Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Metro Budget

From the Mayors Office:

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Budget 
Mayor Karl Dean today discussed highlights of Metro’s Fiscal Year 2013-2014 proposed operating budget and capital spending plan. “We have been conservative but optimistic, and so with this year’s budget there are no surprises,” Mayor Dean said. “We are in a good position to implement the same philosophy that has driven our budget decisions from day one: focus on services, invest in our priorities and cut back where we can. This budget allows us to continue our city’s momentum, but in a way that is prudent and fiscally responsible.”

Operating Budget
  • Recommended budget of $1.8 billion, representing a 5.86 percent increase over FY 2012-2013.
  • No proposed increase in property taxes. The tax rate will go down because of the property reappraisal and the increase in property values in recent years (by state law, municipalities cannot collect more revenue from a reappraisal).
  • Projected revenue growth of $55.3 million, mostly from increased collections of the local option sales tax ($24.2 million) and property tax collections ($16.4 million).
  • Metro Schools will continue to receive the largest portion of the budget at 41 percent, and public safety will get the second largest part at 22 percent.
  • Metro Schools will receive an additional $26 million.
    • Their budget has increased by $126 million since Mayor Dean’s first budget.
    • Metro Schools’ $746 million budget is a 3.61 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
  • Metro Police will receive an additional $2.8 million.
    • The increase will fund staff for the city’s new DNA Crime Lab, which will open in January, and will allow DNA tests for at least twice as many cases than are currently being sent to the TBI due to the state lab’s constraints.
    • The increase will also staff the new Madison Police Precinct, which only operated for part of the current fiscal year and will need a full year of funding going forward.
  • Parks will receive $878,400, in large part to cover maintenance and mowing and staff two new community centers.
    • Since Mayor Dean took office, the city has added 1,500 acres of new park land, all of which needs to be maintained. Other parks will be mowed more frequently.
    • Community centers in Sevier Park and Joelton will open this fiscal year and need funds for staff and operating expenses.
  • Nashville Public Library will receive $469,700, primarily to open the main library downtown on Mondays.
  • The Health Department will receive $150,000 for three additional animal control officers. These additional positions will help restrict the population growth of unwanted animals.
  • MTA will receive an increase of $4 million to fund a full year of operation for the new University Connector, the city’s first crosstown route that began operating shortly after the 28th/31st Avenue Connector opened last fall and the new Murfreesboro Road bus rapid transit (BRT) lite service.
  • An increase of $350,000 for the Community Enhancement Fund, a program in which Metro awards grants to nonprofits that provide services in three critical areas: domestic violence, education or afterschool care, and direct community service. The increase will add a fourth category of adult literacy.
  • An additional $57 million in debt service payments. Anticipating this higher debt payment, past budgets set aside additional reserves to help cover these costs. City reserves will remain higher than when Mayor Dean first took office.
Capital Spending Plan

  • The largest portion of the proposed $300 million capital spending plan is $95 million for Metro Schools.
    • Funding for Goodlettsville Middle School and Tusculum Elementary to be replaced, Waverly Belmont to be renovated and opened, and build a new elementary school.
    • The $95 million builds on the $100 million in capital dollars Metro Schools received last year. In total, Mayor Dean has provided $388 million in capital spending to Metro Schools since taking office. 
  • The rest of the capital spending plan is set aside for general government projects, including Public Works, Library maintenance, Parks improvements, fire halls and MTA.
My Comment:
Just because the Mayor has proposed a no-tax-increase budget the Council should not roll over and play dead.  The Council should look hard for inefficiencies and waste and examine the budget to insure that it reflects the values of this community and our priorities and it does not lay the groundwork for future tax increases.

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BELLEVUE BREAKFAST CLUB SATURDAY, May 4th, Special Guest Steve Abernathy

SATURDAY, May 4th, 2013 
8:00 AM BREAKFAST (Dutch)  
7745 HWY 70 SOUTH  
Special Guest 

 Steve Abernathy 
 Past Election Commissioners, who has been diligent in wanting our voting rights as U.S. Citizens to be protected. 
Thanks for your support ! Betty Hood

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RNC passes resolution opposing Common Core

On Friday April 12th, the Republican National Committee unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards. Below is the complete text of that resolution.


Whereas, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor‟s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace; and

Whereas, the NGA and the CCSSO, received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS; and

Whereas, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum, the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president‟s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them; and 

Whereas, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS "assessments‟ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS "assessments;" and

Whereas, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data; and

Whereas, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core "assessments" based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it 

Resolved, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do[es] not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and supports providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods, p.35), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and be it further 

Resolved, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is -- an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal;” and be it further 

Resolved, that the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non - educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student‟s parent, and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student‟s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state; and be it finally 

Resolved, that the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods, p. 36); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement. 

As adopted by the Republican National Committee on April 12, 2013.

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A humor break: A Husband and wife came for counseling...


When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the years they had been married. On and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and, unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured.

Finally, after allowing this for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, he embraced and kissed her long and passionately as her husband watched - with a raised eyebrow.

The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze. The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least 3 times a week. Can you do this?"

"Well, I can drop her off on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays I go fishing."

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Metro School Board Workshop: Charter Schools

Register says no armed teachers in Metro Schools

This work session of the School Board is one hour and ten minutes long. This is not a regular school board meeting. There is no published agenda.

Board member Jill Speering provides valuable information for any student or parent of a student who will be taking the ACT test (see 3:40 in the video).

School Board member Sharon Gentry talks about the TCAP lab. This lab can increase a child's TCAP score (see 7:09).

