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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee and on the Finance Ways and Means Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vendor for Scoring 2015-16 Assessments

We have received this statement from the Department of Education on TNReady.

Members,
 
The department of education has executed a new contract for scoring and reporting of the 2015-16 assessments (including TNReady). After terminating the state’s contract with Measurement Inc. on April 27, the department, in collaboration with the state’s Central Procurement Office (CPO), immediately began the process of securing an emergency contract with a vendor with which the department already has an existing relationship. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 12-3-505 state agencies can purchase, in the open market, services for immediate delivery to meet emergencies arising from any unforeseen cause. In collaboration with CPO, the department has selected Pearson to score assessments from the 2015-16 school year.

Pearson is the Tennessee’s current vendor for the SAT-10 test, an optional test districts can administer in kindergarten through second grade. Also, Pearson, known for scoring NAEP (or the “Nation’s Report Card”)for three decades, is currently partnering with 25 states across the country, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana. In fact, Pearson developed, administered, and scored grades 3–8 tests and/or high school End of Course exams in Tennessee from 2003 through 2014.

Our emergency contract with Pearson is only for scoring and reporting of 2015-16 assessments. This will include scoring high school End of Course exams, Part I grade 3–8 tests, and any completed Part II grade 3–8 exams. High school score reports, as well as grade 3–8 raw data, will be shared in fall 2016 as we have previously communicated.
 
Attached is an FAQ designed to answer questions about the selection of the scoring vendor.
 
The department is currently working on a separate procurement process in collaboration with CPO to select a vendor to develop and administer next year’s assessment. We will communicate information related to next year’s test as we move through the procurement process.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tennessee Does Well on Pension Funding and Retirement Health Benefits

New GASB rules have now standardized the reporting of municipal liabilities, JP Morgan created a single measure for each state.  
Total liabilities include bonds and obligations related to underfunded pensions and retiree healthcare benefits (referred to as “OPEB”, an acronym for Other Post-Employment Retirement Benefits).  Pensions and OPEB are a big part of the debt picture: while US states have ~$500 billion of bonds supported by state tax collections and general revenues, they have another $1.0-$1.5 trillion of unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities, depending on rates used to discount them.
 
JP Morgan analyzed 330 state pension and OPEB plans.  The chart shows the ratio of what states currently spend on bonds, pensions and OPEB as a percentage of their revenues (blue bars), and what they would be spending assuming a 6% return on plan assets, amortizing any unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities over 30 years (total bars).  
As you can see - Tennessee is doing very well.

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH CHALLENGE PROGRAM

Alternative residential program part of governor’s Public Safety Action Plan
 
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced with Major General Max Haston of the Department of Military and Department of Children’s Services (DCS) Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich that Tennessee has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program.
 
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe is an alternative residential program that offers youth between ages 16-18 who have dropped out of school and have no criminal record the opportunity to learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility while working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma outside of a traditional school setting. Its implementation is one of the steps in the governor’s Public Safety Action Plan.
 
“This program creates another path to success for some teens who really need one, and it falls right in line with our Drive to 55 goals by helping them earn high school diplomas and making them eligible for Tennessee Promise,” Haslam said. “I appreciate our Children’s Services and Military departments collaborating in an innovative way to serve these young Tennesseans and our state.” 
 
The program is voluntary, focusing on eight core components: academic excellence, physical fitness, leadership/followership, responsible citizenship, job skills, service to the community, health and hygiene and life coping skills. Program cadets are constantly monitored during a three phase instructional period. The cadets begin with a two week acclimation period followed by a 20 week residence phase and 1 year post residence “mentoring” phase.
 
“This is an exciting time for us at DCS, and the move not only makes way for the Youth ChalleNGe, it gives us an excellent opportunity to roll out our new programs to help our older youth get ready to become more independent,” Hommrich said. “They will have new opportunities for learning how to enter to the job market and for continuing their education."
 
Tennessee’s program will be known as the “Volunteer Youth ChalleNGe Academy” and will occupy the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville operated by DCS. The department is moving its current operations at Woodland Hills to the unoccupied New Visions Youth Development Center next door. DCS expects to complete the move by early fall and has been developing Gateway to Independence, a new set of programs specifically tailored for older juvenile-justice youth who are in state custody.
 
