Democrats renew call for special session on Insure TN; Haslam renews rejection

The state Democratic Party chairman and legislative Democratic leaders asked Gov. Bill Haslam again Wednesday to call lawmakers back into a special session to consider his health insurance plan for the working poor, Insure Tennessee.

Further from Richard Locker:

In response, Haslam’s office said the governor “has said this is about solving the problem, and he doesn’t think calling the Legislature back into a special session without a different path forward would be productive.”

Democratic Chairman Mary Mancini also blasted GOP lawmakers for opposing the public release of financial information about the costs of providing state health insurance to legislators. Democrats have backed the release because most of the costs of the lifetime benefit are paid by taxpayers.

…House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley said Wednesday the change is the release May 13 of a Vanderbilt University statewide poll indicating 78 percent of Tennessean registered voters want the full Legislature to vote on the issue and 64 percent favor its approval.

“I think we have to look to the public,” Fitzhugh said, citing the Vanderbilt Poll results. “That is one thing that’s changed. The Speaker (House Speaker Beth Harwell) herself has indicated her internal polls show the same thing. We are convinced that our 26 votes (all the House Democrats) are there and we are convinced that we can pick up enough votes from our colleagues across the aisle for this to pass. Why wait another six to eight months until next year for these folks to start getting the health care they deserve.”

…Mancini said the GOP-controlled Legislature “has abdicated its responsibility to the people of our state by refusing to pass” the Republican governor’s plan. She said GOP legislative leaders played politics on the issue.

…”Why are Tennessee Republicans more concerned with hiding their own access to affordable health care than they are with giving other hard working Tennesseans that same access? Democrats stand for effective and accountable government; we know that as public servants the people have a right to an open and transparent government,” she said.