tennessee

Report: Tennessee ranks 45th in voter engagement

As early voters prepare to head to the polls this week, a new study by personal finance site WalletHub finds Tennessee ranks sixth from the bottom in terms of voter engagement.

The rankings place Tennessee above only West Virginia, Alabama, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Hawaii. The most engaged voters were found in Maine, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, and Wyoming.

Tennessee’s rating was determined by looking at six categories as the compare with the rest of the country:

  • Percentage of registered voters in 2016 presidential election: 37th.
  • Percentage of electorate who voted in 2018 midterm elections: 39th.
  • Percentage of electorate who voted in 2016 presidential election: 48th.
  • Change in percentage of electorate who voted in 2016 elections vs. 2012 elections: 33rd.
  • Total political contributions per adult population: 30th.
  • Voter accessibility policies: 35th.

Tennessee implements hiring freeze for state government

The state Capitol was closed to visitors on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New Finance Commissioner Butch Eley has announced a state hiring freeze in a memo to department heads. Exceptions include “mission critical areas necessary for the public welfare.” Promotions, demotions, and transfers within agencies are not covered by the freeze unless they lead to an increase in the employee count. Departments are also instructed to put off equipment purchases not related to the COVID-19 response or work-from-home initiatives

Here’s the full memo sent out late last week:

To: All Agency Heads, Budget Officers, and Human Resources Officers
From: Butch Eley, Commissioner of Finance and Administration
Juan Williams, Commissioner of Human Resources
Date: April 23, 2020
Subject: Financial Management Policy

The economic effects of the worldwide public health crisis brought on by COVID-19 will ripple through the state’s economy and have a negative impact on the state budget. Prudent financial management therefore requires that each agency begin to restrain discretionary spending for the balance of fiscal year 2019-2020 and until further notice. Effective immediately, state agencies shall adhere to the following financial management policies.

  1. Hiring Freeze – A hiring freeze is imposed on vacant positions. Exceptions will be allowed in mission critical areas necessary for the public welfare and for the welfare of persons under care or custody of the state. Approval of a separate freeze exception justification letter by the Commissioner of Human Resources is required before filling any vacant position, unless blanket freeze approval is granted by the Commissioner of Human Resources for the two categories specified above. The hiring freeze does not apply to promotions, demotions, and transfers within an agency, provided that there is no increase in the employee count within the agency as a result of such transactions.
  2. Temporary Services Contractual Services – The hiring freeze also is imposed on hiring of temporary services workers through the statewide temporary services contract. The provisions of item 1 above shall apply as to exceptions and the process for approval.
  3. Equipment Purchases – A freeze is imposed on equipment purchases not necessary for the state’s COVID-19 response and working from home initiative. Agency heads should review equipment purchases in process and those planned for later in the current and next fiscal years to determine if they are required to address an emergency or otherwise essential circumstance. Justification of equipment purchase requests requiring approval of the Commissioner of Finance and Administration or the Budget Office should be limited to the circumstances stated in this paragraph and must be accompanied by a justification letter from the agency head. The justification letter should be addressed to the Commissioner of Finance and Administration and be submitted to the Budget Office at the time the requisition or purchase order is submitted.
  4. Other Program Requirements — Agencies must manage the expenditure of all other program funds as conservatively as possible. Agency heads should restrain any discretionary spending which will not disrupt mandatory program service delivery, and which will not circumvent the legislative intent in the appropriation of funds.

Thank you for your efforts during these difficult times.

Trump says he will visit Tennessee on Friday following deadly storm

President Donald Trump says he plans to visit Tennessee on Friday in the aftermath of a deadly storm that left at least 25 dead.

“I want to send my warm wishes to the great people of Tennessee in the wake of the horrible and very vicious tornado that killed at least 19 people and injured many more,” Trump said in remarks at the National Association of Counties meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

“It’s a vicious thing, those tornadoes, I’ve seen many of them over a three-year period and I’ve gotten to see the results and they are vicious,” Trump said. “If you’re in their path, bad things happen.”

 

 

So are Tennessee-Georgia state line protesters a thing now?

A man waves a sign outside a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The larger-than-expected crowd that came to see Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg in Chattanooga last week included a handful of protesters unhappy with the former New York mayor’s past positions on stop-and-frisk policing and for not being sufficiently supportive of legalizing marijuana. But one man stood out by hoisting a sign reading: “Move the Tn./Ga. state line.”

It’s unclear why the man chose that venue to publicize his demands. As far as we know, Bloomberg has not taken a position on the issue stemming from a more than 200-year-old surveying error that denied Georgia access to the Tennessee River.

Congress in 1796 designated the 35th parallel as the southern border of Tennessee. But the surveying team sent by Georgia to chart the state line in 1818 missed the mark by 1.1 miles. Correcting that error today would slice off the southern portion of Chattanooga — and do the same to Memphis in the west.

Georgia lawmakers have nevertheless passed resolutions calling for the maps be corrected, demands that have largely been ridiculed in Tennessee.

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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Battleground no longer: Here’s the Almanac of American Politics’ overview of Tennessee

(Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest edition of the Almanac of American Politics declares Tennessee’s battleground days to be in the past. The folks over at the Almanac have graciously given the TNJ: On the Hill blog permission to post this sneak peak at the state profile to be published in the latest edition, which comes out in August. Stay tuned for a profile of first-year Gov. Bill Lee later this week. 

Tennessee, once a political battleground, is no longer. It has become one of the most solidly Republican states in the country, with just a few pockets of blue in its biggest cities. And while Tennessee has long been home to an influential strain of moderate Republicanism, two of the tradition’s prime exemplars — Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — are now out of politics, succeeded in 2018 by harder-edge conservative Republicans. A third, Sen. Lamar Alexander, announced that he would not run in 2020, leaving another seat likely to be filled by a more ideological warrior. Tennessee is almost 500 miles across, closer in the east to Dover Delaware than to Memphis, and closer in the west to Dallas Texas than to Johnson City. It has had a fighting temperament since the days before the Revolutionary War, when the first settlers crossed the Appalachian ridges and headed for the rolling country in the watersheds of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Tennessee became a state in 1796, the third state after the original 13. Its first congressman was a 29-year-old lawyer who was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants: Andrew Jackson. Jackson, who killed two men in duels, was a general who led Tennessee volunteers — it’s still called the Volunteer State –to battle against the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and against the British at New Orleans in 1815. He was the first president from an interior state, elected in 1828 and 1832, and was a founder of the Democratic Party, now the oldest political party in the world. Jackson was a strong advocate of the union, but 16 years to the day after his death, Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy. (Today, Jackson’s own party largely disowns him, while President Donald Trump made a pilgrimage to his gravesite and keeps his portrait in a prominent spot in the White House.)

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