Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mayor Barry Statement on Governor Haslam's Transportation Plan

Press release, 1/18/2017 - Mayor Megan Barry issued the following statement on news that Governor Bill Haslam will include authorizing legislation for voter referendums to approve a dedicated funding source for transit in his legislative package:

“I appreciate Governor Haslam’s leadership on the issue of transportation infrastructure in Tennessee and the inclusion of a local option for voters to approve dedicated transit funding in his legislative package. I believe Nashvillians are willing to pay for a mass transit system that meets the needs of our growing community if given the chance to make that decision. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to advocate on behalf of Governor Haslam’s comprehensive transportation legislation that will keep Nashville and Tennessee moving forward.”

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Rep. Susan Lynn: The Governor's gas tax plan is revenue neutral

by Rep. Susan Lynn from a Facebook post - Hi all, I just want to let you know some facts about the Governor's proposal today. The Governor's plan is revenue neutral but that is not what I am seeing in the news tonight.

We received a lot of information today and I will post it as soon as I can turn the PDFs into JPGs – the press release is below.

You know that I would not vote to raise your taxes. In fact, I have never voted for a single tax increase, and I have voted to lower our taxes many times. One thing I really dislike is intellectual dishonesty – if that is what is going on let me try to put an end to it.

In Tennessee we have always followed two principles when it comes to funding our roads - we build Tennessee's roads with cash, and Tennessee's funding sources for the roads, the gas tax, diesel tax, rental car tax etc., operate strictly as user fees. In other words, those who use the roads pay for the roads - and what each pays is proportional to actual usage.

Tennessee has been experiencing very large budget surpluses partly because of growth and partly because of good management. The $1 billion you hear about comes from unspent funds in state departments and lawsuit victories that Tennessee has won - but unspent money and lawsuit proceeds is one time money not growth in revenue. The $300-400 million dollars we hear about comes from over collections of tax revenue from what was budgeted which means it is actual growth – however some of those collections are from recurring funds sources and some of is from non-recurring fund sources.

As anyone knows, we cannot spend non-recurring funds for recurring expenses. The various taxes that have been bringing in more tax revenue than we have budgeted to spend are not related to the road fund.

Our road construction needs are great in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon - indeed - in the entire state. The Governor had wanted to simply raise the gas tax however a group of us has been supporting a revenue neutral adjustment to the tax collections. That way the over-collections we are experiencing will be reassigned in a revenue neutral way to the road fund and in a way that supports our two main principles for our road construction – pay with cash and users pay for the roads - e.g. we do not want food taxes or the Hall Income tax building our roads. Road building should remain funded by those who use the roads.

The Governor's proposal today is a revenue neutral proposal. It proposes lowering taxes in areas where we have had large surpluses and proportionally adjusting the taxes that fund our roads.

Please write me back and tell me what you think. I have served you for a long time. I have never raised your taxes. I have stood for family values and told you the truth. Please let me know, do you support the idea of a revenue neutral approach because I can tell you that we really do have great infrastructure needs in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon - people have died, people have had accidents, people lose time in their day that they could spend with their families. I can also tell you that due to inflation, improved gas mileage and electric and natural gas vehicles the road fund is not meeting the needs of our fast growing state. It is just policy, there are many things we could do including doing nothing at all but that won’t help Providence or North Mt. Juliet. And I hope you don’t support a tax increase but rather that you support a revenue neutral way to direct tax dollars to the road fund.

I am very proud to serve on the House Finance Committee where we will be debating the Governor’s proposal, and I will work hard to make sure that any increase in revenue to the State Road Fund account is truly revenue neutral with comparable cuts to other taxes so that we can get the roads we need in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon completed.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Americans for Prosperity Tennessee urges citizen action to stop the gas tax.


Dear Rod,



Governor Bill Haslam announced his plan to increase the gas tax this morning. Many legislators are already wavering and saying they will go along with a plan that is "revenue neutral."
Contact Legislator buttonIf you want to stop the gas tax hike the time to act is NOW. Please contact your legislator HERE  or by calling them directly at 615-741-1100.
Points to remember:
TN has a record budget surplus - currently 1.2 Billion dollars 

Now is the time to cut taxes, not raise them.

The 7 cent-per-gallon increase will make TN's gas tax one of the highest in the South. Only Georgia and North Carolina would have a higher gas tax. Their gas tax hikes haven't solved the congestion issues in Atlanta or Charlotte and it won't solve traffic headaches here either.
To make matters worse the proposal will automatically and continually increase the gas tax. Seven cents is just the start.
AFP - In the News

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Gov. Haslam proposes a tax cut on food and an increase in the Gas tax.

