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CAIR Urges TN Legislature to Drop ‘No-Go Zone’ Bill

Press release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations; March 3, 2015:

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2015 — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it is calling on the Tennessee state legislature to drop consideration of an Islamophobic “no-go zone” bill (SB 1040/HB 1141) that “will inevitably be used to vilify the state’s Muslim community.”

In a letter sent to the chairman of the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the House Civil Justice Committee,CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw wrote in part:

“This bias-motivated bill offers a solution to a problem that does not exist and is championed by an individual whose animosity toward the Tennessee Muslim community is well-documented. . .

“To be clear, no-go zones are a discredited and universally-mocked claim that Muslims in Europe have set up so-called zones that people of other faiths and police are not allowed to enter. It is a waste of the Tennessee General Assembly’s time and the tax payer’s money to legislate on an issue that has been made-up for the purpose of promoting Islamophobia and fear of Muslim communities.

“In January, Fox News was forced to apologize several times on-air for a similar ‘no-go zone’ claim made by self-proclaimed terrorism ‘expert’ Steven Emerson. Emerson is a notorious Islamophobe who has made a career out of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. . .

“Senator Ketron, the original sponsor of the bill, has a well-documented history of supporting anti-Muslim legislation and making biased comments that have drawn negative attention to the Tennessee General Assembly. Among his many anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim statements and initiatives he is best known for:

  • In 2013, Senator Ketron promoted another non-existent anti-Muslim controversy when he raised concerns that a mop sink in the state capitol building might actually be a facility for Muslim religious ablutions. . .
  • In 2012, Senator Ketron introduced The Putting Tennessee First Act. According to The Tennessean, Senator Ketron introduced the bill after “A conservative group … warned of the growing influence of Islam” and that it “would limit how many legal immigrants charter schools can hire,” which drew opposition from many charter school and immigrant groups. . .
  • In 2011, Sen. Ketron introduced Senate Bill 1028, the Material Support to Designated Entities Act. As introduced it would have essentially made it illegal to be a Muslim and outlawed the practice of Islam in the state of Tennessee.

“. . .The bill is built upon an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim premise that has been thoroughly dismissed and only serves to stigmatize an entire religious community. Withdrawing consideration of the bill is the right and responsible thing to do.”

Read the entire CAIR letter: http://www.cair.com/images/pdf/CAIR_Letter_in_Opposition_to_Tenn_SB_1040_-_HB_1141_3-2-15.pdf

CAIR recently called on Republican Party leaders in Tennessee to repudiate a racist comment posted on Facebook by a state lawmaker.

Video: CAIR Asks Tennessee GOP to Repudiate Lawmaker’s Racist Facebook Post

The racist post was in response to a recent CAIR open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.

SEE: CAIR Letter Urges GOP Presidential Candidates to Engage Muslim Voters, Reject Islamophobia

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Ketron, Sargent File Bill to Boost Human Trafficking Training for Police

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 16, 2015:

NASHVILLE —  State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Representative Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) have filed legislation to give law enforcement and other officials more training to identify, investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking in Tennessee.  The bill calls on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to implement courses, which will also include information to help first responders and caseworkers find services to assist victims of the crime.

“We have seen far too many cases of human trafficking in Tennessee,” said Senator Ketron.  “Our state has made great gains in combatting human trafficking, but we still have a lot of work to do.  Training is essential to help us identify and prosecute this crime, as well as assist the victims.”

The General Assembly passed a series of bills addressing human trafficking after a 2011 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report showed 78 of the state’s 95 counties have reported the crime within their borders.  A follow-up to the report was released last year which showed that these statistics may be understated because first responders have not been trained to identify the crime.  The original report also included a survey from top law enforcement, caseworkers and court officials who deal with human trafficking cases which revealed that 79% felt that their agencies were not adequately trained to recognize and identify the crime.

“Training law enforcement and other first responders in the identification and recognition of human trafficking victims is a high priority,” added Representative Sargent.  “Unless victims are identified, they cannot be rescued or restored and those who are responsible will continue their criminal operations.  That is why is so important that we have this training in Tennessee to truly address this problem.”

Senate Bill 16 calls for the training courses to be implemented by January 1, 2016 and includes the hiring of four additional TBI special agents.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) who has sponsored numerous bills strengthening Tennessee’s human trafficking laws.

Ketron Receives Nat’l Security Award for Work to Prevent Homegrown Terrorism

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; September 11, 2014:

WASHINGTON, DC, September 11, 2014 – – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will be awarded the National Security Eagle Award by ACT! for America at an event tonight in Washington DC. Ketron is set to receive the national honor at the organization’s fifth annual national conference which will be attended by members from 875 chapters from across the nation, in addition to 9-11 family members and American wounded warriors.

