Rep. Travis: Legislative Wrap Up

Saturday, August 31, 2013 - by Representative Ron Travis
Over the last several weeks, House lawmakers have joined with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community to announce numerous major business expansions from all across the state. With these expansion projects, thousands of jobs will be created along with millions of dollars invested into local Tennessee communities.

Some of the most prominent of the recently announced expansions include:

UBS Financial Services, Davidson County — The global financial services firm has chosen to expand its Nashville operations and has committed to invest $36.5 million and create 1,000 new high-wage jobs.

Gap Inc., Sumner County — Located on Gap Boulevard in Gallatin, the global retailer will expand its Sumner County distribution center over the coming months, creating 90 new jobs and investing $35 million in the community.

Dot Foods, Dyer County — Dot Foods, the nation’s largest food redistributor, will invest $24 million and create 157 new jobs in Dyersburg and surrounding areas.

Jack Daniel Distillery, Moore County — In response to global demand for its world famous Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg has committed to investing $103 million for the addition of new stills, barrel warehouses, and other related infrastructure to support its growing operations. The expansion will result in 94 new full-time positions over the next five years.

Surface Igniter LLC, Blount County — Earlier this month, Surface Igniter LLC pledged to relocate its headquarters and manufacturing facility to Maryville, investing $108 million and creating 108 new jobs. 

Miller Industries, Greene County — The towing equipment manufacturer will invest $1.8 million in its new expansion in Greeneville, creating 58 new jobs.

For more information about these expansions and to view other industry announcements from across the state, visit the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development website at www.tn.gov/ecd.

State Agency Provides Assistance To Tennessee Small Business Owners

Created by the General Assembly in 2010, the Office of Small Business Advocate (OSBA) is the primary contact for Tennessee small business owners who need assistance with specific business issues or have general questions about state agencies, regulatory compliance, or other business-related topics.

In addition, if a small business owner feels that his or her business has been subject to unfair enforcement actions by a state agency, the business owner can seek assistance and relief from the OSBA.

With 97% of the companies in Tennessee being classified as “small businesses”, the Office of Small Business Advocate provides an invaluable resource to business owners across the state, providing help and information to the entrepreneurs who are the backbone of creativity and job production in Tennessee.

To contact Tennessee’s Small Business Advocate, Lauren Plunk, call (615) 401-7806 or email her at smallbusiness.advocate@cot.tn.gov.

House Lawmakers Announce 2013 Reward School Recipients

House lawmakers joined together this week to announce that multiple schools across the state have been named as part of the 2012-2013 Reward School program by the Tennessee Department of Education. The designation means the schools are in either the top 5 percent of all schools in the state for annual academic growth or the top 5 percent for overall academic achievement.

The Reward School program spans 52 districts across the state and includes 169 total schools.

House leaders praised the news, thanking teachers, administrators, and students for all their hard work in achieving the important educational goals.

The 2012-13 Reward Schools made their impressive accomplishments during a year when Tennessee saw consistent gains on the statewide Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) testing. As schools across the state made improvements and reached higher levels of proficiency, the Reward Schools led the way in overall school performance.

A complete list of Reward Schools can be found by visiting: tn.gov/education/accountability/reward_2013.shtml.

House Speaker Beth Harwell to Host 2013 Right Women, Right Now Summit

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) announced this week that House Speaker Beth Harwell will host its 2013 ‘Right Women, Right Now’ Summit on September 9th and 10th in Nashville. Harwell, who serves as a co-chair of the RSLC’s initiative to identify, train, and support women for elected office, will lead the Summit’s efforts to find and recruit strong women leaders from across the nation.

Harwell will also join with women leaders from other states to host the event, including Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch of Wisconsin, and Secretary of State Kim Wyman of Washington.

While women represent over 50% of the total population in the U.S., the number of women of both parties in statewide elective office positions is 75, or 23.1 percent. Only five governors (10 percent) are women. Within the United States Congress, the numbers are even lower, with the total number of women of both parties accounting for only 18.3% of the total legislative body.

Additional details about the ‘Right Women, Right Now’ organization can be found by visiting http://rightwomenrightnow.com.

Tennessee To Expand ‘Drive To 55’ Education Initiative

In September, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will join with House lawmakers to expand the state’s ‘Drive to 55’ education initiative, a program which aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with some sort of college degree to 55 percent by the year 2025. The initiative will work hand-in-hand with the recent launch of Western Governors University Tennessee, an online school which seeks to expand access to higher education for all Tennesseans.

WGU Tennessee offers accredited degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and various health professions.

Differing from most brick-and-mortar institutions, WGU Tennessee uses an innovative learning model called competency-based education. Instead of earning a degree based on credit hours or time spent in class, students must demonstrate their knowledge of required subject matter through rigorous testing procedures.

According to the 2010 Census, 1 in 5 Tennesseans over the age of 25 have some college but no degree, a number WGU Tennessee hopes to change. 

For more information about WGU Tennessee and the ‘Drive to 55’ initiative, visit http://tennessee.wgu.edu/ or call 1-855-948-8495.


Not Thrilled With The Parking Rate Increase

Mark your calendars for Sept. 1—the day the Chattanooga Parking Authority has announced it will raise parking rates around the city. In addition to the rate hikes, the Parking Authority will extend enforceable hours from 4:30-6 p.m.  and will include Saturdays as well. The Parking Authority has allowed for a learning curve, however, saying that during the month of September, ... (click for more)

Tell Congress To Protect AmeriCorps

In June, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved separate spending bills that would reduce opportunities for young people to serve their county, by cutting the AmeriCorps program, by as much as 34%.  These cuts mean half as many AmeriCorps members serving with local programs like Southeast Conservation Corps. These members build local trails, remove invasive ... (click for more)

Boy, 4, Struck By Vehicle Near Tunnel Boulevard

A four-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near Tunnel Boulevard on Saturday afternoon. A t approximately 4:20 p.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 3400 Through St. on a c hild struck by a vehicle.  T he victim was conscious when officers arrived. He was transported to a local hospital. I nvestigators are continuing to compile ... (click for more)

Assessor Bennett, Former Assessor Ramsey In Jetton Camp For Assessor Of Property

Assessor of Property Bill Bennett and former Assessor Claude Ramsey recommended Sterling Jetton as the next assessor at a breakfast fundraiser at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge on Saturday morning. Mr. Jetton, who spent 27 years in the assessor's office, is running against County Commissioner Marty Haynes in the March 1 Republican primary. Noting the political heavyweights ... (click for more)

Ellington, Bell Win First Running Of Jasper Highlands 5K

  JASPER, Tenn. – The Chattanooga Track Club introduced its newest race on Saturday as the inaugural running of the Jasper Highlands 5K was held high atop the Cumberland Plateau.   Advertised as “the most scenic community in Marion County,” Knoxville’s Stewart Ellington put his name on the list as the first winner by covering the rolling 3.1-mile distance in 16 ... (click for more)

Baylor Sweeps Two Nashville Teams In Volleyball Saturday

Volleyball teams from Brentwood Academy and Pope John Paul II have at least one thing in common on Saturday following matches with Baylor and GPS.  They both headed back to Nashville with a win and a loss as both beat GPS and both lost to Baylor. Baylor improved to 13-1 overall and 3-0 in region play with Saturday's two wins, including a 3-1 verdict over Brentwood ... (click for more)