School Board member Will Pinkston reports on the School Board's Mayor's budget hearing (see 9:22). Pinkston is the Board's chair of the Board's finance committee. We must go back to the drawing board and reduce our increased funding request by about half, he says.

This year the State Legislature approved legislation that would permit, with local authorization, teachers who are former or current law enforcement officers to carry a gun in the class room. Dr. Register states he is opposed to allowing any teachers to carry weapons in the classroom (see 20:22).

The reason for this workshop is to explain the approval process and timeline for approval of charter schools. The discussion begins at 22:12 in the video. Mr. Alan Cloverstone makes the presentation. There is a good slide presentation that helps explain the process. Anyone who is an active advocate of charter schools needs to master this information. I am impressed by Mr. Cloverstone. He certainly knows his subject matter and does a very good job of explaining things. I have the impression that he is smart, fair, and objective. There are six applicants for charter schools. Anyone interested in getting their child in a charter school needs to watch this presentation. To learn more about the applicants and the timeline, follow this link.

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Senator Jim Tracy's session wrap-up report

From Senator Jim Tracy:


After a great deal of hard work and collaboration, this year’s session of the 108th General Assembly finally came to a conclusion on April 19, 2013. Not only did the House and the Senate pass many pieces of important legislation, but more importantly we passed a balanced budget for the State of Tennessee. This year’s budget included many improvements that will provide $43 million in tax cuts. Senate Bill 502 included a 4 year plan to phase out the inheritance tax as well as an increase in funds to give senior citizens the opportunity to apply for Hall income tax relief. The will also lower the sales tax on food in Tennessee from 5.25% to 5%. This session we also worked together to take a good look at education reform. This budget incorporates funds that will increase teachers’ pay and provide $47 million to invest in low performing public schools. The budget also gives a $350 million increase to assist with TennCare inflation and other expenses that relate to it. I also feel that it is important to acknowledge the $3.9 million increase for mental health. After the various atrocities that have occurred in the United States this year, it is important that we engage in mental heath research and provide sufficient services to those who need them in order to keep Tennessee safe.

Aside from the state budget, there were many vital pieces of legislation that were passed this week to promote a better Tennessee. Senate Bill 783 improves Tennessee’s program for unemployment compensation. Along with other advancements, the bill requires the Department of Labor to increase the number of weekly audits that they perform to ensure that those who are receiving state funds during periods of unemployment are actively searching for a new job.

Another step that the legislature has taken towards promoting a safer Tennessee is in our schools. We passed a bill that will allow retired law enforcement officers to act as school security officers with the permission of the local director of schools and the school principle. This allows each school district and individual school to have the opportunity to decide whether or not allowing handguns on campus is right for them specifically. These officers will also be required to complete an additional 40 hour course which includes training for crisis management and hostile situations in a school setting. This bill will also allow teachers, who have a background in law enforcement and a handgun carrying permit, to carry a gun with them on school property. The bill is intended to take precautionary measures in response to the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December. Governor Haslam has also included an additional $34 million in this year’s budget that may be used to hire security officers for schools that cannot already afford them.

I am very excited about two bills that passed this session and will promote technology schools in Tennessee. My bill,Senate Bill 643 changes “Tennessee Technology Centers” to “State Colleges of Applied Technology.” Senate Bill 1330, which was sponsored by Senator Norris, creates LEAP (Labor Education Alignment Program) in Tennessee technology centers. This program will work similarly to a co-op program at a university by allowing students to obtain hands-on experience in their occupational field through working for a company and receiving financial compensation as well as school credit for their work. This bill is intended to provide Tennessee with more skilled workers who are ready to take on a job in their field once they have completed their technology program.

Lastly, Senate Bill 670 passed both the House and the Senate this session in an attempt to prevent drunk driving on Tennessee roads. This bill lowers the blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) from 0.15% to 0.08% to be grounds for a restricted driver license. Any convicted drunk driver will now be required to install an interlock device in their car which they will have to breathe into in before starting the car. The interlock devices will have to be equipped to take a photo of the individual as they breathe into it in order to insure that it is not someone else providing the sample.

Although this legislative session is over, we will continue working year-round to serve our constituents and to prepare legislation for next year. Please feel free to contact me with any of your thoughts and concerns. You may stop by the office or email tracyfortn@gmail.com anytime! Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @jimtracy for news and updates.

Best Regards,

Jim Tracy

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Mayor's budget hearing on the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds need $600,000 subsidy. Future in doubt.

For those who think that the public voted in a referendum to save the fairground and that settles it, they are wrong. The public referendum simply said it would take 27 metro council votes to close the fairgrounds instead of a simple majority. The future of the fairground is still up in the air.

The mayor wanted to sell the fairground and turn the site into a corporate headquarters campus. The attempt to sell the fairgrounds caused great uncertainty about the future of the site and caused loss of revenue to support the fairground operations. While previously the fairgrounds never had to have a subsidy, now they need $600,000. A cynic might say, they were set up to fail.

Since the fairground referendum, the council hired a consultant to advise them on alternative policies for the site. That study stacked the deck to make closing the fairground and turning the site into a mixed use development appear to be a better option rather than improving and keeping the fairgrounds. There has now emerged another option. A private entity has proposed a long-term lease of the fairground and pledged to make physical improvements to the site and keep all of the existing functions. I hope that this third option is pursed.

 In the meantime, Metro continues to operate the fairgrounds but no longer operates the State Fair. For those interested in the future of the fairgrounds, they need to be informed and understand the issues. Below is the Mayor's Fairground budget hearing.

