Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Crockett Buzz: TN Logo Named "Pork of the Year"

New TN logo named 'Pork of the Year' by Beacon Center

Battle Over Gas Tax Looming in Tennessee

‘Highway for Heroes’ program launched in Tennessee

Haslam will ‘wait and see’ on gay marriage, health care rulings

The Obama administration on Monday approved plans by Arkansas, Delaware and Pennsylvania to create their own their own health care exchanges but Gov. Bill Haslam sees no reason to do the same in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated King v. Burwell ruling.
He also sees no reason for state action ahead of an anticipated ruling this month on gay marriage.
King v. Burwell opens the door to striking down federal health care insurance subsidies in states like Tennessee that have no state-operated health care exchange.
From a Richard Locker report on Haslam commentary:
“The King-Burrell decision has to happen in the next 14 days so I think we’re at the point of waiting and seeing what happens there. Building that state exchange won’t be easy or cheap or quick. Rather than spend a lot of time and motion on it now, my approach is let’s wait and see what the Supreme Court says: A, if they rule that way; B, do they provide some remedy, and C, does Congress address it in some way as well. We’re waiting to see the decision before we go spend a lot of money.”
Haslam said his administration laid the foundation a state-run exchange when he faced that decision in 2012, before he decided in December of that year not to create one.
“I will have to go back to our TennCare folks to see how much of that foundation will be able to be built upon now — and obviously the Legislature would have to vote on it as well,” he said.
The governor is taking a similar wait-and-see approach on the other big Supreme Court ruling expected by June 30, on gay marriage.
County clerks, who issue marriage licenses in all 95 counties, are waiting for guidance from the state on how to proceed if the high court overturns Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage, and Haslam said discussions are underway among state lawyers on what that guidance will be. LINK

Federal Appeals Court Asked to Throw Out TennCare Case

Tennessee is asking a federal appeals court to throw out a class-action lawsuit that claims the state left thousands of TennCare applicants in indefinite limbo, with their applications neither approved nor rejected.
With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in October 2013, the government changed the method used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid. But in Tennessee, a new computer system designed to accommodate the change was behind schedule. So the federal government agreed temporarily to accept applications for TennCare – Tennessee's version of Medicaid – on behalf of the state.
The switch was followed by long delays in which many TennCare applicants could not get any response to their requests or even find out the status of their applications. By law, applications for most forms of Medicaid should be processed within 45 days. Applications based on disability are allowed 90 days.
In July 2014, 11 people filed suit against Tennessee agencies and officials. The suit claimed Tennessee was violating the law by failing to rule on applications in a timely manner and refusing to provide hearings to explain those delays. LINK

Battle Over Gas Tax Looming in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam is striking a defiant tone toward critics of raising Tennessee's gas tax for the first time in 25 years.

Haslam is gearing up for a statewide tour to discuss the state's transportation needs, but a group that helped sink the Republican governor's Medicaid expansion proposal during the legislative session has announced a rival tour to oppose it.

Asked about his feelings about efforts to torpedo the gas tax increase before it can get out of the gate, Haslam told The Associated Press his opponents can "have at it." LINK

‘Highway for Heroes’ program launched in Tennessee

State officials say a new program will help veterans and active military members find jobs as truck drivers.
Gov. Bill Haslam launched the “Highways for Heroes” program on Tuesday. The program’s goal is to help veterans and active military personnel who drove commercial grade vehicles during military service more easily find jobs as commercial truck drivers.
Under legislation passed in 2013, the road skills test may be waived for qualified military personnel applying for a Tennessee commercial driver license, which is required to operate large trucks and buses in the state. Applicants, however, are required to pass the applicable commercial driver license knowledge test. LINK

New TN logo named 'Pork of the Year' by Beacon Center

The controversial new Tennessee state logo was elected the "Pork of the Year" by participants in a poll organized by the Beacon Center of Tennessee.
The Beacon Center, self-described as a free-market policy organization but generally considered a conservative think tank, issues the award for "government waste" and a corresponding report every year. This year, they allowed a popular vote for the award: 47 percent of participants chose the $46,000 logo project. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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