Thousands of Tennessee college freshmen in danger of losing scholarship
It’s worse than gerrymandering: This is the reform we need to restore democracy, competitive elections
Judge denies request to dismiss lawsuit on abortion measure
As Donald Trump surges in polls, Democrats cheer
But on a rainy morning this week, that's exactly what happened.
On his way to speak to a crowd that included health care industry executives, Insure Tennessee advocates and legislators at Madison's Taylor Stratton Elementary School on Wednesday, Obama's motorcade stopped at Bryant's home about a mile and a half away.
"I asked the Secret Service agent, 'Be honest with me, is this real?' " Bryant, a Nashville-area native, said after the event.
Bryant, 39, said she found out on Saturday that she'd been tapped to introduce the president at his third stop in the Nashville area since January 2014.
What she didn't know was that she would be getting a lift from Obama himself — something the president said during his talk may well be a first.
"It was so close to the school," Obama told the crowd. "Might as well swing by and get her." LINK
AP story on Obama’s Nashville talkFresh off a Supreme Court victory, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he’s “feeling pretty good” about the state of his health care law and pleaded for bipartisan cooperation on ways to make it work even better.
Obama said he wants to refocus the debate on improving health care quality, expanding access and eliminating waste now that the high court has upheld a key element of the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m feeling pretty good about how health care is going,” Obama said before he removed his suit jacket and answered questions about health care from Tennesseans seated at tables in an elementary school cafeteria.
Obama’s choice to visit Tennessee was deliberate. The state’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, tried to expand Medicaid under the health care law to cover more than 200,000 state residents — only to be stymied by state legislators of his own party.
Obama argued to his audience — and during a Twitter question-and-answer session immediately after the event — that health care coverage rates could be vastly improved if more governors and lawmakers would accept the federal government’s offer of billions of dollars of federal money to pay to expand Medicaid to cover millions more low-income Americans in their states. LINK
Judge denies request to dismiss lawsuit on abortion measureThe legal battle will continue over Tennessee's Amendment 1, with a federal judge on Wednesday denying the state's request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the way votes were counted.
Amendment 1 passed with 53 percent of the vote on Nov. 4. The measure, which gives lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortion, was one of the most hotly contested in Tennessee's general election.
Vanderbilt law professor Tracey George, who also serves as board chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee and was a coordinator of the Vote No on 1 campaign, filed suit along with seven other voters on Nov. 7, asserting that the state's vote tabulation methods were unconstitutional.
Attorneys for the state asked U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp to either dismiss the lawsuit or turn it over to the state Supreme Court to consider, a motion he denied Wednesday.
At issue is language in the Tennessee Constitution describing how votes for amendments must be counted.
Unlike votes for candidates, where a simple majority of votes determines the winner, Tennessee's Constitution lays out a different process for amendment votes.
For an amendment to succeed, it must be ratified "by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor," the Constitution states. LINK
It’s worse than gerrymandering: This is the reform we need to restore democracy, competitive electionsPolitical reformers breathed a big sigh of relief on Monday as the Supreme Court backed away – just barely – from gutting the power of voters to reform congressional elections through the initiative process. As aptly described by the Brennan Center’s Michael Li, the 5-4 ruling affirms “the principle that voters have the freedom under the Constitution to experiment with ways to make their democracy work better.”
Now it’s up to us to act – but to act smartly by focusing on what reforms are most needed and where change is most effective. Seeking reform in states is valuable and should be pursued, for example, but woefully insufficient in itself and no substitute for a comprehensive approach by Congress, which be simple statute could reform all congressional elections in every state. That change won’t be easy, of course, but it will only happen if we start to build a campaign to achieve it.We also need to know what our real goal should be. Seeking independent redistricting rightly kicks partisans out of what should be a public interest process, but there is growing evidencethat it has no substantial impact on governance, electoral competition or most election outcomes.
