Tag Archives: travel

ECD comish plans Japanese journey

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd will lead Tennessee’s delegation at the 39th Annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations (SEUS-Japan) in Tokyo from September 20-22.

The joint conference of the two associations celebrates longstanding economic and cultural ties between Japan and the Southeast U.S. The prestigious gathering brings together Japan’s top CEOs, corporate executives and government officials alongside governors and economic development leaders from southeastern states. Continue reading

Haslam makes quick trip to Ireland

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd have been on a trip to Ireland for economic recruitment.

Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said in an email that Haslam and Boyd were in Dublin on Monday meeting with Irish government officials and business leaders. She was not more specific about what kind of economic recruitment they were doing.

They ended the evening by seeing the cast of the show “Nashville” in concert in Dublin and were brought up on stage by the performers. Donnals said it was a coincidence that the show was being held the same day the governor decided to visit Ireland. Haslam used the opportunity to promote tourism to Nashville and Tennessee.

Democratic leader’s trip to White House rejected for reimbursement

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee state senators have been reimbursed for out-of-state travel for meetings from Florida to Alaska, and on topics ranging from school vouchers to the dangers of radical Islam. But GOP leaders say a Democrat’s trip to the White House doesn’t qualify.

After failing to get reimbursed for a White House meeting on curbing gun violence on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis is calling for changes to the state Legislature’s travel policies.

“Those on the other side of the aisle are frequently going to conferences on the state tab to talk about ways to expand access to guns,” Harris said. “This is part of being able to confront that, to engage in that debate and to be informed.”

Tuesday’s meeting is hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and includes governors, attorneys general, state lawmakers and local and tribal officials.
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Haslam, Boyd headed for China, Korea and Japan

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd will travel to Asia on an economic development trip focused on increasing foreign direct investment opportunities specifically related to the automotive, high tech and advanced manufacturing sectors.

The 10-day business trip is scheduled from Monday, May 2 to Wednesday, May 11 and will include stops in Korea, China and Japan. Haslam and Boyd will meet with executives of existing Tennessee businesses as well as work to expand relationships between Tennessee and Asian business communities.
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Governor reviews trade trip to Israel

Gov. Bill Haslam says Israel and Tennessee have “an obvious connection” related to health care and other sectors, reports the Times-Free Press.

“We catch heat about being low-cost. We’re low-cost compared to New York, San Francisco and L.A.,” Haslam said in Chattanooga on Thursday.

The governor, fresh off a jobs recruitment trip to Israel, cited work done at Erlanger hospital that he learned about in which surgeons are using Israeli technology to help stroke victims.

“Chattanooga has some advantages in that,” he said of an idea raised by Erlanger physician Dr. Thomas Devlin to make the city a low-cost entry point for Israeli companies to get into the U.S. market and through federal regulatory testing.

Devlin, who directs the Southeast Regional Stroke Center, said Israeli companies don’t want to go to places such as California or Boston.

“We have an opportunity to do this here. We have all the right business acumen, technology, health care research to do this,” he said.

Haslam, who took an 18-person delegation to Israel, said that’s the kind of connection he tries to make on such trips.

“One of the reasons I go on trips like this is to help enable those connections,” he said to about 100 people at the Jewish Cultural Center.

Press release report from Haslam in Israel

News release from the governor’s office:
TEL AVIV – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Randy Boyd are on a business trip to Israel focused on expanding relationships between the Tennessee and Israeli business communities, encouraging bilateral trade and investment opportunities specifically focused on high tech, biotech and health care firms.

Israel attracts significant venture capital investment and is particularly strong in start-up and commercialization activity.

“This is a great chance to tell the Tennessee story to Israeli businesses large and small. Israel has become known as the start-up nation due to the enormous amount of entrepreneurial activity happening here, and we have formed a lot of relationships that can be mutually beneficial,” Haslam said.
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Haslam heads to Israel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is headed on a trade mission to Israel on Saturday.

The Republican governor will be joined by five state economic development officials and 18 representatives from research institutions and the private sector in Tennessee.

State Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman Clint Brewer said the trip is aimed at fostering relationships between entrepreneurs and researchers in Tennessee and Israel. A major focus will be on the biomedical and high tech fields.

Brewer called Israel a “natural fit” for the governor’s trip because the country attracts most venture capital investment per capita in the world. The governor returns to Tennessee on Thursday.

Haslam’s most recent foreign trade mission was a weeklong trade trip to Japan and South Korea in June 2014.