Buck Dozier, Executive Director of the Fairgrounds makes the budget presentation. Below is a summary of the hearing:

There are ten racing events a year at the fairgrounds, and the manger of fairground racing regularly meets with nearby neighborhood groups and has a good relationship with the community. Charging the $5 fee for parking has not hurt attendance at events. The current food vendor's contract is expiring soon and an RFP for a food vendor will go out soon.  With a new food vendor and contract there should be a considerable enhancement of revenue. The heating and air conditioning and grounds is our "greatest challenge" said Mr. Dozier. State Fair is no longer ran by Metro. Dozier discusses the dueling offers to run the fairgrounds.

Attendance at the State Fair was up 10% last year. Racing attendance is up. The quality of the races is up. Formosa is doing a good job.

The flea market attendance is up 5% above last year. There are opportunities for improving the flea market by providing entertainment and better food options.

Our facilities cannot attract the best commercial trade shows. Uncertainty about the future of the fairgrounds hurts marketing.

The budget request is for $3.1million with anticipated revenues of $2.5 million. The fairgrounds has drawn down its reserve fund balance and no longer has a rainy day fund from which to draw. This is only the second time the fair board has asked for money from the general fund to offset the operating deficit. "When everything settles down," says Dozier, "I think the fairgrounds can make a profit." Dozier stresses that "the uncertainty" of the future of the fairgrounds is hurting the fairgrounds. Much business was lost due to vendors thinking the fairgrounds was closing. Corporate sales will still be hurt without certainty since many vendors want to book events three to five years out.

For more insight into understanding the fairground issues, follow this link

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We need a corp of citizen activist

Last year I watched almost all of Mayor Dean's budget hearings. This year, with the Mayor pledging not to propose a property tax increase, I have been less inclined to watch each hearing.  I would hope that Council members are paying as much attention to government efficiency and are as conscience of looking for wasteful spending now as they are in a year with a proposed tax increase. Unfortunately, the way I view this is much the way I suspect the Council and others view it.  Departments get much less scrutiny in years in which there is not a proposed tax increase.  It seem human nature is such that attention wanes when there is not an immediate impact to ones own well being. We seem to care more about efficiency when if will effect us in the near term.

If anyone wants to watch the budget hearings they are readily available and easily accessible. It has never been easier to become a citizen activist, stay informed,  and get involved in local government.  The meetings of boards and commissions are often video taped and posted online and agendas and budgets and numerous documents are posted online. Sunshine laws and pubic information request rules make government operate in the open and make what they do be accessible to citizens. At many meetings, citizens can address the policy makers and most elected and appointed officials are approachable.

I encourage you to get involved.  We need a corp of citizen activist who will be government watchdogs. Ideally, it would be great if we had a lot of citizen activist who would divide up the task of keeping an eye on government. It would be great if citizen activist would pick a particular department, become an expert in that field and watch that department like a hawk.

With only one daily newspaper and fewer news reporters, we can not depend on the press to keep us informed the way we could when daily newspapers competed and when their were more reporters. While there is a lot of attention paid by political activist to what happens in Washington, their is less attention paid to what happens at the State level and even less attention paid to what happens at the local level, yet what happens at the local and state level may effect your life as much as what happens nationally. Crime rates, response time of your fire department, utility rates, quality of life, level of taxation, and quality of schools are primarily local issues.

The Mayor's budget hearings are online as well as Council meetings, School Board meetings and various other videos concerning local government. You can find them at this link: Metro Nashville Government Videos.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Nashville Scene's attack on Ken Jakes

In case you missed it, here is the Nashville Scene's attack on Ken Jakes.

A government watchdog's records-request bombardment of Metro agencies raises eyebrows at Nashville Farmers Market

by Steven Hale, The Nashville Scene, April 25, 2013- .....They've been inundated by public records requests, filed just about daily by a man named Ken Jakes. .......Every Metro source the Scene reached repeatedly affirmed Jakes' right to request and obtain public records. However, just about all of them used the word "harassment" to describe his actions over the years. (link)

My Comment
I wish there were a dozen Ken Jakes. No wonder Metro officials don't like him. He makes them play by the rules. They don't want anyone poking around and exposing the crony capitalism, corruption, and arbitrary behavior of city bureaucrats.  If not for Ken Jakes, NES brace would still be swapping NES services for Gaylord lodging, golf games, meals, and show tickets; there would still be specifications written in such as way that only one well-connected bidder could bid on them; and, over two hundred NES employees would still have company credit cards and using them to purchase private stuff on Amazon and Ebay. The taxpayers, the ratepayers, and consumers of government services owe Ken Jakes a debt of gratitude.

Ken Jakes is a citizen activist who should be applauded.

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Blackburn on Mismanagement of Obamaphone Program

From Marsha Blackburn


The Lifeline program – commonly referred to as Obamaphones – is paid for by American telecommunications consumers.

The overall cost of this program has exploded in recent years to $2.2 billion dollars a year. Even Lifeline program’s beneficiaries admit it is plagued by waste, fraud, and abuse.

You can see my statement before the Energy and Commerce Committee HERE. And here is a story aired by Fox 25 Baltimore on the abuse in the free cell phone program.

Here’s what you need to know: Lifeline is really symbolic of the Universal Service Fund and Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) mismanagement as a whole. To add fuel to the fire, there are proposals to grow the Lifeline program from wireline and wireless to broadband. The FCC can’t even contain the growth and the waste in the wireless side because they hasn’t yet stood up the eligibility database to root out ineligible participants. In our hearing this week we learned from an expert witness that the number of recipients of free phones in Maryland was nearly twice the number that should be eligible.

