AP/WMOT

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP)  --  Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black is having a good year.

Representative Black is the only freshman in her class of 94 to have legislation pass both chambers of Congress.

Her bill to close a Medicaid loophole and save billions is headed to President Barack Obama for his signature. The president supported it even before it made it to the House floor.

County Ends Pauper Burials

Nov 23, 2011

 

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Sullivan County in East Tennessee will no longer provide pauper burials.

On Monday, County Mayor Steve Godsey told county commissioners that if they’re contacted about an indigent death they should provide the caller with the phone number for Restore Life USA.

That's a Johnson City-based nonprofit that provides human tissue for research and education.

With budgets tight, the commission this year cut the funds for pauper burials to $10,000 and Godsey says the money is nearly gone already.

 

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. --  Federal officials revised the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reading downward today for the third quarter. Growth wasn’t as strong as originally thought.

The official GDP for the third quarter is now 2 percent, down by a half-percent from the earlier estimate.

The Middle Tennessee State Business and Economic Research Center has just released its analysis of Tennessee’s third-quarter economic activity.

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) — General Motors has announced it will begin building its Chevrolet Equinox at its idled Spring Hill plant next year and plans to begin making a midsize vehicle there in the future.

Monday's announcement of the $61 million investment will create nearly 700 jobs at the plant.

GM says the subsequent $183 million investment into the unspecified midsize vehicle will create another 1,200 jobs.

Production on the Equinox is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2012.

The timing on the second vehicle was not announced.

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Keep the ice scraper handy and a weather eye peeled. Another La Nina winter is expected in Tennessee.

The National Weather Service outlook for December through February calls for slightly warmer than normal temperatures, but wetter than usual conditions.

Nashville forecaster Bobby Boyd says that may mean more ice than usual.

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Welcome news on the jobs front.

Tennessee's October unemployment rate dropped to 9.6 percent in October, down from 9.8 percent the previous month. 

Tennessee's unemployment rate is still well above the national average of 9 percent.

State Labor Commissioner Karla Davis says jobs added in education and health services fueled the employment hike.

Dr. Murat Arik with the Middle Tennessee State Center for Business and Economic Research says the numbers are mostly good news.  

FACT

 

A lobbyist for the conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) is standing his ground following revelations that he helped orchestrate the passage of a new state law that nullified Nashville’s anti-gay bias regulations.

A string of emails between FACT's David Fowler and state legislators came to light as part of a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s new Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, signed into law in May.

Tennessee university students could see a tuition increase again next year.

Some students saw double-digit increases this year. Tuition at U.T. Knoxville went up by 12 percent. At Middle Tennessee State, a Board of Regents school, tuition rose this year by just under eight percent.

Now, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission is once again recommending tuition increases statewide.

Possibly making it even more difficult for Tennessee students, state legislators are talking about raising the eligibility threshold for lottery funded Hope scholarships.

MEMPHIS — A charter school and a private education company will take over two Memphis schools.

The schools to be run by the new operators have not been identified.

Gestalt Schools, which is based in Memphis, and private Cornerstone Prep received state approval on Tuesday to run one school each, according to The Commercial Appeal. The schools are among those which failed to meet student achievement benchmarks.

Gestalt runs the Power Center Academy charter school in Hickory Hill.

NASHVILLE -- New census estimates show the number of Americans living in poverty is higher than previously known — reaching a new level of 49 million people, or 16 percent of the population.

The revised numbers, released earlier this month, are higher than the official 2010 poverty rate of 15 percent that was reported in September.

Middle Tennessee eateries are giving their patrons a chance to help. The restaurants are partnering with the local homeless program, Room-in-the-Inn to raise relief funds.

The FBI says the level of hate crime reported by police around the country remained about the same in 2010 compared with the previous year.

The bureau says just over 6,600 hate crime incidents were reported to the FBI, up by just 24 incidents over 2009.

Tennessee apparently doing much better than the national average.

Kristin Helm, a spokesperson for the The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, says hate crimes in Tennessee decreased by about 20 percent from 2009 levels.

The Tennessee Department of Education is making some changes to a waiver that would allow the state to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Tennessee asked the federal government for the waiver back in July.

State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says Tennessee had little choice but to ask for relief from the law’s increasingly strict standards for yearly improvement in student test scores.  He says that nearly 80% of Tennessee schools will likely fail to meet federal standards in the current school year.

Nashville’s Occupy protest experience may be a foretaste of what’s to come for cities around the country.

A New York judge has apparently ordered that Occupy Wall street protesters be permitted to return to the park that police forcibly evicted them from this morning.

Here in Middle Tennessee, the courts have consistently sided with protesters.