Too many analysts suggest, as Attorney General Loretta Lynch did on Monday, that the victory was “for the promise of fair and competitive elections.” Yet redistricting is not what deprives voters of fair and competitive elections. Just consider the presidential election: no one “gerrymandered” the state boundaries, yet fewer than a dozen states are competitive in presidential elections, down more than half from just a generation ago LINK
The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision doesn’t extend as far as traditionalists fear or as LGBT advocates would like.For Tennesseans, it may be especially satisfying (or galling, depending on your viewpoint) to consider that last Friday's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage originated in part from the Volunteer State. Swift legal currents caused a dramatic social sea change, but they also leave some key questions in their wake.
It is unquestionably a landmark case, the Brown v. Board of Education of the gay rights movement (but without the years of "massive resistance"). But it should be clear what Obergefell v. Hodges does not say. It guarantees same-sex marriage rights in all 50 states, but it does not outlaw any other type of LGBT discrimination, by governments or private parties.
Will Obergefell's "coverage" be extended to such other types of discrimination?
One obvious starting point would be state laws treating gays unequally in family areas such as adoption, foster parenting, and the like. A number of states still have such laws. Much of the language in Friday's opinion emphasizes the liberty of homosexuals to pursue family relationships, with a separate discussion of the overriding interests of children in need of (married) parents. It would not be surprising to see anti-gay adoption/foster-parent laws struck down by federal courts trying to discern the Supreme Court's leanings.
From there, it is more of a stretch, though not much more of a stretch, to see courts disapproving of any other kind of sexual orientation discrimination by government entities. This is because the opinion grounded its conclusions not only on the "fundamental liberty interests" of marriage under the Constitution's Due Process Clause, but also the nondiscrimination strictures of its Equal Protection Clause. The latter potentially allows for a broader reading of Obergefell, not limited to the fundamental rights involved in forming families. LINK
Thousands of Tennessee college freshmen in danger of losing scholarshipThousands of incoming college freshmen across the state of Tennessee are in danger of losing big bucks in free tuition.
About 31,000 recent high school graduates are signed up for Tennessee Promise, the new program that covers two years of tuition at Tennessee community colleges and technical schools.
A News Channel 11 investigation revealed only about 25 percent of Tennessee Promise students have completed a key requirement to qualify for free education. That means more than 23,000 students could lose Tennessee Promise come the first of August.
In order to be eligible for the Tennessee Promise Scholarship, students have to complete 8 hours of community service, something almost three quarters of students enrolled in the program haven’t done.
“We live in the volunteer state, so a big part of this is 8 hours of community service that each student must perform before each eligible semester,” said Joshua Johnson, Scholarship Coordinator for Northeast State Community College.
Students have until August 1st to complete the community service. LINK
As Donald Trump surges in polls, Democrats cheerFor Democrats, Donald Trump amounts to a kind of divine intervention.
With the Republican Party on an urgent mission to woo Latino voters, one of its leading presidential candidates has been enmeshed for two weeks in anasty feud over his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.
“They’re bringing drugs,” Trump said in his campaign announcement speech. “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
The comments — and many more since — have prompted an uproar among Latino groups and acrimonious breakups between Trump and various corporate partners. His outlandish rhetoric and skill at occupying the national spotlight are also proving to be dangerously toxic for the GOP brand, which remains in the rehabilitation stage after losing the 2012 presidential race.
Univision said it would not air his Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants; Trump sued the Spanish-language television network for $500 million. NBCUniversal severed all ties to him this week; he called the network “so weak and so foolish.”
And on Wednesday, the Macy’s department store chain dumped him, saying it would no longer sell his menswear line. Trump said the retail chain had “totally caved.” Later Wednesday, Trump’s luxury hotel chain said it had been alerted to a possible credit-card breach.
Despite — or perhaps because of — such antics, the flashy real estate mogul with a big bank account and an even bigger ego has rocketed into second place in recent national polls and in the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats, meanwhile, are eager to make Trump the face of the Republican Party, which is momentarily leaderless with a disparate presidential field and no clear front-runner.
“I am a person of faith — and the Donald’s entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor,” exulted Paul Begala, veteran Democratic strategist and adviser to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC boosting Clinton’s candidacy. LINK
Crockett Policy Institute