Monthly Archives: December 2019

‘Wildcat’ budget hearings hit 2nd week in House

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bobby Rolfe speaks at House budget hearings in Nashville on Nov. 19, 2019. At rear is Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The state House is holding its second round of pre-session budget hearings starting on Monday. The hearings are unusual because Gov. Bill Lee has yet to present his annual spending proposal to lawmakers. But the meetings give lawmakers a chance to rake in a couple of weeks worth of per-diems before Christmas and to bask in the spotlight of media coverage in what could otherwise be a slow pre-Christmas news week. Some statehouse wags have taken to calling them the “wildcat” budget hearings.

Everything should be live streamed on the General Assembly’s website. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, House Hearing Room I

  • 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM General Services
  • 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Military
  • 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Veterans Services
  • 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Alcoholic Beverage Commission
  • 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Human Resources
  • 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM TACIR
  • 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM TN Human Rights Commission
  • 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM TN State Museum

Tuesday, House Hearing Room I

  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Correction
  • 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Board of Parole
  • 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM TRICOR
  • 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Comptroller of the Treasury
  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM Treasury
  • 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Secretary of State
  • 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Finance and Administration
  • 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Wednesday, House Hearing Room III

  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Administrative Office of the Courts
  • 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Attorney General and Reporter
  • 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM District Attorneys General Conference
  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM District Public Defenders Conference
  • 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Office of Post-Conviction Defender
  • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Children’s Services
  • 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM Public Utility Commission

Thursday, House Hearing Room III

  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Transportation
  • 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Human Services
  • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Safety and Homeland Security
  • 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM TN Arts Commission
  • 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM TN Housing Development Agency
  • 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Tennessee Corrections Institute

 

Korean power equipment maker buys Mitsubishi transformer plant in Memphis

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at an announcement that Korean electric power equipment maker HICO will buy a transformer plant in Memphis on Dec. 13, 2019. (Photo: Gov. Bill Lee’s office)

Korean electric power equipment maker Hyosung Heavy Industries is buying a Memphis transformer plant from Mitsubishi, which had planned to shutter the facility and lay off 160 workers. The HICO deal involves an $87 million investment and the creation of 410 jobs over the next seven years.

Here’s the release from state Department of Economic and Community Development:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Hyosung Heavy Industries (HICO) officials announced today that the company will locate its first U.S. production operations in Memphis.

HICO will invest $86.9 million and create 410 jobs in Shelby County over the next seven years.

Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, HICO specializes in manufacturing electrical power equipment such as transformers, switchgear, flexible AC transmission systems and energy storage solutions. The company exports its products to customers around the globe and has established itself as one of the leading manufacturers in the power transformer business for the last 50 years.

Tennessee is home to more than 1,000 foreign-owned establishments that employ approximately 150,000 Tennesseans. Korea is among the top 10 countries for foreign investment in Tennessee, with Korean companies investing over $400 million in Tennessee since 2015.

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Sethi calls for transparency over TVA coal ash site

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi is urging the public to submit comments about the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to to open a 65-acre site near the Kingston Fossil Plant, first as a source for fill material and later as storage for coal ash.

The collapse of a leaking, six-story earthen dam in at the Kingston plant in 2008 released more than a billion gallons of coal ash. It is the biggest industrial spill in modern U.S. history, according to The Associated Press.

Here is the full release from the Sethi campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public input on a proposed new borrow site, which would open a 60+ acre site on TVA land at Kingston Fossil Plant. There are fewer than 10 days left for the public to comment on the proposed site. 

Recognizing it is an asset to our state, Dr. Manny Sethi, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, believes TVA needs more transparency to serve Tennessee best.

“East Tennesseans deserve transparency. I strongly encourage Tennesseans to make their voices heard by submitting a comment to the Tennessee Valley Authority regarding new plans for the Kingston Fossil Plant,” said Dr. Manny Sethi. 

Below is Dr. Manny’s comment, which he is submitting to TVA:

It is important for the Tennessee Valley Authority to step forward and be responsive to questions that Tennesseans have about Kingston. After all the problems we have seen with mismanagement of facilities and clean up, it is imperative to get this right for the safety of Tennesseans.

East Tennesseans deserve transparency and detailed information from TVA as this process moves forward.

I believe that open meetings are an important part of transparency. I encourage TVA to open each of their meetings to the public. As Senator, I would follow the lead of the Tennessee Legislature in calling for TVA to have open meetings.

The borrow site will provide material for current and future TVA projects, including a storage landfill for coal ash.