ACT! for America is the nation’s largest national security movement with over 280,000 active grassroots members from various political parties and religions. It is an issues advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America.

Ketron sponsored Tennessee’s “Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011” to cut off the support for terrorists who are planning to commit acts in Tennessee and curb the incidence of homegrown terrorism. He filed the bill in the wake of homegrown terrorist shootings at Fort Hood, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas, which targeted U.S. soldiers.

Recently it was reported that as many as 300 Americans are fighting alongside ISIS, the most radical group of jihadists who claimed responsibility for the beheading of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“Homegrown terrorism remains a tremendous threat to the U.S.,” said Senator Ketron. “Recent developments continue to show that this threat is not only real, but can happen in any state, any town and any community. I appreciate this recognition from ACT! and will continue to work for the safety and security of our citizens. The 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack should continue to serve as a reminder to all Americans that we can never let our guard down as there are those who are willing to hide behind innocent citizens to reign down terror on this nation.”

Ketron will also attend a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Pentagon’s 9-11 Memorial on Friday.

Many Wine Measures Making Ballot Across TN

Tennessee voters in 80 local jurisdictions across the state will have their say in November on whether or not to legalize wine sales at local grocery stores.

The election will cap an historic year for advocates of localizing control of wine sales. For years they’ve been pressing the state Legislature to ease a Tennessee-wide mandate that only liquor stores can sell wine. Legislation passed overwhelmingly in both the state House and Senate this year to grant voters in jurisdictions that already permit liquor-by-the-drink to authorize wine sales in certain retail outlets besides liquor stores.

Supporters of the measures had to gather signatures from 10 percent of voters in their communities by Aug. 21 to force referendums. Overall 262,247 signatures were gathered across the state by the campaign.

Susie Alcorn, who’s managing the wine-in-supermarkets ballot push for the grocery-industry backed group, Red White and Food, indicated in an email that supporters of the measures are in high spirits. “Our goal has always been to give Tennesseans the opportunity to vote on where wine can be sold in their communities. And now we know that 80 communities will get that opportunity in November.”

Murfreesboro Republican Bill Ketron, the Senate sponsor of the wine-in-groceries bill, said he “was a little nervous” as the signature-gathering deadline was approaching, when there were still a few big municipalities, like Nashville and Memphis, that hadn’t collected enough names to get a measure on the ballot.

“There were several cities I had concern over, but it appears now that they have qualified,” Ketron said Friday. “People will have an opportunity come November to say yes or no.”

Even though a local measure might passes this year, grocery stores won’t be able to sell wine before July 2016. However, under the new law, liquor stores have been freed to sell more products in the interim.

Ketron suggested that while liquor store-owners have in the past been “violently opposed” to sharing retail wine markets, they do appear to be taking full advantage of the two-year window the legislation granted. They’re becoming “convenience stores on steroids,” he said.

State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, the legislation’s House sponsor, told TNReport Friday that getting wine into grocery stores is a three-part process, and the second part — getting the proposal on the ballot — has gone “really well.” The first part of the process was getting it through the General Assembly.

“No. 3 is exactly what should happen — we give voters the opportunity to say whether they want to have wine in grocery stores and food retail stores in their municipality,” Lundberg said. “Now we’re set for November.”

Restrictions Loosened for Beer-Brewers, Retailers

Tennessee brewers can now join fellow suds-makers in surrounding states in producing higher gravity brews without the need for a specialty license under a law passed during the 2014 session.

However, due to pressure from liquor retailers — in part related to the political compromise that helped win passage of legalized wine-sales in grocery stores — non-spirits retailers and distributors won’t have the same allowances as brewers until 2017. That means consumers in search of higher quality, high gravity beers will need to continue to patronize spirits establishments.

The law, HB0047/SB0289, was sponsored by State Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, and Murfreesboro Republican Sen. Bill Ketron. It altered the definition of beer and high alcohol content beer, as well as revising some of the language dealing with high gravity beers. Prior to the law taking effect today, Tennessee had the most restrictive cap on the amount of alcohol beer could contain and still be sold without a liquor license — five percent by weight, or 6.25 percent by volume. Alabama’s beer cap, on the other hand, is at eight percent by weight. Beer with an alcohol content of eight percent by weight is equivalent to 10 percent by volume.

