Posts

Republicans Block Hodges’ Virus Worker Relief For the Underemployed

Watch the GOP Block a Jason Hodges Amendment for Tennessee’s underemployed that would cost half ($20 MILLION) of what Bill Lee’s vouchers are costing ($41 MILLION), which remain in the budget.

CASADA: “I Strongly Oppose A Living Wage”

Disgraced ex-Speaker Glen Casada opposes a Rep. Jason Hodges bill that requires companies getting incentives to come to TN to pay their employees fair wages.

RELATED: TN leads Flag of United States in min. wage jobs, inequality is at record levels.

HIGHLIGHTS: TN STATE CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION CANDIDATES

WATCH Rep. Jerry Sexton – who said “we all make mistakes” about a child sex abuser and a KKK Grand Wizard – press candidates to ignore potential harm caused to cash-strapped public schools.

“That 💰 belongs to those parents, not traditional public schools.”

The GOP disdain for public schools on full display. This logic will further devastate them. www.TNHoller.com

STATEWIDE CHARTER AUTHORIZATION BOARD: Gov. Lee’s Attack On Public Schools Continues

State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and State Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) are carrying SB 796 and HB 940, a signature piece of Gov. Bill Lee’s K-12 education initiative which would create a statewide charter authorizer board, allowing charter schools to completely bypass the local school board and the wishes of the actual parents, and instead go straight to a state board for approval.

The legislation would set up a nine-member board appointed by the governor, with confirmation by the House and Senate, to run what would become a statewide charter school district.

From The Daily Memphian:

“White didn’t want to use the word ‘bypass’ but acknowledged the legislation would remove the step for charter applicants to go to the Tennessee Board of Education if turned down by local boards.”

Charter schools are essentially private schools which take public school dollars away from brick and mortar public schools. Many are fly-by-night operations that take as much public money as they can and then disappear.

In the past week, New Vision Academy closed down in Davidson County because of problems with building fire codes. According to reports, a federal investigation also is being conducted into its operators.

This bill would mean charter schools like New Vision could be approved by a board that doesn’t even live in an area, leading to money for those kids being steered away from that area’s public schools – including in rural areas of TN which already barely have enough money to fully fund their existing public school systems.

Cheatham, Claiborne, Robertson, and Williamson County school boards – as well as McMinville schools – have all received letters of intent from charter schools this year. (As a reminder, Williamson County has been assured by their legislators they won’t have vouchers and charter schools… but what if the state charter authorizer disagrees?)

Just like with Lee’s “Education Savings Accounts” (aka “SCHOOL VOUCHERS”), the winners with this bill are private, for-profit charter schools.

Governor Lee’s attack on our Public Schools continues.

Whatever your position on Charters, most people agree local school boards know the needs of their districts better than the state. This appears to be another instance of the governor/Tennessee Republicans saying they prefer local control and “small government” only when it’s convenient.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat who serves on the House Education Committee, pointed that out, calling the legislation a bad idea:

“I think you’re totally negating an entire elected board by the people that was put in place to make those decisions. It’s unfortunate because in most cases we hear our colleagues from the other side of the aisle saying they want smaller government. But this is not smaller government when you’re adding more bureaucracy and more heavy-handedness from the state in regards to local government.”

Senator Kelsey had this to say on behalf of Lee:

“The governor believes we should have an authority in Tennessee that’s dedicated toward approving or disapproving our charter schools to ensure that we have quality charter schools in the state. I’m honored to be able to carry the legislation for him.”

The bill is expected to draw immediate opposition, but it just passed a House Education subcommittee.

Rep. Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville) strongly opposes the legislation, telling The Holler it’s being pushed by groups who are unhappy with the public schools in their own area, but would affect schools everywhere – even areas like Montgomery County which are proud of their schools:

“Just because someone’s unhappy with the schools in their district doesn’t mean they need to take steps to destroy the schools in my district or other districts. The bill wouldn’t just affect their communities, it affects all communities. Charters may not be in Montgomery County yet, but if this happens they’ll be there soon destroying our public school system. No thank you.”

Many others disagree as well.

Jim Wrye, chief lobbyist for Tennessee Education Assocation:

Allan Creasy, who recently ran for state house in the Memphis area:

Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville):

If you agree, holler at Governor Lee HERE, Senator Kelsey HERE, and Rep. White HERE.

TN Republicans Reject Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions, Rural Hospitals, Seniors in Nursing Homes

House Republicans have rejected four measures that would increase health care security for families enrolled in the state Medicaid program known as TennCare.

The measures, introduced by Democratic members of the House Insurance Committee, would have amended HB1280, a bill that directs the governor to apply for a Medicaid block grant from the federal government.

It would be the first such waiver of its kind in U.S. history. (Click here to learn how a Medicaid block grant could cost Tennessee $1 billion in federal funding by 2027.)

GOP Defeats Four Amendments

Protect coverage for pre-existing conditions: House Amendment 5080, presented by Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60, would ensure that Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions would still receive coverage if the block grant was approved.

Republicans voted it down.

Protect rural hospitals: House Amendment 5004a, presented by Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96, would have ensured rural hospitals received due consideration in negotiations with federal Medicaid officials.

Republicans voted it down.

Expand TennCare coverage to working poor: House Amendment 5165, presented by Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88, would expand negotiations to include TennCare health insurance for working families in Tennessee, whose incomes are below 138 percent of poverty line. Generally speaking, these are the Tennesseans who would gain health coverage through Medicaid expansion—a measure supported by 66 percent of Tennesseans.