A Nashville judge dismissed trespassing and other citations against 55 Occupy Nashville protesters yesterday and ordered their records expunged.

Comments by a Tennessee State Representative are getting Rutherford County still more national attention for anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Over the weekend local and national Muslim groups called on Tennessee officials to rebuke Rockvale Republican Rick Womick for comments he made Friday.

At a gathering of conservatives in Gallatin, where the subject was Sharia law, Womick was captured on video saying he thinks Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

Womick reiterated those comments Saturday in an interview with the Daily News Journal.

A new liquor store ordinance in Memphis and one in the works for Jackson could serve as models for a state statute.

State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, a Jackson Republican, is drafting a similar bill to present to the upcoming General Assembly.

The measures ban anyone under 21 from entering liquor stores without a parent, legal guardian or spouse.

Jackson liquor store owner Bob Lindsey tells The Commercial Appeal that store owners frequently see teenagers in their stores, pointing out to older friends what to buy for them.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is part of a bi-partisan push to require online retailers to collect state sales taxes.

The group of ten senators announced yesterday that they will introduce a bill that would let states that adopt the same administrative procedure for collecting taxes to be able to require online sellers to collect those taxes

Online auction company eBay opposes the bill, saying that requiring small vendors to collect sales tax for states around the country would be an unfair burden.

Tennessee's sales tax revenues grew 6.5 percent in the first quarter of the budget year, and general fund collections are $57 million above projections.

Sales taxes account for nearly two out of every three dollars collected for the state's general fund. October sales tax collections, which reflect economic activity in the previous month, came in at nearly $16 million above projections.

State Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes says that the growth of sales tax collections is the "best indicator of economic recovery."  

A MTSU Professor says that a federal internet plan could have a profound impact on Tennessee.

Federal regulators are announcing today that they've cobbled together a consortium of businesses and non-profit organizations to cut the number of U.S. homes that don't have broadband internet service, now at one third, or about 35 million homes.

As part of a federal project cable companies will offer Internet service for $9.95 per month to poor homes with children eligible for the school lunch program.   The plan will be available starting next summer.

WMOT News has learned today that court cases will move ahead against two Ft. Campbell soldiers.

Within the past hour, Ft. Campbell announced in a press release that the Army will court martial Sgt. Brent Burke for the murder of two Kentucky women in 2007. A trial date for early February has been set.

Burke faces court martial for the  slayings of his estranged wife and her former mother-in-law. Efforts to try Burke, a military policeman at Fort Campbell, in a Kentucky civilian court for the shooting deaths ended in two hung juries and two mistrials.

Surfdog Records

Country Music great Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer disease and is currently on a nationwide tour to say goodbye to his fans.

One of the highlights of tomorrows CMA 2011 Awards show in Nashville will be a tribute to Campbell by Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.

The 45th annual CMA awards take place tomorrow evening at Bridgestone Arena beginning at 8 pm.  The show will be carried live nationwide by ABC.

If your daily commute takes you downtown, be aware that several streets will be closed for the CMAs today and tomorrow.

aclu.org

Nashville, Tenn (AP/WMOT) Online privacy is the subject this week as the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee conducts a series of panel discussions statewide.

ACLU representatives will speak today in Knoxville, tomorrow here in Middle Tennessee and Wednesday in Memphis.

In a news release, the ACLU contends the laws that protect our privacy have not kept pace with social and technological change.

The Journey Home

Murfreesboro, Tenn  (AP-WMOT)  New census estimates out today show the number of Americans living in poverty is higher than ever - reaching a new peak of more than 49 million poeple, or 16 percent of the population.

The new numbers are higher than the official 2010 poverty rate of 15 percent that was reported in September.

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn (AP/WMOT)  A University of Tennessee researcher has helped confirm a link between a fungus and the widespread death of bats.

Justin Boyles, a post-doctoral research associate, was one of the study’s authors. The study discovered that the fungus Geomyces destructans is causing White-nose Syndrome, a disease decimating the bat population.

The effort to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield is moving ahead again.

A state appeals court has thrown out a judge's ruling that temporarily blocked the effort.

The decision yesterday by the Tennessee Court of Appeals puts the disputed recall petition back before the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Reporter Cliff Hightower is covering the story for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. He says some residents are upset over a growing crime rate, perceived corruption, and higher taxes.

The congressional "Super Committee" appears to be making little progress in its goal of cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal budget.

If the committee fails to come to agreement, then $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will go into effect.

Dr. Murat Arik, a researcher with the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Business and Economic Research says Tennessee will be deeply impacted.

Dr. Arik says federal education dollars that normally flow to Tennessee would likely be among the first casualties.

 

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