Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Kingsport Times News on medical cannabis:
Medical cannabis will again be considered by the Tennessee General Assembly. State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, and state Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, recently announced they will introduce comprehensive legislation to regulate access to medical cannabis.
Their proposed bill would allow qualified patients to obtain medical cards if they are diagnosed with specific medical conditions and purchase products from companies that are licensed by Tennessee and owned by Tennesseans to cultivate, process and dispense cannabis.
According to a release, medical cannabis sales in the U.S. last year alone exceeded $3.5 billion. Since 1973 when the first state voted to de-criminalize cannabis, 33 states have approved medical cannabis programs, including recent approvals in Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans have access to medical programs.
The release said no state has repealed a medical program.
The Tennessee Medical Cannabis Trade Association has endorsed the Bowling-Travis bill.
Some key elements of the bill are expected to include a “FastTrack” licensing system with statutory deadlines to kick off the process of incentivizing Tennessee residents and experienced companies to choose either a rural based operation with a dispensary or an urban one; establish a self-funding commission responsible for regulating both patient access and the industry licenses to provide products for patients; allowing residents to obtain a medical card as long as they have been diagnosed with a condition on the approved list; and “thoughtful” regulatory controls on how cannabis products can be represented to the public, where and how the products can be sold and used, and prohibitions on conflicts of interests.
We believe this bill needs a thorough vetting by lawmakers and the public. Employers also need to be paying attention amid the opioid crisis the state has experienced.
This is a major step for Tennessee, and it needs to be done right. Or not at all.
The Johnson City Press on Volkswagen’s plan to expand a plant to accommodate electric vehicle manufacturing:
Congratulations to Chattanooga on Volkswagen’s plan to expand its plant there to accommodate electric vehicle manufacturing.
The German automaker’s $800 million investment is a big economic development win for the city, Southeast Tennessee and the state as a whole. It will mean 1,000 jobs as the factory gears up for electric vehicle production beginning in 2022.
The plan comes on the heels of VW’s $340 million investment last March to build a new SUV in Chattanooga, but electric vehicles represent a whole new ballgame — the global future of the auto industry.
Having a stake in the future of technology is exactly what Tennessee needs to grow its economy.
But we must have a qualified workforce in place to attract such industry. In keeping with campaign promises, Gov.-elect Bill Lee told the Press that revamping technical and career education to meet that demand will be a major focus in his administration’s first year. Lee also pledged to focus on development in the state’s rural communities, as well as ways to bring big economic wins to all regions in the state, including Northeast Tennessee.
As we’ve reported on numerous occasions, Northeast Tennessee lags behind the state’s urban centers and their surrounding communities in growth. Local leaders at the government and business levels finally recognize, though, that they have to work together ... to make the greater Tri-Cities area competitive for better paying jobs that will attract and keep people here.
Manufacturing and technology-oriented career opportunities, especially those representing advancements, are musts. That’s why such initiatives as the Aerospace Park project at Tri-Cities Airport and BrightRidge’s solar farm partnership represent progress.
Our history tells us just how much initiative matters. As Johnson City celebrates its 150th birthday this year, remember that it was technological innovation that built the town in the first place. The intersection of three railroads through these mountains to haul iron and coal turned a stop on the Stage Road into a bustling city full of opportunity. Erwin and Kingsport grew out of that same history, and the arrival of chemical manufacturer Eastman in the 1920s cemented Kingsport’s industrial economy.
Those developments were no accident. Visionaries like railroad man George L. Carter made them happen.
Northeast Tennessee can do it again. Working with Lee and others at the state level, our economic development leaders need a VW-like win or several smaller wins for this region. We’re hearing all the right words. Will the results follow?
Cleveland Daily Banner on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an outspoken pastor:
Earlier this month an outspoken pastor — and race-relations visionary — who ruffled more than a few feathers in his day, especially within the Southern Baptist Convention, left this life for a better one.
His name was Rev. Jess Moody. He was 93.
In many corners of today’s society, the name won’t ring a bell. In others, it speaks volumes as loudly now as in 1969 when he delivered an eye-opening, and soul-searching, address to Southern Baptists.
Consider his words:
“I’ve been loyal to this convention for the past 25 years and I intend that every breath I take of God’s free air will be a Baptist breath,” Rev. Moody told his startled audience. “But you listen. It takes the black and the white keys to play the Star-Spangled Banner. And you can’t do it without both.”
Having stirred his listeners’ attention, he added, “We must solve the problem of racial hatred within the next ten years or prepare to become the dinosaurs of the twenty-first century. I, for one, do not believe that God intended this denomination to be a humorless relic in the museum of tomorrow.”
Given the time of his fiery address, Rev. Moody’s call to action was not well received by many of his fellow Southern Baptists — especially when he called for the denomination to denounce civil rights abuses and racism, some of which he claimed could be found within the fabric of the denomination itself.
Change takes time. And so it did with the Southern Baptists. But in 1995, the denomination issued a formal apology for what Rev. Moody felt were its own racist policies of the past.
Such debates on race, civil rights and humanitarian abuses were not confined to the Southern Baptists, and no one in 2019 should consider it so. It was a widespread tragedy, an unspeakable crime and a horrific scar on the very face of America.
As our nation continues to explore the unlimited power of diversity, we in Cleveland and Bradley County — like all communities across this proud land — are reminded of the message behind the reliving of another man’s dream.
This month, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have celebrated his 90th birthday. But the bullet of a crazed assassin in 1968 stole the breath, and the life, of this spirited man. But it didn’t squelch the dream.
If anything, it fueled the Civil Rights Movement to a cadence never before heard.
Like Rev. Moody’s impassioned words in 1969, Dr. King’s famous address six years earlier — on Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — inspired Americans to demand change.
And the message summoned the people of this nation to do it together.
Considered to be one of the most powerful speeches ever made on American soil, “I Have a Dream” defined a movement and opened the heart of a nation’s moral conscience.
Allow us to reflect on these excerpts:
— “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
— “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
— “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
— “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
Whether the words are spoken by a black man, a white man or a man of many shades, the messages of Rev. Jess Moody and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflected the winds of change in an America whose people had reached their crossroads.
To dream is not limited to a man.
To dream is not limited to a people.
To dream is not limited to a land.
To dream is the right of all and the mandate of moral living. It is not held hostage by borders. It is not confined to a place or a time or a circumstance.
To dream is the silent pump of every heart in any man, woman or child on this Planet Earth.
Rev. Jess Moody knew it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew it.
Let us pray for the rest of humanity to embrace it.