MURFREESBORO, September 10, 2015– On September 17, the Republican Caucus will meet with several items on the agenda. One item of note is something called a Bilateral Session. The Bilateral Session is a joint session involving the meeting of both the Tennessee General Assembly and our federally elected congressman and senators. State Representative Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) has been spearheading this enterprise over the past few years without much success. I am told there has been some push-back from some of our federal officials. He is, once again, working towards organizing a Bilateral Session and I am in complete support.
As is evident by the recent presidential polling, there is an “Us versus Them” mentality with “Us” being “we the people” and them being Washington politicians, the elitists, and the media. A real and perceived disconnect between Washington and the people exists. As state representatives, we have the smallest districts, and have elections every two years. With that in mind, we should always have the pulse of the district on our minds, and as elected officials, we should be close and as accessible as possible to the public we represent.
Knowing this, it is with great enthusiasm that District 48 and Rutherford County should know that the Rutherford County State Representative delegation recently met with Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Rep. Judd Matheny. The meeting was organized by Tina Jones, the Rutherford County Field Rep. for Congressman DesJarlais with the purpose and intent of discussing issues in our districts and bridging the gap between Washington and Tennessee. One could consider it a mini Bilateral Session. While I cannot speak for the other representatives, the working relationship between the offices of Congressional District 4 and State House District 48 provides a positive environment for the betterment of our constituents.
At the meeting, various topics were discussed. Front and center of the discussion was States’ rights and the need for a Bilateral Session. Federal regulations and having strings tied to federal funds have hampered Tennessee’s ability to most effectively serve our citizens. An example is transportation funding with funds going towards items other than roads. Transportation funding and the problems posed by the federal government, as well as, the regional impact of any taxes were discussed. Dr. DesJarlais was supportive of the Bilateral Session and has been supportive of it in the past.
We discussed overreach of the EPA and how it impacts our rural districts. Supporting our farmers was a high priority of everyone at the table. From an education standpoint, we discussed the need for more state control. Although we passed HB1035 to review, replace, and rescind our previous Common Core standards, the bill had its limitations due to Federal funds tied to President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. Several presidential candidates are willing to repeal the NCLB Act while others are in full support. If one support States’ rights and more control of our education system, it would be in one’s best interest to research where presidential candidates stand on this issue.
Healthcare, including the Vereran’s Affair’s System, Obamacare, and rising insurance costs were also discussed. Of particular note is a provision in Obamacare called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. For those that may not remember, the IPAB has been referred to as the “Death Panel”. It is an appointed committee that will oversee how our health care dollars will be rationed toward patient care. Congressman Phil Roe, MD of Tennessee has unsuccessfully tried to repeal this portion of Obamacare for years. As Congressman Roe said, IPAB has “unprecedented, dangerous authority to cut Medicare pay rates and strangle access to care.” Dr. DesJarlais has been a co-sponsor of the bill, and I am in full support.
Planned Parenthood, Kim Davis, the University of Tennessee’s gender neutral pronoun issue, Hillary’s problems, and the overall negative impact of the liberal agenda were, also topics of discussion. Other topics came up, as well. In all, the meeting was a free flow of topics and ideas. It was a very positive meeting, and my constituents should know that their voices are being heard in Nashville and in Washington.
As always, I am honored and humbled to serve as the State Representative of District 48. My office can be reached at (615) 741-2180.