Billboards urge Harwell to call vote on Insure TN

A statewide billboard campaign — funded by private citizens, including renowned Nashville philanthropist Martha Ingram — is pushing Harwell to bring Insure Tennessee to the House floor, reports The Tennessean. Harwell says she has no intention of doing so.

In a statement to The Tennessean, Harwell said Gov. Bill Haslam decided “not to pursue the implementation of Insure Tennessee.”

“As Speaker, I cannot unilaterally bring it to a vote,” Harwell said. “All bills go through the committee process, and this has failed to receive the support needed to advance.”

Citizens for Insure Tennessee are paying for 20 billboards in cities across the state, urging people to call on Harwell, R-Nashville, to bring Haslam’s Insure Tennessee to a vote.

“I’m just stunned by the leadership, or the lack of leadership, in the legislature,” said Renee Frazier, retired CEO of Shelby County Common Table Health Alliance, who donated to the campaign.

…Mary Falls and Sally Smallwood paid for three Nashville billboards in February and received feedback from private citizens from across the state who wanted to get involved. Billboards with Harwell’s number are also in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, the Tri-Cities, Tullahoma and other cities. Plus, The number of billboards in Nashville has increased to six.

“I’m involved in this because I’m so very disappointed by the actions of many members of the Tennessee legislature,” Ingram said. “I honestly don’t know how they sleep at night.”

Donations from more than 70 people across the state range from $10 to $4,200. Billboards can cost from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, depending on the market. The cost of the billboards to the private donors is negligible compared to the impact Insure Tennessee would have on the state, Falls said.