To submit a comment, go to www.tva.com/nepa. Comments can be submitted through December 21, 2019.

 

Tennessee population projected to grow by 1 million over next 20 years

Source: Boyd Center

Tennessee’s population is projected to grow by about 1 million people by 2040, according to the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

The state’s population was estimated at about 6.8 million in 2018. The Boyd Center’s projections put that number at 7.8 million in 2040 and 9.3 million in 2070.

Here’s the full release from the Boyd Center:

One in five Tennesseans will be 65 or older by 2040 and the state’s population is estimated to grow by more than 1 million people during that same period, according to the 2018–2070 population projections released this week by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business.

About half of that growth will be in Middle Tennessee.

Boyd Center Associate Professor Matthew Harris, author of the projections, predicts that Tennessee’s population will climb 0.7 percent annually from its current estimate of 6.77 million in 2018 to 7.84 million in 2040. By 2070 that number is expected to reach 9.35 million, with a slightly lower projected annual growth rate of 0.45 percent.

“We expect population to grow more slowly over the coming decades than it has recently,” Harris said. “Falling birth rates and the fact that a very large cohort—the baby boomers—are aging both contribute to the decrease in population growth.”

Tim Kuhn, director of the Tennessee State Data Center, analyzed the data and projects that more than half of the growth by 2040 will be in Middle Tennessee, with Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner Counties expected to gain more than a half million residents. Across the state, 66 counties will see population increases and 27 rural counties will experience decreases. Carter and Sullivan Counties in northeast Tennessee are the only urban counties expected to see slight decreases—of 0.46 percent and 0.01 percent, respectively—by 2040.

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Tennessee Historical Commission adds 8 sites to National Register

The Tennessee Historical Commission has added eight properties to the National Register of Historic Places. They include a bank in Loretto, a mounted police station in Memphis, and the Water Street Abbey in Lewisburg.

Here’s the release from the Tennessee Historical Commission:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission (THC), the state agency that is designated as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), today announced the addition of eight properties to the National Register of Historic Places.  They include a farm, bank building, two churches, a mounted police station building, a fallout shelter, and the revision of a historic district.

“Tennessee has a tremendous inheritance of important historic places that are highlighted by the diversity of these recent National Register listings.” said State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director Patrick McIntyre.

The sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places are:

Hardwick Farms (Cleveland – Bradley County)

A 1932-33 Spanish Revival style house is the centerpiece of 758-acre Hardwick Farms. Agricultural outbuildings, a garage and servant’s house and landscaped grounds are a few of the other features that make this property a good example of a model farm from the 1930s. C. L. Hardwick purchased and consolidated several smaller farms, grew tobacco, and was known for his Aberdeen-Angus livestock.  His farming enterprise exemplified progressive trends of the early 20th century.  The house was designed by the Knoxville architectural firm of Barber and McMurray and the grounds were designed by Knoxville’s Charles F. Lester.  Hardwick was a well-known businessman, operating the Hardwick Clothes Company, Hardwick Woolen Mills, and the Hardwick Stove Company.  His philanthropy supported many civic projects in Cleveland. The farm is held in a family trust and the land is rented out for livestock raising.

Charles L. Lawhon Cottage (Knoxville – Knox County)

Charles L. Lawhon was a revered marble stone mason in New Orleans and Knoxville.  Known for his monuments and decorative stonework, circa 1922-24, he designed his own home in the Morningside area of Knoxville. City directories recoded Lawhon as a marble designer, marble estimator, and sometimes as an architect.  The two-story stucco house in Knoxville is the only house he is known to have designed.  It is a stylistic mix of bungalow, English Cottage Revival, and Tudor Revival.  Prominent features include textured brick, a large front dormer, flared eaves, a variety of casement windows, and built-in interior features such as benches. Lawhon died in 1926 and the family owned the house until the 1940s.  The current owner is rehabilitating the house.

Bank of Loretto (Loretto – Lawrence County)

The Bank of Loretto was chartered in 1910 and after the original bank building burned circa 1924, the current building was constructed.  C.K Colley and Company Architects from Nashville were the architects of the building.  Colley practiced from 1899 to 1956, but the C.K. Colley and Company was only in operation from 1922-1928.  Local lumber company Augustin Lumber, established in 1900, built the new bank building.  The Classical Revival style bank is sheathed in stone veneer and distinguished by its symmetrical façade and pedimented entrance.  Semi-circular arched windows flank the single-door entrance.  The interior retains historic flooring and skylights.  The Bank of Loretto moved to a larger building in 1967 and the building is now used as a restaurant.

Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (Lewisburg –Marshall County)

Better known today as the Water Street Abbey, the historic church building was constructed in 1910 for the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Rev. E. L. Orr drew plans and made suggestions for the structure, but the actual architect is unknown.  The first services in the new sanctuary were held on January 11, 1911.  Situated at the corner of Water Street and 3rd Avenue in Lewisburg, it is a prominent example of the Late Gothic Revival style.  The exterior of the brick building features a corner bell tower delineated by Gothic arch openings with y-tracery, a steep pitch roof, and large windows.  The interior retains its Akron plan, with moveable doors that allow for classroom spaces or a larger sanctuary when needed.  When the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. disbanded in 1939, the building was purchased by the Water Street Church of Christ, who held services here until 1967.  In 2007 the current owners purchased the building and plan to rehabilitate it for an event venue.

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McNally statement on execution of Lee Hall

Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s comment on the execution of Lee Hall on Thursday evening:

After nearly three decades, the moment of justice has finally arrived for the family of Traci Crozier. She was set on fire and left for dead by an individual who proclaimed to love her. After 36 hours of unfathomable pain and suffering, she died. Today a sentence of death was carried out against the individual responsible. In the state of Tennessee, we reserve the ultimate and irrevocable penalty of death for crimes such as these. While there is little pleasure in it, there is no doubt justice was served tonight. I can only hope the family of the victim can now have some measure of peace.

Here’s what Gov. Bill Lee has to say in declining to intervene in the case.

The justice system has extensively reviewed Lee Hall’s case over the course of almost 30 years, including additional review and rulings by the Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday and today. The judgment and sentence stand based on these rulings, and I will not intervene in this case.

Roe says he’s undecided about re-election bid to Congress

Just when everyone thought U.S. Rep. Phil Roe was certain to run for another term, the Johnson City Republican has cast new doubt on those prospects.

Roe, 74, told WJHL-TV that he will gather with his family over Christmas to decide about whether to seek a seventh term.

Rep. Phil Roe considering re-election plans, will make decision at Christmas

“The hardest part of my job is not what you would think about going to Washington,” Roe said. “That’s what we do. That’s what I’m hired to do. But it’s the travel – getting on four airplane flights a week and being away from family. That, to me, is the hard part.”

Roe had a more than $445,000 balance in his campaign account at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Lee signs order moving disability services for young children out of Education Department

Gov. Bill Lee welcomes delegates to a summit on economically distressed counties in Linden on Aug. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order to move development services for young children with disabilities out of the state Education Department. They will now be housed within the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Here’s the release from the Lee administration:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order transferring the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) from the Tennessee Department of Education to the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to better align services for children with disabilities.

TEIS is a voluntary educational program for infants and toddlers with disabilities that supports families through child development resources. The program encourages optimal development through community and family activities.

“This program is vital to the growth and development of children with disabilities,” said Gov. Lee. “We look forward to better serving TEIS families and ensuring Tennessee is a place where people of all abilities thrive.”

Since taking office in January, this is the 10th executive order signed by Gov. Lee.

Lee signs proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee sits in a bus at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis after signing a proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee on Dec. 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee traveled to Memphis on Sunday to sign a proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee. The bill to honor Parks on the anniversary of her 1955 arrest for refusing to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., was sponsored by Sen. Raumesh Akbari and Rep. Karen Camper (both D-Memphis).

Lee called Parks “an inspiring human being, who did so much for so many, so [I’m] proud to be working with the legislature today to honor her.”

Lee got into hot water last summer over signing a proclamation honoring slave trader and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, as required by a state law dating back to 1969. Lee has said he hopes to change that law next legislative session.

Parks is a better example of historical figures the state’s should be honoring with proclamations, Lee told reporters Sunday.

“It’s important that we recognize folks who have made major contributions for civil rights in this country and to change the trajectory for civil rights,” Lee said.

“Whenever we can make proclamations about inspiring individuals who are to be celebrated — and that’s someone who is celebrated by everyone  — that’s the  kind of thing we need to be doing in this state.”

 

Vandy baseball team declines White House visit

The Vanderbilt baseball team declined a White House visit to celebrate its 2019 NCAA championship, The Washington Post reports.

A spokesman told the paper the invitation was “respectfully declined [because of] long-standing travel plans for our student-athletes to return home for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Last year’s winner, Oregon State, visited President Donald Trump in the White House instead.

The White House event was to celebrate 22 champions from non-revenue sports. NCAA football and basketball champions have visited on their own.