 From Governor Bil Haslam:
IMPROVE Act: A Tax Cut and Transportation Plan
  
This morning I was joined by mayors from across the state and leaders in the manufacturing and trucking industries to announce the IMPROVE Act, a plan to cut taxes on food and manufacturing and update how the state provides Tennesseans the safe and reliable transportation network we need to support future job growth.
Here are five key takeaways about the IMPROVE Act:
-The legislation cuts $270 million annually in taxes, bringing the total number of cuts made and proposed since 2011 to $540 million annually, roughly nine times more than any other administration.

-Working with the General Assembly, we have also cut $500 million in recurring costs out of the state budget since 2011. The IMPROVE Act cuts food and business taxes because we’ve reduced the cost of state government to taxpayers and we need to be strategic where we’re at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting jobs to Tennessee.

-Tennessee last addressed how it funds its roads and bridges in 1989 when it raised its fixed tax rate to 21.4 cents per gallon, creating a transportation network that spurred the economic growth the state has seen during the last three decades.

-Tennessee’s 21.4 cents per gallon flat gas tax is now worth 11 cents, according to the State Comptroller’s Office.
-With a comprehensive and balanced transportation proposal, the IMPROVE Act keeps Tennessee a pay-as-you-go state and the state’s transportation network debt-free for the next generation at a cost to the average Tennessee road user of approximately $4 a month while delivering 962 projects across all 95 counties.
The IMPROVE Act, “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy,” is the first piece of my NextTennessee legislative plan, proposals aimed at building and sustaining economic growth and the state’s competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans.

Because we are a smaller, less tax reliant state government, it is time to build on the vision of what the future of Tennessee looks like and requires. The IMPROVE Act is the next step in the conversation about how we’re going to address expected growth, maintain Tennessee’s economic momentum and remain competitive as we continue recruiting high quality jobs.

Together these tax cuts and investments will move the state forward and position the next Tennessee for continued growth, prosperity and opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

For more information on the IMPROVE Act, visit

Bill

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What happened at the Council meeting of 1/17/2017: software purchase to enforce Airbnb regs deferred, Autumn Hills nursing home management agreement cancelled.




At only 42 minutes long this is a relatively short meeting. To get a copy of the agenda, the staff agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Confirmation of appointees to Boards and Commissions pass without descent, the public hearing of  a bill to grant  an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit passes with no one speaking on it,  all bills on First Reading pass without discussion by a single vote as is the norm, and all resolutions except for one pass on the consent agenda all lumped together and passing by a single vote. Below are the resolution and bills of interest.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-519  approves a  sole-source contract for over a million dollars for a five year period between Metro and Host Compliance, LLC to provide services to identify unpermitted STRPs, collect data on the extent of all such non-compliance, estimate rental activity for permitted and unpermitted properties, compare estimated rental activity with hotel/motel tax receipts from the property, and maintain a 24 hour complaint hotline. This is essentially a computer software program and tech support. The system will monitor on-line sites such as Airbnb and then compare those Nashville listings with  permits and hotel-motel tax payment records. This will help catch those who are illegally operating and help insure that operators are paying the hotel-motel tax.  This may bring in additional revenues to offset the cost. While I think we over regulate STRP, I support this bill.   If we are going to regulate STRP then we need to make sure the law is enforced. When some people follow the law and others get by with ignoring the law, that breeds contempt for law.  However, there is a move afoot to  ban non-owner occupied STRP.  I would favor deferring this to see what happens to the STRP bill.  Should they be banned, then it seems there would be less need to purchase this program. I do not think they will be banned but I think it would be prudent to wait and see what happens to that effort before purchasing this program.  One committee of the Council recommended referral of this resolution, so "by rule" it is deferred one meeting. To view The Tennessean's report on this resolutions, see Council debates $1M software contract to enforce Nashville Airbnb rules.

BILL NO. BL2016-461  on Second Reading requires employees of Metro to report fraud and unlawful acts committed against the Metropolitan Government to the Metropolitan Auditor. There is already a State law that does something similar. This was on second reading last time and deferred to this meeting.  It is deferred again.


