NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued a proclamation convening an "extraordinary session" of the 109th General Assembly to consider "Insure Tennessee," a two year pilot program to provide health care coverage to Tennesseans who do not currently have access to health insurance or have limited options. The program is designed to reward healthy behaviors, promote personal responsibility and incentivize preventative care and healthy choices.

The proclamation calls for the special session to begin Monday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. CST for the legislature to consider a joint resolution authorizing the governor to implement Insure Tennessee. The governor is scheduled to address the General Assembly at 6 p.m. CST that evening.

MORE:

Press release...
Executive Summary...
Waiver Amendment Request...

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Education Week has just released a new report, Quality Counts -- Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown, that finds improvement in some areas but shows Tennessee generally underperforming national averages in many categories.

Tennessee's grades in the three broad categories are:

• Chance for success (2015) C (41st)
• School finance (2015) D+ (39th)
• K-12 achievement (2014) D+ (29th)

Tennessee's overall score was a C- (37th).

The report found improvements in NAEP elementary reading and math scores and improved graduation rates as compared to the national averages.

Full report...

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Wed
Jan 7 2015
11:33 pm

Effective 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, KNS reports that Knox County Schools will operate on a 2-hour delay on Thursday, January 8.

Other area school systems on the same 2-hour delay include Blount County, Grainger County, Hamblen County, Hawkins County, Monroe County, Oak Ridge City, Sevier County, Sweetwater City, and Union County.

Campbell County and Jefferson County schools will be closed.

Area school systems not listed above had not yet reported their Thursday schedule to KNS at this hour.

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Wed
Jan 7 2015
07:36 pm

For those of you that need to wear prescription eyewear, and your insurance does not cover vision, I came across this article that might be of some help.

Well, after you get over the sticker-shock on the (up to) 500% mark-ups. But, the important part:

This has begun to change over the last few years. A knowledge-is-power, power-to-the-people, Web-driven DIY wave is rocking the optical industry's very foundations. Dozens of companies now sell prescription glasses online, frames and lenses included, for as little as $7.95.

Just wanted to post this in case some reader (or someone they know) needs new glasses and doesn't have vision coverage or an extra $300+ sitting around.

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Wed
Jan 7 2015
03:29 pm

We are trying to get summary data for Yes/No votes on Amendment 1 for each Knox County legislator. The election commission website lists results by precinct, but there is no tally for all the precincts within a legislator's district. We have been told by the election commission that these data are not available and our only choice is to tally the results by hand ourselves. Needless to say, this is a laborious and error prone process.

This strikes me as nuts, since I assume that any data base the commission uses to record results can easily provide these totals if asked. We think it's important for each legislator to know before they vote on bills restricting access to legal abortion how the majority of their constituents voted.

Any ideas about how best to address this?

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Tue
Jan 6 2015
05:31 pm

From MSNBC …

It would effectively gut the employer mandate, reducing employer-sponsored coverage by 1 million people and costing $74 billion in lost penalties, according to the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. But it would also make it even more likely that the Affordable Care Act will have negative consequences for ordinary Americans, according to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Continued...

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Tue
Jan 6 2015
07:10 am

Shootings based on local media reports.

Update as of January 18, 2015

Based on local media reports found, there have been:

5 shootings in Knox County
5 in city (100.0%)
0 in county (0.0%)

0 shootings resulting in 0 deaths (0 deaths from police action)

1 shootings Center City (UT area) (0 deaths)
0 shootings West (0 deaths, 0 suicides)
0 shootings South (0 deaths, 0 suidcides)
0 shootings North (0 deaths, 0 suicide)
4 shootings East (0 deaths, 0 suicide)

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44
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Mon
Jan 5 2015
05:19 pm

Flu season is here, and if you haven't already gotten a flu shot it might be a good idea to get one. According to WATE, Knoxville is currently the number one area in the country for flu activity.

The Knox Co. Health Department is offering free flu shots beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 6th) while supplies last. Details in the press release after the break.

Continued...

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43
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Mon
Jan 5 2015
01:39 pm

It seems Gov. Haslam hasn't bothered to share any details with legislators, and they are not happy about it...

In related news, TNGOP lawmakers want to take away your ACA health insurance subsidies...

According to HHS, 87,137 Tennesseans enrolled in an ACA marketplace health insurance plan for 2015, and 83% will receive subsidies.

