Tuesday, June 3, 2014

6-3-14 CPI Buzz Posted

AP does a story on Supremes’ retention election

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The coordinated campaign of three incumbent Tennessee Supreme Court justices announced Monday that it has raised $600,000 for the effort to keep them on the bench for eight more years.
The effort called Keep Tennessee Courts Fair is made up of the retention committees of Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade, who are on the ballot in August.
“The outpouring of support from Republican and Democrats who recognize the importance of supporting our Tennessee Constitution is just phenomenal,” said campaign manager Brenda Gadd. “They know that we must not minimize our Constitution, and that keeping politics out of our courtroom is crucial.”
While only one justice has ever lost a yes-no retention vote in Tennessee, Republican state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has been spearheading an effort to persuade voters to reject the three justices, each of whom was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has named two new justices to the high court bench, but they won’t be facing retention votes this year. If even one of the incumbents loses, it would shift the balance of the court that will name the next state attorney general. Click Here For More

US Supreme Court refuses to hear Murfreesboro mosque case

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a group of neighbors who tried unsuccessfully to block the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
A board member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro said he was hopeful that Monday's announcement by the court will bring unity back into the community.
"We're relieved, we're excited, we're happy," said Saleh Sbenaty. "We always believed in our justice system, and we believed that justice would always prevail in this country, and we had no doubt that the Supreme Court would make the right decision." Sbenaty said outsiders have come into Murfreesboro with a national agenda against Islam. The decision, he said, brings to a close the years long case.
It's not clear what opponents of the mosque will do next. Click Here For More

Pam Strickland: Ramsey not leaving partisanship at door

Well before Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey began making front-page news with his lop-sided campaign against the three state Supreme Court justices who face retention votes in August, Chief Justice Gary Wade’s fraternity brothers had begun a campaign in Wade’s defense.
In an April 23 letter to alumni members of Phi Delta Theta, Jim Harb says that when he first heard that Wade would be facing the retention vote, he was certain that he would be retained.
“After all, his exemplary judgment and legal scholarship, his scrupulous dedication to keeping politics out of the courtroom, and his commitment to the rule of law, should easily prevail over any organized opposition — or so I thought,” Harb wrote.
What he didn’t know, Harb continued, was that “there would be political interests on the state level that would interject partisan politics into the retention vote,” taking aim directly at Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee. Click Here For More

The Common Core Curriculum Void

Right now, America's schools are in a sprint. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. That means new learning benchmarks for the vast majority of the nation's young students — millions of kids from kindergarten through high school. And, for many of them, the Core will feel tougher than what they're used to. Because it is tougher.
It's a seismic shift in education meant to better prepare kids for college, career and the global economy. But new standards as rigorous as the Core require lots of other changes — to textbooks, lesson plans, homework assignments. In short: curriculum and the materials needed to teach it. And that's the problem. Right now, much of that stuff just isn't ready.
Before we get further into the problem, let's be clear: The Common Core is a set of standards, not curriculum. There's a difference. Standards are goals we set for kids. For example, one Common Core math standard says fifth-graders should be able to use place value understanding to round decimals to any place.
Curriculum is what teachers do every day in the classroom to achieve that goal. Again, different. But, if you change standards, you've got to change curriculum too. And that's the challenge right now with the Common Core. Because most states have made big changes to their standards, forcing districts and schools to do the same to their curricula. Click Here For More

Tennessee Lawmaker Searches For Way Around EPA Rules

Proposed new federal rules requiring power plants to cut pollution elicited emotional responses from people on both sides of issue.

Critics called the EPA's rules "Obamacare for the air" and said the rules will kill jobs and raise energy prices. Supporters said the rules are needed to combat global warming.

The rules require states to reduce carbon emissions by 30% before 2030.

In Tennessee, that puts the focus on the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA operates 11 coal-fired plants in the southeast - seven of them are in Tennessee.

TVA has already announced plans to shut down several coal fired units including the entire plant at New Johnsonville.

It's part of TVA's shift away from coal, but it is still reviewing the impact of the EPA announcement.

TVA has already pledged to spend a billion dollars to add scrubbers at the Gallatin coal plant, a move that will keep it open, but at least five other plants will be completely or partially closed as TVA moves toward natural gas and nuclear energy.

The newly proposed rules may force more changes. Click Here For More

Tennessee Governor To Navigate Divisive Issue Of Prescription Drug Abuse

Tennessee ranks second in the nation for the amount of prescription painkillers sold, and studies show one out of 20 people age 12 or older in the state is misusing them.
Gov. Bill Haslam and the state’s top mental health official Doug Varney are calling prescription drug abuse a “widespread epidemic,” and they plan to lay out their strategies on tackling the problem Tuesday.
So far, divisions have emerged over the the best solution. Earlier this year, the state legislature discussed repealing a law that some say gives physicians too much leeway to prescribe potentially dangerous pain relievers. But Julie Griffin of the Tennessee Medical Association told lawmakers that doctors were split on whether repealing was a good idea.
“Tennessee Medical Association has about 8,000 physicians, and on most issues we agree pretty unanimously,” she said. “On this issue in particular, we have members on both sides.”
She said more restrictions on doctors could send patients to pain clinics, which might not prescribe drugs appropriately.
A state spokesman says the governor’s plan won’t recommend specific changes to the law, although it may influence legislation in the future. Click Here For More

Call for carbon emission cuts expected to hit Tennessee hard

But many business groups and conservatives denounced it as the imposition of a "national energy tax" on an already-struggling American economy and said it would cost jobs.
In the coming months, the federal agency will be taking comments from interested parties — especially utilities and environmental groups — with the rules not due to be implemented until 2015 and with states having until 2016 to comply.
"The new safeguards not only protect our health and communities, but they will also spur innovation and strengthen our economy. By moving to 100 percent clean energy sources, we'll create tens of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars in new investment," said Scott Banbury of the Tennessee Sierra Club.
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, said EPA acted "because Congress failed to."
"I haven't seen the new regulation yet, but I am hopeful it will insure against any more harm to the planet. Every nation needs to join our effort," Cooper said.
But congressional Republicans and business advocates had a different take.
"Today's regulations issued by EPA add immense cost and regulatory burdens on America's job creators. They will have a profound effect on the economy, on businesses, and on families," said Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the regulations were a continuation of "the Obama administration's war on coal."
"This rule is another tax on the American taxpayers and will lead to higher electricity rates and fees," she said in a statement.
Assessing where Tennessee and TVA stand in regard to the new rule will require separating environmental data for the state from system-wide data for the federal power authority, which serves six other Southeastern states and nine million customers overall. Click Here For More

Crockett Policy Institute

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