“We wanted to bring Youth ChalleNGe to Tennessee for a number of years, and at long last, the pieces fell into place and we’ve been able to make it a reality. This is a great day for the youth of Tennessee,” Haston said.
 
The National Guard Youth Challenge was included in Haslam’s 2016-17 budget with funding of $5.7 million, of which $4.35 million comes from new federal funds, making the state’s investment $1.35 million. The Department of Military expects to have the program staff in place later this fall. The first class of cadets is projected to include 100 students and should begin by mid-2017.
 
Tennessee’s program will be the 40th in the country, joining programs in 29 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tennessee Recipient of Gold Shovel Award for Second Consecutive Year

Tennessee has once again ranked among the best states in economic development by Area Development, a leading publication focused on site selection and facility planning. 

The Volunteer State along with five other states – California, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Utah – are recipients of the magazine’s 2016 Gold Shovel Award in recognition of projects undertaken in 2015 creating a significant number of high-value-added new jobs as well as investment. 

- See more at: http://www.tnecd.com/news/304/tennessee-named-recipient-of-area-developments-gold-shovel-award-for-second-consecutive-year/#sthash.CbcXo7E8.dpuf


Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Tennessee Department of Education is looking for your feedback on the new federal law Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

CLICK HERE to read more about the new law; 
http://tn.gov/education/topic/essa-compared-to-tennessee-policy   

CLICK HERE to provide your comments;
http://tn.gov/education/topic/essa-feedback-form

Monday, June 20, 2016

ABC Grant Application

ABC grant applications for the 2017 Fiscal year are due July 1, 2016 4:30 pm.

Arts Build Communities (ABC) is a program funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission and administered by three Designated Agencies in the GNRC region. ABC grants offer financial support for arts projects in all disciplines such as dance, music, opera/musical theatre, theatre, visual arts, design arts, crafts, photography, media arts, literature, interdisciplinary and folk arts.

Providing support for arts and cultural projects that positively impact communities across Tennessee, the grants are designed to help effect positive change in communities through the arts. Funding can be used for arts and cultural projects which address social issues; strengthen community engagement; target youth for after-school initiatives; enhance a community’s identity or brand; add value to tourism efforts; and encourage further economic development.

Funds awarded to a single organization in this grant category range from $500 to $2,500.

In order to be eligible, applicants must be state-recognized, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or government entities (including public schools and libraries) and must be able to provide a dollar-for-dollar match toward the single proposed project.

In addition, the proposed project must occur between August 16, 2016, and June 15, 2017. Any organization currently receiving Major Cultural Institution, Cultural Education Partnership, or
Partnership Support funding for FY2017 is not eligible to apply. GNRC –Sumner, Rutherford,

Trousdale, Williamson and Wilson: contact gbroemel@gnrc.org OR the TN Arts Commission web site; http://tnartscommission.org/grants/arts-build-communities-grant-2/

Metro Arts Commission: Davidson County http://www.nashville.gov/ArtsCommission/Grants/Apply-for-a-Grant/Arts-Build-Communities-Grant.aspx

Clarksville Arts and Heritage Development Council :Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson and Stewart http://www.artsandheritage.us/organizations-invited-to-apply-for-abc-grants-to-fund-artsactivities/

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lebanon Democrat Letter to the Editor

A constituent sent me a letter he wrote to the editor of the Lebanon Democrat on the Eddie Vedder incident...it is  a great letter!

Another great Bonnaroo draws to a close with multiple drug busts, and an
out-of-state musical pundit lecturing one of our representatives in absentia
like a school marm scolding a naughty child. Since many of the festival
attendees are also from elsewhere, I'm not sure how effective Mr. Vedder's
efforts will be to undercut support for Rep. Lynn's very reasonable efforts
on this issue. The wait-and-see tactic coupled with the pending multi-state
lawsuit against DOJ and DOE are mature actions that might prove more
effective than theatrical tirades in addressing this matter of bathrooms.

I am indeed incensed over this latest eruption that is actually a new front
in the "Culture Wars" which have allowed a tiny minority to lead the
mainstream of society around by the nose.  This relatively small number of
people are shaming and bullying what has become a very malleable and
complacent society into tolerating things that had generally been condemned
for eons.  Now we are expected to waive senses of modesty that are as much
innate as they are dictated by sacred writ.  For grown and properly
cultured adults we are now required to undergo a new form of potty
training.  Enough!

BOB HORNER