over three years. Haslam also signed a small cut in the sales tax on groceries. Balancing out those tax cuts, Haslam approved an increase in the state’s hospital tax from 3.5 to 4.5 percent of hospital net income. Haslam has also been leading the charge to increase taxes on Internet sales. State general fund spending rose about 14 percent during Haslam’s first year in office, which was a key factor in the governor’s low grade.
The full report is accessible HERE.

Knox Prayer Policy Approved 10-1

The Knox County Commission will continue to pray each month before formal, voting meetings, reports The News Sentinel.
The panel in a 10-1 vote Monday adopted a written policy for regular invocations. About 10 residents spoke against the measure, most suggesting that the board instead hold a moment of silence.
But, after roughly 90 minutes of discussion, members said they’re not changing a thing — other than to put it in writing.
“Each person has the opportunity to opt out (of participating), but I don’t see anyone up here offering a specific religion,” said Commissioner Mike Brown. “If (someone finds it) offensive, then they can leave or wait until after the devotion is over to come into the meeting.”
The commissioner added: “The majority of (Knox Countians) reflect the views of each of us sitting on this podium and we would be remiss if we didn’t go along with the majority of our constituents in our districts.”
Others disagreed.
Larry Rhodes, an atheist who was raised a Southern Baptist, said the county will “spend a lot of time and money” to defend the policy in court. He suggested that prayer is not “something that represents all (of the county’s residents) and will leave out a growing segment of the population.”
He said the commission’s approval will “send a message that real citizens” are only those “who support the majority.”

Knoxville Chamber Wants a PAC (for policy)

Fresh off a bruising battle over education spending, the Knoxville Chamber is gearing up to form a Political Action Committee, reports the News Sentinel.
Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the business organization, said Friday that the primary purpose of the PAC would be advocacy for public policy, which he said is different from support for a particular candidate.
A political action committee raises money from private donors to finance its activities. Edwards said a PAC is needed because it’s not enough for the Chamber to simply take a position for or against a certain issue. “We have to be able to independently analyze in order to make knowledgeable decisions and to be able to share that information with others, to explain why we’re taking the position we’re taking,” he said. “And that takes money.”
While Edwards acknowledged the PAC would be able to endorse or contribute to candidates, he said the Chamber needs to be able to work with whoever is elected. “Getting involved in a (political) race is not the goal,” he added. “But it is our inherent responsibility to take positions for or against any policy … or ordinance or whatever that’s being considered that we would feel to be onerous to the business community and to the growth of the area.”
Last month, the Knox County Commission approved a county spending plan that included an additional $7 million for education initiatives, far less
than the $35 million boost that had been requested by Knox County school Superintendent Jim McIntyre. The Chamber had supported McIntyre’s proposal, although Edwards said Friday that he considered the eventual outcome to be a victory.
The question now, he added, is whether backers of the larger budget increase can “make a powerful enough case to the public that would compel the county government to fund what … they were unwilling to fund last year. And that (advocacy) does require more resources, that would be raised through a PAC.”

New Prayer Policy Follows Lawsuit

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Members of the Hamilton County Commission have approved a new policy on prayer, indicating the intent to continue allowing public prayer at meetings.
Two local men have filed a federal lawsuit and asked for an injunction to prevent the commission from letting people pray out loud as meetings begin. A hearing is scheduled for July 26 on the injunction request.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/N6Og8t ) reported commission members on Tuesday unanimously approved a policy that calls for creation of a countywide clergy database from which speakers will be invited to lead what commissioners termed a “prayer, reflective moment of silence, or a short solemnizing message,” at each weekly commission meeting.
The men filing the lawsuit have asked the commission to hold a moment of silence, rather than the Christian prayers.
Commissioners said the new policy should allow for diversity of opinion and belief.
However, plaintiff Tommy Coleman says the new policy “is pure propaganda.”