Tag Archives: rules

Judge Rules TSSAA Subject to State Open Records Law

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was declared the functional equivalent of a state agency Friday and declared to be subject to the Tennessee Open Records Act, reports The City Paper.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by The City Paper earlier this year, Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman granted the newspaper’s motion, agreeing that the TSSAA is the state’s de facto regulatory body for high school athletics and therefore subject to records requests.
As part of an investigation into recruiting violations at Montgomery Bell Academy, The City Paper requested documents from the TSSAA in January but was denied by the organization. The paper petitioned the court for access to the records in February.

Occupy Nashville Protestors File Lawsuit Against State Officials

Even though it’s been nearly a year since they’ve been removed from Legislative Plaza, the Occupy Nashville protesters are not going away quietly, reports the City Paper.
More than a dozen Occupy Nashville protesters, including 13 that were arrested, filed a lawsuit against the state in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee on Wednesday. The lawsuit names Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of General Services Commissioner Steven Cates, Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and the Tennessee Highway Patrol officers who carried out the dispersion of protesters on War Memorial Plaza last year.
Occupy Nashville took up camp on the plaza on Oct. 6, 2011, building off the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. The lawsuit specifically takes aim at a set of new rules that were enforced to oust the protesters from the plaza. The protesters are requesting a federal judge to permanently prohibit the enforcement of the new rules.
“These New Rules unconstitutionally limit access by the public to a forum universally accepted to be an area protected for the speech of the governed,” the lawsuit said.
The suit also claims the defendants are guilty of First Amendment violations, due process violations, unlawful search and seizure and unlawful arrest.

New ‘Fracking’ Rules Approved for TN

Despite concerns from residents and environment groups, the Tennessee Oil and Gas Board approved new rules Friday for the controversial natural-gas extraction practice known as fracking, according to The Tennessean.
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the regulations provide oversight and will help protect residents if large-scale fracking takes place in Tennessee.
Fracking, or fracturing, is a method in which water and chemicals are injected into shale to break apart rock and release natural gas. The practice can already legally take place in Tennessee.
“Anything we pass today is more stringent than what we have now,” said Jonathon Burr, a program manager with TDEC’s Division of Water Resources.
Still, residents and environmental groups said the state should take more time to put in place rules that protect the public and Tennessee’s water resources. In some states, regulators have found cases in which fracking has led to water pollution.
“Our water table is the most precious natural resource that we as Tennesseans own,” said Richard Diamond, a retired attorney and member of the Swan Conservation Trust in Lewis County. “We can live without natural gas but we cannot live without water.”
Friday’s meeting of the Oil and Gas Board lasted all day and was its last before it merges with the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board on Monday. The six-member board approved the new rules 5-0, with member Peter Claussen leaving before the vote was taken.
The new rules contain pages of technical requirements on how gas wells should be drilled and monitored. The rules also include a public notice requirement and a provision requiring that gas operators disclose in post-drilling reports what chemicals were used in fracking, unless they are considered a trade secret.

Ryder Tries to Limit GOP Convention Floor Fights (unsuccessfully)

A push to limit floor fights at future Republican conventions has failed, reports Politico, despite the efforts of Memphis attorney John Ryder.
Romney campaign ally John Ryder, a Tennessee national committeeman, proposed an amendment to the RNC Rules Committee that would require candidates to control the most delegates in at least 10 states, instead of the current five, to officially compete for the nomination.
Though the measure would not have taken effect until 2016, it would drastically raise the bar for candidates like Ron Paul trying to continue their fight through the convention. It would also make it much harder for anyone to ruin an incumbent president’s coronation.
“Everyone recognizes that conventions are television events, and they have to be – just as the nightly news – on a tight schedule,” said Ryder. “We’re long past the days of smoke-filled rooms and unbound delegates. So the results are a foregone conclusion.”
Paul sympathizers on the rules committee spoke out forcefully against the change.
Morton Blackwell, a longtime party activist from Virginia, called it “a choke operation” that would have a chilling effect.
“We have got to, in this party, treat newcomers fairly, to the extent possible,” he said. “This would be taken as a slap in the face to grassroots people.”
When it became clear that Ryder didn’t have the votes, he agreed to keep the threshold at five – as long as candidates could produce written proof that they actually controlled the delegations in each of those states. That change passed.

Legislators Question UT Gun and Knife Rules

Some state legislators are questioning whether new student conduct rules at the University of Tennessee could lead to unwarranted disciplinary action against students who keep guns and knives for legitimate reasons.
“If I read it literally, this would ban most knives with blades 3 inches or longer. But we’re going to just trust the university’s judgment about which ones to take,” said Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, in summarizing one proposed rule and UT officials’ explanation for enforcing it.
“I guess I would agree with that,” replied W. Timothy Rogers, vice chancellor for student life at UT Knoxville.
Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, recalled that he kept a shotgun, a pistol and “an assortment of knives” in a UT married student apartment during his student days, occasionally taking the shotgun across university property to his car for a hunting trip. He asked if that would put him in violation of the rules, even considering the apartment was his home.
“It would be a technical violation,” replied Matthew Scoggins, assistant general counsel for UT.