If Congress had to reauthorize this program instead of allowing it grow on auto-pilot, Lifeline wouldn’t be able to survive. The Lifeline program shows the government has misplaced its priorities. It’s an example of how the culture of dependency is weakening America. It’s Exhibit A of what you see when big government and crony capitalism collude to transfer wealth from the average consumer to “spread the wealth around.”

That’s why I recently signed onto Representative Tim Griffin’s legislation which would repeal the program (H.R. 176). This effort is really about serving you, making government more efficient, and doing what we can to lower the cost of consumers’ cell phone bills.

For more information on the work I am doing to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government, you can visit my website. You can also e-mail me at Marsha.Blackburn@mail.house.gov. And don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

My Best,


The following was not part of the Blackburn email. In case you didn't see it at the time, here is the "Obamaphone lady" explaining about Obamaphones. 

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Changed date for The Quest for Community, by Robert Nisbet.

Gene Wisdom changed the date for The Quest for Community, by Robert Nisbet. New date and time: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:00 PM.

Click here to see the latest changes: http://www.meetup.com/ConservativeFusion/events/110153732/

I love this book!  It is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a very long time.  At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in DC, this was the only book made the subject of a panel discussion in the Intercollegiate Studies Institute series of meetings there. A conservative classic, it will be thought provoking to both the libertarian and the traditionalist.

With the changed date there is time to order and read the book. Here is an Amazon link for ordering and a review of the book. 

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Pro-Life event happening April 27, 2013

*** Update from the TFC ***

Rod -

We want to let you know about a Pro-Life event happening April 27, 2013 at 6:00pm at the New Hope Community Church in Brentwood, TN.

This is a free educational seminar sponsored by the Tennessee Action Council on a discussion of "Amendment #1."  Come learn about this important ballot measure coming in 2014, an amendment that will allow the state to impose stricter limits on abortion. This event will feature speakers like Dr. George Grant, Dr. Neil Anderson, and Mr. David Fowler of Family Action Council of Tennessee. This evening will also feature musical guests and songs centered around the subject of Life by local talent.

We hope you will try to make it and hear what these speakers have to say about this ballot initiative and how we can help make sure it succeeds!

The address for the event is:
New Hope Community Church
605 Wilson Pike, Brentwood, TN 37027
The Board of Directors
Tennessee Freedom Coalition

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Let’s Talk School: Common Core

Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman, SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson and Williamson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney 

will speak on

 Let’s Talk School: Common Core 

The meeting will be held Monday, April 29, 2013, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of The People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064.

There will be a presentation, panel discussion and Q and A with audience members regarding Common Core in the State of Tennessee. Please plan to attend this informative session to learn the facts about Common Core and what it means for Tennessee students.

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Mayor Dean responds to Ken Jakes civil service complaint against Nancy Whittemore of the Farmers Market.

Mayor Karl Dean has responded to Ken Jakes' civil service complaint against the acting director of Farmers Market, Nancy Whittemore.  The complaint asked the Mayor, as supervisor of  Ms Whittemore, to dicipline her for voioating civl servie rules and Jakes listed each rule violated.

The rules violated related to the selling and allowing to be sold alcoholic beverages at Farmers Market in violation of the established policy. 

Below is the response of Mayor Dean: "Upon review of this matter, the Mayor has determined that no disciplinary action is warranted."

For more on this issue, follow this link and this link

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"The High Cost of America's Inefficient Development Patterns" is now available online

William Fulton's April 22 presentation on "The High Cost of America's Inefficient Development Patterns" is now available online, along with brief comments from audience members and key slides from his PowerPoint. This was very informative. I attended this meeting and have attended most of them. I encourage anyone who is concerned about the future of Nashville to get involved in the NashvilleNext planning process. The presentations of all previous speakers are online.

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The Tennessean reports on the State review of Davidson County Election Commission

In case you missed it:

'Pattern of serious errors' undermined elections 

by Michael Cass, The Tennessean, Apr. 25, 2013 -  The outcomes of two 2012 primary elections in Davidson County might have been influenced by the bungling of new voting technology, a blistering state review of the county’s election process has found.
“While minor mistakes are understandable, our review uncovered an unacceptable pattern of serious errors,” says the 26-page report by Mark Goins, the state coordinator of elections.  (link)

Nashville election chief bashes state report

by Michael Cass, The Tennessean, Apr. 27, 2013 - Davidson County Election Administrator Albert Tieche survived to work another day after enduring sometimes testy questioning by his bosses, who took a scathing state review to heart but decided not to discipline him after a nearly five-hour meeting Friday.
...Tieche contested virtually every charge made by Goins. He wrote that the review “focuses on fault and blame rather than fostering improvement.”
“A casual review of the draft report would cause one to conclude that it is written to be personal in nature.”.(link)

For background on this issue follow these links:
 A move afoot to fire Albert Tieche. Election Commision in turmoil. 
 The Tennessean reposts "Election commission gets good marks in audit"

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your Metro Tax Dollars funded a Youth Pavillion at the Nashville Gay Pride Festival

Did you know your tax dollars went to fund the Metro Human Relations Youth Area at Nashville's Gay Pride Festival?

Why should the city support the Youth Pavilion at the Nashville Gay Pride event? Many Christian Nashvillians may feel that homosexuality is a perversion and a sin. Should the City be supporting our young people at an event that celebrates and normalizes homosexuality.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The budget hearing of the Department of Politically Correct Propaganda and Indoctrination (Human Relations Commission)

Above is the Mayor's budget hearing of the Human Relations Commission. This is a small Department with only 3.3 full-time-equivalent positions, however, this organization does nothing that is necessary.