BILL NO. BL2016-525 on Second Reading would require the Metropolitan Police Department to provide reports of positive engagements with the community to the Metropolitan Council. This got a negative recommendation in committee and the sponsor moves to deferred one meeting.

BILL NO. BL2016-529  on Third Reading approve the removal of  certain buildings and structures on the Fairgrounds. This is part of a Fairgrounds improvement plan in which some existing building are to be torn down, but not the racetrack. These building are to be replaced. The Charter requires Council approval to tear down any building at the Fairgrounds. This protection was put in the Charter by referendum following former Mayor Dean's attempt to abolish the Fairground and make the property available for redevelopment for other uses. This passes on a roll call vote of 38 in favor and none opposed.

BILL NO. BL2016-540 cancels the lease agreement with the management company than manages the Autumn Hills nursing home, formerly a Metro operated facility that is in the process of being fully privatized. It also rescinds the Council’s approval of the Purchase and Sale Agreement between Metro and the Vision Real Estate Investment Corporation for the sale of the 76 acre property. This facility was formerly the Knowles Home Assisted Living and Adult Day Services facility. This would not affect the Bordeaux facility which is under a separate agreement. While this move may be warranted, I would hope Metro would totally get out of the nursing home business entirely so it was not in a position of stepping back in to rescue a mismanaged facility. For more on the issue follow this report from News Channel 5: Council Begins Process To Get New Autumn Hills Management. This passes on a voice vote with no discussion.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The basic elements of the Repulican plan for Obamacare replacement

There is little doubt that Obamacare was imploding prior to the Republican victory in November. Even people who were benefiting from Obamacare were chaffing under exorbitant premium rate increases and deductibles of thousands of dollars. For many people a $5,000 deductible is no insurance at all. A $5,000 deductible causes them to avoid needed treatment and if they must get treatment it can force them into bankruptcy.  In about a third of the counties in America, consumers have a "choice" of only one provider. It was obvious to everyone except the most loyal of Democrat partisans that Obamacare had not kept the promise of letting people keep their doctor or the promise of lowering cost. People were souring on Obamacare and the worst of the mandate tax penalty had not even hit yet and 2017 premiums had not yet been implemented. Next to a promise to "build the wall," the promise of Obamacare "repeal and replace" was probably the primary reason people voted for Donald Trump. So, Trump and Republicans won, now what?

Repealing and replacing Obamacare is a big challenge and will not be easy. Simply repealing Obamacare and not replacing it with something different is not a realistic option. Obamacare was a disaster but what we had before Obamacare was not working very well either. One thing seems pretty clear; most folks don't want to go back to the days when insurers could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or having limits on care such that getting cancer wiped out a lifetimes of saving in a few short months, or having a whole lot of people without health insurance. Those thing must be considered in any replacement plan. Trump has pledged any replacement plan would provide protection for per-existing conditions and that young adult could stay on their parents plan until age 26. To meet all of these promises and expectation is going to be tough.

Critics claim Republicans do not have a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and while there is not one specific proposal there are certain elements that will most likely be in any Republican plan. This not unknown.  These proposals have been floating around for years. From my reading, here is what is likely to be in any Republican Plan.

  • Repeal of the individual mandate, which  requires individuals to buy health insurance and imposes a  huge tax penalty if they do not.
  • Create new tax credits to incentivize individuals to buy insurance
  • Health Insurance plan choice: Health insurance customers will be able to chose the features they want in a plan. Women past child bearing age and men may not want plans that provide for child birth and maturity care. People would not have to buy features they do not want.
  • States would decide minimum coverage requirements.
  • Planned Parenthood would no longer receive federal funds through Medicaid reimbursements for services. 
  • Insurance customers could buy insurance policies across state lines, much the way one can now do with car insurance.  
  • Health Savings Accounts: HSAs  allow people to set aside money to pay for expenses not covered by insurance and that money is not taxed.
  • Auto-enrollment in health insurance. New employees would automatically be enrolled in an employer's health insurance plan unless they opt out. This would be combined with the new tax credits so the premium would equal the tax credit and the employee would have no reason to opt out.
  •  Provide grants to states for high risk health insurance pools.
  • An increase in medicaid waivers and block grants to states so states could innovate and design their own safety-net programs.

