Axios Nashville

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August 10, 2022

Good morning, friendly friends. It's Wednesday, and it's wonderful to "see" you.

⛈ Today's weather: More storms this afternoon, with a high of 88°.

Today's newsletter is 810 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Feds provide millions for Tennessee funerals

Illustration of a hand at a vigil holding a candle wrapped in a $100 bill.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided nearly $81.9 million in funeral assistance in Tennessee for deaths attributed to COVID-19.

  • The funds paid for 14,895 funerals as of Aug. 1.

Why it matters: A FEMA spokesperson says funeral assistance funds are still available.

  • The Tennessee Department of Health reports 27,030 people have died from COVID. That means more than 12,000 individuals and families are still eligible to apply for the program.

By the numbers: The average FEMA reimbursement in Tennessee comes out to about $5,500 per funeral.

Details: FEMA pays up to $9,000 to reimburse funeral expenses associated with a death attributed to COVID-19.

  • That includes burial, cremation, casket, headstone and other expenses.

2. Senators rally around Trump after "raid"

A composite of photos showing Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. Photo: Alex Brandon, Tom Williams via AP

Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty joined the chorus of Republicans rallying around former President Trump after the FBI searched his Florida home late Monday.

Why it matters: Support for Trump in the wake of what he calls a raid could serve as the party's latest loyalty litmus test. Politico reports that Trump's team is keeping tabs on which Republicans "aren't, in their view, sufficiently rushing to his defense."

What they're saying: Blackburn tweeted that she stands with Trump, and accused the FBI of continuing a political witch hunt against him.

  • "The FBI flew agents from Washington, D.C. to Mar-a-Lago for the sole purpose of advancing the bureau's years-long campaign to take down President Trump," Blackburn said.
  • "The FBI raiding the home of a former U.S. President is unprecedented, & the current administration doing this to the sitting President's top political opponent is beyond comprehension — particularly when neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton ever faced similar treatment," Hagerty said.

State of play: The search appeared to mark a dramatic escalation in the investigation into Trump's handling of presidential documents, Axios' Erin Doherty reports.

3. TSU president goes to Washington

TSU president Glenda Glover speaking at a conference table.
Tennessee State University president Glenda Glover speaking this week during a roundtable with the vice president. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Tennessee State University president Glenda Glover met with Vice President Kamala Harris this week to discuss how colleges are responding to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and cleared the way for abortion bans in many states.

Why it matters: Tennessee is poised to enact a near-total abortion ban on Aug. 25. Harris said those kinds of restrictions could have a unique impact on college students who might find it harder to travel out of state for abortions.

Driving the news: Glover participated in a roundtable discussion with Harris and college leaders from across the country Monday.

What she's saying: Glover told Harris the "long-term effects" of Dobbs remain unknown. But she said her team would monitor any impacts on recruitment, graduation rates or completion rates.

  • "Our goal is for students to maximize their potential and be successful in the educational environment," Glover said.
  • She added that "uncertainty" surrounding reproductive health "affects them" and "affects their academic success."

Zoom out: Glover said colleges must work to educate students about the importance of state-level policy after the Dobbs decision.

  • "Students must understand that and become more active in voting at various levels — at the state level," Glover said.
  • "We must encourage students to be more active in civic environments."

4. The Setlist

Illustration of the "Batman building" in Nashville with a bat-signal, with a note instead of a bat, shining on it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💼 Ellen Lehman, founder and president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, announced she would retire at the end of the year. (Nashville Business Journal, subscription)

🚧 Developers found skeletal remains from the 19th century at a Chestnut Hill development site. (Nashville Post)

🍽 Chago's Cantina on Belmont Boulevard is closing after more than a decade in business. (Nashville Scene)

⚖️ The Tennessee Supreme Court questioned applicants hoping to become the state's next attorney general. (Tennessean)

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5. 🎸 CMA Fest bounces back

Keith Urban playing guitar during CMA Fest 2022 at Nissan Stadium.
Keith Urban at CMA Fest. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

CMA Fest generated an estimated $65.2 million in direct visitor spending in June, signifying a triumphant return following two cancellations due to the pandemic.

  • Spending by visitors to this year's four-day festival slightly eclipsed the total in 2019, according to data released yesterday by the Convention and Visitors Corp.

Why it matters: CMA Fest is Nashville's premiere music festival, and it was uncertain if it would bounce back following its hiatus.

  • Fueled by CMA Fest, Nashville had its best hotel booking month ever in June, with 875,407 room nights sold.

What she's saying: Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said in a press release that fans come to experience both country music and the city.

  • "Our attendees certainly come to CMA Fest to experience four jam-packed days of Country Music, but we know a significant number use the festival as a chance to visit Nashville," she says.

🎆 Also: The annual July 4 celebration generated $11 million in direct visitor spending, down from $14.7 million the year before.

  • The CVC says the drop was expected because of stormy weather and the fact the holiday fell on a Monday.

Nate's song of the day is "Ocean" by Young Jesus.

🎭 Adam is feeling reflective after seeing the stage adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird" at TPAC.