Not that all they do is bad, but much of what they do is a duplication of what is already being done by non-profit advocacy groups. Some of what they do is being done by offices such as Tennessee Fair Housing Council or the Attorney General's office. In her testimony, the Director says she only gets two or three calls a month regarding compliance issues.

This organization should more aptly be named the Department of Politically Correct Propaganda and Indoctrination. Why should the city support the Youth Pavilion at the Nashville Gay Pride event? Many Christian Nashvillians may feel that homosexuality is a perversion and that the city should not be in the position of supporting our young people in an event that celebrates and normalizes homosexuality. I would like to know what they taught the 160 students who attended their Human Relations Summit. I would like to be assured that this organization is not undermining the values children are being taught at home.

Metro's 50th anniversary celebration would have happened without a Metro Human Relations Commission and the NashvilleNext program, which I support and which is an on-going planning exercise, would happen without an office of Human Relations.

I actually enjoy the event "Celebrate Nashville" which use to be more apply named the "Celebration of Cultures." If the Human Relations Commission went away, I have no doubt that this celebration would continue.

I don't expect it to happen, but I would hope the Council would defund this office and abolish it. When I served in the Council in the mid-eighties we did defund this office for several years and we survived just fine without it.  I am proud of my role in, at least for a short time, abolishing this agency. If we abolished the Metro Human Relations Commission we would never miss it. Let liberal advocacy groups do their own fundraising instead of getting Metro dollars to advocate for their causes.

I would hope one of our conservative council members would present an alternative budget that eliminates this unnecessary department.  If there is a citizen activist looking to get involved in monitoring agencies of Metro Government, this is one that needs close monitoring. I would like to know who they are collaborating with and what else they are teaching.

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Decosta Jenkins, CEO of the corrupt, scandal-ridden NES, is highest paid Metro employee.

Decosta Jenkins once again ranks number one on the list of highest paid Metro employees at $367, 078.40 a year, a $21,881.60 increase from his 2012 income. NES employees are seven of the top ten highest paid Metro employees. NES employee's hold 44 of the top 100 highest paid positions in Nashville. Think of that the next time you pay a high utility bill. The next time you hear of some little old lady on a fixed income who can't pay her electric bill, remember this.

One would think that being some of the highest paid civil servants in Davidson County that upper brace would not be tempted to trade NES services for free golf games, dinner show tickets, dinners and nights of lodging at Gaylord's Opryland hotel. One would think that they would not be tempted to use NES credit cards to purchase items for personal use on Amazon and eBay.

Instead of getting an increase in pay for serving as CEO and President of NES, Decosta Jenkins should be fired and unemployed. For more on the top 100 Metro Salaries, see Nashville Today, April 18, 2013 For more on the mismanagement and corruption at NES see here, here and here.

For more on the top 100 Metro Salaries, see Nashville Today, April 18, 2013

For more on the mismanagement and corruption at NES see here, here and here.

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Megan Barry appoints treasurer for 2015 Nashville mayoral race

Megan Barry appoints treasurer for 2015 Nashville mayoral race

The Tennessean, Apr. 23, 2013-....Barry filed paperwork at the Davidson County Election Commission late Monday that names attorney Leigh Walton her treasurer, tapping someone connected..

........known foremost as a progressive. She sponsored Metro’s “living wage” ordinance for government employees as well as its nondiscrimination bill for gay, lesbian and transgender workers

. ..... supported Dean’s botched proposal to turn the Tennessee State Fairgrounds into a mixed-use development anchored by a corporate campus.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Rand Paul wins TRA straw poll

Rand Paul won the Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) presidential preference poll last Saturday at the annual TRA convention held here in Nashville. As reported by another source, more than 600 people attended the event and a total of 373 votes were cast in the poll.  Rand Paul took a total of 58% of the total votes cast for a vote total of 219. Coming in second was Allen West with 51 votes and in third place of Marco Rubio with 33 votes.

Rand Paul was the keynote speaker at the TRA convention. 

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Senator Steve Dickerson's session wrap-up

A Word from Senator Dickerson…

Senator Steve Dickerson
Session has come to a close!

Quite a session. We made some great progress and accomplished some great things. When I campaigned, I focused on three areas. I wanted to touch on each of those in my final weekly wrap-up of 2013.

First, make Tennessee business-friendly. I am a big believer in the concept that "the rising tide floats all boats" and if we help Tennessee's economy, we are all winners. We accomplished much in this area. We have continued to decrease Hall's tax, lowered the tax on food (which will help the poorest Tennesseans most) and reformed the Workers' Compensation system. A very good year for Tennessee's economy.

Second, improve education in Tennessee. Education is the key to a prosperous future. Our results here were more mixed. Despite our efforts, we were unable to pass legislation dealing with school vouchers or charter schools. However, we did make progress in the Governor's drive to have 55% of Tennesseans attain a post-secondary degree by 2025. The Alternative Diploma Act and our funding of the partnership with the Western Governors University are noteworthy.

Third, cut government waste. I am particularly excited by the legislation forming the Office of the Repealer. This will act to identify duplicated, unnecessary and counter-productive statutes and will give us the chance to repeal them and hopefully increase the efficiency of our state government. Finally, I have to mention the changes to the per diem. Senator Haile sponsored (and I co-sponsored) legislation that significantly decreases the per diem available to local members of the General Assembly. While the actual money saved represents only a modest part of our overall state budget, it is a great statement.

As Mark Twain said, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Rest easy, we are adjourned until 2014!

