Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam won't change how the executive branch handles open records requests. Haslam says his initial concerns about the abuse of open records laws have been put to rest. He has instructed his cabinet to expedite getting records to the public and news media.
Tennessee Republicans have secured a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature. The GOP in Tuesday's election claimed the two seats necessary in both chambers to gain the supermajority. The margins are now 24 to 9 in the Senate and 67 to 24 in the House, with one independent.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper says a tax break for the solar industry violates the state constitution. Cooper tells The Tennessean that the issue with the tax break is that it favors certain taxpayers.
State election officials say Tennessee voters are continuing to make a strong turnout for early voting in the November 6 election. Turnout Wednesday topped 100,000 voters. Figures posted yesterday afternoon on the Division of Elections website said the statewide total of voters who have already cast was just under 731,000. The early voting period began October 17 and ends November 1. During the last presidential election in 2008, more than 1.5 million Tennesseans cast ballots during early voting. That was about 58 percent of all ballots cast in that election.
The Tennessee Appeals Court will hear oral arguments today to strike down the new law that requires voters to show ID at the polls. Memphis officials and two residents claim the law violates the state constitution because the only voting requirements it lists are proof of age, residency and registration. They’ve asked that if the ID requirement is upheld that the judge rule separately to allow IDs provided by the city library to be used to vote. A Nashville judge ruled that the law is constitutional in September.
Tennesseans can start casting their ballots for the presidential election Wednesday. Voters will have to present a government-issued ID to when they come to the polls adhering to a new state law. Beginning with this election voters will also be able to see candidates’ party affiliations on the ballot after a federal appeals court allowed the change in August. Early voting for the general election ends Nov. 1.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services hotline for suspected child abuse has been swamped with calls and is trying to answer them more quickly. The line rings more than 400 times each day, and callers are usually put on hold. DCS says as many as one in four hang up. Carla Aaron oversees the call center and says any call might have critical information about a child’s safety. The Nashville center added five case managers this summer bringing the total to 70.
Northwestern Tennessee's long-planned Cates Landing Mississippi river port is set to open in early spring. Tri-County Port Authority Chair Jimmy Williamson says final site work at the Lake County port begins in November after storm debris from 2011 flooding is cleared from the river. Williamson says the port will bring heavy use from the commercial barge industry to northwest Tennessee.
Tennessee health officials reported that the number of cases of rare fungal meningitis has increased by five to 49 cases. The number of deaths in Tennessee from the outbreak remained at six as of noon today. At least one person in our region has been diagnosed, according to the Union City Daily Messenger. Six Kentuckians have fallen ill, and one has died. The Kentuckians were infected in Tennessee and Indiana hospitals.