(Note: This expands an earlier post)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam is touting his administration’s dedication to social media, but he also acknowledges that not every one of his 40,000 followers on Facebook are actually supporters.
The Republican governor said in a speech in Nashville on Thursday that he has stressed the use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to communicate with constituents.
Haslam said social media also provide an avenue for feedback — and that not all of it is positive. The governor told reporters after the event that in reading some of the comments it has become clear that some of his followers are “fans, but not admirers.”
An analysis conducted by Haslam’s office indicates that he has the eighth most Facebook fans among the nation’s governors.
Haslam’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TeamHaslam
The governor’s news release is below:
From an article in Metro Pulse:
Over the past week, you might have seen this headline from Gizmodo floating around your social networks: “Tennessee Just Made Offensive Online Pictures Illegal.” Yes, influential bloggers and tweeters across the country are yet again making fun of Tennessee. The problem is, very few of them seem to have bothered to read the law.
Take that Gizmodo post, which says “an online image of anything that offends anyone is now illegal” and likely to land you in a Tennessee jail. Or Ars Technica, which writes, “for image postings, the ’emotionally distressed’ individual need not be the intended recipient. Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim.” Sounds like a reason to panic, right? But it turns out these comments are off base.
…In an e-mail, University of Tennessee law Professor Glenn Reynolds says he thinks the law is “probably overbroad and thus unconstitutional–though whether it’s sufficiently overbroad to be unconstitutional in general, and not just in some applications isn’t open-and-shut, but it probably is.”
But, Reynolds adds, “Cyberstalking is a real problem, and it’s often hard to get authorities to do much even when it’s by phone or e-mail. This statute isn’t–as some have portrayed it as being–some sort of crazy ban on all offensive images. It’s a perfectly reasonable technological update that just isn’t very well drafted.”
Of course, anyone filing a complaint because he or she is offended by a random Internet image will have to go through the whole criminal process. Somehow, it seems unlikely that law enforcement authorities across the state will suddenly devote their already stretched resources to pursuing spurious claims of harassment from citizens offended by their local newspaper’s website.
In any case, the newly changed law seems most likely to end up being challenged in court before we see any of the worst-case scenarios dreamed up by bloggers.
Starting next school year, Tennessee third-graders will no longer be allowed to move on to the next grade unless they can demonstrate understanding of the curriculum and basic reading skills, reports the News Sentinel.
The new state law, approved this month, exempts special education students. It also permits school systems to promote struggling third-graders if they provide them with proven remedial help before the beginning of their fourth-grade school year.
“It’s not about punishing students by retaining them,” Gary Nixon, executive director of the state Board of Education, said last week. “It’s providing intervention and ensuring they are successful.”
The bill is another step in Tennessee’s push toward higher and more rigorous academic standards, he said. School systems agree with the legislation’s intent to get all students reading on grade level but are working to figure out its practical implications, said Jim McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools
“What we know from a lot of the research is social promotion is really not a particularly productive solution, but neither is retention in grade,” he said. “The challenge is to ensure that we look at each individual student and based on a variety of academic and developmental considerations, really make a good decision that meets the needs of the student academically.”
The House and Senate have approved two bills presented as ways to combat “cyberbullying,” defined as the use of electronic devices to intentionally inflict emotional distress or fear of physical harm.
One of the bills, HB301, amends the state’s general law, which makes harassment or intimidation of another person a misdemeanor, to include electronic communication via email, text messages, website postings and the like. It also declares that law enforcement officers and prosecutors can demand records from operators of social networks and other service providers to determine the origin of an electronic communication.
The bill passed the Senate 29-1 on Thursday after being amended to make a conviction punishable by community service work only. It passed the House earlier 76-18, but now returns to that body for concurrence on the Senate amendment.
The sponsors, Democratic Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta and Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, said the measure will help law enforcement officers track down offenders and clarify current law to assure it covers electronically transmitted threats that cause “emotional distress” or a reasonable fear of bodily harm.
Most criticism focused on concerns that the bill is too broad and could interfere with free speech. Among the opponents was Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.
“I do not think we ought to limit free speech of our citizens just because someone is offended,” he said.
The other bill, HB300, gives school boards the authority to take disciplinary action against students who engage in “cyberbulling” against another student or students, even if the acts in question were committed off a school campus.
It inspired considerably less debate and passed 87-8 in the House, 29-1 in the Senate. The measure, also sponsored by Curtiss and Ketron, now goes to the governor.
(Note: The Senate vote count was initially stated as 30-0 on this post. It has been corrected to 29-1. The sole no vote came from Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.)
Social issues are taking a back seat in the state legislature this year, as Republican moderates have so far kept issues such as guns, abortion and states’ rights from overshadowing their program on education and business matters, observes Chas Sisk.
GOP leaders, especially those in the state House, have avoided controversies over nullification of federal laws and President Barack Obama’s birth certificate this session, quietly voting down bills that deal with those topics in subcommittees. Meanwhile, Republicans have moved to cast many of their most controversial positions on social issues, such as the teaching of evolution and gay rights, as economic or education issues.
Republicans say they have not intentionally tried to avoid social issues. But three months into the session, activists from across the political spectrum say the strategy is becoming apparent, and with time winding down, the odds of hot-button issues rising to the top of the agenda are dwindling.