Interesting (link...)

A special enrollment period will begin March 15 and end April 30 to help consumers avoid tax penalties for not obtaining health insurance coverage this year, Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at CMS, said during a news briefing Friday.

To qualify for the exemption, people will need to self-attest that they had to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, they cannot be currently enrolled in a plan on, and claim that they only found out they were going to have to pay a tax penalty when they filed their income tax forms. CMS had no estimates on how many people fall into this group.


Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville) and Sen. Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) have introduced a bill enabling the "For-Profit Benefit Corporation Act" (HB0767/SB0972).

This legislation would create a new category of corporate legal entity known as a "for-profit benefit corporation," also known as a "public benefit corporation." Companies registering under this designation state in their articles of incorporation a purpose of public social and/or environmental benefit. The law then allows the board and officers to prioritize the social and/or environmental benefits along with or superior to the traditional fiduciary duty to maximize profits for shareholders.

As written, the legislation defines social and/or environmental benefits as (A) Providing low-income or underserved individuals or communities with beneficial products or services; (B) Promoting economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the normal course of business; (C) Protecting or restoring the environment; (D) Improving human health; (E) Promoting the arts, sciences, or advancement of knowledge; (F) Increasing the flow of capital to entities with a purpose to benefit society or the environment; and (G) Conferring any other particular benefit on society or the environment.

The law provides for a company to appoint a benefits director (required for publicly traded companies) and also to designate a benefits officer. The company must prepare an annual benefits report measuring the public benefit provided against an independent third-party standard according to the purpose stated in its articles of incorporation and bylaws.

The benefit corporation designation does not provide any special tax benefit or treatment. The IRS treats the company the same as a C corporation and S corporation designation is allowed.

Nationally, more than 20 states have passed public benefit corporation laws, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The national movement is spearheaded by B-Lab, a Pennsylvania non-profit that has developed model legislation and works with states seeking to pass benefit corporation legislation. The company is also the leading provider of independent third-party standards by which benefit corporations are measured.

B-Lab also works with companies seeking to become "Certified B-Corps" by meeting certain social responsibility standards. This creates some confusion, because a "Certified B-Corp" does not have to be a registered benefit corporation, and a registered benefit corporation is not required to be "certified" beyond stating their purpose and filing annual benefit reports measuring their performance.

A couple of notable registered public benefit corporations are Patagonia (California) and King Arthur Flour (Vermont). Ben and Jerry's is an example of a B-Lab "Certified B-Corp" that is not a registered benefits corporation (they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever).

There is some controversy as to whether benefit corporation legislation is needed, because companies can simply declare their intentions to provide a public benefit. Corporate legal experts, however, argue that courts traditionally fall back to a corporation's primary fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profits, and that public benefit corporation status provides flexibility and legal protections for officers and directors of companies committed to being socially responsible as well as profitable.

Anyway, the proposed Tennessee legislation appears to have bipartisan support, judging from its sponsors. It will hopefully pass and put socially responsible companies in a better position to value people above profits.

Feb 19 2015
11:16 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

So apparently, rock salt doesn't work below about 15 degrees.

According to the google, an alternative is calcium chloride, which will work down to 15 below. But, it can be harmful to pets. Same for magnesium chloride.

It's probably best to keep you pet away from treated streets and sidewalks, even if it's just salt or if you don't know. If that's not practical, you should wipe or rinse your puppy's paws when you come inside.

Perhaps a better alternative for pet owners is a product called Safe Paw. It claims to be 100% pet safe, works down to 2 degrees below, and is available at home improvement and hardware stores. (Note: There are a bunch of bad reviews on Amazon saying it doesn't really work.)

Another possibility is Morton Safe-T Pet ice melt, but it only works down to 10 degrees. (It also has some bad reviews on Amazon, and some people say both products can damage concrete.)

The forecast says we will be back up in the 30s by tomorrow, so I can probably wait. But I might get some pet safe ice melt to have around for the next time.

Feb 18 2015
08:11 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

We were watching a Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George walk in to a meeting with NBC executives to pitch their "show about nothing."

The Mrs. laughed and said "that brings back memories," because when we started our little company 20 years ago, we had some similar core principles. Three actually.

Me: Yeah, "We don't care," right? (As in, You don't want to buy our software do you? Because we don't care. We think this is how it should be done. We hope you agree and and get on board. Or not. Whatever.)

Her: Oh yeah. And don't forget "James Brown." (As in, we played "Cold Sweat" really loud on the car stereo every time we drove up to some place for a pitch meeting.)

Me: And do you remember the corollary to "we don't care?"

Her. "We're the pros from Dover*."

Me. Hahahaha. Exactly. This is why I married you.

