VOL. 131 | NO. 80 | Thursday, April 21, 2016
Last Word: The Bible Veto Override Vote, Grizz Nostalgia and Kroger Goes Online
By Bill Dries
The Tennessee Legislature hoped to end its 2016 session Wednesday at the end of an eventful day that included a failed attempt to override Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of the bill that would have made the Bible the official state book.
But into Wednesday evening, the state House was still debating the Hall tax on dividends – specifically further roll backs of it. And the Senate had gone home for the night.
So Thursday looks like a good bet for the adjournment for the year and the formal start of the election season for incumbents.
The veto override vote came after a long floor debate in the House given a capsulized treatment here by The Tennessean. You will note that it features Memphis Democrat John Deberry, who voted for the bill that Haslam vetoed.
Strong words from Deberry. But an important point: As strong as the words were, Deberry didn’t say how he would vote on the veto override.
Among the 14 House members representing Shelby County here is how the vote went.
Deberry as well as Republicans Jim Coley and Curry Todd voted “present,” which means they didn’t vote yes or no on the veto override.
Democrats Raumesh Akbari, Karen Camper, Barbara Cooper, G.A. Hardaway, Larry Miller, Antonio Parkinson, Joe Towns, and Johnnie Turner voted against the veto override along with Republicans Steve McManus and Mark White.
Republican Ron Lollar was the only Shelby County state Representative who voted for the veto override.
In other action Wednesday, the bill that would have required police departments across the state to turn over the investigation of fatal police encounters to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was pulled in the last days of the session.
Several of the other big city police departments in the state didn’t agree with the measure.
The failure of the bill doesn’t affect Memphis and Shelby County where the police department and sheriff’s office have their own separate agreement with the TBI and the District Attorney General’s office. That pact automatically sends such incidents to the TBI for investigation. A TBI report goes to the DA’s office, which then makes its own conclusion about pursuing charges or not.
Also at the end of the legislative session, there is still no change in the state law that seals any and all records of the TBI from public view unless there is a court order opening the files.
Changing that law was supposed to be a change that was part of the movement of these investigations to the TBI in the first place.
The TBI is currently investigating two fatal Memphis Police shootings.
In his View From the Hill column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reviews the Legislature’s year on a single issue –efforts to revive Insure Tennessee the year after its crushing defeat in the same Legislature.
Don Wade sets the stage for Friday’s NBA playoff game at FedExForum, which is 12 years to the day the Grizzlies played their first NBA playoff game in Memphis – at The Pyramid.
The local Health, Education and Housing Facility Board is back in business. This is a follow up to a story we broke earlier this month. That means the board can resume issuing bonds now that it has an interim executive director. There were some indications that the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency stepped in because of the board’s oversite or lack of it over conditions at apartment complexes owned by Global Ministries Foundation, which has benefitted from those bonds. Some of those bonds went into default after HUD pulled its rent subsidies that residents of the Warren and Tulane apartments used to pay their rents to GMF.
Kroger rolled out the specifics on its plan to begin online ordering of groceries. But don’t expect a knock on your door with the deliveries.
The system is to order the items so that they are waiting for you to pick them up.
We’ve also been tracking this story for some time from the first general talk of this concept to the Wednesday developments.
So there are five Kroger stores that will have this, all toward a start in the fall. Look for more stores to be named later this spring as well.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson had more than a list of schools to consider closing by August Tuesday evening at the SCS board’s work session. He took Dunbar Elementary off of the list for possible closing next school year. He also had some reconfigurations of existing schools and a Whitehaven “empowerment zone.” The zone would make current Whitehaven High principal Vincent Hunter a leader of a group of schools including elementary and middle schools that feed into Whitehaven. It’s a move Hopson first signaled last November in our cover story in The Memphis News on Whitehaven High School.
There is more to come. The school system is still working with Christian Brothers University and Crosstown Arts on the agreement for the Crosstown High School project. And Hopson has also talked of a reconfiguration of East High School -- both to come in future school years.
The digest includes a third wastewater pipe leak, this time in Frayser. Further down is a MLGW report on how your utility bill probably fared this past winter.
We’ve talked about the need for this in at least one editorial. There is about be a unification of sorts among the business start-up accelerator organizations in Memphis.
In the Memphis Real Estate Recap: a building permit for the Ballet Memphis headquarters, local ownership for the Metro 67 Apartments, the Germantown Parkway shopping center featuring Incredible Pizza Co. is sold for $9.7 million, UPS files a $6 million permit for its expansion near the airport and St. Jude ALSAC builds a donor center on the University of Memphis campus.
Nationally: The CEO of Canadian Pacific talks about railroad mergers in a city where these mergers matter. And the CEO is Hunter Harrison, whose past in the railroad industry has strong ties to Memphis.