- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Senate sponsor says compromise near on Common Core

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Senate sponsor of a contentious proposal to delay further implementation of Tennessee’s Common Core education standards for two years said Tuesday that a compromise is close on the legislation.

Earlier this month, a broad coalition of Republican and Democratic House members passed a bill seeking to delay implementation of the new standards, as well as the testing component for the standards for the same amount of time.

The Senate would have to agree to those provisions before the measure would head to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who has said he’s against delaying the standards, which are mainly new benchmarks for math and reading.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he’s been talking with the governor and they’re close to an agreement.



“We’re working toward a nice compromise,” said Niceley, who didn’t elaborate on the discussions.

Tennessee is among a number of states across the country where the Common Core initiative is causing division among Republicans.

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Effort to rewrite Tenn. whiskey law fails for year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - State lawmakers on Tuesday decided not to rewrite the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey this session, meaning the rules supported by Jack Daniel’s will govern other distillers in the state for at least another year.

The proposal that could have led to the outright repeal of the labeling law was moved to summer study panels that will convene after the legislative session ends.

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett, who has heavily lobbied lawmakers to uphold the current law, welcomed the decision to put off suggested changes like removing a requirement to age whiskey in unused oak barrels.

“We stand behind last year’s law, we truly believe it’s best for Tennessee whiskey all over the world,” Arnett said. “And for the players who’ve located in the state of Tennessee, we need to uphold these quality standards.”

The debate has pitched two global liquor giants against each other. Jack Daniel’s which is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman Corp., first proposed the establishment of a Tennessee whiskey law last year. George Dickel is owned British conglomerate Diageo PLC, which led this year’s attempts to dismantle that law.

Guy L. Smith IV, executive vice president of Diageo, said he hopes the study committee gives serious consideration to changing the law.

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Popular Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr dies at 52

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gail Kerr, an outspoken columnist for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, died Tuesday. She was 52.

The cause of death appeared to be a blood clot, Kerr’s husband, Les Kerr, told The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/1pxqqDd). Gail Kerr, who twice beat cancer, had been scheduled to receive a blood transfusion on Tuesday.

“Gail was a consummate journalist,” Tennessean Editor and Director of News Maria De Varenne said. “She gave voice to those in the community who didn’t have one. She stood up for people and causes she believed in, and she wasn’t afraid to spar with politicians and civic leaders when she disagreed with them.

“Her insightful and thought-provoking columns were a mainstay, and she will be missed by her friends at The Tennessean and throughout the community,” De Varenne said.

Kerr started working at The Tennessean as a copy girl in 1978 while she was still in high school. After graduating from what is now Rhodes College in Memphis, she returned to the paper in 1983 as a beat reporter. She later served as city editor before becoming a columnist in 2000.

Her final column, which appeared last week, called members of the state House “boneheaded” for voting to delay implementation of Common Core education standards.

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State Textbook Commission bill advancing in House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal that makes changes to the process for selecting books for state schools is advancing in the House.

The measure was approved on a voice vote in the House Education Committee on Tuesday. The Senate approved the companion bill 29-2 earlier this month.

The 10-member textbook selection panel recommends its selections to the State Board of Education, and local school systems then choose which textbooks to adopt.

Criticism of the content of some books led to calls for a stronger public review process.

The House and Senate proposals address that but differ in the appointment process of the panel.

The House version calls for the House and Senate speakers to make two appointments each to the panel, and the governor appoint five, while the Senate proposal would require the speakers and the governor to each make three appointments.

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