(*As in, we came in, made stuff happen, and got the job done in time for cocktails. Bonus points to anyone who remembers the movie reference.)

Feb 18 2015
02:41 pm

Still 25 degrees, though. Taken in the back yard by the Mrs. a few minutes ago...


Feb 18 2015
02:07 pm

The Big Ears schedule was announced today, plus news of three more artists added to the lineup. Weekend passes are on sale now, daily tickets go on sale this Friday, February 20 at 12pm ET.

The eclectic three-day festival of unique concert performances, along with "installations, exhibitions, film screenings, interactive workshops, informative talks, surprise collaborations, and unexpected connections" kicks off Friday, March 27th at 5:30 PM at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Event venues include the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, the Square Room, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Standard.

Big Ears is a critically acclaimed event that brings international attention to Knoxville and its lively arts scene. It's a labor of love for the creator, our friend and Knoxville's own Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment.

Feb 18 2015
12:37 pm

With temperature reaching near or below zero for the next couple of nights, TVA is expecting record peak power demand reaching nearly 33,000 megawatts Thursday morning.

They are asking all customers to conserve energy, and offer the following suggestions:

• Opening the blinds on the south side of your home during sunny days, but keeping the blinds closed on cloudy days and at night.

• Postpone using electric appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and cooking equipment during peak power use times early in the morning and early in the evening.

• Turn off nonessential lights, appliances, electronics and other electrical equipment.

TVA Asks Consumers to Help Conserve Energy During Cold

Feb 18 2015
10:52 am

Press release: The City of Knoxville has received the final report from an Urban Land Institute advisory panel that visited the city last October to study several public properties in and around downtown.

City staff are reviewing the report. There will be a public meeting on Thursday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss next steps. (Location is still being confirmed.) In the meantime, anyone wishing to comment on or react to the report can email the City’s Office of Redevelopment at

The ULI panel visited Knoxville from Oct. 5-10, 2014. During their time here, panel members made site visits and conducted interviews with dozens of public officials, developers, residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders.


Here's a summary of the recommendations:

• Transform the Henley Street corridor by introducing onstreet parking and activating the street with retail and a pedestrian-friendly environment.

• Redevelop the State Supreme Court site with active uses, such as a mixed-use development with a performing arts component, and ensure that any future requests for proposals (RFPs) clearly guide design and program mix.

• Preserve the World’s Fair Park’s green space as an amenity for current and future Knoxville residents, and activate adjacent underused sites and additional infill sites with synergistic uses, such as homes for existing cultural organizations seeking new space.

• Relocate those existing uses currently at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum to downtown, and engage in a public master-planning process to envision and create a vibrant, desirable, mixed-income community that includes diverse housing types and households.

• Consider a master-developer approach to ensure successful and contextual redevelopment (i.e., redevelopment that relates to existing development) for 400 and 500 West Jackson Avenue.

• Extend Knoxville’s greenway connection north from World’s Fair Park.

Link to the full report....


from NBC News ...

"The $1.25/ person surcharge added to all checks provides full benefits for our hard-working staff." The extra charge provides 32 employees of the San Francisco French bistro with full health and dental insurance and paid sick leave. No employee is exempt, even those who work only one day a week, said owner Jennifer Piallat.

Employees are also provided with 401(k) plans, with a 4 percent match. The restaurant might be able to raise prices a bit if not for the surcharge, but Piallat doesn't look at providing benefits as a cost, but rather as an advantage.

Recipe for Success: Calif. Eatery's Way to Give All Staff Benefits

Zazie Restaurant

Feb 17 2015
01:58 pm
By: cafkia  shortURL

Your first minutes in boot camp are when it begins. You and those with whom you arrived all line up in some semblance of a formation in whatever clothes you made the trip in. Your Drill Instructor though, is resplendent in an immaculate uniform. So is his superior officer and so are his subordinates, all of their uniforms look like a carefully photoshopped advertisement for perfection. You are part of a rag tag, shoddy group of nobodies but they, they are the ruling class and you can immediately see that they are and why. You have barely arrived and your indoctrination has begun with a bang.


Feb 16 2015
10:47 am

Lydia McCoy at the KNS yesterday Adding up absences: Knox teachers average four days out of classroom

A deeper look at the numbers — a review of the schools' total number of classroom teachers and total days taken — showed in the first semester of school, teachers were out of the classroom an average of about four days, at 3.4 days. A further breakdown showed that trend continued at the school level.


Feb 16 2015
09:58 am


Knoxville City Council will consider a resolution tomorrow to acquire, "by condemnation if necessary," the old South High property on Moody Ave. The current owner has, according to the city, been unresponsive to various enforcement actions to correct serious deterioration of the abandoned structures on the property. There are $47,623.24 in delinquent property taxes and "demolition by neglect" liens against the property.

