NASHVILLE, April 11, 2016– Unfortunately, this past week will not have a video update. As some of you may know, I was hospitalized around 5 AM Thursday morning and I usually shoot the videos on Thursday after Session. I have been discharged from the hospital and am recovering at home. Thanks to all those at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital for their care, and a special thanks to all the thoughts and prayers that have been extended to me and my family.
Here’s an update on what happened last week at the Capitol. My bills HB 1856 and 2125 passed on last Monday evening.
HB 1856 clarifies that Lisdexamphetamine can be used for its FDA approved use as a treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. BED is the most common eating disorder and this treatment will help physicians take care of patients with this disorder. The bill was supported by the Tennessee Psychiatric Association, Tennessee Medical Association, the Tennessee Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and the Alliance for Patient Access.
HB 2125 will allow Rutherford County to participate in a Convenience Voting Center pilot program. The goal is to improve access to voting throughout our county, and decrease the cost for the county. It is estimated that this bill could save Rutherford County over $25,000 per election. The pilot program would start in 2018.
On Tuesday, I argued for my three budget amendments in the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
Amendment 113 would call for the funding of 2 full time positions for the Office of Open Records Counsel. This office is through the Comptroller’s office. Prior to going in to session, I worked with the Open Records office and Comptroller’s office on possible legislation. We discovered some significant room for improvement in transparency and responsiveness in government when dealing with these issues. The Comptroller’s office agreed with this need, and are supportive of the budget amendment. Of special note, after I filed the amendment, the Governor’s budget amendment recommends to fund at least one of the positions. We are hopeful that the other position will be approved to help with government transparency and accountability.
Amendment 147 calls for the Dept. Of Health to establish a statewide pilot program for mobile pregnancy ultrasound services across the three grand divisions. Currently, there are three pregnancy centers across the state offering free mobile pregnancy ultrasound services. The amendment would help fund that effort while giving reports back to the state on the number of future Tennesseans lives that have been saved.
Amendment 148 is, perhaps, the largest budget amendment offered by any representative. It addresses the issue with funding in the Dept. Of Transportation. The amount is for 150 million in recurring funds. I will, soon, release my findings with TDOT, but one must understand that Tennessee has 750 million in new recurring funds for the budget. We can budget some of the new funds for TDOT, find tax cuts, or spend it. I am opposed to spending all of the new funds this year, then asking Tennesseans for a tax increase next year.
My amendment sets back the money for use with TDOT with the legislative intent for the 110th General Assembly to find and fund a sustainable formula that protects the taxpayers and the economy.
On Wednesday, we debated and passed HB 1840 which is a bill that protects the rights of counselors. Our current situation sets up a First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights violation of counselors. You can view my statement on the issue in committee here: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB1840.
While not ideal, I do believe that the bill corrects the rights violations of the counselors with minimal risk of rights violation to clients or patients. I attempted to get the sponsor on record in the chamber prior to the vote, but the question was called before my turn to speak. In the end, the sponsor agreed to work with me to correct any abuses of Liberty by counselors that may negatively affect the patient’s inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
As always, you can reach my office at 615-741-2180 or via email at rep.Bryan.Terry@Capitol.TN.gov
Rep. Bryan Terry