“This will raise the cap on beer from five to eight percent, it’s going to allow brewers to sell the beer at their brewery taprooms and for off premise consumption,” said Haynes said when the House approved the measure just three days before the legislative session came to a close. “It will clarify the law that allows liquor retailers to sell high gravity beer growlers. And this will also allow high gravity beer to be sold in grocery stores.”

The bill passed the House April 14 by a vote of 72 to 12, with eight members present but not voting. It passed the Senate 22 to seven on April 10. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law May 1.

The change in the state’s definition of brewed alcoholic beverages came about as a result of the “Fix the Beer Cap” campaign, spearheaded by Linus Hall of Yazoo Brewing Company in Nashville.

The campaign to redefine beer was an extension of the successful 2013 Fix the Beer Tax campaign to change the way the state taxed its beer — from taxing it by the cost of production to taxing it by volume like other states.

Hall recently told the Nashville Business Journal that, while his brewing company had a special high gravity brewers license, it wasn’t “economical” for them to brew higher gravity beers, because the market for those beers was “so restrictive.”

Now that the market is going to open up, Hall said he plans to brew up more styles of suds.

The discrepancy between Tennessee’s beer laws and those of the surrounding states even led Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, headquartered in California, to remove Tennessee from their list of possible locations for opening a satellite brewery. Sierra Nevada instead chose Asheville, N.C., for its expansion.

But while craft beer producers are now able to brew up higher alcohol-content craft beers with less regulation, non-spirits retailers and distributors have another two-and-a-half years before they can join the party. The portions of the law affecting them won’t be in effect until January 1, 2017.

Hall told the NBJ in his interview in late June that the reason for this was that although lawmakers were supportive of the change, they didn’t want to see those changes occur any sooner than the changes from Wine in Grocery Stores.

Wine in Grocery Stores goes into effect today, as well, but only the portions of the law allowing liquor stores to stock beer, food and accessories. Liquor stores will also be able to sell high gravity beer growlers.

However, the two-year wait for the convenience to be able to purchase wine in your local grocery store instead of searching for a wine and spirits retailer may prove too onerous for some Tennessee consumers, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has mentioned that lawmakers may revisit “Wine in Grocery Stores” next year.

No-Bid Contracts Worrisome to Some State Lawmakers

State lawmakers from both parties are expressing concern that taxpayer interests aren’t adequately safeguarded when public contracts are inked with private firms without first submitting jobs to competitive bidding.

Lebanon Republican state Rep. Mark Pody, who was backed up by Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said this week during a Joint Fiscal Review Committee hearing that the state ought open up more of its contracts to market competition.

“I don’t think (noncompetitive bidding) is in the taxpayer’s best interest. They needed to go through the competitive system and have it competitively bid,” Pody said.

At a minimum, any single-source contract ought to raise a “red flag” and should be earnestly probed by the Fiscal Review Committee, the Lebanon lawmaker added.

Gilmore agreed. “We may be saving money but we need to know why,” she said.

Committee Chairman Bill Ketron, a Murfreesboro Republican who chairs the state Senate’s majority-party caucus, joined the call for more information on noncompetitive contracts.

Pody brought the issue to the forefront Monday afternoon during the joint committee’s monthly meeting, when it was considering a contract extension with Xerox to provide services for the International Fuel Tax Agreement. IFTA is described on the state’s website for trucking commerce as “a tax collection agreement by and among the 48 contiguous States and Canadian provinces bordering the United States to simplify the reporting and collecting motor fuel use taxes used by motor carriers operating in more than one jurisdiction.”

Phillip Mize, the state Department of Revenue’s chief financial officer, explained that Xerox offers one of six commercial products that help commercial fleets and states track fuel taxes owed to other jurisdictions.

Mize defended the contract by saying Xerox is the “most mature product” and controls 45 percent of the market. He also said the state negotiated a 5 percent discount, totaling $420,000, over the previous contract.

After the meeting, Pody said the contract may well provide a savings for the state, but without it being competitively bid, there is no way to know for certain. He said it is worrying there are five other providers available on the market, but the contract was not offered the same bid process as other state-awarded contracts.

“I think that anything that is competitively bid, even if it ends up here, would be a lot more transparent,” Pody said before voting against moving the contract out of committee. The contract with Xerox passed 15-1, with Pody casting the sole dissenting vote.

The committee approved another proprietary contract Monday, but it was explained that no other company provides the service.

Turkey Trip Not Too Worrying to Lawmakers Concerned About Foreign Influence

Judd Matheny, chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the Tennessee House of Representatives, has concerns about anti-American ideas percolating into taxpayer-funded schools.

