Wednesday, June 25, 2014

CPI Buzz 6-25-14

Students Feel Squeeze As College Tuition Increases

Families will have to dig deeper in their pockets as tuition and fees at public universities increase next year.
“I have a Pell Grant. I have a scholarship and my mom pays most of it out of pocket,” Tennessee State University Sophomore Jaminka Marsh said. “So the rest that's left over from that my mom pays for.”
The Board of Regents approved a 3.5 to 8.5 percent hike in tuition and maintenance fees next school year.
“It's hard because my mom she's a single parent,” Marsh said. “I have siblings as well so she's scraping up money for me to come to school.”
At Tennessee State University, the increase amounts to $450. A fee school officials said will go towards various building costs and initiatives to help more students graduate.
“Unfortunately the cost of doing business, fuel costs has increased,” Assistant Vice President Kelli Sharp explained. “Getting top personnel to come to your University, that takes top dollars.”
Last September, hundreds of students at TSU were in jeopardy of being dropped from classes, all because they couldn't afford it. Last minute donations helped keep them in school.
“I work summer jobs so I can pay for school in the fall,” graduate student Lamont Bell said. “You know you hear they're going up on prices. I feel like I'm going to have to work a little harder and save a little more money.” Click Here For More

Tennessee Schools Lose Best Teachers Early In Their Careers, Report Says

For the first time, Tennessee education officials are sifting through data to get better ideas for how to keep teachers who score highest on a five-point evaluation scale. What they’ve found is that the youngest are more likely to leave.
First, second and third year teachers have lower retention rates anyway, but the same holds true in Tennessee for those getting high marks. Research director Nate Schwartz says 500 high-performing newcomers didn’t return last year.
“One of the things that you’d want to look at first is are we making sure that we’re taking those early career teachers, that we know are very effective, and finding ways to keep them in the school,” Schwartz says.
Retention has been a focus of study nationwide, including a widely-cited report called the Irreplaceables put out by The New Teacher Project. It found that urban schools have particular trouble holding onto the best and brightest. Click Here For More

Sharp Exchanges Mark Senate Hearing About Chief Justice

There were sharp exchanges Tuesday as senators heard allegations of misconduct against Tennessee top judge.
Those accusations come from Republicans who want to see Chief Justice Gary Wade and two other Supreme Court justices voted out in August.
Republicans insisted the four hour hearing was not about politics.
But, with control of the state's high court up for grabs, politics were never far away. Click Here For More

Haslam Favors Cooling Off Period in Domestic Cases

A high-profile domestic violence case in Nashville has led to talk of more restrictions for defendants in such cases.
The Tennessean reports Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said on Monday that he would support making a 12-hour "cooling off" period mandatory after someone has been arrested on a domestic violence charge.
"I think that makes sense," Haslam said. "I'm far from an expert on that, but from what I understand, it just feels like that is a common sense law."
The statement comes in the midst of a controversy over a Nashville case involving a prominent contractor who was released from jail a few hours after his arrest on a domestic violence charge. Police say he assaulted his girlfriend a second time shortly after being released.
Lawmakers in Middle Tennessee have said they plan to introduce a bill next year that would require people arrested on domestic violence charges to remain incarcerated for at least 12 hours. The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene in January. Click Here For More

Haslam unmoved on same-sex benefits

Haslam sidestepped when asked in a follow-up question what he would do if the legislature passed a bill that required local governments to roll back same-sex benefits. The General Assembly has debated such legislation several times in recent years, and in 2011 Haslam signed a bill that overrode a Metro ordinance that said contractors with Metro could not discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Despite professing to have forgotten many of the details of that debate, Haslam did his best to state both sides of the argument without committing to either side.
"As a whole, I think the state should be very cautious about telling local government what they should do unless there's some statewide implication from that." Click Here For More

Hold your nose, the ‘retention’ election is getting smelly

In a telling exchange between Bell and Bill Young, Executive Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, who, for some reason, was designated to be the representative of the JPEC, the two agreed that Tennessee’s judicial selection, evaluation, and election process was political.
“This has been a political process for a long time,” Young stated to no one’s objection.
It is a political process. And the odor that emanates comes from a select group of people want to keep the political power to themselves, to benefit the folks like them, and exclude the people of Tennessee from their right to hold judges accountable for their decisions and their behavior – a right clearly articulated in our constitution.
The speakers don’t appoint according to law, they are not held accountable. Instead, appointed surrogates attack the BJC, and worry about irrelevant “leaks” of information that may or may not be confidential.
It is a political process, and all Tennesseans should be free to participate. Click Here For More

Victor Ashe: All Politics are Local

Lots of talk about Eric Cantor being ousted by voters in the Richmond area as a member of Congress and whether it may impact other races. It is hard for this writer to see how it applies in East Tennessee where U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan spends almost every day in our district when Congress is not in session.
Cantor had lost contact with his district and failed to remember all politics is local. Duncan is just the opposite. It would be hard to find another member of Congress who helps out every constituent and attends every meeting he is invited to. His sister, Becky Duncan Massey, has continued that level of service in her state senate district.
Generally if a member of Congress loses in his own party primary, it is unique to him and issues circulating in that state or district. Dan Davis, in the 1st Congressional District, is the last incumbent Tennessean to lose renomination (to Rep. Phil Roe in 2008). Before that, one has to go back to Sen. Ross Bass losing in 1966 in the Democratic primary to Gov. Frank Clement, who then lost to Howard Baker Jr. Other Tennesseans who lost their seats lost in the November election to a member of the opposing party such as Bill Brock, Jim Sasser, Lamar Baker and Lincoln Davis.
National trends generally kick in for the general-election runoff. Click Here For More

Could Recent U.S. Supreme Court "Right to Lie" Decision Affect Campfield Libel Case?

Detractors say SBA List is pursuing a "Right to Lie" case. 
The high court agreed with SBA List, and in a rare unanimous decision (authored by Clarence Thomas), ruled that it had raised a "justiciable issue" that needs to be fully litigated. 
"You're not asking us to resolve the constitutional question, just the question of whether you can raise the constitutional question," said Justice Antonin Scalia. 
So what's this got to do with Tennessee, which has not criminalized lying in political campaigns? (Cue an avalanche of bad jokes about who wouldn't be in the hoosegow if this were the case.)
Questions of civil liability remain. Defamation cases are rare in this state, and the standard plaintiffs must meet is high, since political candidates are by definition public figures who must prove not only that the offensive statement is false, but also that the perpetrator uttered it with "actual malice" (knowingly lying), or with willful disregard for the truth. 
It is not clear that the court will decide that the Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus case applies in Tennessee, or how they will decide Byrge v. Campfield. But what is clear is that Stacey Campfield is still paying a price for shooting his mouth off in 2008, and his falsehoods continue to haunt him in a year when he is facing his toughest re-election fight ever. Click Here For More

New Bill Aims To End Bias Against Women In Clinical Trials

In an effort to reduce a gender bias that is leaving women exposed to critical health risks, new legislation would require federally funded research to perform trials on both male and female animals, cells and tissue.
Studies backed by the National Institutes of Health have been required to test both males and females in studies involving human subjects for the last two decades, but studies that involve non-human animals, cells and tissue are not required to do so, as Reuters has reported. This oversight has produced a male bias in research, meaning that scientists may overlook critical differences in the way that drugs affect men and women differently.
"I was shocked that something as basic as treating men and women the same had often been overlooked in clinical trials," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) in an interview with The Huffington Post. "It seems a question of basic fairness." Click Here For More

Crockett Policy Institute

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