Friday, March 13, 2015

Buzz for Friday the 13th....Campaign Donations Drive Republicans? (Surely Not)

Are Campaign Donations Behind Republican Opposition to Net Neutrality?

Lawmaker Proposes Body Cameras For All TN Law Enforcement

Marijuana bills gaining some traction in Tennessee

Chattanooga joins White House effort to fill tech jobs

Chattanooga is one of 21 communities across the U.S. hoping to fill open technology jobs by providing better access to new training opportunities.
The White House-backed TechHire initiative urges progressive municipal leaders, educators and employers to help train Americans for approximately 120,000 unfilled jobs. The tech sector is one of the largest occupational categories for open jobs.
Two of the region's largest employers, Unum Group and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, are also participants. They are joining educators, nonprofits and other employers for a task force organized by City Hall as part of the effort. Lamp Post Group, the parent company of, is one of the local participants.
Mayor Andy Berke said he often hears from companies having trouble filling tech jobs because applicants lack the requisite skills. TechHire could increase the likelihood that employers will be able to pull from a local base of residents who are trained for cybersecurity, network administration, project management and other tech-related jobs. LINK

Are Campaign Donations Behind Republican Opposition to Net Neutrality?

Last week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the “Internet Freedom Act”—legislation that would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new network neutrality rules. This counter-legislation came as no surprise, as Republicans had warned of “ongoing efforts” to oppose the FCC’s move. But what has many concerned are recent revelationsthat Blackburn and all but two of the bill’s 31 co-sponsors received thousands of dollars from telecoms in the last election cycle.
Late last month, the FCC voted to use its power under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act to reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service. The new classification allows the commission to put in place regulations mandating that Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, transmit all Web traffic at the same speed, regardless of commercial interests. This idea of “open Internet,” commonly known as net neutrality, ensures that as long as the content requested is lawful, it will all be delivered at the same speed. LINK

Lawmaker Proposes Body Cameras For All TN Law Enforcement

After several high-profile cases in Ferguson, MO, New York City, Cleveland, OH, and Madison, WI, the issue of body cameras has been a hot topic of discussion all over the country.
A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require all law enforcement to wear body cameras on their uniforms.
The cameras would capture everything from the moment officers interact with members of the public to when they bring them into custody.
This is a direct response to the cases involving officers across the country.
"This would add a layer of transparency to both sides," said Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis. "The officers would have cameras, which would record from the officer's point of view. And then it removes doubt of what really happened when both sides are trying to explain what took place in an incident." LINK

Marijuana bills gaining some traction in Tennessee

 Even as three U.S. Senators, including Kentucky's Rand Paul, offered up a bill in Washington to protect patients, doctors and businesses from federal prosecution in states with active medical marijuana laws, the pace of legislation in Tennessee has remained cautious.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jeremy Faison's (R-Cosby) bill to legalize cannabis oil for medical purposes passed through the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, but not without needing an amendment requiring a doctor's letter for patients requesting the treatment.
Cannibidiol oil, or CBD, is a low-THC (tetrahydrocannibinol) derivative of the marijuana plant that has been found to have possible use in treating children with certain severe childhood forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet Syndrome.
THC is the compound that creates the euphoric effect or "high" associated with marijuana. CBD oils contain one percent THC or less, leading proponents of the derivative to object to CBD being lumped in with the traditional definition of marijuana. LINK

Tenn. Lawmakers Tackle Slew Of Proposed Gun Bills

Should gun permit holders be allowed to carry guns in parks across Tennessee?
It's a long debated question, and some state lawmakers say most permit holders are confused about where they can carry guns and where they can't.
To make it easy, legislation is being sponsored that would allow permit holders to carry almost anywhere, including parks and sports fields.

As you can believe, that's getting some strong opposition.

Groups opposed to this legislation are calling it a public health crisis. 
There's also a concern that these bills are being rushed through the legislature ahead of the NRA convention to be held in Nashville next month.
The spokeswoman for one opposition group says nobody is talking about the bills, and she finds that troubling.

"Some of these bills, to us, just seem insane," said Beth Roth.
Roth represents a group called Safe Tennessee and says they want broader responsibility when legislating gun laws.
The proposed state laws would allow guns in places where they aren't allowed now, like Tom Lee Park and entertainment venues. Even places where emotions often run high, like sports areas, including FedExForum. 
"The idea of allowing people to open carry guns without a permit, or one of the bills wants you to conceal or open carry without a permit," said Roth.
There's the Carry Like A Cop Bill, which would give anybody with a handgun permit the same privileges as an off duty law enforcement officer. 
"My feeling is that anybody who is going to carry a weapon like an off duty police officer needs to have that type of training," said Roth. LINK

As a new study funded by charter proponents looks at school costs, the school board chair floats the idea of a new-charter moratorium

 Two different studies released in the past year have attempted to examine the cost of charter schools to Metro Nashville Public Schools. Now add a third, this time paid for by the charter community.
The Public School Collaborative, a pro-charter partnership formed last year between MNPS and the Nashville charter community, quietly contracted with educational consultants Afton Partners to examine costs within Metro schools and how they could be shifted. Afton Partners was founded and is staffed by veterans from the charter school movement in New Orleans, Chicago and the Achievement School District here in Tennessee. 
Its report comes on the heels of an independent study commissioned by the school board and done by consultants MGT of America. In September, that study concluded "new charter schools will, with nearly 100 percent certainty, have a negative fiscal impact on MNPS." Then last month came a Metro audit that concluded costs associated with charters are a looming issue due to "unshared administrative costs."
MNPS innovation director Alan Coverstone describes the Afton report, which is not yet finalized and not available to the public, as a way for the district to learn which costs are fixed, variable and semi-variable as more charter seats come online. While MGT looked at whether there were costs associated with charters and the council audit asked different questions, Coverstone tells the Scene the Afton report will be a district-specific look at resources.
"It was a really deep dive into our entire budget," Coverstone says. "What we really need to be doing is not thinking about [costs] on a year-to-year or school-to-school basis, but be thinking about it over the long term and be planning to make the shifts that are necessary, because you just can't make turn-off-the-light-switch adjustments to funding services that are required in a single year. Maybe if you are planning ahead, you can make those adjustments."
Even without adding new schools, the number of students in charter schools will grow by roughly 20 percent in the 2015-16 school year. LINK

Tennessee Launches Statewide Pothole Repair Plan

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has launched a massive mission to patch the plethora of potholes across the state.
TDOT officials said in a statement that the agency plans to make use of the forecast for warmer temperatures over the next few days by using all available manpower to make repairs as quickly as possible. There will be multiple crews in all four regions of the station patching the damage left behind by snow and ice. Repairing all the damage will take weeks. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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