Tag Archives: Standard

Faison Calls for Lowering DUI Standard to .05 Blood Alcohol

State Rep. Jeremy Faison says he will sponsor legislation next year to lower the legal standard for a presumption of drunken driving in Tennessee from 0.08 blood alcohol content to 0.05 as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.
“I think it’s an important thing to do. What we’ve been doing is not working and we have tens of thousands of Americans dying because of drunk driving,” said Faison, R-Cosby.
The NTSB this week recommended that states lower the threshold for a presumption of drunken driving from 0.08 to 0.05, the standard already in place for more than 100 other countries around the world. No state currently has a 0.05 general standard.
Faison said Tennessee was among the last states to lower its DUI standard from 0.10 to 0.08 and being the first to drop the standard to 0.05 would position Tennessee as leader in combating drunken driving instead of a follower.
While there has been “an awful lot of emphasis lately on guns with high-capacity magazines” in crime, Faison said drunken driving causes far more violent death and thus deserves far more attention “if we’re going to champion life.”
The legislator, who serves as vice chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, said his personal interest in the subjects dates to the death of his sister, Becky, in an accident caused by a drunken driver a week after her 16th birthday, when he was 14.
“He (the drunken driver) basically got off with probation,” said Faison, who said he would otherwise like to see DUI laws strengthened to include seizure of a first offender’s vehicle. Current law provides for seizure of a vehicle only after multiple convictions.
“If the punishment doesn’t outweigh the pleasure of the crime, people are going to keep on doing it,” he said.
The Legislature earlier this year voted to require for the first time that first DUI convicts be required to obtain an ignition interlock device, which requires the driver to take a breath alcohol test before his or her car will start.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Office website, fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired drivers declined by 31.8 percent in Tennessee from 2007 through 2011 — or from 377 to 257 in that period. The preliminary figure for 2012 is 246 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
The office also says that Tennessee Highway Patrol arrests for DUI increased by 25.4 percent from 2007 through 2012.
Faison said he will either file a bill lowering the standard to 0.05 next year himself or sign on as a co-sponsor to a more senior member willing to push the measure.
Faison, who is in his second term as a representative, said he that “with the way things work” a veteran lawmaker likely would have a better chance of success with passage of a potentially controversial measure.

TN Joins Lawsuit Against Standard and Poor

News release from Attorney General’s office:
Attorney General Bob Cooper today joined the Department of Justice and other state Attorneys General in filing enforcement actions against Standard and Poor’s and its parent company, McGraw-Hill, seeking accountability for alleged misconduct by the credit rating agency. The allegations involved structured finance securities backed by subprime mortgages that were at the heart of the nation’s financial crisis.
The federal and state complaints allege that despite S&P’s repeated statements emphasizing its independence and objectivity, S&P allowed its credit rating analysis to be influenced by its desire to earn lucrative fees from its investment bank clients. Investors and others in the marketplace relied on credit rating agencies like S&P for accurate ratings because the underlying data for these securities was not publicly available.
This alleged misconduct began as early as 2001, became particularly acute between 2004 and 2007, and continued as recently as 2011.
Structured finance securities backed by subprime mortgages were at the center of the financial crisis. These financial products, including residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateral debt obligations (CDOs), derive their value from the monthly payments consumers make on their mortgages.
“The complaint filed in state court today alleges that investors as well as others in the market were misled by Standard and Poor’s promises that its analysis was independent and objective. Unfortunately, as the complaint alleges, this was not the case, and ratings of mortgage backed securities and collateral debt obligations were influenced by the desire to continue earning lucrative fees,” Attorney General Cooper said.
Tennessee’s lawsuit seeks relief to stop S&P from making misrepresentations to the public; change the way the company does business; and civil penalties and disgorgement of ill-gotten profits.
The congressionally-appointed bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded in its final report that the financial crisis “could not have happened” without ratings agencies such as S&P.
The State’s Complaint may be found on the Attorney General’s website by going to www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral and clicking on “Filings of Interest.”

Haslam Says Credit Rating Agencies Seemed Postive About TN Presentation

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and other state officials have assured New York-based credit agencies that Tennessee is better prepared that most states to deal with federal spending cutbacks and deserves to retain its AAA bond rating.
Representatives of Moody’s, Standard & Poor and Fitch’s credit rating agencies all seemed to have a positive response to the Tennessee pitch, though they their formal response is probably about a month away, Haslam said Wednesday in a telephone news conference.
Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes has all state government departments draft plans last month on how they would deal with up to a 30 percent reduction in federal funds they now receive. That, the state’s long-standing reputation for fiscal prudence and other factors seemed to impress the rating officials, Haslam said.
Moody’s recently put the Tennessee and four other states on a “negative outlook” for possible future downgrade in credit rating, citing what it characterized as a heavy overall dependence on federal spending in the states’ economy.
But Haslam said that, if TVA’s impact is excluded, Tennessee’s economy has about 16 percent of its economic base in federal spending – slightly less than the average of other states. With TVA included, the level rises to about 17 percent, roughly equal to the average, the governor said.
TVA should be excluded, he said, because its budget is not tied to federal spending in Washington and thus not impacted by federal cuts in other areas.
Note: Link to Ramsey’s full statement is HERE.

Continue reading