I also spoke with the folks from the Nashville Ledger about my first year as a State Senator. You can read the article at the following link: http://www.nashvilleledger.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=65833

State Senate approves budget and closes 2013 legislative session
The State Legislature passed a state budget and several key bills including unemployment compensation reform, education reform, school safety and prescription drug abuse before adjourning the 2013 legislative session to become a part of Tennessee history.  The action came after three and a half months of legislative deliberations and is one of the earliest adjournments in 23 years. 
The $32.8 billion budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year is fully balanced and incorporates approximately $43 million in tax cuts for Tennesseans.  Senate Bill 502 allocates $18.7 million to take the second step in a four-year process to phase out the state’s inheritance tax, also called the death tax.  It also provides $1.5 million to allow more senior citizens to qualify for Hall income tax relief and $22.2 million to reduce the state sales tax on grocery food from 5.25% to 5.0%. 
On K-12 education, the budget fully funds the Basic Education Program, invests $51 million to assist local governments in paying for technology transition upgrades in schools across the state and makes available $34 million to address ongoing capital needs that can be used for increased security measures to protect students.  It appropriates more than $35 million for K-12 teacher salary increases and provides $47 million in funding to help improve Tennessee’s lowest performing public schools.
The budget prioritizes higher education by providing $307.3 million to fund capital outlay projects in higher education, $35 million to fund the state’s new outcome-based formula adopted under the state’s Complete College Act, $5 million to provide assistance to 2,675 needy students and $16.5 million for equipment for Tennessee’s Technical Centers and Community Colleges. 
Other highlights of the budget include: 
  • $104 million cost increase for a 1.5% pay raise salary market adjustment for state employees;
  • $46.3 million cost increase for state employee group health insurance;
  • continues the state 401 (K) match at $50 per month;
  • reduces state employee positions by 299 or .08%;
  • $350 million cost increase for TennCare inflation and related expenses;
  • $8.6 million cost increase for Cover Tennessee programs;
  • $7.5 million cost increase for Children’s Services;
  • $100 million to the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to $456 million by June 30, 2014;
  • $79.6 million cost increase for local jail payments, a new prison in Bledsoe County, medical contracts and other inflationary growth;
  • $3.9 million cost increase for mental health;
  • $4.3 million in capital outlay for the Montgomery County veterans’ home;
  • $134 million in capital outlay for state building improvements through the Facilities Revolving Fund;
  • $8 million in one-time funds for tourism marketing;
  • $1 million in one-time funds for the College 529 Savings Plan;
  • $37.9 million for health and wellness initiatives;
  • $110 million for economic development; and
  • provides tax relief for low income seniors, veterans and the disabled by fully funding the growth of the property tax freeze program enacted in 2007   
The budget assumes a general fund revenue growth of 3.89% during the 2013-14 fiscal year. 
Legislation approved this week continues the work done on unemployment compensation reform last year
State Senators approved legislation this week before adjourning the 2013 legislative session that continues the work done on unemployment compensation reform last year.   Before passage of the 2012 law, Tennessee did not have an efficient system in place to verify a claimant’s efforts of seeking employment while on unemployment benefits.  As a result of that new law, the Department of Labor is now required to conduct weekly audits to ensure that claimants are actively seeking work while on unemployment benefits. 
The Department found that claimants who are audited under the 2012 law, on average, return to work five times faster than those who were not.  This year’s legislation raises the number of audits to be conducted from 1,000 per week to 1,500 per week. 
Last year’s legislation also clarified the definition for misconduct as it affects unemployment insurance compensation so that a claimant who is consciously insubordinate, knowingly violates state regulations, has been caught stealing or is chronically absent could not  receive benefits.  Johnson said this year’s bill continues those efforts to define misconduct by adding to that definition any conduct that is constituted as a criminal offense for which the employee is seeking benefits. Senate Bill 783 applies to cases involving dishonesty that arose out of the claimant’s employment or that was committed while he or she was acting within their scope of employment. 
The legislation also helps ensure the solvency of Tennessee’s Unemployment Trust Fund by returning the base period benefits from the current level to pre-2009 stimulus funding, which required Tennessee to expand benefits.  According to the financial analysis, the total recurring savings to the Trust Fund is reasonably estimated to be over $50 million.
Senate passes “Step up Scholarships” to give students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship
Legislation sponsored giving students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship was approved by the State Senate on Thursday.  Senate Bill 36 would create the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship to provide accessible funding for high school students with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have college aspirations.
“Tennessee’s lottery scholarships were created to help Tennessee’s high school graduates reach their dreams,” Senator Overbey said.  “This legislation removes the barriers so scholarship opportunities are open to everyone who shows a desire through their coursework to obtain a college degree, regardless of disability.”
Like the larger HOPE Scholarship program, the bill allocates $4,000 per year for a maximum of two years to each student who qualifies, starting for the 2013-2014 academic year.  To be eligible, a student must display Tennessee residency, graduate high school in his or her own Individual Education Program, and be admitted to and enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution no later than 16 months after graduation.
In Brief….
Crime / Gangs -- Legislation passed the full Senate on Tuesday rewriting and simplifying the state’s Criminal Gang Enhancement statute, which prosecutors report is too difficult to interpret and navigate.  Currently, prosecutors must prove the group is a “criminal gang;” show the defendant is a “criminal gang member;” demonstrate the gang and/or an individual has committed a criminal gang offense, and establish the group has a pattern of “criminal gang activity.” The revised statute lists the specific offenses considered to be criminal gang offenses rather than asking prosecutors and courts to interpret today’s more vague definition. According to 2012 data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, gang members now outnumber law enforcement officers 2 to 1 in the state.
DUI / Interlock Devices – State Senators have approved key legislation to curb drunk driving, requiring the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.  In 2011, 257 people were killed in Tennessee in alcohol-related crashes, which is approximately 27% of all traffic fatalities in the state.  Senate Bill 670 decreases from 0.15 percent to 0.08 percent, the breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is considered an enhanced offense for purposes of issuing a restricted driver license. The bill also requires the interlock device be capable of taking a photo, to ensure that another person does not provide the sample for a convicted offender.  The average first offender has been on the road 80 times drunk before their first arrest according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  Currently, 17 states require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
Attorney General -- The Senate has approved a resolution sponsored by Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) calling for the State Attorney General (AG) to be selected by the General Assembly, provided voters agree.  Currently, the Tennessee Attorney General is selected by the State Supreme Court and serves until he or she resigns or are replaced by the five Justices.  The resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 196 would give citizens the opportunity to vote on changing that process to provide that the Attorney General be selected in a joint convention of the legislature to a four-year term beginning in January 2019.  The constitutional amendment process requires approval by both the 108th General Assembly currently in session, and the 109th, which will take office in 2015.  If approved, the question would then go to voters in a statewide referendum in the 2018 general election.
Student Health / EpiPens -- Legislation to help ensure that every public school in the state has epinephrine injector pens on hand, or EpiPens, was approved by the full Senate.  Senate Bill 1146 would help make the EpiPens available in public schools in Tennessee in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction when the student does not have one available. The legislation authorizes the school nurse or other trained school to administer the epinephrine auto-injectors to respond to an anaphylactic reaction using protocols from a physician.
Tennessee Technology Colleges -- The name of the “Tennessee Technology Centers” will be changed under legislation passed by the full Senate this week.  Senate Bill 643 changes the name of the centers to “State Colleges of Applied Technology.” 
LEAP / Jobs and Higher Education -- Senate Bill 1330 passed the during last week of legislative action to create the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP).  The measure allows students at Tennessee's technology centers and community colleges to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that experience toward a degree.  The legislation is drafted so that wages or other compensation received by students will not impact eligibility for state need-based financial assistance or grants.  The legislation is modeled after "cooperative education” programs where students are paid to learn while applying what they learn at work for credit toward a degree.  This program recognizes that an important outcome of a student's education is job opportunity.  Having employers work closely with state agencies creates increased collaboration and focus across the board, giving students the opportunity to attain credentials.
Contact Information
You may contact Senator Dickerson at
310 War Memorial Building
Nashville, TN 37243
Email: sen.steven.dickerson@capitol.tn.gov

