The Crockett Policy Institute Buzz for 2-20-15
Agencies scrap over releasing lawmaker health plan info
In Medical Marijuana Push, Tennessee Democrats Hope To Find Republican Allies
“We knew it was a contentious issue, but it comes down to what would any reasonable person do? And how could any elected official take a position that is so contrary to the wants, the needs, the demands of the constituency? I just don’t understand that. So obviously, there has to be something else. Senator Kelsey will weigh in on a lot of issues. And we just — he’s our senator and we need to find out why and see if we can work our way through this,” Trenary said.
So, I asked, you and Kelsey aren’t enemies?
“No, no,” Trenary said.
And then, he just couldn’t help himself.
“Not yet,” he said. LINK (Subscription)
Agencies scrap over releasing lawmaker health plan infoAlthough a handful of lawmakers officially killed Gov. Bill Haslam's controversial health care plan earlier this month, the battles related to Insure Tennessee aren't over.
Right now two state agencies are fighting over whether they must release details about the public health insurance benefits that go to most of Tennessee's 132 state lawmakers.
Those lawmakers continue to face scrutiny about their use of taxpayer-funded plans — which cover 80 percent of monthly premiums in addition to other benefits — after the death of Insure Tennessee. Haslam proposed providing federally funded health care to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.
Days after the plan's defeat, The Associated Pressreported six of the seven lawmakers who officially voted against Insure Tennessee are enrolled in public health care plans themselves. The report references a Chattanooga Times Free Press storythat said 88 of the 99 members in the House and 28 of the 33 senators receive state health insurance. LINK
Government on IceDemocrats in the House and Senate, more a remnant than a real force, have introduced legislation to renew consideration of Insure Tennessee in the regular session, now begun, but there seems little hope of that coming to pass. In his post-mortem with the press after the failure of the special session, Haslam said that he'd like to try again, but hinted it might not be possible until the election of a new president.
That same theme was noted directly last week by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), who declined to support Insure Tennessee in the special session and was quoted by The Commercial Appeal's Rick Locker as saying, "It might be that two years from now, we wake up with a Republican president, look at going after it again and coming back with a block grant. ... Do I think we want to spend a lot of time during the regular session? Nah, I don't think that."
People wonder what presidents' legacies will be. Barack Obama's might be that he was the first president who saw every proposal even remotely connected with him — good, bad, or indifferent — relentlessly stonewalled by his political opposition, not only at the congressional level but at the level of state government, as well.
So we wait two years. Right. That's roughly $3 billion worth of waiting, and God only knows how many of the 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans could have health emergencies in the meantime. LINK
That Snow Day Tennessee's House Took? It Had To Get Senate's Permission First
What happens when one half of the Tennessee legislature wants to take a snow day? It has to ask the other half’s permission.
That’s exactly what happened Thursday morning, when the Senate was asked to approve a resolution cancelling a House session planned for the day. The idea of dragging House members back to the Capitol clearly appealed to senators who’d made the slog into work.
The voice of Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Memphis) dripped with disdain as he presented the resolution.
“Therefore” – heavy sigh – “I move the Senate suspend the rules…”
A voice vote was held, and it sounded from the press gallery that permission might actually have been denied. But Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) gave the House the benefit of the doubt. LINK
In Medical Marijuana Push, Tennessee Democrats Hope To Find Republican AlliesSupporters of medical marijuana are planning another push this year in the Tennessee legislature, and they hope to find a few more allies this time around.
A year after a medical marijuana bill got no farther than a committee hearing, Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) is pursuing legislation once again. Her measure, House Bill 561, would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for a range of conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and post-traumatic stress disorder.
But Jones's bill isn’t the only one that deals with medical cannabis. Another measure, sponsored by two Republicans, would let Tennesseans bring low-potency cannabis oil into the state.
Jones says that’s a sign Republicans are softening their opposition. LINK
Crockett Policy Institute