Thu
Jul 24 2014
08:03 am

The latest round of wingnuttery comes by way of Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Campfield's west end doppelganger Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who are asking the state's Attorney General to sue President Obama to stop him from giving away money to Tennessee residents for health insurance premium subsidies because FREEDOM!

Tom Humphrey has the particulars.

I really hope Tennessee Republicans keep this up until the November elections. Denying health care to hundreds of thousands of otherwise Medicaid eligible citizens and doubling down by taking money out of the pockets of hard working taxpayers trying to provide health insurance for their families will not be a winning strategy. If anyone's paying attention, that is.

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What a surprise: Despite its flotilla of high-dollar lobbyists, the support of the governor and practically all the usual "Private enterprise does it better" suspects, K-12 Inc is a failure.

(link...)

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Wed
Jul 23 2014
02:33 pm

Tennessee comes in 36th in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's recent Kids Count rankings of best states in which to raise a child. It didn't break the top twenty in any category.

The good news is that there has been steady improvement in the numbers of children attending preschool and a decline in the number of schoolchildren not proficient in reading and math.

There also is a positive trend in parental education that benefits kids: A smaller percentage of children live in families in which no parent has a high school diploma — from 22% in 1990 to 15% in 2012. In addition, the teen birth rate is at a historic low and the death rates for children and teens has fallen as a result of medical advances and increased usage of seat belts, car seats and bike helmets.

Worrisome trends include a rise in the official child poverty rate as defined by the federal government. Although the rate dropped from 18 to 16% from 1990 to 2000, the rate had reached 22% by 2010 and has remained at roughly that level. In 2012, nearly 16.4 million kids were living in poverty. The percentage of children living in single-parent families has risen significantly — in 1990, 25% of children lived in a single-parent household and by 2012 the figure had risen to 35%. Since 1990, the rate of children growing up in poor communities has also increased, with 13% of children living in a neighborhood where the poverty rate is 30% or more.

Massachusetts came in first. Guess who came in last? Yup, Mississippi. Southern and Southwestern states came out poorly in general.

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Tennessee Justice Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, and National Health Law Program File Suit Against TennCare

The suit comes after almost a year of ongoing discussions with the State about enrollment issues. It also comes after a severe rebuke from the federal agency overseeing Tenncare. TJC's discussions have helped some, with the State instituting workarounds that have addressed enrollment for some vulnerable Tennesseans. Nonetheless, the State has failed to present a workable plan for ensuring all Tennesseans are afforded the coverage for which they are eligible. State officials have consistently delayed or rejected the ACA's enrollment and eligibility reforms. Further complicating the situation has been Tennessee's failure to develop a functional computer system capable of determining eligibility or accepting applications from the federal online Marketplace.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Health Law Program have joined in the class action lawsuit, the first of its kind in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: The complaint...

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This looks good. Surprising it took this long to address.

Forty-year-old laws dictate that Wolff can have only $2,000 in savings and earn $700 a month – well below the poverty level – to qualify for the government services that often sustain those with long-term disabilities. A new bill, the ABLE Act, is trying to make it possible for Wolff and millions of others to get that raise and, most importantly, save for the future.

The ABLE Act expands on existing educational savings vehicles, known colloquially as 529 accounts, allowing those with disabilities to establish similar accounts to pay for education, housing, transportation costs, employment training and health services not covered by Medicaid, such as dental care. Account owners can save up to $100,000 before they are ineligible for certain government services, but they’ll never lose their Medicaid coverage because of an ABLE account.

Congress comes together to help the disabled save, tax-free

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Comcast’s worst nightmare: How Tennessee could save America’s Internet.
Chattanooga's public electric utility offers residents lightning-quick connections -- much to big telecoms' dismay

(link...)

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Wed
Jul 23 2014
09:54 am

The Knoxville News Sentinel launched their new website yesterday afternoon. It's faster and automagically adapts to desktop/smartphone/tablet layouts. The search function also seems to work a little better. The commenting functions look to be much improved.

To me, the overal design looks more up to date but also sort of generic and a little cluttered. I was able to find all the featured front page print stories on the front page of the website, so that's nice.

One curiosity is that there are no RSS news feed links to be found anywhere on the site. Jack Lail at the KNS had already reached out to me to provide at least one replacement before I even emailed to ask. He is looking around for others to restore our KNS headline feeds.

It appears the new design has been rolled out to all Scripps newspapers, including the Commercial Appeal.

UPDATE: Jack Lail at the KNS advises that they have created a page for all available RSS feeds. You can find it here.

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The Knoxville Firefighters Association Local #65 has endorsed Cheri Siler for State Senate District 7, saying she has "qualities to move our community forward" using "morals and values blended with common sense." Press release after the break...

Continued...

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Wed
Jul 23 2014
08:50 am

From the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling... See page 10. In libertarian terms - is one's ability to afford health insurance a positive liberty derived from your negative liberty of having to pay $1.75 per month? In this case it is an initiation of force by the state compelling folks to pay, even with subsidies, for the common good. Is it an initiation of force for the poor to be priced out of the health insurance market?

Someone should file an economic hardship case and establish standing a la Peter Schiff, sorry Klemencic, based on an ‘identifiable trifle’ of harm in the form of a state not accepting Medicaid expansion making it more difficult - and economically hard - for one to gain health care coverage under the ACA. Or perhaps achieve identifiable-trifle-of-harm injury by showing that, because my state does not accept expansion funds, I cannot get a job in health care...

Continued...

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Sandra Clark reports that 1st District School Board member and candidate for reelection Gloria Deathridge has health issues that "might make it difficult for her to serve a four-year term."

Sandra Clark's report...

