State Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown, sadly does not represent Midtown. However, he is working on the conservative issues at the state house. He updates us on the first month of the Legislature:
The Stop Obamacare Act has finally passed its first hurdle in the House. I filed Senate Bill 804 last year with Representative Jeremy Durham to block Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Soon the measure will be up for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee, and I hope the Senate will pass the same language that was approved Wednesday by the House Sub-Committee on Insurance and Banking.
Tennesseans simply cannot afford the $200 million a year the Obamacare Medicaid expansion will cost. The federal government has over $17 trillion dollars of debt, but yet has promised to pay a 90% matching rate for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. I don’t want to see our state promise certain citizens TennCare coverage only to have to take it away a few years later when the federal government decides to break its promise to pay. On a trip I took to Washington, D.C. in December at a Heritage Foundation panel on federalism, one U.S. Congressman said, “If you think it’s going to stay at 90%, you’re kidding yourself.” This bill will ensure that Tennessee taxpayers do not get stuck footing the bill.
Last week I introduced a compromise bill on opportunity scholarships that will help low-income children and still address the concerns raised by Governor Haslam and others. The governor said he hopes to support a bill focused on low-income children in failing schools with annual program caps starting at 5,000 students and rising to 20,000 students
The compromise bill, Senate Bill 2025, would give low-income students in the bottom 10% of schools in Tennessee an opportunity scholarship to attend the K-12 school of their choice. It would keep program caps starting from 5,000 students in year one and rising to 20,000 students in year three. If those caps are not reached each year, scholarships would be offered to other low-income children in those counties in which the bottom 10% of schools are located. The bill also maintains the governor’s definition of low-income, which includes families eligible for free and reduced priced lunch, or $44,000 in annual income for a family of four.
Thank you to the over 1,000 supporters who drove three hours from Memphis through freezing temperatures on Tuesday to attend a rally held in favor of vouchers. This was the biggest rally at the capitol since the income tax battle ten years ago. I hope the bill can pass the Senate this month.
Coming Up in 2014
I am very excited about the work we are undertaking in the legislature this year. So far, I have filed over 60 pieces of legislation that seek to improve the lives of Tennesseans, lower taxes, and streamline state government. I would also invite you to keep an eye on SJR 123, which amends the Tennessee Constitution so the state’s attorney general is popularly elected by the people instead of appointed by the state Supreme Court. The resolution is up for a vote on the Senate floor on Monday, February 3.