A Democratic lawmaker who played a role in the formation of the embattled Tennessee Department of Children's Services says the agency's commissioner shouldn't be blamed for deeply rooted problems she inherited. The agency has released information showing that 31 children it had investigated died during the first half of 2012. Critics want to replace DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who Governor Bill Haslam appointed just last year. However, Representative John Deberry of Memphis, who has been a DCS critic over the years, says the problem isn’t O’Day. It’s many of the workers she oversees.
A Tennessee worker who supervises the state’s regulation of oil and gas production says opponents of hydraulic fracturing are, in his words, “stupid.” Michael Burton’s comment was found in handwritten notes on emails sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The emails solicited public comment on new regulations for hydraulic fracturing. The process, also known as fracking, extracts natural gas from rock by injecting high pressure mixtures of sand, water or gravel and chemicals.
Tennessee tax collections show marginal growth in the budget year’s second month. Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes says September revenues continue to reflect the sluggish national economy. Overall revenues totaled just over $1 billion, more than 5 percent above the budgeted estimate. September collections reflect economic activity in the previous month. Sales tax collections came to $2.2 billion less than estimates for the same month, and combined franchise and excise taxes were almost $55 million above projections. Gasoline and motor fuel collections were $3 million below estimates.
Tennessee has been named as one of the top states in the nation for its efficient use of digital technology in state government. Governor Bill Haslam says the state was among six to receive an A-minus in the 2012 Digital States Survey. The survey is one of the longest running examinations of technology use in state government. Tennessee had scored a B-plus in 2010. This year only Michigan and Utah scored an A. The states are graded on savings or benefits from the use of technology, progress over the last two years, innovation and effective collaboration.
An estimated 37,000 Tennessee borrowers might be eligible for payment under a $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement. Eligible borrowers will receive claim forms in the mail this month. Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper urges those who receive the forms to complete and return them by the Jan. 18 deadline. Those eligible include people who lost their homes between 2008 and 2011 to five major mortgage services, which include Ally/GMC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The mailings will go out through Oct. 12.
Today is the last day Tennesseans can register to vote. Despite the Columbus Day holiday, election offices will be open today in all but two of the state’s counties. Residents in Lewis and Hickman counties can bring their forms to a neighboring county. Early voting begins Oct. 17th. Voters are required to have a government-issued photo ID to cast ballots under a new state law.
More than 500 patients at an Evansville, Indiana, hospital received injections of a recalled back medication tied to a meningitis outbreak. A St. Mary’s Health spokeswoman says 10 of the 250 patients the hospital has contacted have symptoms of the illness. The steroid injections for back pain were distributed in nearly two dozen states and have been contaminated with a deadly fungal meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control says 35 people in six states, including Tennessee, have contracted meningitis. Five of them have died.
Tennesseans who want to vote by mail this election must register today. Post offices will be closed Monday for Columbus Day, which is also the last day to register to vote in person. Only Lewis and Hickman county election offices will be closed Monday. All others will be open for last-minute registrations. Eight driver service centers will open Saturday to issue photo IDs to allow voters to comply with a new state law requiring identification for casting ballots. The offices will be in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Putnam, Shelby, Washington and Weakley counties.
Tennesseeresidents needing to renew or replace their driver's licenses could be using self-service kiosks by November. State officials say kiosk locations could include libraries, police precincts and county clerk's offices. Officials are in talks with a national retail outlet chain where some kiosks may be located.
A lack of patients is bringing changes to the Henry County Medical Center’s hospital-run nursing home, the Henry County Healthcare Center. The facility has capacity for 150 residents, but around 30 beds are consistently empty and it’s spent the past few weeks in restructuring mode. Hospital officials have shut down one hall and cut two full-time jobs. They also expect to limit the number of new hires in the coming years.