Friday, June 6, 2014

Crockett Buzz 6-6-14

FEC questions Carr contribution from company tied to mega-donor Miller

The Federal Election Commission is raising questions about Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Carr’s latest campaign finance disclosure, according to the Times Free Press.
In a letter to Carr’s campaign treasurer dated Monday, FEC officials are seeking, among other things, to determine whether a $9,564.54 contribution made March 31 by Nashville-based Life Watch Pharmacy LLC is an illegal corporate contribution.
The letter from senior campaign finance analyst Carolina Mongeon notes that limited liability corporations may make campaign contributions “providing the LLC is treated as a partnership for tax purposes, and has not elected to be treated as a corporation by the Internal Revenue Service.”
…According to filings on, a website offering Medicaid verification for medical providers, Lifewatch Pharmacy is associated with M2G Med-Management Group. The lone “member” or principal listed is Nashville health care investor Andrew Miller, a sometimes controversial figure. Click Here For More

TN House creates task force to cut VA wait times

Tennessee is taking a crack at cutting down on the time it takes for veterans to get the care they need.
Thursday, State Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) announced the appointment of State Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis (R-Clarksville) to chair a newly created legislative task force on veterans' affairs.
The task force comes in the wake of an investigation from WBIR partners at USA today. New data released from the Department of Veterans Affairs found two of the top 25 worst offenders in the country for wait times are in Tennessee. Click Here For More

TN House Democrats: Obamacare Addresses Income Inequality

 On Tuesday, Governor Bill Haslam addressed a group of Republican activists and told them that the GOP needs to take the issue of income inequality seriously. Democrats are asking Governor Haslam to do more than pay lip service to working families by expanding Medicaid in Tennessee.
“While we certainly applaud Governor Haslam’s recent realization that income inequality exists, people need more than just words” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “A good first step in addressing this issue would be to stop stalling and accept federal funds for the expansion of our state’s Medicaid program. This will save hospitals like the one in Brownsville and keep rural areas from falling further into the income inequality gap.”
A study earlier this year by the Brookings Institution found that the Affordable Care Act, if fully implemented, will improve the well-being of those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder by making health coverage more affordable. Unfortunately, the positive impact is greatly decreased in states that refuse to use federal funds to expand Medicaid to those working families at 138% of poverty level or below. Click Here For More

Sen. Bob Corker dinged for “midget” comment

The U.S. Capitol was abuzz with talk of Sen. Bob Corker, but not for the senator’s recent remarks on Syria or Ukraine.
Before a vote Tuesday, Corker said his colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee were too reliant on numbers from the Congressional Budget Office in policy debates.
"I’m sorry, it just feels like a bunch of midgets up here worrying about some CBO issue," he said.
Corker’s remark occurs at the 1:10:50 mark in this video.
Little People of America said Thursday that Corker’s use of the word "midget" was "embarrassing and insulting," according to Politico:
The nonprofit group, which supports the dwarfism community, sees the word as a "slur."
"Today, no matter in what context it is used, the word dehumanizes and objectifies people of short stature," Little People of America President Gary Arnold said. Click Here For More

Bell Plans Hearing Over Chief Justice Complaint

Two state senators say they plan an inquiry over the handling of a complaint against the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The Tennessean reports Sens.
Learn more about Mike Bell
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Mike Bell and Learn more about Randy McNally
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Randy McNally said on Tuesday that the Senate Government Operations Committee will hold a formal hearing this month into the dismissal of Bell's ethics complaint against Chief Justice Learn more about Gary Wade
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Gary Wade. The Riceville Republican wanted Wade disciplined for allegedly violating rules about judges lobbying and endorsing candidates. Wade has denied wrongdoing, and the Board of Judicial Conduct declined to take up Bell's complaint.
The planned hearings would come in the midst of a campaign to unseat Wade and two other justices who are up for election in August.
Bell denied any connection between the hearing and the campaign to defeat the justices.
"This is not part of the retention election campaign," he said. "Whether it reflects negatively on the sitting Supreme Court justice or not, that will be up to the people to decide." Click Here For More

Haslam on Education — The Rhetoric Doesn’t Match the Reality

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has been getting some positive attention lately for remarks he’s been making on the issue of income inequality.  Rather than ignore it, Haslam suggests, Republicans ought to address with proposals around improving public education, for example. ChalkbeatTN has this story on Haslam’s remarks:
“It’s hard to argue with the fact of growing income inequality. The question is, what do we do about it. The Republican answer, and I think the smart answer, is to say we need to do everything we can to give everybody the opportunity they deserve. It’s one of the reasons I focus so much on education. It’s the critical issue facing us as a state,” Haslam said.
It’s interesting that Haslam makes these remarks at the same time the BEP Task Force he appointed is reportedly pushing for a return to the TACIR model of BEP funding and away from BEP 2.0. This is noteworthy because BEP 2.0 was designed to direct more funds to districts based on the number of “at-risk” students they served  – that is, districts that face the challenge of educating more students at the lower end of the economic spectrum would get more financial help.  Fully funding BEP 2.0 would cost some $150 million — money not yet found in the state budget. It seems, though, that if you wanted to address income inequality with education as your key weapon, you’d use the tools available to make that weapon as precise and effective as possible. That’s what BEP 2.0 aimed to do. But Haslam is practically running away from that prescription.
Of course, earlier this year, Haslam backed off his commitment to make Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the nation in teacher pay by balancing the state budget on the backs of teachers and school systems. Again, that’s an odd way to make education the number one tool for fighting income inequality. Click Here For More

Senators Reach Accord Easing Worries Over Veterans’ Health Measure

WASHINGTON — In the wake of a revelations that officials at veterans hospitals across the country have been manipulating patients’ appointment times by creating secret waiting lists, two senators reached a bipartisan accord on Thursday to give authority to the acting Veterans Affairs secretary to fire senior officials and to expand access for veterans who do not live near medical facilities or have experienced long waits.
Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont and the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, bypassed the normal committee process and worked around Republican leaders in both chambers who were seeking a more narrowly focused bill. The resulting agreement addresses crucial concerns of both parties.
The measure — which could come to the Senate floor as early as next week — is likely to be the main legislative response to the scandal, which led to the resignation last week of Eric Shinseki as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agreement could defuse partisan tensions that have arisen since the first reports of long waiting lists and the news that some veterans had died awaiting care. Mr. McCain’s seal of approval — he is a former prisoner of war — and his willingness to take on members of his own party, will make it difficult for Republicans to oppose a solution to a problem that they elevated into a national scandal. Click Here For More

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