In the stated interest of addressing that potentiality, the Republican from Tullahoma sponsored successful legislation in 2012 giving local school boards the power to limit the number of foreign teachers working in Tennessee charter schools.

The legislation was presented to Matheny by the Tennessee chapter of the Eagle Forum, a socially conservative lobbying group. At the time, the Eagle Forum was raising the alarm in opposition to the work of a Turkish Muslim Cleric named Fethullah Gülen, whose organization runs charter schools in multiple countries, including several in the American Southeast.

Now, as fate would have it, a group associated with Gülen is footing the tab for a troupe of Tennessee lawmakers to embark upon an all-expense-paid expedition to Turkey. The purpose of the journey is to foster economic ties between the Volunteer State and the predominantly Islamic transcontinental republic.

According to a recent report from News Channel 5’s Phil Williams, lawmakers planning to attend the 12-day junket include Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville; Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah; Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville; Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis; Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis; Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis; Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis; and Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Mt. Juliet.

While Matheny says he is still uncomfortable with foreign influence in Tennessee schools, including from Gülen, he appears to be giving his fellow lawmakers the benefit of the doubt.

Asked recently about his legislation in relation to the upcoming Turkey trip, Matheny told TNReport he believes “some of the Gülen schools…have brought in more foreign teachers than we would like to see in Tennessee.”

“I am very concerned about the proliferation of charter schools that are of non-United States origin and perhaps teach things that are contrary to our constitution here within our borders,” Metheny continued.

But Matheny also said that he’s not overly concerned about his colleagues being influenced by a free getaway.

“I’ve not talked personally with very many legislators that are going. Those that I have talked to seem to be in the frame of mind that they want to do the proper due diligence on both sides,” he said. “They also understand that those trips are not totally focused on charter schools.”

Matheny said that he had been invited on a past trip put on by the same group and declined the offer, but he was quick not to appear hostile.

“Turkey is a great ally, it’s not a country that we want to snub. It’s not a country that we don’t want to foster great relationships with,” he said. “I’m more worried about what’s happening domestically and what’s happening to our children. We want to make sure they are solid Americans.”

State Sen. Bill Ketron, who sponsored Matheny’s bill in the upper chamber, expressed similar sentiments, telling TNReport:

“I do not have a problem with it.  It is important that we have dialogue with decision makers abroad.  This is a cultural exchange and educational trip.  I have confidence that my colleagues will use good judgement as far as any potential effect on issues here in Tennessee.”

Bobbie Patray, state president of the Tennessee Eagle Forum declined to comment on the upcoming trip, saying only that TNReport should talk to the lawmakers who are attending.

Guv Inks Tighter Voter ID Provisions

Library cards and other types of county-or-city-issued photo ID cards are no longer enough to cast a ballot in Tennessee. Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a General Assembly measure outlawing their use at polling places.

The bill, sponsored by Murfreesboro Republican Bill Ketron, was an initially more extensive overhaul of the state’s existing voter ID law.

Most notably, it aimed to add college ID cards — both for students and staff — to the list of acceptable forms of identification.

That effort drew skepticism from some other Senate Republicans, but Ketron’s argument that the changes would make the law more “consistent” eventually won out in the upper chamber. The Senate passed the legislation 21-8. Four Republicans voted “no.” They were Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, Mike Bell of Riceville, Stacey Campfield of Knoxville and Jim Summerville of Dickson.

However, Ketron’s reasoning fell on deaf GOP ears in the House.

Sponsor Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, readily accepted an amendment from House Local Government Committee Chair Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, that stripped the college ID provision. The language nixing library cards stayed.

Hill told members of the House during floor debate on the measure back in March that his committee removed college IDs because they felt the cards were “too easy to duplicate, they’re too easy to access, too easy to acquire.”

“Some of them do not even have expiration dates on on them, and that poses a danger and a hazard to the voting process,” Hill said.

While discussion in the Senate focuses almost entirely on the college ID issue, some lawmakers in the House were equally vocal in their concern regarding the move to ban the use of library cards on election day.

Chief among them were Democrats from Memphis who said the legislation as a move to overrule a state Supreme Court decision allowing library cards to be used in that city.

Johnnie Turner didn’t mince words, calling the proposed changes “a form of voter suppression,” and chiding House Republicans for meddling in local affairs.

“Locals have voted for, it has been approved by the courts,” Turner said. “Speaker after speaker after speaker will say, ‘We don’t want the federal government telling us what to do.’ And yet, on the state level, we’re doing the same thing.”

