When legislators come back this afternoon, 92 bills will be waiting for them on the House floor with more expected after a few last-minute committee meetings. That long calendar will likely take a few days to work through. The Senate is taking Monday off and will return Tuesday expecting no more than 40 bills next week. LINK
Rural hospital, town leaders worried without Insure TNFour rural hospitals have closed in Tennessee in the last year. Dozens more are struggling as health care, demographics and technology change — fundamentally altering how they provide care.
What doesn't change, according to community and hospital leaders, is that the people who live and work in the state's countryside need care.
Without Insure Tennessee, rural hospitals will face "more severe financial challenges that could lead to more limited access to care," said William F. Carpenter, III, CEO of LifePoint Hospitals. The Franklin-based company owns rural and non-urban hospitals around the nation, including 10 hospital campuses in Tennessee.
The defeat is gutting community and hospital leaders around the state.
"I'm extremely disappointed in our legislature and I'm done pretending I'm not. If they go home without passing Insure Tennessee they should be voted out of office," said Dr. Mike Schatzlein, chief executive officer of Saint Thomas Health.
"We got the bad part but not the good part of Obamacare. We got the Medicare decreases but not the good part because the legislature voted down Insure Tennessee. That's the $6 billion shot in the foot we got from the legislature." LINK
State fights rage over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansionThe fight over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is heating up, with one state mounting a fresh legal challenge against the administration and others embroiled in debates over how to handle the thorny issue.
In Florida, one of the biggest prizes for expansion advocates, a dispute between the state and the federal government intensified Thursday, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced that he would sue the administration over what he calls attempts to force participation.
In other states, notably Utah, Tennessee, and Wyoming, Republican governors in favor of expansion are trying to get their statehouses to go along with the program. The Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity has been running ads in districts of targeted members in different states to fight the expansion effort.
States have a choice as to whether to accept ObamaCare’s expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people. So far, 28 states, including 10 with Republican governors, have taken the expansion.
The Obama administration has tried to signal flexibility and a willingness to work with state-level Republicans on compromises to put conservative twists on the program if it is expanded.
But the White House took a sharper tone Thursday in reaction to the Florida lawsuit, noting that expansion could provide coverage for 800,000 people in the state.
“It's difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. LINK
Tom Humphrey Sunday column: Times for oratory and times for action in LegislatureMost bills given instant approval are seemingly innocuous and/or so complicated and boring they inspire zero general interest – except maybe among lobbyists who know their import to a client.
Yet one can hear lobbyists these days complain they can’t get an appointment to talk with a legislator – at least not without a week’s notice or so, which may be too late with a fast-moving bill – because the lawmakers are too busy rushing to make all their meetings and get everything through committee to the floor for a fast vote.
We can hope that at least someone has a chance to advocate or oppose all that obscure and seemingly arcane stuff. But you have to wonder whether it’s reached the point of anything with a Republican sponsor and not obviously disconcerting is instantly approved while anything with a Democratic sponsor and not obviously inconsequential is instantly killed.
Ah, but bring up God or guns and, Lord, everybody wants to make a speech — so many on the House floor that, eventually, a rarely-used rule was invoked to limit each member’s remarks to two minutes – or about the average total floor time spent on the average bill.
At the end of the allotted two minutes, the speaker’s microphone would go dead, shutting him or her off in mid-sentence.
Enough said. Even in a debate of biblical proportions. LINK
State Rep. Bill Beck Busted for DUIFirst-term Democratic state Rep. Bill Beck was arrested on a DUI charge early Friday morning in East Nashville.
According to the affidavit, the officer spotted Beck driving "with the left tires completely in the center turn lane." The officer says Beck's eyes were bloodshot and watery, that he smelled of alcohol, and that his speech was "extremely slurred." Beck denied having consumed any alcohol.
The officer also notes that there was a stain on Beck's tie and that his pants were unzipped, and that he was "swaying while standing."
After initially agreeing to a field sobriety test, Beck later told the officer, according to the affidavit, that he did not want to continue with the test. LINK
Pat Nolan: Capitol View CommentaryIf there were those still who wondered if Tennessee Senator Bob Corker was up to the task of heading his body's most prestigious committee (Foreign Relations), wonder no longer. First, Corker (and his Tennessee colleague Lamar Alexander) stayed away from signing that foolish letter sent to top Iranian officials (and signed by 47 GOP Senators) a few weeks ago. The letter basically said anything negotiated with President Barack Obama about Iran's development of nuclear weapons was not worth the paper it would be printed on without Congress' approval. Dumb
Corker seemed to know there was a better way to get the Senate to the table and he's done it. Going to work with Senate Democrats, Corker has crafted bi-partisan legislation that allows the upper chamber to have a review of the final version of what the President negotiates, and certainly do that before the
matter goes to the United Nations Security Council. That includes in particular giving the Senate some say on how quickly economic sanctions against Iran can be lifted.
For weeks, the White House has threatened to veto such legislation. But when it became apparent that Corker had worked a deal that has veto-proof support in Congress (the Foreign Relations Committee has approved the measure unanimously), the Obama administration caved in and now says the President will sign the measure if it passes both the full Senate and then the House.
Pretty good work for a two-term Senator who had no foreign relations background before coming to Washington, and who in his early years in the Senate (after being a corporate CEO, Chattanooga Mayor and State Finance Commissioner) reportedly really didn't like being in a legislative body.
Senator Corker's emergence is already being noticed nationally. He's been named to TIME Magazine's 2015 annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the world. His Tennessee colleague in the Senate, Lamar Alexander, wrote a tribute to Corker in the magazine. It says in part: “His tough-minded pragmatism and grasp of economics have restored prestige to the Foreign Relations Committee and are reminiscent of George H.W. Bush's skilled team. If he is not President himself, Corker is an obvious choice for Secretary of State or Treasury.”
As for his own thoughts about the future, Senator Corker said this in a news release from his office. “ I wake up every day trying to find ways to move our country ahead, and for as long as Tennesseans afford me this opportunity, I will remain focused on solving the big domestic and foreign policy issues facing our nation.”
So he's not coming home to run for Governor in 2018? LINK
Crockett Policy Institute