Tennessee And The Runaway Train


We have made it through the 108th General Assembly, and if you want to see the winners and losers from the past two years head here for Tom Humphrey’s round-up.

Now that we’ve gotten this session out of the way, the one thing that has happened, to quote Gov. Bill Haslam, is the proverbial “elephant in the room”.

From Andrea Zelinski and I recommend you read her whole analysis start to finish:


If so, Gov. Haslam might want to pass out some hearing aids. His plan offering vouchers to poor students at low-performing schools couldn’t muster the votes to make it out of a House committee on one of the final days of the legislative session. His other proposals passed, but even then the legislature watered some of them down.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey rejects the notion the governor took a beating this year.

“If we had passed everything he put in, you’d been in the same press conference [saying], ‘Y’all are just rubber stamps. Everything he puts up, you do,’ ” Ramsey says.

“We are an independent body, and our founding fathers were brilliant for setting up this system. We have to have some kind of consensus. And so if we change anything, suddenly [it’s], ‘You had a rough year, we’re beating up on him.’ I just don’t look at it that way at all.”

Still, Ramsey admits that over the past two years, relationships have at times hit the skids between fellow Republicans. This time last year, he and the House Speaker were not on speaking terms after an end-of-session game of chicken resulted in Ramsey and Harwell both losing favorite bills.

We don’t have the Tardis or Doctor Who to cleverly come and save the tattered remnants of this session, but we do know is that there are fractures in the Republican Supermajority. What folks who are watching this with horrified eyes the size of an anime character circa 1999 is a couple of simple things. Voting during the mid-terms is a given, but also pointing out what is happening around this state in each Grand Division is imperative. If I were a Democratic candidate in this state, I’d bang this drum like Buddy Rich.

Let’s look at rural hospitals in Tennessee:

Rural hospitals in Tennessee have been laying off workers and cutting services “to the bone” thanks to our Republican supermajority’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

That’s according to hospital administrators surveyed by The Tennessean and the Jackson Sun in some solid journalism over the weekend. Many rural hospitals are thinking about closing maternity wards and ending cancer treatment, among other services.

Contrast that bad news with this happy Washington Post story from Kentucky, where the Affordable Care Act is running smoothly and enrolling people right and left.

If you want to see a clock of how are state is hemorrhaging Medicaid Expansion money in real time, head to Knox Views. Running for office is a strange and exhilarating thing, and democratic candidates are going to have a rough year because national politics are superseding conversations about local communities, specific governance for individual areas and that so much news now is based on business, not information.

I know this is long, but I wish to leave you with one last thing and that is that under the Supermajority, government is getting bigger, not smaller as was the campaign mantra cry of the GOP in the last few election cycles.We have seen a lot of out-of-state interference in local issues, and it is troubling.

I think we can all agree, we want an effective government. Folks are going to have to vote if they want to stop this runaway train.

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