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Mon
Jan 5 2015
01:22 pm

State Rep. and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says the new Executive Director of the General Assembly's Fiscal Review department, which is charged with putting a price tag ("fiscal note") on proposed legislation, has "a well-known personal agenda" of advocating for public school privatization. More in the press release after the break...

Continued...

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Mon
Jan 5 2015
12:26 pm

In case you missed it, a WBIR Inside Tennessee panel recently picked Tennessee's 2014 political winners and losers. Mike Donila has the rundown. What do you think?

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Mon
Jan 5 2015
12:18 pm

Tom Humphrey has this report on a TNGOP proposal to require all Tennessee students to pass a civics test to qualify for a high school diploma.

I'm all for teaching civics in public schools. (I assume they still do? It's hard to tell sometimes with these kids today.) But this is a dumb idea. Kids get taught all kinds of stuff. They take tests to see if they learned any of it. If they make the grades they get a diploma. Why add special testing requirements? I'm sure special interest groups of all sorts could come up with a long list of other tests.

The sponsors say they want to make sure kids are taught about how government works, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I'm guessing they would like special emphasis on the 2nd and 10th Amendments. And with the school textbook selection process being overhauled by the TNGOP, one can just imagine what kids will be taught about civics.

Anyway, requiring a civics test to run for state legislature might be a better idea.

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Mon
Jan 5 2015
12:04 pm

Betty Bean reads the tea leaves for the upcoming city elections. We hope she's right that there won't be much drama this time around.

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Mon
Jan 5 2015
11:59 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

In case you missed it, TVA is proposing to expand a landfill site at Kingston for use as a dry coal ash disposal and storage facility. TDEC is considering their proposal. Environmental groups say the site is unsuitable because of unstable geology that could allow toxins to pollute the Clinch River.

From our "you can't make this stuff up" department, there's this:

KNS: Kingston landfill state-of-the-art, compliant, says TVA

[John Kammeyer, vice president for civil projects at TVA] said TDEC was so comfortable with the design of the expansion that TVA was allowed to build the landfill expansion before the permit was approved.

Our friends at RoaneViews have the money quotes from Pam Strickland's recent column regarding TDEC's cozy relations with TVA.

More on the controversy:

RoaneViews: TDEC and TVA Slap Roane County Citizens in the Face with Intent to Waive EPA Restrictions on Clinch River Coal Ash Landfill

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: Kingston Ash Landfill Changes Fraught with Concerns

TCWN and other citizen groups urge TDEC to revoke TVA's permit for coal ash disposal facility at kingston coal plant

KNS: Environmental groups question TVA's landfill expansion plans

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Sun
Jan 4 2015
04:27 pm

I'm not sure why city council would prefer empty buildings (like the former Rio/CVS) to payday loan storefronts ...

In any case, here's David Harvey's exposition (at a conference in Rio, coincidentally) on trickle-up economics. It's an hour, and worth a watch.

payday2.JPG

42
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Sun
Jan 4 2015
10:17 am

Understanding teacher absences: Overall numbers show decline, but some schools, days see increases

Lydia McCoy at the Knoxville News Sentinel took a look at teacher absentee numbers for the last three school years plus the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year thru December 2nd. The website has a nice, sortable database of all schools.

I'd be very curious to know how that Friday before fall break absence spike compares when regressed back before the recently shortened fall break. Also a per capita absence rate to smooth out the range of teacher populations per school would be an appropriate treatment of the raw data.

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Sat
Jan 3 2015
04:13 pm

The News Sentinel is reporting that President Obama and Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will visit the Knoxville area next Friday (Jan. 9th) to talk about higher education and also manufacturing jobs. No other details available at this time...

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Sat
Jan 3 2015
03:47 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

on Kickstarter

515 backers
$50,056 pledged of $50,000 goal
7 days to go

Kickstarter and Amazon (credit processor) will take around 8% of the total, or $4000. Now there's a good business model ...

If your project is successfully funded, Kickstarter will apply a 5% fee to the funds raised, and Amazon will apply credit card processing fees (about 3-5%). If funding isn't successful, there are no fees.

52
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Sat
Jan 3 2015
11:55 am

April

In financial news, India edges ahead of Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power, behind Jay-Z and Beyoncé. General Motors, in what analysts view as a shrewd tactical move, announces that it is recalling 435,000 Fords.

Dave Barry's Year in Review...

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Civil Forfeiture in Tennessee. Might be of interest to watch.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates...
One-Hour Special Reviews 'Policing For Profit' Investigation

Tennessee makes national media
NC5 Investigation Featured On HBO Show

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42
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