Kelsey Gives a Year in Review

Republican State Senator Brian Kelsey explains the accomplishments of the Tennessee Legislature:

He explains further:

Tennessee placed the final nail in the coffin of ObamaCare Medicaid expansion when Gov. Haslam signed my Stop ObamaCare Act this month. It took two years to pass the bill, but your tax dollars are now safe.

Without this law, it would have cost Tennessee taxpayers a minimum of $200 million a year to expand Medicaid, and that’s assuming no more broken promises. First, President Obama claimed that if you liked your doctor and your insurance plan, you could keep them. Promise broken. Next, we were told that expanding Medicaid under Obamacare would save money because of fewer emergency room visits. In Oregon, however, those who received ObamaCare Medicaid expansion actually increased their emergency room visits 40%. Promise broken. Now Congress is promising to pay 90% of the bill to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. As one Congressman told me in December, “If you think [the rate] is going to stay at 90%, you’re kidding yourself.” In 1981 Congress broke its promised Medicaid matching rate to balance its budget, and Congress will have to do it again. This law ensures that Tennessee taxpayers won’t get left footing the bill. It also helps pay down the $17 trillion national debt. Contrary to liberal media reports, funds not spent in Tennessee under ObamaCare are not sent to other states. They simply are not spent.

Others in the liberal media have argued that this law still allows Tennessee to participate in ObamaCare Medicaid expansion in the future, so long as the General Assembly approves it. That is the case with all laws. The General Assembly can always change its mind and undo a law in the future. Prior to the passage of this law, a future governor simply could have requested ObamaCare Medicaid expansion in a Medicaid waiver request directly to the federal government. That is no longer the case. We now have a law on the books that is clear: “The Governor shall not make any decision or obligate the State of Tennessee in any way with regard to the expansion of … Medicaid [under Obamacare].”

Federal Balanced Budget Amendment:

This year, Tennessee became the 22nd and Michigan the 23rd of 34 states necessary to call for a federal balanced budget. My Senate Joint Resolution 493 passed the Senate 28-0 in March, and a similar resolution by Rep. Powers was signed by the governor this month! SJR 493 calls for a convention of the states to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a federal balanced budget each year, absent a Congressional declaration of war or an economic recession. The Founding Fathers gave states the ability to call for an Article V convention to reign in the federal government. Now is the time to use it.


Tennessee became the 48th state to end forced annexation, thanks to a bill I was the first to co-sponsor that was signed into law this month. The new law requires a majority vote from the people prior to annexation. Cities now will have to prove to residents that they will provide sufficient services and increased property values for those they hope to annex.


On the positive side, Tennessee finally passed the state charter authorizer law by Sen. Gresham that I co-sponsored. It will allow the state board of education to grant quality charter schools the opportunity to operate even if the local school board disagrees. No longer is the fox guarding the henhouse. In fact, there will now be an incentive for local boards to grant quality charters because if they do not, the scores of those students will not be calculated in their performances.

Attorney General:

Tennessee is the only state in the union in which the Attorney General is selected by the Supreme Court. He is actually twice removed from the people because our Supreme Court also is not elected. This lack of accountability leads to such unpopular decisions as not joining the lawsuit against ObamaCare. It also leaves him unaccountable when officials commit acts of public corruption. I filed bills this year to solve both problems and to change how we select the Attorney General, but all came up short. We need to change this system to give the people a voice in the Attorney General’s office.

Invest in Tennessee:

A new law I passed will encourage start-up companies in Tennessee by allowing crowdfunding, or the raising of money through small contributions from a large number of people. The law allows the raising of up to $1 million in increments of $10,000 per Tennessee investor.

License Plate Scanning:

Did you know that cameras on streets and on police cars are constantly scanning your license plate to search for outstanding warrants? I passed a new law to mandate that this information about where you park be destroyed within 90 days.

Tort Reform:

Accountants and attorneys finally got to take advantage of tort reform this year in a new law I passed granting them a five year statute of repose. Such a statute requires that all lawsuits against accountants and attorneys must be brought within five years from the date on which the act or omission occurred. Like all tort reform, this bill furthers the administration of justice by requiring lawsuits to be brought in a timely manner, while memories are fresh.

Pill Mills:

Prescription drug addiction is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in Tennessee, especially after Florida passed legislation to shut down “pill mills,” or pain clinics that dole out drugs to patients without symptoms. In an effort to shut down these “pill mills,” Rep. Shipley and I passed a law modeled after the one Florida had pioneered with encouraging results.

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