About 30 people, many of them college students or clergy, rallied at the Legislative Plaza Wednesday to urge that legislators reconsider Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee bill, killed earlier in the session.
Rev. Matt Steinhauer, a Lutheran minister from Lebanon, believes that was a mistake. He hopes to appeal to lawmakers’ religious convictions.
“We don’t have the voice of lobbyists and special interest groups and those types of things, and so we’re trying to speak out on behalf of 280,000 people who can’t speak out.”
Protesters sang spirituals and met with House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville). They chatted up Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) as he waited in line for a bologna sandwich and prayed with Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) in his office.
“Yes, I would love to have you pray,” Kelsey said after being intercepted on his way to a meeting. “That would be wonderful, and if you could, do it really quickly.”
The protest didn’t seem to have an immediate impact. Later in the day, Republicans withdrew a measure, House Bill 1271, that aimed to help many of the same people as Insure Tennessee.
But protesters plan to keep coming back weekly until the legislative session ends or lawmakers relent.