Sen. Brian Kelsey interviewed

Sen. Brian Kelsey discussed his legislative agenda for 2015 with the CA’s Kyle Veazey, including such matters in as “demilitarization of police,” panhandling in Memphis and, of course, his leadership in opposition to Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal by calling a special meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs.

Excerpt on the latter matter:

Q: Why are you opposed to this two-year pilot program, which the attorney general has said you can opt out of?

A: I would love to clear up that issue. … What came out of (last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee) hearing was you had three different legal experts who offered three different legal opinions on that issue of whether or not we could opt out after two years. The AG opined that based on the NFIB vs. Sebelius decision, that based on that decision alone, that made it optional for states to opt in or opt out, and you could opt in or opt out based on that. Both of our legal experts actually disagreed with that position. They said that was an incorrect reading of the NFIB vs. Sebelius decision.

Q: Is that the crux of your opposition?

A: That would be one of the three, certainly. The first one is just a philosophical question as to whether or not we should be looking to limit government, in state government, or whether we should be looking to expand. And it’s also a question of who pays for this in the first two years, when the money comes from the federal government. There’s no doubt that this money is adding to our $17 trillion federal debt, and Tennesseans’ share of that income tax debt.

Q: That money’s going to be spent somewhere if it isn’t spent in Tennessee, isn’t it?

A: That’s not true. That’s absolutely not true. There are federal programs that are set up that way. Some federal programs they allocate a pot of money, and that pot of money is divvied up and spent based on laws in various states. That’s not how Medicaid works.

Q: Will Insure Tennessee pass?

A: I don’t know how this is going to go. I really don’t know how this is going to turn out. I really don’t.