- Associated Press - Saturday, August 29, 2015
Dem chairwoman calls on GOP lawmaker to resign over EPA fine

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - State Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini on Friday called on Republican state Rep. Andy Holt to resign over alleged environmental violations at his northwestern Tennessee hog farm.

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking up to $177,500 in fines against Holt for discharging a total of more than 860,000 gallons of waste water from lagoons on the farm without the proper permits.

“This kind of blatant disregard for the rules disqualify him for being an effective legislator and he needs to step aside so that his constituents can have an effective and accountable voice at the Capitol,” Mancini said.

In a telephone interview, Holt laughed off Mancini’s suggestion, saying that he plans to keep his seat in the Legislature and remain an outspoken critic of the EPA and President Barack Obama.

“I imagine they would like me to quit,” said Holt, dismissing the Mancini’s press release as “propaganda.”

Holt, who ceased the hog farm operations in December, stressed that he self-reported the discharges to the state after heavy rainfall had caused the lagoons to overflow. He also noted that the EPA complaint acknowledged that “no actual environmental harm was documented” in connection with the discharge.

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Tennessee governor leading trade mission to Israel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is headed on a trade mission to Israel on Saturday.

The Republican governor will be joined by five state economic development officials and 18 representatives from research institutions and the private sector in Tennessee.

State Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman Clint Brewer said the trip is aimed at fostering relationships between entrepreneurs and researchers in Tennessee and Israel. A major focus will be on the biomedical and high tech fields.

Brewer called Israel a “natural fit” for the governor’s trip because the country attracts most venture capital investment per capita in the world. The governor returns to Tennessee on Thursday.

Haslam’s most recent foreign trade mission was a weeklong trade trip to Japan and South Korea in June 2014.

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O’Malley makes presidential campaign stop in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley knows he needs to make a big splash in early presidential contests like Iowa and New Hampshire, but says he’s already looking ahead to the next group of primary states like Tennessee in his bid for the Democratic nomination.

O’Malley traveled to Nashville on Thursday for a fundraiser and to begin laying his campaign groundwork among campus and county organizers. He said he was undaunted by the heavy Republican trend in Tennessee in recent years, pointing to the success for former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen - who was an early contributor to his presidential campaign.

O’Malley chided Tennessee’s current Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for resorting to “corporate welfare” to lure Italian gun-maker Beretta from Maryland after gun-control measures were enacted there in 2013.

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Tennessee students asked to use gender-neutral pronouns

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - University of Tennessee students have been asked to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “ze.”

The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus, multiple media outlets report.

“Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth,” the University of Tennessee’s Pride Center Director, Donna Braquet, wrote on the university’s website Wednesday.

Braquet requested that teachers, rather than calling roll, will instead ask each student to provide the name and pronoun he or she - or ze - wishes to be referred by. She says it relieves a burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

“The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses,” Braquet wrote.

University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said there is no mandate or official policy to use the language.

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