Compliments of Rep. Jimmy Eldridge
WEEKLY NEWS WRAP-UP
NEWS OF NOTE FROM AROUND THE STATE AND 73RD DISTRICT
September 9, 2016
By order of the Governor, flags over the State Capitol and all State office buildings shall be lowered to half-staff on Sunday, September 11, 2016 from sunrise to sunset in honor of 9/11. A Presidential proclamation is attached for reference. Thank you.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 9, 2016
NATIONAL DAYS OF PRAYER AND REMEMBRANCE, 2016
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On September 11, 2001, a group of small and hateful minds conspired to threaten the very fiber of our country, seeking to break the American spirit and destroy our way of life. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Americans were struck with grief as devastation and senseless loss of innocent human life unfolded. In the empty shadow of the World Trade Center, the remains of the Pentagon, and a charred Pennsylvania field where courageous passengers saved countless lives, what emerged from the ashes of that day was not defeat -- it was the heroism, compassion, and unity of the American people, which no act of terror or hate could ever take away. On September 11, we recall the true spirit of our Nation following these heinous attacks, and we resolve to enshrine the enduring compassion and love of our people forever in the heart of America.
Fifteen years later, we pay tribute to the loss of nearly 3,000 lives, reflect on treasured memories of those we lost, and resolve to never forget that day, even as we look toward a brighter and more hopeful future. We draw inspiration from the survivors who still bear the scars -- both seen and unseen -- of that tragic day. We honor the valiance of our Nation's first responders, whose instinct was not to turn back to find safety for themselves, but to run toward untold danger. We show our gratitude to those young Americans of the 9/11 Generation, who until that day lived knowing only peace, but who have answered our country's call to serve under our flag to meet the threats of our time with bravery and distinction.
In the years that have followed, with prayer and reflection, grace and faith, Americans have grieved together, held each other close, and looked out for one another. Though the void felt by those who lost a loved one on that day can never be filled, we can continue to heal the wounds inflicted by hatred by honoring the notion that, no matter our differences, we are forever united as one American family.
As we mourn on this most solemn anniversary, let us also reflect on the freedom and tolerance that define this great Nation, and let us reaffirm our commitment to preserving those fundamental values for each generation of Americans to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11, 2016, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that the people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HASLAM TO CALL SPECIAL SESSION TO PREVENT LOSS OF $60 MILLION IN FEDERAL HIGHWAY FUNDS
Governor Disappointed in U.S. DOT Decision to Deem State Out of Compliance
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he will call an “extraordinary session” of the 109th General Assembly to consider legislation preventing the loss of $60 million in federal highway funds after the U.S. Department of Transportation deemed the state out of compliance with a federal “zero tolerance” drunk driving statute.
“We are disappointed in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision. The state made clear to federal officials that while it disagrees with the interpretation that Tennessee is out of compliance, any such perceived impact of the law was inadvertent and could be fixed in January 2017,” Haslam said. “To avoid any negative impact to the state, I will ask the General Assembly to convene in a special session and clarify state law in this matter.”
Last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notified the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) that 2016 Tennessee Public Chapter No. 1030, which passed overwhelmingly during the 2016 legislative session, signed by the governor, and actually strengthened penalties for DUI offenders aged 18 to 20, puts the state out of compliance with a federal “zero tolerance” drunk driving statute that conditions certain federal highway funding on compliance with its provisions.
The NHTSA indicated Tennessee would permanently lose $60 million if it remained out of compliance as of October 1. In separate letters to NHTSA, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery agreed that Tennessee continues to meet the requirements of federal “zero tolerance” drunk driving statute.
All 11 members of the bipartisan Tennessee congressional delegation urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to work with Haslam and state officials to find a solution. To avoid a special session of the General Assembly, the state told federal officials it would take up a remedy in January 2017, but the state was notified today it needs to be in compliance by October 1 or face the loss of these federal highway funds.
Haslam will issue an official proclamation calling for a special session in September in the coming days to clarify Tennessee Code to remove any question of compliance with the federal requirements relating to federal-aid highway apportionment.
Tennessee focuses on low-tax, more productive government
By: Comptroller Justin P. Wilson
A lot of good things are happening in state government in Tennessee. The test scores of our students are improving faster than other states. Every Tennessean now breathes clean air that meets all soot and smog standards. We are getting new jobs and new businesses. Tennessee’s successes stand out.
This is not the result of the state spending more and more money, but rather reflects the convergence of a variety of factors in state government.
First, rare in government, there is a shared belief in financial integrity among leaders in both the legislative and executive branches. A lot of this seems mundane: budgeting procedures, expense control, accounting and auditing reforms, fully funding our pension plan on an annual basis, not borrowing unless there is a real plan to pay the money back.
Our strong financial approach is evidenced by our top credit ratings from all three major rating agencies, all of whom noted our superior “governance.”
Second, and this is even rarer, is a willingness to reform the personnel policies of the state, reduce the size of government, and hold government accountable for its performance. Remarkably, in the last five years the number of state employees has dropped and productivity has increased. We have actually reduced the amount we spend on general government.
Third, are the decisions made in tax policy and the state budget. There is wide consensus that Tennessee should be a very low tax state and a general belief that we should not borrow heavily. This limits the amount of money government can spend. Both the General Assembly and the governor have been willing to prioritize and make difficult decisions.
