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Legislators share updates with community members

Members of the community had the opportunity to meet with their state legislators on Friday, March 27, during the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast sponsored by Unicoi County Memorial Hospital at Erwin Town Hall.
Politicians in attendance included State Representative John Holsclaw Jr. and State Senator Rusty Crowe. Also attending were representatives for U.S. Representative Phil Roe and U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.
The hot-button topic during the discussion was the news of Insure Tennessee. The plan was voted down on a previous occasion, but passed with revamped wording through the state’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee last week.
While Crowe voted down the initial vote for Insure Tennessee, the senator voted to send the bill forward after the changes.
“I always liked the plan,” he said. “During its first vote in February, myself and others, didn’t feel comfortable enough without having some type of assurance from the federal government that they would follow through with the plan.”
Provisions were tacked on to the new bill, Crowe said, by Sen. Richard Briggs (Knoxville – R) The voluntary Insurance Tennessee plan would involve a lockout provision – a compliance measure. If an individual didn’t keep a good track record for their health insurance, they would be barred from the program.
Other items included that the creators of the bill would have to receive written memoriams that it would wait until the King vs. Burwell case and that the plan would be scrapped if funding fell through.
“Our goal is to move away from an entitlement mentally,” Crowe said. “Insure Tennessee allows individuals within that 138-percent and below poverty line to be rewarded with money in a health savings account to help cover the cost of premiums and co-pays. It is a market-driven plan that I feel like hard-working people would support.”
The plan is expected to have a rough time through the Commerce Committee in the Senate, Crowe said.
“It could be rough sledding ahead,” he added. “We just need to be with our governor and make sure he talks to the members of commerce to let them know that this is the best option for people in Tennessee.”
The discussion of legislators was opened by Holsclaw. The state representative went into detail of proposed legislation in regards to repeat DUI offenders receiving a “no alcohol sales” statement on their IDs.
“If this bill saves one life, it has done its job,” Holsclaw said.
Holsclaw is also on the forefront of sponsored legislation to create a lifetime handgun-carry permit.
Individuals in attendance were also told to be on the lookout for the decision of King vs. Burwell that is projected to be presented before the Supreme Court in June.
The case delves into the aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), on whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can promote regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges by the federal government.
Lana Moore, representing Alexander during the breakfast, said the senator is involved with a bill to make financial aid simpler by reducing the questions asked.
Alexander, Chairman of the Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate, is also working with a bill to reimplement items that worked under the No Child Left Behind Act, while looking into items that failed and finding a way to change or fix those problems, she added.
Jill Salyers, field rep for Corker, said the senator is involved with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. With passage, Congress would be informed with reviews, debates, etc. in regards to Iran’s nuclear plans, Salyers said.
The chairman for the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee is also involved in a bill to help end modern slavery internationally, Salyers added.
Bill Darden spoke on behalf of Rep. Roe and said he appreciated all the support over the weeks since his wife’s passing.