This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Haslam announces David Purkey as TEMA Director (Clarksville Online)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of David W. Purkey as a deputy commissioner of the Military Department where he will direct the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). Purkey has served as interim director of TEMA since the April retirement of Jim Bassham. He will also continue to serve as the governor’s Homeland Security advisor and assistant commissioner for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “David has extensive experience in emergency management and safety, and he knows how critical it is for state and local governments to cooperate during emergencies,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his continued dedication and willingness to serve his fellow Tennesseans.”
Hamblen County Native Named TEMA Director (Greeneville Sun)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has announced the appointment of David W. Purkey as a deputy commissioner of the Military Department where he will direct the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). Purkey has served as interim director of TEMA since the April retirement of Jim Bassham. He will also continue to serve as the governor’s Homeland Security advisor and assistant commissioner for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, a news release says. “David has extensive experience in emergency management and safety, and he knows how critical it is for state and local governments to cooperate during emergencies,” Haslam said in the release. “I appreciate his continued dedication and willingness to serve his fellow Tennesseans.”
Gov. Haslam’s Office Preps for Review of Aging Services (Public News Service)
One thing nearly all Tennesseans can agree on is they want good health and independence as they age, and efforts are underway in the state to make sure those opportunities exist today and into the future. The Governor’s Task Force on Aging has already recommended a number of steps, and according to Charla Long, dean of the college of professional studies at Lipscomb University and a task force member, this includes an initial review of aging services in state government. “There are 17 agencies that provide 24 key services to the aging,” says Long.
Tennessee wraps up demo days across the state (Tennessean/Brock)
August is a big month in Tennessee’s thriving community of entrepreneurs: It’s when many of Tennessee’s start-up accelerators host “demo days” to mark the graduation of their summer cohorts. Graduating companies have gone through a rigorous mentorship-driven program that has prepared them for the next step in their entrepreneurship journey — and the results have been very strong, with every accelerator producing new companies that have generated strong investor interest and/or the customers they need to build a sustaining enterprise. Anyone who attended one or more of the accelerator demo days this month had to come away with a deep appreciation for the thriving entrepreneurial spirit that encompasses our state.
Arlington welcomes first lady for literacy night (Jackson Sun)
Last year, Arlington Elementary School started Literacy Night, one night a month for parents and students to come to school to read. Kristen Craig, a reading interventionist at Arlington, said the events started as a way to get parents to encourage students to read. Parents were encouraged to read with their children for 20 minutes every day. “We’ve had huge growth,” Craig said. “Every time more parents were coming, and our kids are more excited to read.” Arlington held its first Literacy Night of the new school year Thursday. Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam attended to read to the children. Craig said that in April, Haslam contacted the school to talk about how she could help with its literacy programs.
Why MTSU, Public Universities Are Recruiting More International Students (WPLN)
While the number of international students at Middle Tennessee State University is pretty small, only about 3.5% of the student population, it’s more than doubled in the past four years. It reflects a nationwide trend of colleges trying to attract more foreign students. One of the reasons why universities around the country, especially public ones, want more international students? Out-of-state tuition, says Neil Ruiz, the author of a new study from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “The biggest growth in metropolitan areas, for foreign students, have been cities with large state universities — especially since a lot of states have cut their budgets for state universities,” he says.
UT rolls out new sex assault policy (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
Among the things that do not signal someone is consenting to sex, according to the University of Tennessee is his or her reputation or attire, the acceptance of gifts, previous consent or current dating relationship. These non-indicators are laid out in a page dedicated to defining consent on UT’s new sexual assault website. Also on the site is a PDF of UT’s new 59-page, footnoted interim sexual assault policy. UT crafted the website and the policy over the summer and then sent it to students in a campuswide e-mail from Chancellor Jimmy Cheek on the first day of classes last month.
$1M grant helps Tenn. drug-dependent babies (Tennessean/Gonzalez)
A $1 million grant will help build a new treatment unit for babies born drug-dependent at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. The gift from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation meets a growing problem in Tennessee head-on. Especially in East Tennessee, mothers addicted to prescription painkillers are giving birth to more babies experiencing neonatal abstinence syndrome, a painful condition that can cause tremors and diarrhea and leave infants inconsolable. Tennessee health officials counted 921 such births last year. Already this year, 603 neonatal abstinence cases puts the state on pace to surpass the prior count.
In fall legislative races, Nashville is where the action is (Tennessean/Cass)
The August election is over, but voters’ opportunities to pick Tennessee’s leaders certainly aren’t. Some voters will have more to think about in November than others, though — and some of the best legislative battles are shaping up in Middle Tennessee. Redistricting based on Census data has carved the Volunteer State into dozens of Republican and Democratic strongholds, with Republicans controlling the great majority of the districts, a reflection of their supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly. Marc Hetherington, a Vanderbilt University political scientist, said Republicans have become such a dominant force in the state that there aren’t many competitive races left.
Looking ahead to Nov. 4 ballot (Daily News Journal)
Voters in Rutherford County will go to the polls one more time this year for races for municipal, state and federal offices and local and state referendums. The Nov. 4 general election now will include a special election to fill the Murfreesboro City Council seat of Toby Gilley, who won the Aug. 7 election for General Sessions judge for Part III. Candidates for the City Council seat have until Sept. 10 to qualify to fill the seat through the end of August 2016, according to the Rutherford County Election Commission website. Voters in Murfreesboro and Smyrna also will be decide Nov. 4 whether they want the sale of wine in grocery stores.
Money Pours Into State Races as Stakes Rise (Stateline)
Money is pouring into statehouse elections this year at a potentially record-breaking rate, as the stakes for political control in the 50 capitals continue to rise. Campaign contributions for state races this election cycle likely will surpass a record $2.1 billion collected by candidates, legislative caucuses and state political committees in the last two-year election cycle of 2011-2012, said Edwin Bender, executive director of the dollar-tracking National Institute on Money in State Politics. That record amount doesn’t include another $1 billion raised for campaigns on state ballot questions. Nor does it reflect uncounted millions spent by some outside organizations seeking to influence the outcome of elections.
Tracking pollution: Groundwater tests look for ties to DOE operations (N-S/Munger)
Years of groundwater monitoring have yet to firmly establish whether hazardous pollutants from the Department of Energy’s waste burial grounds are migrating to private properties on the other side of the Clinch River. But the concerns remain and the search continues. As part of an expanded groundwater strategy, the U.S. Department of Energy will fund additional monitoring in the Jones Road area across the river from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s old waste sites. New studies will also evaluate the potential off-site movement of contamination from other locations on the government’s Oak Ridge reservation — including the East Tennessee Technology Park, which formerly housed DOE’s uranium-enrichment operations.