Friday, 26 March 2010
Fueled by the recent passage of federal healthcare legislation in Congress, Senator Mae Beavers joined Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and members of the Senate Republican Caucus to hold a press conference this week urging the state's House of Representatives to take immediate action to pass the Tennessee Health Freedom Act. Passage of the bill, which is pending action in the House Industrial Impact Subcommittee, would put Tennessee into position to join the Virginia and Idaho legislatures on the front lines in filing legal action to support the rights of citizens within their boundaries not to participate in the massive federal government takeover of the nation's health care system.
The Tennessee Health Freedom Act was sponsored by Senator Beavers and approved in the State Senate on February 18 by a vote of 26 to 1, with 5 members abstaining.
“This legislation has become vital to challenge the massive unfunded mandate that has been passed down to the states,” said Senator Mae Beavers, who is sponsor of the bill. “Never in history has the federal government mandated that Tennesseans buy anything. This is kind of equivalent to the federal government saying you have to buy a General Motors car because we bailed them out and we have an interest in it. If the people of Tennessee don’t want federal health care, this will be the way for them to choose other avenues.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 3498, prohibits the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on a person’s decision not to participate in the federal plan. Due to constitutional restraints, the bill does not “nullify” the federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program. However, it acknowledges the right of Tennesseans to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program. It also calls on the state’s Attorney General to take action in defending any Tennessean fined or penalized by the federal government for not abiding by what many believe to be an unconstitutional federal healthcare bill.
Earlier this week Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey renewed his efforts to persuade Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper to join his colleagues in at least 13 other states in legal action on the matter. Ramsey had already asked Cooper to make preparations for protective legal action when the federal health care bill was approved by the United States Senate in December.
The federal action is expected to cost Tennessee more than $200 million annually. It comes at a time when the state is in its 21st consecutive month in which sales tax revenues have recorded negative growth.
The Industrial Impact Committee amended the bill with a procedural amendment and delayed further action on the measure until next week. Tennesseans are urged to call the members of the House Sub Committee and encourage them to vote for the Health Freedom Act.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
It’s time once again for the Tennessee Senior Olympics state competition and more than 3,500 Tennessee senior athletes are gearing up in preparation.
Area seniors ages 50 and older will have the opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities and youthful spirit at the Upper Cumberland District Senior Olympics, scheduled for May 3 - 15, 2010 in and around Crossville, Tennessee.
Individuals will compete within five-year age groups, starting at age 50. Participants who are 49 years old are eligible to participate in the district and state games as long as they turn 50 before the end of 2010.
Events include pickleball, table tennis, swimming, golf, bowling, tennis, track and field events, softball tournament, shuffleboard, basketball 3 on 3, softball throw, horseshoes, basketball free throw, and Recognition Luncheon.
All participants advance to the state competition July 23-29, 2010, in Williamson County, Tennessee.
“Athletes of all interests and skill levels have the opportunity to compete at the district level giving them a chance to travel to the state finals,” said Christine Dewbre, executive director of the Tennessee Senior Olympics.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, presenting sponsor and a long-time supporter of the Tennessee Senior Olympics, helped establish the games in 1981. The event seeks to promote healthy lifestyles for senior adults through fitness, sports and camaraderie.
According to Richard Cassidy, chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, adopting a healthy lifestyle generates many benefits including promoting quality of life in older adults.
“From improved cardiovascular endurance to muscle strength and increased flexibility, seniors can use the Tennessee Senior Olympics to take great strides towards a healthier lifestyle for now and the future,” Cassidy said.
The deadline for District Senior Olympics registration is April 16, 2010. For information or an application, please call Peggy Houston at (931) 484-7416, e-mail at email@example.com, or visit the event Web site, www.tnseniorolympics.com.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Tennessee’s First Lady Andrea Conte will be in Woodbury on Friday morning, April 16, for the third annual “Andrea Walks for Tennessee’s Children” child abuse awareness walk. The First Lady will lead a one-mile walk that will begin at Dillon Park and end at the Agricultural Center at the Fairgrounds. Walk registration will be held from 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 9:30 a.m.
The event benefits the Cannon County Child Advocacy Center. First Lady Conte is sponsoring Walks in 12 cities in the state this spring to increase awareness about the serious issue of child abuse. Conte’s goal is to stop the abuse of children and prevent children from being re-victimized. The Child Advocacy Center is delighted that Ms. Conte chose Woodbury as one of the 12 cities she will be walking in this year!
