This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Governors on Health Care Services (C-SPAN)
Governors discussed health care issues, including ways of containing costs and revising current fee-for-service payment systems to those that are outcome based. The governors heard about some innovative approaches taking place in the industry from representatives of groups including the Hospital Corporation of America, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and McKinsey and Company. “Payment Reform and the Road to Health Care Transformation” was a meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee of the National Governors Association at the annual meeting.
Governors rock Nashville with a feel-good vibe (Tennessean/Stroud)
This weekend’s gathering of America’s governors began with an agreeable vibe. Two Republicans and a Democrat stood on the Ryman Auditorium stage Friday morning, vowing to reason together. They spoke in awe of Minnie Pearl, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said standing on the stage made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, the National Governors Association chairwoman, joked about taking back all of the country singers her state has sent to Nashville over the years. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, hosting the event, laughed heartily, but he was just being polite — we don’t plan to give Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood back.
TN governor to pitch ideas with new Health secretary (Tennessean/Sisk)
Gov. Bill Haslam will get a chance to reopen talks with the federal government over expanding TennCare when he sits down Sunday with the Department of Health and Human Services’ new leader. The Republican governor and Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell are scheduled to meet for the first time since Burwell replaced Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last month. The closed-door meeting will take place on the final day of the National Governors Association’s summer conference in Nashville. The meeting comes as Haslam faces mounting criticism for not agreeing to offer TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to more adults as called for under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Republican governors’ words shift on gay marriage (Associated Press)
Deep in the nation’s Bible Belt, new signs emerged this weekend of an evolution among Republican governors on gay marriage, an explosive social issue that has divided American families and politics for years. While the Republican Party’s religious conservatives continue to fight against same-sex marriage, its governors appear to be backing off their opposition— in their rhetoric, at least. For some, the shift may be more a matter of tone than substance as the GOP tries to attract new voters ahead of the midterm elections. Nonetheless, it is dramatic turn for a party that has long been defined by social conservative values. “I don’t think the Republican Party is fighting it,” Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker said of gay marriage.
Judges call on churches to double number of foster families (Leaf Chronicle)
The backyard of Ernesto and DiDi Ferreira was abuzz with laughter and squeals as four of their five children splashed around in the pool and enjoyed the early days of summer. For the past five months, the Ferreiras have been foster parents for three of those children, who are siblings. The 8-year-old twin boys and their 5-year-old sister raced through the blue water with Deborah, the Ferreiras’ 10-year-old biological daughter, and the couple proudly watched their family – defined by nothing but love. “I love to work with children,” DiDi Ferreira said. “I used to be a babysitter in my home, and my sister-in-law told me how to become a foster parent. I love having the different children in my home and helping them. I love listening to them and what their needs are.”
State rep. candidates tackle Q&A before taking it to the House (J. City Press)
Here are the responses from three candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives to questions asked by the Johnson City Press. Clayton Stout is a candidate in the 6th House District while Phil Carriger and Todd Franklin are both candidates in the 7th House District. 1. There has been talk about placing a cap on the amount of property tax cities and counties can require residents to pay. At present, there is none. What is your take? Carriger: My philosophy has always been that local government knows their communities’ needs better than Nashville and/or Washington, D.C., both the source of unfunded mandates.
Former teacher hopes to win over Democrats (Tennessean/Sisk)
Democrats in Tennessee will not nominate a Mark Clayton this year. Party leaders kept him off the ballot months ago. Coming up with a viable challenger to Gov. Bill Haslam may prove more difficult. Many Democrats believe their best hope rests with a retired schoolteacher, coach and county executive from East Tennessee. But despite being the only person in the Democratic primary with a website, an active campaign and notable experience in government, even the candidate, John McKamey, concedes the nomination is no cinch. McKamey, a former mayor of Sullivan County who also served on its county commission, faces a challenge that tripped up Democrats in 2012 — the alphabet.