There are some difficulties in crafting any Obamacare replacement including these: 
  • Cost. Some of the taxes that fund Obamacare would go away with repeal of Obamacare. Part of the way Obamacare is funded is that healthy people are subsidizing sick people through higher insurance rates. To insure those with a preexisting condition would probably require the creation of a government subsidized high risk pools. That will not be cheap and Republicans are loath to raise taxes. Also, while there is a philosophical difference between not taxing someone and taxing them and then spending the money, it is still a "cost."  Massive tax credits will be expensive.
  • Keeping people covered. Some Republicans have promised that if people had insurance thorough the ACA, they would still have insurance under the Republican plan. Many of those who have insurance under Obamacare however, have it because they are forced to purchase it. Remove the mandate and fewer people will have coverage. 
  • Getting bi-partisan support. Obamacare was passed on a strictly partisan basis with no compromise and the use of heavy-handed tactics and bribes (Louisiana Purchase, Corn husker kickback) to keep Democrats on board.  When there is no buy-in from the other party, then the victorious party cannot expect their victory to last.  The same fate will befall a Republican plan if they do not get Democrat support but to get Democrat support would most likely require keeping Obamacare. A bi-partisan plan seems highly unlikely. 
Some problems will not be resolved by the best Republican plan: 
  • Rising cost: Just as Obamacare did not lower health care cost, there is not much in a Republican plan to significantly lower cost.  Insurance payments are third party payments and no one cares what something cost as long as someone else is paying for it and it doesn't much matter if the "somebody" is the government or an insurance company. 
  • There is not a market in health care: Some of the Republican elements would introduce more market forces but not much. For one thing, it is hard to have a market when people do not care what something cost and secondly, people do not think rationally about the cost and benefits of prolonging life or getting well. Someone will spend all their life saving to keep their spouse or child alive a week longer. 
  • There is not health care cost transparency. It is hard to have a market without price transparency and a health care consumer does not know the price of what he is purchasing until after it is purchased. Since someone else is paying the bill people don't care, but also, no one can understand all the bills they get and what each bill pays for. Paying for healthcare is like having an addition build on to your house without getting an estimate or discussing cost and then getting bills from various workmen and suppliers after the fact.
For the best of more information on Republican plans for health insurance reform and issues related to replacing Obamacare, follow these links:
H.R. 2653 (114th): American Health Care Reform Act of 2015,  sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe.
A Better Way,  Paul Ryan
GOP's Go-Slow 'Rescue Mission' Plan To Replace Obamacare.  NPR
The GOP must be practical when replacing the ACA, American Enterprise Institute
Fulfilling the Promise of Obamacare Repeal, National Review



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Monday, January 16, 2017

Rep. Steve Cohen says he'll boycott Trump inauguration

by Ryan Poe, The Commercial Appeal U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen announced Monday in Memphis he will boycott President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration in solidarity with civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis. (keep reading)

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Keeping the Promise to Repeal Obamacare

by Congressman Phil Roe, M. D., 1st District of Tennessee - Almost seven years ago, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was signed into law. President Obama promised this law would expand access to and lower the cost of health insurance coverage, but almost every promise the president made about Obamacare has since been broken. Americans were promised they could keep their doctors and the health coverage they had if they liked them, but many could not. In the meantime, the individuals and families who have tried to get coverage under Obamacare have seen their costs skyrocket while their options for coverage have dwindled. Nationwide, the cost of an average insurance plan on the exchange was predicted to increase an average of 22 percent in 2017. In Tennessee, roughly 131,000 people faced losing their coverage last fall when BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the state’s largest insurer, pulled out of the exchanges in three markets on the heels of an average 56 percent premium increase across the state. Thanks to Obamacare, roughly 1 in 5 patients only have one health insurance provider to choose from. Obamacare has failed, and the only way to provide relief to the patients struggling under this law is to fully repeal it.

President Obama and Democrats in Congress try to say Republicans have no plans for health care reform, but that’s just not true. In fact, just last week I reintroduced the American Health Care Reform Act (AHCRA), legislation I authored with the Republican Study Committee to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms. I first introduced the AHCRA in 2013, and I’ve been working hard to get support for my legislation in Congress. This bill gets the federal government out of the health care business and includes provisions that will give patients the tools and assistance they need to shop for a plan that fits their needs while also lowering the cost of health care. My bill would allow patients to purchase health insurance across state lines, create a standard deduction to help patients with the cost of their coverage and protect patients with pre-existing conditions, to name a few of the provisions in the legislation. Most importantly, this bill reaffirms our commitment to protecting life and doesn’t include one single tax increase or mandate. Many of our ideas were also included in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Better Way agenda, and I’m confident my bill can serve as a strong starting point for House Republicans’ alternative to Obamacare. We aren’t wasting any time getting started.