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NashvilleNext tonight addresses Smart Growth

William Fulton AICP, Smart Growth America's Vice President and Director of Policy Development and Implementation, will discuss "The High Cost of America's Inefficient Development Patterns" at 5:30 pm Monday, April 22, at the Nashville Children's Theater, 25 Middleton Street.

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Congressman Marsha Blackburn attends the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, Video and her commentary.

Published on Apr 17, 2013 Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) speaks with Sky News following the funeral service for Baroness Margaret Thatcher. Blackburn was selected by House Speaker John Boehner to lead a delegation that included Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and George Holding (R-NC) to attend the service for the former British Prime Minister, which was held at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Blackburn Statement on Baroness Thatcher's Funeral

Washington, Apr 15 - Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today was selected by Speaker John Boehner to lead a delegation of House members to Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral.

"It is a distinct honor to lead the House delegation to former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Baroness Margaret Thatcher's funeral,” Blackburn said. “Lady Thatcher's fight for freedom and freedom's cause is one we will honor as we pay our respects to her family, her colleagues, and the country she loved. Her deep and abiding friendship with America altered the course of history and I am grateful for her example and legacy."

“Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest champions freedom has ever known, and her funeral gives Americans and friends around the world an opportunity to pay our final respects,” said Speaker John Boehner.  “I’m pleased that Congressman Blackburn will lead a House delegation to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral to communicate our prayers and condolences to her family and the British people.”

The House delegation will also include Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and George Holding (R-NC). 

Iron Lady led with grace, championed noble causes

The Tennessean, editorial page, Apr 22, 2013- They stood a dozen deep. Young and old, they lined the streets behind the flag-draped barricades. The rain began to fall almost as if the sky itself mourned the loss of a leader.

She held true to her conservative principles in the face of overwhelming public opinion. Her determination in freedom and freedom’s cause truly changed the world. She was a noble leader for noble causes. (link)

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ken Jakes files civil service complaint against Whittemore of Farmers Market for willfully violating rules

Ken Jakes, a citizen activist who has observed the disregard for established rules at Nashville's farmers market, has filed a civil service complaint against the acting director. So far he has been ignored. This, unfortunately, is representative of how government often views the public with contempt and chooses which rules will be obeyed and which will be ignored.

Rule of law is an important principle and a feature of democratic societies. It will be interesting to observe if Mayor Karl Dean, our former Law Director, believes in the rule of law or thinks he gets to select which rules are enforced. 

Quite frankly, I approve of the sale of wine at the farmers market. I love my adult beverages, especially wine. However, this issue is not about whether or not one wants wine sold at farmers market but whether or not we will follow established rules. If the Farmers Market administration wants to allow wine sales and wants to sell wine at the farmers market, they should change the rules.