Ketron reimburses state $17,553, Haynes $4,775 after ‘double-dipping’ on travel expense

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, have both written reimbursement checks to state government after billing both taxpayers and their campaign accounts for out-of-state trips to legislative conferences.

Ketron, who chairs the Senate Republican Caucus and for years was chairman of the Fiscal Review Committee that oversees state government spending, wrote the state a check for $17,553 covering six trips over the past six years, according to Nashville’s WTVF-TV , which initially reported on the development.

Haynes, who recently became the Tennessee Republican Party chairman, said his check was for $4,775 and that is actually an “over-reimbursement” for virtually all of his state-paid travel as a legislator. WTVF reported finding three trips where Haynes had billed both taxpayers and his campaign account over a four-year period.

Reporter Phil Williams described the practice as “double-dipping.” Both legislators characterized the matter as an inadvertent error, promptly fixed after it came to their attention. The same held true for Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, who was found to have covered one motel stay by billing it to both the state and his campaign account.

In Ketron’s case, the station cited a trip to Anchorage, Alaska, for a meeting of the Council of State Governments last year as an example. His campaign paid the $1,300 hotel bill, then the state reimbursed Ketron personally for the very same room, the report said.

“His campaign paid the $673 airfare, then the state paid Ketron the exact same amount. His campaign also paid for food, while Ketron pocketed his daily expense allowance of $1,316 from the state.”

Ketron said the mistake was a “miscommunication” between his legislative assistant, who was filling out a form for payment of expenses by the state, and his campaign treasurer, who was paying him for credit card charges he ran up while on the trips.

“As a small-business owner and legislator, it’s probably my fault for not being more diligent keeping my eye on that ball,” he said.

In Haynes’ case, the report says “an anonymous letter began circulating accusing the Knoxville lawmaker of double-dipping on at least three trips” after he announced his campaign to become chairman of the state Republican Party in late March. He was elected to the position by the state GOP executive committee on April 11.

In an interview, Haynes said that he had discovered the error on his own while collecting materials to do his federal income tax returns, before the anonymous letter or an inquiry from WTVF reporter Phil Williams.

At that point, Haynes said, he asked Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration, to pull all his travel records and provide a figure for covering all his travel expenses.

That took some time with the hectic windup of the legislative session underway, he said, and the check was for the amount Ridley came up with — and it was written promptly after she did so.

“I over-reimbursed the state because I didn’t want taxpayers to finance my travels,” Haynes said.

Note: This expands, updates and replaces original post.

Note II: Mike Hart, a former Franklin County Republican chairman, advises via email that he sent an email reporting Haynes’ billing to both the state and his campaign finance account — and that it was non anonymous. His email cites two trips by Haynes, both American Legislative Exchange Council events — one in Washington, D.C. and the other in New Orleans.

Haslam news release on his trip to Afghanistan

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Germany and Afghanistan over the weekend, where he met with military leaders and troops. Haslam took the trip as a newly appointed member of the nation’s Council of Governors. The organization’s purpose is to strengthen links between the states and federal defense officials.

“Visiting our troops and being able to thank them for their service in person is always an honor, especially when they are half way around the world,” Haslam said. “These men and women serve under very difficult conditions, and their ongoing commitment and determination to defending our freedom is humbling.”

Other governors on the trip were Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.); Gov. Jay Nixon, (R-Mo.); and Gov. Brian Sandoval, (R-Nev.) The trip was Haslam’s second such visit as governor. He traveled to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany in August 2011.

The four governors traveled Friday from Andrews Air Force Base to Ramstein Germany. On Saturday they toured the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan, and the International Security Assistance Force headquarters. On Sunday the governors visited the Regional Command East headquarters at Bagram Airfield before returning to headquarters of the ISAF. On Monday, they traveled from Kabul back to Germany then to Andrews Air Force Base.
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Haslam plans 2nd trip to Afghanistan

Gov. Bill Haslam is one of four governors planning a trip to Afghanistan this weekend, according to a note in the weekly Shopper-News column by Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and former U.S. ambassador to Poland.

The Ashe item (a small part of a newsy commentary on political matters, mostly in the Knoxville area):

Gov. Bill Haslam will join New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, this Sunday, Sept. 28, according to an invitation sent to personnel at the Embassy.

Richard Locker checked with the governor’s office, which declined to confirm the trip. His report is HERE.

This will be Haslam’s second trip to Afghanistan to visit Tennessee troops, the first coming in 2011. Post on that trip is HERE.