- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014
State spending plan headed to full House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee’s annual spending plan is headed to a full House vote.

The House Finance Committee approved the measure on a voice vote Tuesday night. The Senate is hoping to also take up the legislation this week.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said planned increases in higher education funding and pay raises for teachers and state employees will have to be abandoned to balance the books.

The Republican governor said an ongoing decline in revenue collections is the main reason for not being able to give the increases and raises.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley proposed an amendment in the House Finance Committee Tuesday night to take money from reserves to give a one-time bonus to state employees and teachers, but the measure failed.


Barge capsizes on Mississippi River; 2 missing

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Mississippi River barge overturned while unloading steel coils in northeast Arkansas on Tuesday, and authorities were searching for two people who fell into the water and went missing.

The Coast Guard closed part of the river where it was searching for the two people, whose names hadn’t been released. The barge overturned and sank at a terminal on the Arkansas side of the river near Blytheville, said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Brandon McMillan, who is based in Memphis, Tenn., about 60 miles south.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department were also taking part in the search effort, McMillan said. He said it was carrying steel coils, and that he didn’t know if anything that was on the barge could be environmentally hazardous.

Three people were first thought to have gone missing, but one of them jumped to safety when the barge overturned, said Keith Stephens, the assistant communications chief with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Kim Skelton, a dispatcher with the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department, said someone called 911 Tuesday afternoon to report the capsizing.

“The 911 caller said that they were unloading and the load shifted and then the boat overturned,” said Skelton, who didn’t publicly identify the caller.


Abner’s chain files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The Abner’s Famous Fried Chicken Tenders chain is seeking reorganization of two of its restaurants in Oxford under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law.

WTVA-TV reports (https://bit.ly/OzN9m3) the filing was made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Oxford.

Court documents show the company owes fewer than 20 creditors. A briefing for creditors has been scheduled next month.

Abner’s was founded in 1993 by former University of Mississippi football player Abner White. Its sports-themed restaurants feature photos of college and professional athletes with ties to Mississippi.

The company currently operates six restaurants in Oxford, Tupelo, Starkville and Brandon and in Cordova, Tenn. White tells WTVA that its four remaining locations aren’t included in the filing.

In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed assets and liabilities of $10 million or less.


Haslam’s school voucher bill headed to full Senate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee is headed for a full Senate vote.

The measure was approved 8-2 in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Haslam originally sought to limit the vouchers - or so-called “opportunity scholarships” - to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools.

Under the new version, if there are not enough students for the available slots, then eligibility would be opened to low-income students in districts that have a school in the bottom 5 percent.

The companion bill would expand eligibility to the bottom 10 percent of failing schools if slots are left. That version has stalled in the House Education Committee, mainly because of opposition to further expansion of the measure.



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