- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014
TN official: UAW no deal breaker for Memphis site

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee officials promoting a 6-square-mile “mega site” outside Memphis say it would be ideally suited for a new auto assembly plant - even if its workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Those comments by Bill Hagerty, the chief economic development official in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s Cabinet, come after attempts by the UAW to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga that were heavily criticized by the governor and other GOP politicians in the state.

The UAW ultimately lost the Volkswagen union in a 712-626 vote last week, and the state has since re-engaged in incentives talks with the German car maker.

Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker argued that a UAW win would have hurt the region’s ability to attract suppliers and other future business to the state, and fellow Republicans in the state Legislature warned that a vote in favor of the UAW would have threatened the approval of incentives to expand the plant.

Hagerty told reporters those concerns don’t enter into the thinking for the West Tennessee site.

“No, we’re ready and willing to market the site to any major company that’s interested in Tennessee,” Hagerty said.

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Lawmakers seek compromise on school voucher bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Lawmakers trying to decide on a limited school voucher program in Tennessee or a broader one say they’re close to reaching an agreement on legislation.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville is carrying a proposal for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam that’s limited to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools. He had that measure withdrawn last year when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children.

The measure now being proposed by Sen. Brian Kelsey is still broader, affecting students attending the bottom 10 percent of failing schools.

Under that proposal, the program would also be opened to anyone interested if the entire number isn’t filled by students from low-income families attending failing schools.

However, Norris told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a compromise is close, but that he couldn’t elaborate on the specifics of the legislation.

Kelsey’s proposal was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, but he delayed it. He said he’s willing to compromise.

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