Friday, January 16, 2015

Crockett Buzz for 1-16-15

Kelsey files bill to block state health exchange

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, have filed legislation that would block the creation of a state health exchange in the event a federal court rules that tax credits under the Affordable Care Act are available only on state exchanges.
Senate Bill 72 is designed to prevent “Tennessee from operating any ObamaCare exchanges in the future,” Kelsey said in a statement.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in King vs. Burwell — a case thatchallenges the use of tax subsidies on the federal exchange under the ACA — on March 4.
The central question in the case is whether health insurance on federal or state exchanges is eligible for tax incentives or whether tax incentives — which make insurance affordable for about 121,000 people in Tennessee — are only available on state exchanges. LINK (Subscription)

Tennessee Could Be The Star in Next Week’s State of the Union Address

When President Barack Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address Tuesday, it’s likely to feature a lot of Tennessee.
The president has been highlighting two programs in the Volunteer State as he traverses the country in the lead-up to the speech.
Obama plans to use the speech to argue local governments should be allowed to offer their own high-speed Internet service, without interference. Several states have passed legislation banning such utilities, and Obama believes the Federal Communications Commission should adopt regulations that overrule them.
The issue hits close to home in Chattanooga, which has been a leader in the broadband arena. That city’s mayor, Andy Berke, has been helping the president make his case for publicly-owned Internet services, taking part in a conference call with reporters to discuss its program.
Obama also is expected to continue to promote his proposal to offer tuition-free community college to students nationwide, an idea that builds on Tennessee Promise. Gov. Bill Haslam took part in the event last week in which the president unveiled that proposal. LINK

Six House panels will get a chance to kill Medicaid expansion before it gets to Senate

Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” Medicaid expansion plan will apparently be handled as a House Joint Resolution, a procedural move that means representatives must approve the measure first and – if they don’t – senators will never vote on it.
The approach was outlined at a Senate Republican Caucus meeting Thursday by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, reports The Tennessean.
“If it failed in the first House (committee) we’re done,” Ramsey said.
…Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, plans to send the bill through three committees: Insurance and Banking; Health; and Finance, Ways and Means. (Note: Each also has a subcommittee, meaning a total of six panels will deal with the matter.) Harwell spokeswoman Kara Owen confirmed the committees, adding the House will “likely” use existing committees as opposed to creating special committees for the special session. LINK

Another Anti-Abortion Bill Is Filed In Tennessee General Assembly

Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) has filed a bill that requires medical or surgical abortions to be performed in licensed ambulatory surgical treatment centers.

It's the second bill filed this legislative session after voters approved Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that gave legislators the right to pass new restrictions on abortion in Tennessee. Another bill, filed by Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale), would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound one to three days before the procedure.

Green's bill, SB50, would only affect private doctors who perform abortions. A majority of the state's abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, are already licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers. LINK

Haslam's 2nd Inauguration Theme Is 'Together For Tennessee'

Republican Governor Bill Haslam plans for his inauguration to a second term include an outdoor ceremony, a dinner and ball and tours of the state Capitol and governor's mansion.
The January 17 swearing-in ceremony will be held on the plaza across the street from the state Capitol in Nashville. State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee is scheduled to administer the oath.
The theme of the inaugural events is "Together for Tennessee." LINK

Study Finds Local Taxes Hit Lower Wage Earners Harder

When it comes to the taxes closest to home, the less you earn, the harder you’re hit.
That is the conclusion of an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that evaluates the local tax burden in every state, from Washington, labeled the most regressive, to Delaware, ranked as the fairest of them all.
According to the study, in 2015 the poorest fifth of Americans will pay on average 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle fifth will pay 9.4 percent and the top 1 percent will average 5.4 percent.
“Virtually every state’s tax system is fundamentally unfair,” the report concludes. “Unfair tax systems not only exacerbate widening income inequality in the short term, but they also will leave states struggling to raise enough revenue to meet their basic needs in the long term.” LINK

2 PACs Fined by Tennessee Election Officials

Two political action committees have been fined by Tennessee officials who say the organizations didn't properly disclose information including donors and expenditures before elections last year.
The Tennessean reports Strong & Free Tennessee was fined $5,000 on Wednesday and Tennesseans for Preservation of Personal Privacy was fined $100.
According to the newspaper, representatives for both organizations did not return calls requesting comment.
Drew Rawlins, executive director for the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said the $5,000 fine given to Strong & Free Tennessee was "pretty hefty" for a first-time offense.
The PAC faced was criticized by conservative Republicans, who accused the group of using GOP establishment money to defeat candidates affiliated with the tea party. LINK

Gov. Haslam’s administration files teacher evaluation bill

A measure that adjusts the way Tennessee’s teachers are evaluated is one of several bills filed by the governor’s administration.
The proposals were filed on Thursday.
The one relating to teachers adjusts the weighting of student growth data in a teacher’s evaluation.
Currently, 35 percent of an educator’s evaluation is composed of student achievement data.
Gov. Bill Haslam wants new state assessments in English and math to count 10 percent of the overall evaluation in the first year of administration of the new tests in 2016, 20 percent the second year and 35 percent in year three. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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