Tennessee’s Aug. 7 election: Best races likely down ballot (Tennessean/Sisk)
Tennesseans will go to the polls starting next week for the year’s second — and, in many races, decisive — round of voting. Polling locations open Friday for the Aug. 7 primary and general elections, the most complicated of the state’s three election dates. Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander face challengers in the Republican primary, and Democrats will choose their nominees for those two offices. But the most interesting races may be down the ballot. Voters also will decide the fate of dozens of candidates for the state legislature in Republican and Democratic primaries, and they will determine who will take office in general elections for county mayors, criminal and circuit court judges, commissioners and scores of other local positions.
As Blue Flu wanes, Red Rash grows, worrying city and fire officials (C. Appeal)
At one of the city’s 56 fire stations Saturday afternoon, things were a little quieter than usual. In a dimly lit station that actually looked closed from a distance, one firefighter cooked chicken, another watched television and a couple more just milled about. They’d had a few calls Saturday, but nothing serious. While that station should have had 10 firefighters working a 24-hour shift that began at 7 a.m., they only had six — and some of those were fill-ins for regulars who called in sick. That’s because that was one of four stations that had its ladder truck “browned out” Saturday, meaning it was idled for the day so its four firefighters could be spread around to help with manpower shortages caused by the burgeoning “Red Rash” work stoppage.
Jim Tracy rakes up abortion scandal against Scott DesJarlais (TFP/Sher)
Challenger Jim Tracy has dropped the political “A” bomb — as in abortion — in his effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District’s Republican primary on Aug. 7. In a direct mail piece last week, the Shelbyville state senator’s campaign questions DesJarlais’ effectiveness and charges he has “no moral ground to stand on,” given his personal history, to “stand up to” President Barack Obama and “liberal Democrats.” The mailer refers to revelations during and after the 2012 campaign that DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician who calls himself strongly pro-life, advocated for his ex-wife and a patient with whom he’d had an affair to have abortions.
Guest columnist: Tenn’s new employment laws reduce confusion, time, cost (CA)
A lawyer’s duty, the Tennessee State Courts Rules of Professional Conduct say, is to represent his or her clients “zealously … within the bounds of the law.” A lawyer’s duty to the administration of justice should be to support a fair and efficient way to resolve substantive disputes. The amendments to the Tennessee Human Rights Act and the state’s Workers’ Compensation law that went into effect this month were intended to simplify an already overly complex area of the law, and they have done so without doing violence to the rights of workers.
Darin Gordon: TennCare’s enrollment process better than alternatives (Tenn)
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government created the federally facilitated marketplace to serve as a central outlet where an individual could apply for government-subsidized health insurance, including Medicaid. This can be accomplished online through healthcare.gov, by telephone or by submitting a paper application. The federal government operates the FFM. TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, operates a second outlet for Tennesseans to apply for subsidized health insurance, including TennCare. The idea was a “no wrong door” approach.
Tom Humphrey: Odd electoral mix makes vote more interesting (News-Sentinel)
Early voting begins Friday in an unusual Tennessee election, featuring the novelty of Supreme Court judges thrown into the mix with intra-party Republican and Democratic contests that are, here and there around the state, fairly competitive. Unusual elections can make for unusual outcomes, especially when very few voters bother to participate. This year, based on past August elections, it’s likely that only 25 percent or so of registered voters, maybe less, will cast a ballot. Ergo, those who do vote can have an outsized impact as compared to general election contests with much broader participation.
Editorial: Pension-fund debt issue has to be addressed (Commercial Appeal)
The “Blue Flu” and “Red Rash,” a proposed sales-tax hike and Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove’s statements on the radio seemingly urging Memphis firefighters to call in sick are all part of the fallout from the council’s approval of an end to city subsidies for retirees’ health insurance, along with other changes in the health insurance plan. What has gotten lost in the expressions of anger and angst over the benefits cuts is this: Where is the money needed to bring the city’s pension fund into solvency going to come from? Under a new state law, city officials have five years to close an estimated $474.2 million indebtedness in the pension fund.