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Join the Conversation – March 27, 2017

Twitter: @JRClemmons and #TeamJRC
Facebook: johnrayfortn

My family and all of #TeamJRC would like to extend our love and heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Hope Stringer and the entire Stringer family. Mr. Howard Stringer’s warm, welcoming personality and giving spirit embodied everything that is wonderful about our city. He has truly left a lasting legacy on our entire community, and for that we are eternally grateful.

Let your voices be heard and make your presence felt.
It is great to see so many familiar faces at the State Capitol every week. It is an honor to have so many of you who have committed to taking time out of your busy schedules to attend these rallies every Monday. With so many controversial pieces of legislation moving forward in the last few weeks of this legislative session, it is important that you continue to remind my colleagues and I that you are watching and holding us accountable. As I said last Monday, I am prepared to fight bad legislation taking aim at our children, families and community, and I know you are too.

Equal pay for equal work
Last week I introduced the first of my two bills aimed at ensuring equal pay for equal work for women. I presented my Tennessee Pay Equality Act to the House Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, and following debate on the bill, the subcommittee decided to postpone a final vote on the bill until this week. I have taken advantage of having an extra week by slightly amending it to address some of the concerns that were raised during the initial hearing. My Senate cosponsor, Senator Sara Kyle, will be presenting our Tennessee Pay Equality Transparency Act on Tuesday, March 28th in the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. If the bill moves forward in the Senate, I will be presenting it immediately following our other bill. I encourage everyone who is able to come show your support for equal pay this week at 3:00pm on Wednesday, March 29 in LP29.

Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care
On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining dozens in front of the offices of Senator Alexander and Senator Corker to speak out against the ill-conceived and hastily crafted Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, Speaker Paul Ryan pulled their bill off the floor of the U.S. House without a vote just hours later. While this is a victory for every American who benefits from the coverage provisions and other benefits of the ACA, we must remember that it may be the first of many attempts by Republicans to deny coverage to 24 million Americans. My colleagues and I in the Tennessee General Assembly must also treat it as a wakeup call. It is time for a renewed effort to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, and it is well past time for our state to make the ACA work for Tennessee families. While the Haslam administration has spent years facilitating a health care crisis in our state by refusing to implement key provisions of the ACA and make it work for our state, people across Tennesseans have suffered the consequences.

This week, Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh will be presenting his bill to fully implement and expand Medicaid in the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee, and I will be presenting my mental health parity legislation, HB1244 and HB480 during the same subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, March 29th at 12:00pm in LP29.

Protecting Our State Parks
As we all feared, Governor Haslam renewed his push to privatize our state parks by successfully amending his Fall Creek Falls RFP on Thursday during the latest meeting of the State Building Commission. If you care about our state parks like me and several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, please make your opinions known. Share your opinions about privatizing our state parks with Governor Haslam at (615) 741-2001 and Commissioner Martineau and Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill at (888) 891-8332.

Also, the contract to accomplish Haslam’s outsourcing of all facilities management services at our state colleges and universities is set to be released on Tuesday. Share your opinions about outsourcing jobs at our state colleges and universities with Governor Haslam and Terry Cowles at (615) 741-2001 and Commissioner Bob Oglesby at (615) 741-9263.

My legislation that is scheduled to be heard in subcommittees this week:
HB49 – A bill to create additional legislative oversight of contracts with third-party vendors. This legislation takes direct aim at the Governor’s secretive outsourcing efforts.
HB1246 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Act”
HB477 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Transparency Act”
HB424 – A bill to reduce “privilege taxes” and “wholesale taxes” on Tennessee craft breweries
HB480 – A bill to require every managed care organization that participates in the TennCare program to submit an annual report to the bureau of TennCare for the purpose of facilitating TennCare’s monitoring of managed care organization claims denials for mental health and alcoholism or drug dependence benefits on the grounds of medical necessity within each classification of benefits among inpatient benefits, outpatient benefits, prescription drugs, and emergency care. This bill would also require the bureau to study and compare denial rates among each managed care organization and request additional data if significant discrepancies in denial rates are found.

HB1244 – A bill requiring state government to enforce the Mental Health Parity Act in Tennessee by revising requirements regarding coverage for mental health, mental illness, and alcohol or drug dependency, and requires certain reports.

3/24/17 – TN Lawmakers react to failed healthcare bill – Action 5 News
3/24/17 – Constituents rally amidst Tennessee support for GOP healthcare bill – WZTV
3/23/17 – Proposed Fall Creek Falls outsourcing process back on track – Chattanooga Times Free Press
3/16/17 – 2017 In Charge – Government and Politics – Nashville Post
3/14/17 – Effort to alter beverage panel makeup returns to House – Knoxville News Sentinel

2017, Vol. V



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