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Governor Haslam weighs in

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Jun 28 2013 05:08:25 PM CDT
Haslam

We spoke to Tennessee governor Bill Haslam about a number of subjects on Friday.

Unemployment

The latest figures show Tennessee's unemployment rate is on the rise. For the month of May, the state went from an unemployment rate of 8 percent in April to 8.3 percent.

In our region, several cities and counties also saw a rise in unemployment, including Johnson City, Kingsport, Sullivan County, Washington County and Greene County, among others.

Governor Bill Haslam says some of that may be because there are more people, like college graduates, entering the workforce and are looking for jobs. "The good news is we have more jobs today in Tennessee than we've had in a long time. The challenge is more people are out looking for work that have been looking for work in the past," he said.

Tennessee's unemployment rate is higher than the national average.

Sycamore Shoals improvements

After years of anticipation, residents, visitors and future generations will now be able to get an interactive glimpse into our region's early history.

Haslam and other local and state leaders cut the ribbon to Sycamore Shoals State Park's new interpretive center. The exhibit features some landmark events in early Tennessee and American history, like the siege of Fort Watauga.

Governor Haslam says fostering the state park system is a vital way to encourage tourism within the state.
"They're very affordable. they're obviously very accessible, and I think we're doing a great job of making it a great family experience. There are places like [Sycamore Shoals], everything like a great exhibit and great place to spend a day to places where you can spend the night and spend all week."

As part of the ceremonies, Governor Haslam also awarded the city of Elizabethton a $500,000 clean energy grant for improvements to the city's water system.

SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision

A Supreme Court ruling has been handed down that says blocking federal marriage benefits to same sex spouses is unconstitutional.

The decision is leaving gay marriage supporters hoping for more change across the nation. But what could it mean here at home?
Haslam says while the recent decision might spark new conversation amongst lawmakers, he doesn't expect a major change. "I think that what you're seeing from the federal government and Supreme Court is saying we're going to let the states decide. They're going to make their own decisions on that. I think Tennessee historically and definitely in the last several years has been very strong for traditional marriage and I would be very surprised if the legislature changed on that," he said.

Right now neither Tennessee nor Virginia allow same-sex marriage.