Robert Houk bids a not-so-fond farewell to the 2015 legislative session:
Although the session was short, lawmakers still managed to inflict a lot of damage this year through their actions. Last week, I heard from several health care activists in our region who still hold out hope that Insure Tennessee would somehow be resurrected this year.
Although I was surprised to see the measure briefly put back on life support last month, I am certain Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid for Tennessee’s working poor will never make it to a floor vote in either chamber of the General Assembly. The Republican supermajority will simply double down on its opposition as we draw closer to the 2016 elections.
Yes, I agree grassroots campaigns can be successful in knocking down political blockades, but not when they are financed by deep pockets like those of the Koch brothers. And the few Democrats left in the General Assembly are simply powerless to do anything about it.
So, if you are not a fan of the way the current GOP does business in Nashville, be happy that the General Assembly has gone home for the year.
…Some might argue Tennessee lawmakers continue to turn back time with some of the legislation that was debated this year. I’m not that cynical, though. Sound judgement did prevail at times. The Senate, for instance, decided not to follow the House into the tall weeds by declaring the Holy Bible Tennessee’s official book. Senators listened to the state’s own attorney general (a Republican, by the way) when he warned such a designation would be highly questionable under both the state and federal constitutions.
I don’t question the motives of those who thought this was an issue worthy of all the attention and debate it received this year, but I do wonder why Insure Tennessee couldn’t be given similar time.