Republicans voted it down.

Protect nursing home coverage for elderly Tennesseans: House Amendment 5212, presented by Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67, said his measure would protect Medicaid coverage for elderly Tennesseans who live in nursing homes. More than six out of 10 nursing home residents in Tennessee are Medicaid recipients. The legislation “doesn’t guarantee we’re protecting our elderly,” Hodges said.

Republicans voted it down.

In questioning the bill sponsor, Rep. Jernigan said one of the chief concerns of a Medicaid block grant system is funding unexpected coverage increases if circumstances change, for instance, a surge in eligibility surge during an economic downturn. “Would we have to use state dollars at that point to make it up?” Jernigan said.

The bill sponsor Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3, said, “the concern you’re bringing is a classic concern and a valid concern.” But rather than building guidelines for Tennessee’s negotiators, Hill said, it should be addressed during negotiations.

As of January 2019, there were nearly 32,000 TennCare enrollees in Sullivan County, where Rep. Hill lives. Holler at him HERE.

As a reminder, Block Grants would actually mean cuts to TennCare, don’t do anything about covering uninsured Tennesseans or saving rural hospitals, and are currently illegal and opposed by Children’s hospitals.

Here’s more on WHY. Meanwhile we lose $4 Million every day we don’t expand medicaid.

You can watch the full House Insurance Committee meeting here.

How they voted:
House Insurance Committee, March 5; Voice Vote, Ayes prevail:
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36*
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25*
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14

Voting No:
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96

Bill Sponsors:
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25

Meet Rep. Hodges: “TN Needs Medicaid Expansion, Medical Marijuana, Decent Pay“

This week The Holler had a chance to catch up with Jason Hodges, the Freshman TN State Representative out of Clarksville. Hodges is a veteran, a young husband and a dad who just recently beat out Tommy Vallejos for the seat Joe Pitts left behind to go run the city as mayor.

We asked Jason what he’s focused on as the legislative session gets going, and he rattled off some priorities:

“First of all, I think we really need to get some big ticket items like Medicaid Expansion and Medical Marijuana done. They’d lower the cost of health care, which is something both parties agree needs to happen.”

With yet another rural hospital announcing they’ll be closing their doors in Clay County this month, Medicaid expansion is at the top of the list for Democrats, and Hodges really hopes their Republican counterparts will finally see how much damage is being done.

“We’ve lost $6 Billion and counting because they don’t like Obama. I promise you, if Trump wanted to give us $6 Billion to take care of our people, or fix up our roads, we’d take it. People should come before politics. If you want to bring costs down, start there. We can do that tomorrow. “

With regard to Medical Marijuana, and related products like cbd isolate wholesale, Hodges says it comes up in Clarksville often, where constituents would prefer to be treating their various ailments and mental health issues with Medical Marijuana products like https://greensociety.io/product/exclusive-extracts-shatter/, amongst others, rather than opioids and other more addictive medications.

“In many circumstances Medical Marijuana would further reduce cost when it comes to prescriptions. It can be a substitute for high-priced opiates and help reduce addiction. It’s just a cheaper, safer alternative, and we need to get it done. Every year that goes by where we don’t decriminalize it and make it available, more Tennesseans suffer needlessly.”

Although Democrats are a super-minority in the legislature, as a group they support Medical Marijuana, and it seems more and more Republicans are starting to come their way, asking questions like, “what is cbd?” amongst others. Hodges also points out the economic impact it would have, especially in rural Tennessee:

“I’d like to see us tie it to Tennessee farms. Let’s make it so that any marijuana sold in Tennessee has to be produced in Tennessee. It’ll help our rural economies, and give those communities and our farmers an alternative product to produce – while helping with the opioid crisis and the cost of medicine. It’s a win all around. We trust our doctors to prescribe opiates, which is what heroin comes from, but we don’t trust them to prescribe marijuana products like those you can see if you Visit this website and others like it? Makes no sense.”

Hodges was also eager to talk about the voting rights bill he’s carrying, which would make it so that any state application you fill out would mean you’re automatically registered to vote.

“SNAP, the DMV… any state application you fill out you need the exact same paperwork as you do to get registered to vote. We should be making it easier on folks, not harder. Anyone who disagrees with that would appear not to be a huge fan of democracy.”

The subject then turned to economic incentives for companies coming to Tennessee, in light of Electrolux announcing they’d be closing their plant in Memphis and moving those jobs to Springfield. Hodges had this to say:

“Look, If we’re gonna subsidize a company to come to Tennessee we should make sure they’re paying a living wage. If they don’t, they should be fined, and the subsidy should be paid back. We can’t subsidize companies who don’t pay people enough to live just so those people then have to be subsidized by the government. That’s corporate welfare. If you want to come to Tennessee, great- you need to treat our people right.”

Seems pretty reasonable. Is he against incentives in general? A passionate Hodges insisted he wasn’t.

“No, I’m not against incentives as a concept. But if the taxpayers are on the hook let’s make sure what we’re getting is worthwhile. There are situations from a competitive standpoint where we have to subsidize to get a company to come here, but at the same time how are we going to pay a company who won’t pay a living wage – then turn around and blame people for mooching off the government? It kills me.”

Pretty sensible ideas. As Hodges gets more and more comfortable in his new role, we look forward to seeing what he can get done up there. Holler at him HERE.