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TennCare Tightens Rules for Nursing Home Coverage

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — TennCare officials say it is getting more difficult for low-income seniors to qualify for nursing homes and other services.
Officials say under old rules, elderly people could qualify for up to $55,000 to pay for a nursing home, adult day care or assisted living if they weren’t able to groom themselves. Under rules that began on July 1, TennCare will take an overall assessment of a person’s need before that level of funding is allocated. Being able to groom oneself is just one measure that TennCare uses to assess a person’s ability to handle activities of daily life.
TennCare spokeswoman Kelly Gunderson said those who don’t qualify for the maximum assessment can still get up to $15,000 annually. She said those who think they need more can ask their health care coordinator for another assessment.
The change has led to concerns.
Serenity Adult Day Care Center owner DeNessa Cartwright told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/Oj5nnV) that $15,000 might not be enough for the level of care some seniors require.
“A person can be lacking in only one ADL, but that one ADL could be so major that you still have many needs and need maximum funding,” said Cartwright.
Gunderson said changing the rules will save the agency $47 million a year and it will be able to redistribute money to serve more people.
“This is a critical next step in helping the state continue to expand access to home-based care, delay and/or prevent the need for nursing facility placement, when appropriate, and rebalance the state’s long-term care system for the elderly and adults with physical disabilities,” Gunderson said.
But Tennessee Justice Center Executive Director Gordon Bonnyman said he is concerned the state will be unable to provide needed services.
“It just defies common sense that you’re going to actually be able to maintain everybody, meet those needs and yet take $47 million out of the budget once used to pay for those services,” Bonnyman said

Candidate Clayton Says Forrester Breaking Rules by Opposing Him

The embattled Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate says he doesn’t understand why the head of his party refuses to welcome him to the party ticket, according to TNReport.
In a press conference outside the Nashville Metro Nashville Courthouse, presumptive nominee Mark Clayton told reporters that Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester took no issue with him in April when he dropped off his filing petitions to run for office.
“Chip Forrester is, despite reports to the contrary, not the Democratic Party. He just has a job. He just needs to stay at his office and do his job,” said Clayton, who prevailed as an underdog candidate in a crowded field. “I mean, if he did his job we wouldn’t have a problem with that. But if he continues to act against party rules and fight an elected nominee, then we’re going to have to go for his resignation.
“After everything that Martin Luther King went through, after everything we went through as a nation for civil rights, hundreds of years of slavery and violence, we’re going to have a Democratic Party that would take away people’s votes is just very shocking and disturbing to some of our supporters,” said Clayton.


Note: Clayton also has a website up now, HERE, to replace one dating to his 2008 campaign.

Fracking Draws Critics at Hearing on New TDEC Rules

At a Tuesday public hearing in Knoxville Tuesday, there were many opponents of the controversial method of drilling for natural gas in deep shale and tight formations — called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” reports the News Sentinel.
About 50 people attended the hearing at the Knoxville field office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. A second meeting was held Tuesday night.
The meetings were the latest step in an 18-month process by TDEC, as it tries to iron out standards and guidelines for fracking, which has basically been unregulated in Tennessee. A wide range of environmental groups and concerned individuals have also weighed in with their opinions.
The practice of fracking requires large amounts of water and chemicals to be injected at high pressure into the shaft, freeing the flow of natural gas.
About a dozen people spoke at Tuesday’s afternoon meeting, with most warning of dire consequences unless stringent guidelines are eventually written in law for fracking in Tennessee.
Sierra Club representative Axel Ringe said “two-thirds” of Tennessee will eventually be targeted for natural gas extraction via fracking.
Among the risks commonly associated with fracking are groundand surface water contamination, and degradation of natural habitat due to excessive water and chemical use in the drilling process.
Ringe said it’s imperative to get the rules and regulations right before fracking becomes commonplace in the state.
“This gives us time to set up regulations that are truly protective,” said Ringe.
Limestone resident Trudi Tolliver said she’s concerned that fracking could contaminate her well-water.
“I depend on a well for my drinking water,” said Tolliver.
“I would like to ban it (fracking) completely in our state. We need more evaluations on the health risks.”

Supreme Court Adopts New Ethics Rules for Judges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted new ethics rules for state judges.
One rule deals with the disability and impairment of a judge or attorney. It instructs judges to take “appropriate action” if they believe another judge or attorney is impaired by drugs, alcohol or other physical, mental or emotional condition.
Last year, a Knox County judge resigned after it was revealed he had been addicted to prescription painkillers that he was buying illegally.
In addition to the new ethics rules, the court also adopted a procedure for pursuing the recusal of a judge and a new process for getting an expedited appeal if a motion for recusal is denied.
All the changes take effect Sunday.

News release is below.

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Ramsey on ‘Unemployment Accountability Act’

News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
(April 26, 2012, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey today praised the unanimous passage of the Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 3658) by the state Senate.
“A true jobs agenda is compromised of elements that help both job creators and job seekers. Government cannot create jobs but it can help remove burdens from employers and aid the unemployed find work. This bill does both,” said Ramsey. “Nothing cures both social and economic ills like good paying jobs. This reform will inject accountability and fairness into our unemployment system further nurturing the pro-jobs, pro-business climate for which Tennessee is known.”
Senate Bill 3658 addresses many of the complaints Lt. Governor Ramsey received during his Red Tape Road Trips last summer. The road trips took Ramsey across the state meeting with business owners about how to eliminate red tape from government and make Tennessee the best state in which to own and operate a business. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin).
“Our state unemployment system was always intended as a bridge from one job to the next for people out of work through no fault of their own,” Sen. Johnson explained. “By strengthening the work search requirement and the definition of misconduct, we are restoring the intent of the system and making the lives of our small business owners easier. It’s a win for both job seekers and job creators.”
The Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 strengthens the definition of employee misconduct to ensure that those who have been fired for cause no longer receive benefits. The act also enacts new work search requirements for unemployment beneficiaries. Those collecting unemployment benefits must provide detailed information regarding contact with at least three employers per week or must access services at a career center. The act also provides for random audits to ensure the integrity of beneficiaries’ job searches.