Seven Tennessee counties not licensing same-sex marriages
Supporters seek to revive Tennessee Medicaid expansion plan
Supreme Court Upholds Use of Controversial Execution Drug
Although the closed event is at a school, Obama chose a city local leaders frequently tout as the health care capital of the country for his latest speech on the Affordable Care Act.
The politics of the law, also known as "Obamacare," might not be popular throughout Tennessee. But the Democratic stronghold of Nashville — combined with the health insurance and hospital giants that call Middle Tennessee home — offers a prominent stage for any presidential address on health care, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said.
"Nashville is the health care management capital of the United States. This is where there are more health care management companies, there's great health care facilities like Saint Thomas. It's a natural place for this discussion to take place," Dean said Monday after an event at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital.
"People look to Nashville to find solutions about health care, so I think that's probably why he chose to come here." LINK
Supporters seek to revive Tennessee Medicaid expansion planSupporters of a failed plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee met Monday to renew an effort to try to pass it after a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold health insurance subsidies.
Tennessee Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper was among state lawmakers and community leaders at a news conference in support of Insure Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to extend coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.
The proposal failed in a special legislative session in February, was then revived during the regular session - only to be killed again in a Senate committee.
However, Cooper and state lawmakers attending Monday’s event called on their fellow colleagues to take up the plan again, particularly after last Thursday’s ruling by the Supreme Court upholding health insurance subsidies in states that do not operate their own insurance exchanges.
The ruling means that more than 155,000 Tennesseans who use the subsidies will not lose their health insurance. Proponents of Haslam’s plan say the decision also justifies expanding Medicaid in Tennessee.
“Now that the Supreme Court has given us the green light, it’s time for the Tennessee Legislature to move forward and pass Insure Tennessee,” Cooper said.LINK
Seven Tennessee counties not licensing same-sex marriagesAlmost all of Tennessee's county clerks were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday, the second business day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the state's ban.
Eighty-eight of the Volunteer State's 95 counties were complying with the Supreme Court's Friday ruling, either having issued licenses or saying they would, according to Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project.
Seven counties have not yet started to issue licenses mostly due to technical hurdles with paperwork and computer upgrades, he said.
"We are extremely fortunate, if you look at the resistance in Texas and Mississippi," he said. "It's really scary how long elected officials are trying to deprive people of their rights." LINK
Supreme Court Upholds Use of Controversial Execution DrugTrading sharp words, a deeply divided Supreme Court upheld the use of a controversial drug in lethal-injection executions Monday, even as two dissenting justices said for the first time they think it's "highly likely" the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.
On their last day together until the fall, the justices voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
The court also divided 5-4 in cases upholding congressional districts drawn by independent commissions and calling into question first-ever limits on mercury emissions from power plants. In addition, the justices also agreed to hear an important affirmative action case in the fall.
In the dispute over the lethal-injection drug, midazolam was used in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma executions in 2014. The executions took longer than usual and raised concerns that the drug did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a coma-like sleep.
Justice Samuel Alito said for a conservative majority that arguments the drug could not be used effectively as a sedative in executions were speculative and he dismissed problems in executions in Arizona and Oklahoma as "having little probative value for present purposes."
In a biting dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, "Under the court's new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake." LINK
This week in Washington by Vianovo's Billy MooreLast week, President Barack Obama trumped the lame duck card dealt him by House Democrats by enacting Trade Promotion Authority in cooperation with congressional Republicans. The Supreme Court's validation of his health care reform and Senate Democrats' blocking of the appropriations process increases the likelihood of a budget deal later this year.
Congress endorsed the President's trade agenda, one stymied by House Democrats two weeks ago, giving him a green light to negotiate a trade agreement with 11 Pacific nations that will help shape Asia's and America's economic future. The Supreme Court decision continues insurance coverage for more than 6 million Americans and keeps health care reform intact for at least the balance of the Obama Administration.
Senate Democrats prevented debate on the Pentagon spending bill, leaving the fiscal 2016 appropriations cycle in a ditch. Democrats promise to prevent any spending bill from reaching the Senate floor until Republicans negotiate an agreement that would ease spending caps for both defense and nondefense discretionary programs equally.
A different set of outcomes on trade, health care and spending would have weakened the Democrats' position in demanding negotiations and would forced the President to sacrifice some elements of health care reform or veto Republican changes. Instead, the results have strengthened the likelihood that budget talks will result in agreement later this year.
Congress is on recess this week as negotiators discuss a nuclear deal with Iran. The talks could reach an impasse over transparency and access issues, in which case the June 30 deadline for agreement would be extended.
The Supreme Court's ruling that marriage is right guaranteed to same sex couples and the President's eulogy for Reverent Clementa Pinckney, who was gunned down last week by a racist terrorist during Bible study, probably enhances the President's legacy more than his power.
Crockett Policy Institute