According to the resolution, "Two fair market appraisals were completed and reviewed by a third party appraiser, who on 2/2/15 valued the property at $189,000. The current Knox County Property Assessor’s appraised value is $168,400. If the property is acquired by eminent domain, state law requires the greater of the two values be deposited in Circuit Court pending acquisition finalization. Funding for the acquisition is from the Chronic Problem Properties Capital Budget fund."

Once acquired, the City proposes to market the property through the Homemakers Program.

More details in the City Council resolution agenda package...


News Sentinel story (subscription required)


City formalizes "demolition by neglect" order against South High owner

Status of South High School Building on Moody Avenue

Demolish the old South High School?

Plans for Old South High revealed

Feb 15 2015
09:11 pm
By: Tamara Shepherd  shortURL

Attention Kroger shoppers: There is no 2% milk to be had, in either gallon or half gallon jugs. Pickings are slim for both cheeses and sandwich breads and frozen pizzas are going fast.

In case you live under a rock, the National Weather Service is calling for a wintry mix of sleet and snow starting tomorrow with a high temp of 30 degrees. Ice accumulations are expected.

We're to get more freezing rain and/or snow throughout the week with low temps Wednesday of -1 degree and Thursday of 3 degrees.

The News-Sentinel is reporting that most surrounding schools and school systems will be closed tomorrow (it's President's Day, anyway) and that tomorrow's Knox County Schools teacher in-service has also been cancelled.

Be safe out there--but try not to even get out there!

Feb 14 2015
04:06 pm

Will the News-Sentinel have this on the front page tomorrow? They should, with a link to the web site and info on any locations in the area where people can enroll and get help. Tennessee enrollment

Feb 14 2015
04:01 pm

What: 6th District Democrats Meeting
When: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 6:15pm
Where: Karns Library on Oak Ridge Highway

Guest Speaker will be Dr. John O. Hodges, Professor Emeritus in the Religious Studies Dept. Univ. of Tennessee. He will share reflections on his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, and from his new book "Delta Fragments: The Recollections of a Share Cropper's Son"

For Info: Janice Spoone (


Feb 13 2015
02:11 pm

What: 3rd/4th District Democrats Meeting
When: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 6:00pm
Where: Bearden Branch Library, 100 Golf Club Road Knoxville TN 37919

Guest Speaker will be Gwen Schablik, Chair of the Anderson, Blount, and Knox Co. local Tennessee Equality Project (and VP of Knox Co Young Democrats), speaking about the battle for equality in Tennessee and the nation.

for info: Chris Foell (


Feb 13 2015
01:40 pm

Rep. James (Micah) Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) has introduced a bill (HB0677) designating the Barrett Model 82A1 rifle as the official state firearm. Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) is the Senate sponsor.

Van Huss has also introduced the "Open Carry Firearms Freedom Act of 2015" (HB0684) to allow the open carrying of a handgun without a handgun carry permit. Beavers is also the Senate sponsor on this bill.

Feb 13 2015
12:47 pm

Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) and Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) have introduced bills (HB0873 and SB1211) that would legalize possession or casual exchange of up to one ounce of pot.

Possession, casual exchange, or distribution of more than one ounce would be a misdemeanor with a $100 fine. "Non-leafy, resinous material containing tetrahydrocannabinol (hashish)" would still be illegal without a prescription.


A study conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the state of Kentucky found that the state's federally funded Medicaid expansion program had an overall positive impact in 2014:

• Enrollment of 310,887, which exceeded original estimates

• Uninsured rate dropped 42% from 20.4% to 11.9%, the second largest drop in the U.S.

• An estimated $30.1 billion in cumulative economic impact through 2021, including direct and indirect spending and multipliers

• A positive state budget fiscal impact of $919.1 million through 2021

• An infusion of $1.16 billion in federal funds during 2014

• Hospitals experienced a reduction of $1.15 billion in uncompensated care

• Creation of more than 40,000 jobs paying an average of $41,000 through 2021

Commonwealth of Kentucky Medicaid Expansion Report 2014


Just curious what the latest is on this...

From Hard Knox Independent

Many South Knoxville residents are afraid the Baptist Hospital site may end up becoming an exclusive, gated community instead of the open, pedestrian-friendly retail corridor they had initially hoped for.

Arthur stressed that parcels were intentionally kept small to "ensure a walkable, inviting public space." She told the board that if the first two variances were granted, they would "undermine the integrity of the Vision Plan and will erode the public trust we have so carefully cultivated throughout this long process".

Developers Plan to Change Baptist Hospital Site Plans


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