The Cannon County Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit agency that serves child abuse, child sexual abuse, and drug endangered children in Cannon County. The Center staff work as a team with Department of Children’s Services, law enforcement, and the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases. Last year, more than 20,000 children were served at Child Advocacy Centers across Tennessee, including 87 children that were served in Cannon County.
Planning for the event is in full swing. Doug Combs and Faye Northcutt-Knox are the co-chairpersons of the event. The featured speaker at the event will be First Lady Andrea Conte. She will be joined by local dignitaries.
It is not too late for other individuals and businesses to get involved. If you would like to be a Walk sponsor you can contact Amanda Burks at the Child Advocacy Center at 615-563-9915. Anyone interested in participating as a walker can obtain a Walk Registration form by contacting the Center at 615-563-9915, or by faxing a registration form to 615-563-9916, or by joining us at the Walk registration on Friday, April 16 at 9:00 a.m.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that Tennessee is one of just two states selected to receive millions of dollars for education in the federal government’s Race to the Top competition. The U.S. Department of Education announced Tennessee and Delaware as the competition’s first round winners earlier today.
Tennessee will receive approximately $500 million to implement its comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years.
“This is a landmark opportunity for Tennessee,” said Bredesen. “Our success in Race to the Top speaks to the commitment we’ve made to meaningful and significant improvement in public education, and the funds provided by the grant will carry us forward in a dramatic and positive direction.”
Tennessee requested $501 million in its application. As one of the next steps in the process, the U.S. Department of Education will complete negotiations with successful states on their Race to the Top contracts to finalize award amounts.
The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund is an unprecedented federal investment in reform. The program includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments. The Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:
• Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
Forty states and the District of Columbia submitted applications for the first phase of grants. Delaware and Tennessee were selected from among 16 finalists who presented their proposals to panels of peer reviewers earlier this month.
The peer reviewers awarded the highest scores to Delaware and Tennessee. According to the U.S. Department of Education, they awarded Delaware and Tennessee high marks for the commitment to reform from key stakeholders, including elected officials, teacher's union leaders, and business leaders. In both states, all school districts committed to implementing Race to the Top reforms.
Delaware and Tennessee also have aggressive plans to improve teacher and principal evaluation, use data to inform instructional decisions, and turn around their lowest-performing schools. In addition, both states have put in place strong laws and policies to support their reform efforts.
Bredesen expressed appreciation for widespread support for the state’s application by the Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee Education Association, educators and education advocates, business leaders, and the parents and families across the state that want to continue to provide better opportunities in the classroom and in life for Tennessee’s children.
Tennessee’s complete Race to the Top proposal can be found on the state Department of Education Web site at www.tn.gov/education.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Thursday at noon will be the deadline for filing for local races with the election administrator’s office.
Two other persons have withdrawn their names from other races; James Adkins-Commissioner #2 and Donnie Morris-Circuit Court Clerk will not be on the ballot.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These funds will help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery crops including floriculture. Administered by TDA, the grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
“As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables and other products increases, specialty crops are growing in importance and will continue to have a significant impact on Tennessee’s farm economy,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens. “These grants will fund innovation, research and training that will help keep our farms viable.”
Proposals are divided into three main categories:
Good Ag Practices/Food Safety/Traceability
This category includes, but is not limited to training, specialized equipment and facilities needed to incorporate GAPs, GMPs and/or specialty crop traceability.
Farmers Markets/Wholesale Produce
This category includes, but is not limited to, cool storage, distribution and handling needs. A priority is establishing wholesale produce auctions.
Innovative Specialty Crop Projects
This category includes, but is not limited to, on-farm needs that enhance marketing, production, packing and/or distribution of specialty crops.
Tennessee is eligible for more than $517,000 in federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds to support grower education, infrastructure needs, food safety and marketing. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for project funding for up to $50,000.
Eligible projects must be forward thinking and demonstrate a positive impact on Tennessee agriculture and demonstrate significant potential for increasing farm income through the improvement or expansion of farm or agribusiness operations involving the production of specialty crop products. Demonstration of long-term benefits is also required.
Proposals must be delivered to TDA no later than May 21. Proposal requirements and other information can be found at http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/marketing/produce.html. Once proposals are received, a panel will review and rank them according to the criteria provided. Applicants who submit a project will be notified by June 18 if TDA intends to present the project to USDA for funding. For more information regarding the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, contact Rob Beets at 615-837-5160 or Robert.Beets@TN.gov.