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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to make the case to state lawmakers as well as the public tonight for his plan to overhaul the state’s 30-year-old school funding formula for public education during his State of the State address.
The Republican governor also plans to double down on his priorities in several other areas including massive new investments in infrastructure and economic development during his annual speech, an event that allows governors to set forth their priorities and message in unfiltered fashion before a televised joint convention of the General Assembly.
Lee, who is running for a second term this year, previewed portions of his agenda last week in a speech to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. In it, the governor made his pitch on a top priority for him: Performing major surgery on Tennessee’s $5.6 billion funding formula for K-12 education. The formula needs to move from a “systems-based” model involving categories of need to a “student-based funding formula” in which dollars follow the student, the governor has said.
Lee and his education commissioner, Penny Schwinn, announced in October a review of the state’s K-12 education funding formula and named dozens of people, including a number of legislators, to lead the effort.
We will carry the Governor’s address at 7PM this evening on MixTV.tv and Talk 101-3 The Buzz.
A lawsuit against Wacker Chemical from a contract pipe fitter who claims he was burned during a November 2020 explosion at the Wacker polysilicon plant has been withdrawn.
Justin R. Bailey, a Walker County man who worked for Jake Marshall LLC, sued Wacker for $3 million last year claiming that the chemical company negligently exposed him to hydrochloric acid when an explosion took place at the Charleston, Tennessee, plant on Nov. 13, 2020. Another worker died from injuries incurred during the explosion and Wacker was fined for the incident by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA).
In a brief notice filed in federal court in Chattanooga this week, Bailey’s attorney, Robert W. Wheeler, gave notice of the voluntary dismissal of the complaint. Wacker declined comment on the case and Bailey’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.
Ken Collins, site director at Wacker, said the company doesn’t comment on litigation. But he said Wacker “continues to work to improve the safety culture” of the plant where accidents in both in 2017 and 2020 resulted in worker injuries and multiple lawsuits.
Kaitlin Gebby reports: A former Lee University professor will be sentenced Friday for attempted sexual battery in a case filed in 2018.
James Lamar Phillips, 69, pleaded guilty to the Class A misdemeanor in October 2021 to lower his charge from rape, a felony for which he would have faced a harsher sentence.
During his October hearing, the male victim — a former student of Lee University — testified for 25 minutes and confronted Phillips for the 2014 encounter in his dorm room, where he said the professor forced himself on him while the student was laid up sick.
Under the original plea agreement, Phillips would have served a suspended sentence, meaning he would have avoided jail time and his record eventually would have been expunged if he avoided other violations. Judge Sandra Donaghy explained the terms to the victim, who rejected the deal after he said he didn’t realize Phillips may serve no jail time.
Now the sentence is at the discretion of the judge. Phillips’ sentencing hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 4, in Bradley County Criminal Court. For a Class A misdemeanor, he could see up to 11 months and 29 days in jail under Tennessee law.
A District Attorney General Pro Tempore, or outside district attorney, will be taking over the case against Coty Wamp who is being investigated by the TBI for alleged obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
The investigation by the TBI was requested by District Attorney General Neal Pinkston, Wamp’s opponent in the Republican Primary for Hamilton County District Attorney, after he consulted with the Sheriff Jim Hammond and Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.
According to a motion filed in Soddy Daisy City Court, General Pinkston made a formal ethics inquiry to the Board of Professional Responsibility, stating that investigating the case could be a conflict of interest.
The board agreed and Glenn Funk, District Attorney General for the 20th Judicial District in Nashville has been appointed District Attorney General Pro Tempore for the case.
Wamp is accused of interfering with a shooting case in Soddy-Daisy, claiming the wrong man was arrested.