Tag Archives: legislaton

AP story on Haslam having a hard time in Legislatorland; Haslam says he’s not a lame duck

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s agenda is falling on hard times with fellow Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly.

A House vote last week to delay school curriculum and assessment standards was the latest defiance of the governor’s wishes. The GOP supermajority in the Legislature this session has also:

— Ignored Haslam’s concerns over a bill to strip local governments of the power to impose blanket gun bans in local parks, playgrounds and ballparks.

— Pushed the governor’s anti-meth proposal to the brink of failure because of a disagreement about how many cold and allergy medicines used to make the illegal drug should be allowed to be bought without a prescription.

— Required House Speaker Beth Harwell to directly intervene to rescue Haslam’s proposal to create a limited school voucher program.

— Shown little urgency in enacting the governor’s signature proposal to offer free community college tuition to all high school graduates.

With as little as a month remaining in this year’s legislative session, time is running out for the Haslam administration to right the ship.

Yet Haslam, who has yet to draw a serious opponent to his re-election bid this year, insists that the scrutiny by fellow Republicans in the General Assembly isn’t anything out of the ordinary.
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State senator/physician gets attention for injections, vote on compounding bill

A member of the Tennessee Senate was one of the doctors who injected patients with a spinal steroid at a Nashville outpatient clinic in the months immediately preceding a national fungal meningitis outbreak that took the lives of 16 Tennesseans.

Further from The Tennessean:

Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who is an anesthesiologist, administered injections of methylprednisolone acetate to several patients at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center a year ago, records obtained by The Tennessean show.

Months later, Dickerson voted in favor of a bill to ease Tennessee’s regulation of drug compounders. One such firm, the now-defunct New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, is blamed for causing the outbreak by shipping fungus-tainted steroids to Tennessee and 22 other states.

Dickerson, through an aide, declined to respond to questions about his role at the clinic, which closed down voluntarily shortly before the outbreak became public. It has since reopened.

“As a practicing physician, and out of respect for the privacy of the patients involved locally and out of consideration for the patients involved nationwide, Dr. Dickerson cannot make any statements regarding the details of this matter that could distract from focusing on the well-being of the patients or regarding any of the legal claims against the NECC,” an aide wrote in an email response to questions.

Redacted patient treatment records obtained by The Tennessean show Dickerson was listed as the treating physician for two patients at the clinic in August and September of last year. The outpatient center shut down on Sept. 20, two days after a physician realized a possible link between her patient’s fungal meningitis and the steroid injections he had received at the clinic.
Dickerson has not been named as a defendant in any of the pending cases. The records do not indicate the source of the spinal steroid.

…Videotapes and other records show Dickerson was present and voted in favor of a bill passed earlier this year by the General Assembly that eliminates a requirement that pharmacists get a patient-specific prescription for every dose of a compounded drug.
The bill was approved on a unanimous 7-0 vote in late March by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, of which Dickerson is a member. It was approved 27-1 by the full Senate on April 4 and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 30. Dickerson was recorded as voting “yes” in the roll call.
While the measure had the support of the state pharmacists association, it drew criticism from advocacy groups.

Note: SB582 was sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. David Shepard, D-Dickson, both pharmacists. In brief Senate floor discussion, Haile declared the bill “has nothing to do with the situation that occurred out of Massachusetts that affected many of our people in Tennessee.” The legisltive website shows the Senate floor vote as 29-1 (with Sen. Todd Gardenhire casting the sole no vote). It passed the House 90-0.

UPDATE: The Tennessean reported Tuesday that Dickerson is named in court papers as the physician who injected a victim of the fungal meningitis outbreak with the tainted spinal steroid that led to her lengthy illness.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court, attorneys for Joan M. Peay of Nashville wrote that Dr. Steven Dickerson, a member of the Tennessee Senate, was the one who injected her with the steroid. Dickerson, who is not named as a defendant in the case, injected Peay with contaminated methylprednisolone acetate on Sept. 7 of last year at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, the 31-page complaint states.

Dickerson, a Nashville Republican serving his first term, has declined to respond to questions about his role at the neurosurgical center.

Note II: Betsy Phillips has thoughts upon the matter (basically, So What?)

Ramsey predicts passage of ‘wine in grocery stores’

Legislation enabling localities to hold referendums authorizing Tennessee grocery stores to sell wine will pass in the General Assembly’s next session, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey predicted at a Kingsport Kiwanis Club luncheon on Friday, according to the Kingsport Times-News.

“I am for wine in grocery stores,” said Ramsey, R-Blountville. “…When I talk to (Food City CEO) Steve Smith, he says he’s selling wine in his grocery stores to Tennesseans right now, they just happen to be coming to (Food City locations in) Virginia to get it. This is a commerce issue.”

…Ramsey promised a comprise will be worked out with liquor store owners — who now sell wine exclusively in Tennessee — to give them a “level playing field” with retailers.

Here Comes The Legislature (new, improved GOP ‘supermajority’ model)

With a new GOP supermajority in place for the dawn of the 108th General Assembly this week, Democrats find themselves facing irrelevancy except in cases where the ruling Republicans are divided.
But there are already issues — some old, some new — where Republican divisions are apparent at the outset. There are others, especially on social policy, where intraparty tension between the most conservative lawmakers and their less ardent colleagues — few like to be called moderates — probably makes clashes inevitable.
The session formally convenes at noon on Tuesday. Republicans have 70 seats in the 99-member House and 26 in the 33-member Senate, marking the first time since the Reconstruction era of the late 1860s when the GOP had such ironclad control.
You have to go back to the 1960s to find a time when Democrats, who controlled the state for decades, had equivalent power in the Legislature and one of their own as governor.
The session also features an unusually high number of freshmen — eight in the Senate, not counting Knoxville’s Sen. Becky Massey, who served a partial term previously — and 24 in the House.
The first week will be devoted largely to filing bills and to organizational matters, notably including a sweeping overhaul of House rules and committees developed by Speaker Beth Harwell, that will set the stage for things to come. That will be followed by a two-week recess with work to begin in earnest on Jan. 28, when Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to deliver his annual “state of the state” speech.
Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey are hoping for adjournment by the end of April.

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