The first step the House took in our path to immediately repeal Obamacare was to pass the Fiscal Year 2017 budget resolution. Now that the House and Senate have agreed to a budget resolution, Congress will have the opportunity to use a powerful tool known as reconciliation. Reconciliation gives Senate Republicans the ability avoid the filibuster on budget-related provisions and pass them on a simple majority vote. Reconciliation is the tool Democrats used in 2010 to get Obamacare through Congress, and now, with a new president, Republicans in Congress will use that same tool to repeal it. By taking steps to pass a budget resolution now, Republicans in Congress are ensuring President-elect Trump will quickly have a bill on his desk to begin the process of righting Obamacare’s wrongs.

For almost seven years I’ve warned about the fallout of the president’s broken health care law. The work ahead of us will not be easy, but the patients who have struggled under the ACA deserve better. You can rest assured I will continue to push for Congress to immediately repeal Obamacare while working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to draft a replacement that will give patients and providers the certainty they’ve long deserved.

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Caffeinated Conservatives to host Mark Charest, State Media Liaison for Convention of States, Sat. Jan. 21st, 12PM.

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#ThanksObama: 5 Scary Powers Trump Will Take Over as President

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A Martin Luther King Jr Day message from Bishop E. W. Jackson



Rod,
 
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said: "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Today we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, and join in his dream. The nation takes a day off to reflect on how far we’ve come since the civil rights movement. I ask you also to join me in reflecting on the racial divisions that persist to this day, which are often exacerbated by politicians cynically stirring up resentment and malice. 
It is time that we reject the language of division and embrace a new culture of unity. As we honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr., let's continue his legacy by committing ourselves to do away with "hyphenated American" terms. We need to stop categorizing each other by skin color and race. Let us cease calling ourselves Native-American, African-American, Hispanic-American, Irish-American, Italian-American, Jewish-American, Asian-American, or any other ethnic or national bifurcation.
We are Americans.

STAND is launching a petition asking our government to also adopt unifying practices. It is time for the government to stop asking citizens their ethnic background or race. Those questions should be removed from every state, federal and local form. Race should be irrelevant when applying for school, a loan, a job, or filling out a census form. Let's stop racial division and no longer require such information from citizens.
Please take a moment to sign the petition. In doing so you are pledging to stop using "hyphenated American" terms, and you are asking your government to do the same. 
 
For God and Country, 
 
Bishop E.W. Jackson
P.S. You can read my recently published article on this topic here at AmericanThinker.com. 
Sign the Petition

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Do you know someone suffering from Trump Unacceptance & Resistance Disorder

This is a public service announcement for your safety:
victims of Trump Unacceptance & Resistance Disorder
Do you know someone suffering from Trump Unacceptance & Resistance Disorder (the acronym is TURD)?
Know the signs, spot the symptoms, and save a life!
TURD is a pattern of pathologically disassociative and psychotic behavior, first observed in the late hours of November 8th 2016, and increasing in severity with the passing time.
Sufferers of TURD often exhibit pronounced cognitive dissonance, sudden bouts of rage, rioting, and uncontrollable crying.
People with TURD are characterized by a persistent unwillingness to accept that Donald Trump is going to Make America Great Again.
TURD Is caused by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. For many, both in America and worldwide, this was a shocking and unexpected outcome; their preferred news sources having failed to inform them that the alternative candidate was a criminal parasite in such ill health she got chucked into the back of a van like a kidnap victim.

While generally harmless, in large groups TURD victims
can be dangerous.
Research is ongoing, but TURD appears to correlate closely with the following environmental and behavioral factors:
  • Membership in the Democratic Party
  • Identifying as a Feminist
  • Currently enrolled in college, and/or Possession of a Liberal Arts college degree
  • Living in a densely populated metropolitan area
  • Massive student debt
  • Spotty or non-existent work history

Patients with TURD are very resistant to treatment, and dangerous in large groups. Treatment requires separation from their hive-mind support apparatus because they cannot begin the process of accepting reality in the presence of encouragement towards delusion and irrationality. Note: separation may require the assistance of law enforcement.
If you have a friend or loved one that may be suffering from TURD, urge them to seek treatment. If you recognize the symptoms, be careful when approaching them for they could be very defensive and become irrationally more and more angry.
Together we can beat this scourge, and Make America Great Again.

author unknown

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