Priorities Do we accept the status quo or do we work together to provide opportunity for every child and ensure prosperity for every Tennessee family? Change begins with us. John Ray's priorities are guided by open communication and the exchange of ideas with his hard-working constituents, business leaders, entrepreneurs, local officials, civic groups, parents, educators, and members of the faith community. Healthcare Jobs & Economy Infrastructure Education Equality If we focus on solutions and we’re willing to listen, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together. Join Team JRC Healthcare Health Coverage The fight to provide all Tennesseans access to quality, affordable health care continues. We must protect and provide for our seniors, strengthen TennCare for struggling families, and ensure that all children - regardless of income - have access to health care. Medicaid expansion is long overdue. By accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion, our federal tax dollars stay here in Tennessee and hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who are in the “coverage gap” will be able to afford health insurance. Failing to expand Medicaid is also causing rural hospitals to close, which is devastating communities across the state. Medical professionals are losing their jobs and people no longer have nearby emergency rooms. It’s time to stop playing politics with people's lives. Mental Health & Wellness The work for mental health care support has just begun. The state's passage of a law to enforce mental health parity and substance abuse equity laws received bipartisan support. However, Medicaid expansion is blocking Tennesseans, including veterans, from receiving critical mental health services. Overall wellness must also be addressed. Obesity rates and costs continue to rise, and yet Tennesseans are taxed for their efforts to achieve a healthy, active lifestyle. Legislation is being created to repeal unnecessary taxes and promote policies to help Tennesseans improve their health and their quality of life. Opioid Crisis We can’t be serious about the opioid crisis unless we expand Medicaid. That is the first step. Combating this epidemic requires a major financial commitment to treatment. Every Tennessean deserves an opportunity to rebound from addiction. Medical Marijuana It is time to reform our approach to marijuana for medical use and put an end to excessive punishment and unnecessary prison sentences for simple possession. Education Quality Public Schools Every child deserves an opportunity to succeed. Including principals and teachers in the conversation is paramount to ensuring the best possible outcome for students. Legislation has been introduced to improve teacher retention rates, assist schools in meeting RTII requirements, and protect students from lunch-shaming and bullying. The Department of Education must be held accountable for its repeated standardized testing failures and we have to protect teachers from being faulted for a flawed testing system. Our teachers deserve more respect, more support and higher salaries. The most efficient and productive way to ensure a promising future for our families, our communities, and generations to come, is to invest in public education and that starts with our teachers. Creating Safe Environments We must protect our children. Common sense gun safety laws should be mandatory, not optional, and are long overdue. Jobs & Economy Quality Job Creation Tennessee can be more competitive in attracting companies with high-paying jobs, while nurturing existing businesses that have contributed to our community’s success. Developing local talent, creating an inclusive environment and supporting entrepreneurs will strengthen our communities, foster innovation and ultimately spur quality job growth. Outsourcing & Privatization There is no proof that outsourcing jobs at state parks or colleges and universities is more efficient or cost-effective. We must continue to expose outsourcing and privatization schemes. On the issue of privatizing prisons, companies should never profit from the imprisonment of others. Equal Pay The gender pay gap hurts our families, our businesses and our communities. Asserting equal pay for equal work in a meaningful way is long overdue. Equality Fighting Hate & Discrimination Tennessee deserves leaders who will take a stand against legislation or policies that target immigrants, refugees, members of the LGBTQ community or any minority group. Voting Rights Studies show that Tennesseans have suffered from voter suppression designed to disenfranchise minorities, low-income workers and people with disabilities. We must remove barriers to the ballot box. Elections In Tennessee, most counties provide no verifiable, auditable paper trail. For 17 years, Tennessee has sat on $28 million in federal funds designed to improve our elections. Refusing to invest in the protection and integrity of our elections is nothing short of a betrayal of public trust. Infrastructure We are not investing enough in infrastructure. Transportation The hard truths about transportation infrastructure: Investing is 100% necessary. Economic growth is impossible without it. We must be thoughtful with a well-designed, inclusive plan. It doesn’t happen without strong, courageous leadership. We will never get unanimous consent on funding but we can work together to make a fiscally-responsible investment. Broadband Access Fast, affordable, reliable internet access is essential to economic growth and opportunity. Companies invest in communities with a strong infrastructure, and in today’s world, that includes quality broadband internet access. Net Neutrality Equity, opportunity and freedom can only be achieved if we all have access to a free and open internet. Tennessee families should not be exposed to the will of large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for access, nor should our personal information be sold to the highest bidder. An ISP can track your every move online. Tennesseans deserve privacy protections and access to the internet without invasive interference of ISPs.