There is clearly not enough money to fund everything that is important, desirable or wanted. Obviously, priorities differ, but we came together to focus on education. Tennessee is one of the very few states to increase funding for K-12 education for each of the past five years, and perhaps the only state to do so without a tax increase (we actually cut taxes).
There is a legitimate question about how much increased spending improves education. Probably more significant are fundamental changes that do not involve spending a lot of money. These include the creation of the Achievement School District, the replacement of adversarial collective bargaining with collaborative conferencing, and comprehensive tenure reform.
Environmentally, every Tennessean can now breathe air that meets all federal and state standards for soot and smog. This was accomplished without a significant expenditure of state tax dollars, but resulted from cooperative action between state regulators and the private sector. While the benefits to our health are clear, the economic benefits, particularly for business recruitment, shall be seen for years to come.
While Tennessee has fewer incentives funded with tax dollars or tax relief than almost all other Southern states, new business filings show year over year growth for 18 consecutive quarters. National publications repeatedly recognize Tennessee’s business climate among the top states. We are experiencing records in capital investment and new job creation.
This, I believe, shows that you don’t have to spend the ridiculous amounts some other states are spending. A friendly, responsive and stable government, coupled with a reasonable and responsible regulatory regime, attracts the jobs our citizens need.
Spending tax dollars is not the way to prosperity. Sound management, watching and cutting costs, very low debt and taxes, and above all, financial integrity are the path for a better Tennessee.
Justin P. Wilson is Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
TNECD ANNOUNCES FIVE COUNTIES CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN SELECT TENNESSEE
PROPERTY EVALUATION PROGRAM FALL ROUND
Counties chosen for industrial inventory assessment program
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today the five counties chosen to participate in the fall round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP). The counties selected are Decatur, Greene, Grundy, Hickman and Putnam.
The purpose of Select Tennessee PEP is to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee. Launched in 2015, the program provides counties with the tools they need to make themselves more marketable to potential new business.
“Congratulations to the counties that have been selected to participate in the Select Tennessee PEP fall round. These five counties join the twenty others that have gone through the program to date,” TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said. “What’s unique this round is that each county is located in a different Tennessee region, which is evidence that communities throughout the entire state have a shared desire to become more marketable, recruit new business and inevitably improve the lives of their citizens.”
“Prepared and available industrial properties are necessary for communities to be competitive for industrial recruitment,” TNECD Site Development Director Leanne Cox said. “This program will help these five counties be better equipped to attract potential new business. I look forward to working with each of these counties and, in turn, improve our state's recruitment efforts throughout Tennessee."
In collaboration with Austin Consulting, a leading site selection consultant, this program provides professional advice about the value of a community’s site and the potential for new corporate investment.
“The Property Evaluation Program allows for an honest assessment of a county’s potential industrial sites and existing industrial buildings,” Jonathan Gemmen, director of Austin Consulting, said. “Moreover, it creates an opportunity to build consensus on which properties have the greatest chance of bringing jobs and capital investment to a community.”
Austin Consulting will visit each of these communities to evaluate candidate properties, assess community attributes and meet with local officials, staff and stakeholders. From this visit, Austin will prepare a report that addresses each property’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend steps to take to improve the marketability of the property and community.
To apply for Select Tennessee PEP, interested counties must first fill out a Letter of Intent, which is accepted at any time. Upon receipt of the letter, counties will receive an application. TNECD then selects the communities based on the local need for industrial properties and the county’s ability to assemble up to five viable properties with market potential.
About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: tnecd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @TNECD. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/TNECD.
Maplehurst Bakeries Opens Lebanon Facility
The cakes, pastries, pies and donuts are ready to roll off the line at Maplehurst Bakeries, LLC's new facility in Lebanon. The company recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Wilson County operations. Maplehurst, a division of Weston Foods, announced in June 2015 that it would invest more than $100 million to construct the 173,000-square-foot facility, expected to employ up to 150.
Gov. Haslam Announces Record-Breaking Year for Tourism Visitor Spending
Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announced last week that tourism spending reached an all-time high in 2015, totaling $18.4 billion. Direct tourism spending increased 3.7 percent statewide from the year prior. Read more on the record-setting 2015.
FedEx Plans $190M Distribution Center in Murfreesboro
FedEx plans to build a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Murfreesboro, the Memphis-based shipping giant announced last week. As part of the approximately $190 million investment, FedEx will add the equivalent of 200 full-time positions. Here's more from the Associated Press.
TNECD Presents Tourism Enhancement Grants
Speaking of tourism: TNECD continues to present local communities throughout the state with Tourism Enhancement Grants, designed to boost localities' tourism assets in order to continue to attract the type of visitor spending totals that Gov. Haslam unveiled last week. This past week, seven Tourism Enhancement Grants were presented across Tennessee, including Lauderdale County, above (top left), Scott County (top right), Wayne County (bottom left), and Johnson County (bottom right).
Tourism Enhancement Grants were also presented to the city of Bolivar and Hardeman County (top), Hamblen County (bottom left), and the city of Henderson and Chester County (bottom right).
Tennessee Hosts Annual Appalachian Regional Commission Conference
TNECD Chief Operating Officer Ted Townsend addresses the crowd at the Appalachian Regional Commission's annual conference, which was hosted by the state of Tennessee in Johnson City on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31. Dubbed Aspire Appalachia: Collaboration in Rural Development, this year's conference focused on strengthening entrepreneurial and business development, developing ready local workforces and increasing broadband access, among other topics aimed at strengthening communities in the Appalachian region.