Below are Ken Jakes' emails calling for disciplinary actions against Nancy Whittemore, the acting director of the farmers market:

From: "Ken Jakes"
mayor@nashville.gov, Councilmembers@nashville.gov, "Nancy Whittemore" , 
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 1:30:21 PM

Subject: Re: SUPERVISOR / : Disciplinary Actions for Nancy Whittemore.

Mr. William H. Farmer, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission,

I am forwarding this civil service complaint to you to file on my behalf as a citizen and taxpayer of Davidson County against Ms. Nancy Whittemore. Please review the forwarded complaint. If there is a complaint form for me to fill out please contact me and I will act immediately to file with you.
Thank you,
Ken Jakes

From: "Ken Jakes"
To: mayor@nashville.gov, Councilmembers@nashville.gov, "Nancy whittemore" (and numerous others)

Subject: SUPERVISOR / : Disciplinary Actions for Nancy Whittemor.

Mayor Karl Dean,

I sent this complaint to you to file a citizens complaint for violation of Civil Service Rules and have listed each rule violated. To date I have not heard a response. It was my understanding that you, as Mayor, are the supervisor of the directors of your administration and it is my understanding that all civil service complaints are to be filed with the supervisor. If I am incorrect please notify me as to whom to file this complaint and I will forward it to them.

Thank you,
Ken Jakes.

From: "Ken Jakes"
To: mayor@nashville.gov, "C" , "Nancy whittemore" , (and numerous others)
Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2013 3:12:38 PM
Subject: Disciplinary Actions for Nancy Whittemor.

Mayor Karl Dean, 
I am filing with you, as a taxpaying citizen of Nashville-Davidson County, a complaint against employee Nancy Whittemore. She is your administration's Acting Director of the Nashville Farmers Market. By the Rules and Regulations of the Board of the Nashville Farmers Market it is the responsibility and duty of the Director of the NFM to see that the rules and regulation of the Board are obeyed and enforced. 
I have documented to Nancy Whittemore on numerous occasions that the NFM was in violation on Rule G (2) "No Alcoholic beverages or any controlled substance in any form shall be consumed, kept, bought, or sold in any kind of containers at any stall, or location on the Farmers Market Premises."
 Furthermore I have documented through your administration's police department, by complaint case number 13-345544, that Nancy Whittemore, having been made fully aware of the Board Rule  G (2), willfully and intentionally permits alcohol to be sold on the market premises and is thus continuing to violate the NFM Board's rule.
I file this complaint under the Metro Civil Service Rule 6.7 numbers 1, 2, 5, 10, 11 and 12.  It is my opinion that you. as the leader in charge of our city, hold the responsibility to enforce disciplinary action.. Should you need me to sign a complaint form, please let me know. Below are the civil service rules cited:
The following constitute grounds for disciplinary action:
1. Neglect or failure to perform official duty.
2. Deficient or inefficient performance of duties.
5. Neglect or disobedience to the lawful and reasonable orders given by a supervisor.
10. Violation of any provision of the Metropolitan Charter or any written Executive or Administrative Orders.
11. Violation of any written rules, policies or procedures of the department in which the employee is employed.
12. Violation of any of the rules or regulations of the Metropolitan Civil Service Commission.
If you need me to sign affidavit and have it notarized please let me know.
Ken Jakes. 

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TN education board maintains support for Common Core

TN education board maintains support for Common Core

The Tennessean, Apr 20, 2013- A recent wave of backlash against new academic standards for Tennessee’s schoolchildren has state officials so concerned that they talked twice this week about how best to show their support for the standards.

The State Board of Education discussed newly organizing criticism against the Common Core State Standards at meetings on Thursday and Friday before deciding to officially renew its support for the standards. The board plans to vote on a resolution reaffirming its faith in the standards at the next meeting, set for July 26.(link)

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Legislature adjourns. What passed and what failed.

Unfortunately, wine-in-grocery stores failed. Unfortunately, appointing a State charter school authorizer failed. The bill that would have required welfare parents of failing students to attend parent-teacher conferences or lose some of their welfare benefits failed.

Thankfully, that nutty nullification bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Mae Beavers that would  require local police to arrest federal agents carrying out any new federal gun laws failed. A very modest bill allowing local school boards to allow some teachers under certain circumstances to carry guns in school passed. Gun permits records were sealed. A very modest version of the guns-in-parking lots passed that really doesn't change much.

 An animal cruelty reporting bill, some called the “Ag Gag” bill, which would require anyone taking pictures of animal cruelty to report it to authorities within 48 hours barely passed. This does seem like a bill designed to inhibit investigative reporting of animal abuse and I hope the Governor will veto it.

 A bill to amend the state Constitution to ban a state income tax passed and will go to the public for a vote in November 2014. Legislators who live within 50 miles of Nashville, lost their $107 a day lodging per diem (no word yet on whether or not Sherry Jones will resign).

 A proposal to permit for-profit entities to operate charter schools unfortunately failed. A plan to expand the number of charter schools failed.  A voucher plan failed, due to in-party fighting over how big the voucher plan should be, so we got no voucher plan.

A proposal to have nominees for US Senate chosen by the party caucuses of the legislature instead of by voters in a state primary, as they are now chosen, failed.  A plan to redraw judicial lines and reduce the number of districts failed. A bill to ban annexation without approval of those being annexed failed but a 13-month month moratorium on cities annexing residential or agricultural land passed.

A $32.7 billion budget  that cut the death tax, cut the sales tax on groceries from 5.5% to 5.25%, and increased the fund balance in the "rainy day" fund by $100 million passed. 

For other reports on the end of legislative session follow this link, this link, and this. To see Senate Majority leader Mark Norris saying this session is "not the end of education reform," follow this link to a YouTube video.

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