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Ms. Deathridge for her peace and wellbeing.

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Tue
Jul 22 2014
12:17 pm

From Yahoo ...

In 2012, California Senate Bill 1234 created the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust Act, which would be available to private sector employees. This currently is in the study phase.
Also in 2012, Massachusetts passed House Bill 3754, which allowed the state treasurer and receiver general to establish a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), which could be adopted by nonprofit employers for their employees.
In May of this year, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the creation of a task force to study retirement security for private sector workers.

"States are beginning to recognize that there's a crisis," says Hank Kim, executive director and counsel with the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. They can try to address the challenge now, or wait until millions of baby boomers hit retirement without the resources they need and turn to social service agencies for help, he adds.

State retirement plans for the private sector

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Tue
Jul 22 2014
09:30 am

From the NY Times …

Banks and private equity firms searching for high-yield investments have fueled a boom in subprime auto loans to buyers who can’t afford them, including those who recently filed for bankruptcy

No Credit? No Problem

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Tue
Jul 22 2014
07:09 am

For the second quarter, U.S. Senate candidate Terry Adams raised $23,160 (including a $3,600 loan) and spent $31,302. In total, the campaign has raised $88,858 (including $8,100 in loans) and spent $78,454. Adams had $10,507 cash on hand as of June 30.

In comparison, Lamar Alexander raised $917,137 in the second quarter, spent $623,840, and ended the quarter with $3,411,680 cash on hand. His total receipts for this election cycle are $6,051,550, and he has spent $3,810,357 so far.

UPDATE: Notable supporters include Bill Freeman, Sid Gilreath, Walt Grayson, Doug Horne, Victor Jernigan, Gloria Johnson, Mike McWherter, Olan Mills, Cortney Piper, Buzz Goss, Charles Bone, Bill Owen, and Bob Tuke.

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Tue
Jul 22 2014
06:41 am

You might want to tune in to (link...) 94.3.

Four great kids– Adam Hasan, Thomas Mitchell, Ethan Young and Kenny Ye – who've gotten involved in KCS school issues will be on at 7 a.m. They'll be worth a listen.

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Because Gov. Haslam (and Real Gov. Ramsey) will get to appoint their replacements.

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Mon
Jul 21 2014
07:58 pm

Jason Emert is really pulling out the negative stops in his bid to unseat our successful and popular incumbent, Gloria Johnson. We received several of his attack mailings last week and there were two more in the mail today. One of them is totally negative and only tries to whip up enough misdirected hate to vote against Rep. Johnson. The other is equally negative on one side, but presents Mr. Emert on the other, as he is quoted to state, "Obamacare will not come to Tennessee on my watch. ..." (It also states that Emert is "Fighting Medicaid Expansion...")

If I may: OK, then.

This level of negative campaigning should be enough to disqualify anyone, but could he possibly be so misinformed himself as to think that Obamacare is not already our law? Or is Emert just banking on his voters being as ignorant as he claims to be?

If voters think Obamacare is not yet the law here, they must not have a problem with living under it. Who's going to break it to them that Emert takes them for fools?

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Mon
Jul 21 2014
07:49 pm

Knox Co. sent out a press release today saying that a Halls greenway project is being stalled by "state bureaucracy and a complaint by the Tennessee Clean Water Network."

I don't know anything about this, but it sounds like TDEC (suprise!) and the TCWN are doing their job. Also, who is TTC Halls, LLC, and how did they get hold of the land and what was their deal to protect the wetlands involved?

Anyway, it sounds like there is more to this story, and blaming conservation organizations for bureaucratic snafus is not the way to go. Working out the issues and complying with state conservation laws might be a better approach.

Press release from the county after the break...

Continued...

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Mon
Jul 21 2014
12:06 pm

Today's Knoxville News Sentinel has yet another misleading full page ad for "Vault Bags loaded with rarely seen US. Government issued coins" for only $59 plus shipping and handling.

According to the ad, the bags are "loaded with nearly a quarter pound of rarely seen Indian Head coins dating all the way back to the early 1900s." Because collectors are "hoarding" the vault bags, there's a limit of 10 per customer.

The ad features a photo of a buffalo nickel. A nickel weighs 5 grams. A "vault bag" loaded with "nearly a quarter pound" of buffalo nickels would have about 20 nickels, with a face value of $1.00.

According to this site, the collector value ranges from 25 cents up to $3600 (rare, uncirculated), depending on date, mint, rarity and condition.

I'm guessing most of the coins in this $59 "vault bag" will be closer to the 25 cent value, making it worth about $5.00. But who knows? You might get lucky!

Anyway, I still don't get why the News Sentinel accepts these ads. Moreover, I don't get why state Attorney Generals aren't cracking down on them.

Here's what the BBB has to say about a similar offer from the same outfit.

PREVIOUSLY:

KNS advertising free bags of money!
Amazing breakthrough: Free TV!
Predatory KNS ad targets seniors

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Yes, the same dynamic group that had you dancing in the aisles last July, is coming back! C. Vaughn Leslie is bringing his group "Boy's Night Out" back to the Princess for The Tony Mason Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser!

Continued...

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Mon
Jul 21 2014
11:25 am

The Blount County Sheriff's Office has created a new website for US 129/The Dragon safety awareness.

The Sheriff's Office began concentrated patrols in this area because of the extremely high number of complaints from citizens and the increasing number of injuries and deaths due to crashes.

Be careful out there. For those of you just wanting to do a little sight-seeing to Fontana, Calderwood, Cheoah, and Santeetlah, be aware of the dangers of a driving on US 129 along with the motorcyclists who think it is a racetrack for their pleasure.

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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

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