Antonio Parkinson, also a Memphis Democrat, said he felt he had been “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” by Republicans. He accused GOP lawmakers of focusing attention on the more contentious issue of college IDs to draw scrutiny away from their real objective to nullify the decision of the state’s courts.

Going heavy on the sports metaphors, Parkinson said “the end run play was ran and you scored a touchdown, scored the final dunk and now you’re on the House floor with this bill.”

“The point of the matter was simply this,” Parkinson continued. “To run interference of a decision that was to be made by the Tennessee Supreme Court in regards to library cards that were being proposed to be used by the city of Memphis.”

The House passed the bill, largely along party lines, by a vote of 65-30 and the Senate subsequently concurred with the House version, dropping the college ID language with little discussion on the floor.

Bickering Over Voter ID Bills Ongoing

Legislation designed to clarify Tennessee’s voter ID law generated heated exchanges and raised more questions than answers on the House floor before the final vote left the bill at odds with the Senate version.

Earlier this week, the House substituted HB229 for SB125. The House also approved an amendment barring students from using their IDs from state-funded colleges to vote – a move the Senate sponsor says he will fight.

Bill KetronBill Ketron

“The Senate voted 2-to-1 against disallowing state-issued college IDs when that amendment was before us,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, who initiated the legislation. “We will continue to push to allow state-issued student identification to remain in the bill as passed by the Senate, even if we have to go to a conference committee.”

When or if that committee may be convened remains up in the air, according to a legislative assistant the Murfreesboro Republican.

In addition to college IDs, the bill would ban the use of out-of-state driver’s licenses, currently allowed even if they’ve expired, as well as ID cards issued by cities, counties or public libraries. The validity of the latter form of identification is before the Tennessee Supreme Court after the city of Memphis and two residents challenged the law. 

The House floor debate about the legislation became rather heated at times, and even though other issues surfaced, it passed 65-30. The Senate version, which allows students IDs to be used, passed earlier this month 24-3.

Rep. Johnnie Turner, a Democrat from Memphis, called the bill “another form of voter suppression.” Fellow Memphis Democrat Rep. Antonio Parkinson claimed he was “hoodwinked and bamboozled,” because the bill that passed the House Local Government Subcommittee allowed student IDs to be used, but an amendment in the full committee stripped that provision.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick emphatically proclaimed, “This talk about voting suppression is just not true!”

The Chattanooga representative said the legislation is designed to stop voter fraud. He said that “a state Senate election was stolen in the city of Memphis just a few years ago” and that a recent documentary had a chairman of the NAACP talking about “the machine in Memphis” that would load people on a bus and take them to multiple polling stations to cast their votes “over and over again.”

Republican Rep. Vince Dean, of East Ridge, and Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong, of Knoxville, expressed concerns about blocking out-of-state IDs for those who own property in Tennessee but live in another state.

Rep. Susan Lynn, who sponsored the House bill, said she was not sure whether the state would issue an ID to a nonresident.

“What we’re doing with this legislation is trying to most closely match the legislation that passed in Indiana, because that legislation did survive all the way to the United States Supreme Court,” the Mt. Juliet Republican said.

Armstrong claimed the bill would change the way the city of Knoxville elects its mayors and city council members because property owners are allowed to vote in municipal elections even if they don’t live there.

Had the bill been in effect when Gov. Bill Haslam first ran as mayor of Knoxville, Armstrong said, the outcome could have been changed. Three thousand property owners voted, and “a lot of them live out of state.” Haslam won by 1,500 votes.

“Now we have a sitting governor that benefited from the law,” Armstrong said.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at amhipps@capitolnewstn.com, on Twitter @CapitolNews_TN or at 615-442-8667.

Senate GOP, Lt. Gov. Approve of Haslam Medicaid Decision

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; March 27, 2013:

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) said the following upon the conclusion of Governor Haslam’s address to a joint session of the 108th General Assembly:

“I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision to reject Obama’s medicaid expansion. Without bold reform of the Medicaid program tailored to Tennessee’s unique situation, there can be no compromise on this issue.”

“Four out of every ten dollars the federal government spends comes out of the back pockets of future generations. Tennessee must receive assurances that have not been forthcoming. Governor Haslam has laid out a plan for what true health care reform looks like. I commend him for his continued thoughtful and measured approach to this complex issue.”

Statement from State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Governor Haslam offered a good solution, rather than expanding an unsustainable and broken program. Unlike Washington, Tennessee has been working hard to control health care costs. Hopefully, Washington will see our 20-year record of working through the problems we face with our healthcare system and agree to work with us on a plan that will truly be both beneficial to improving healthcare outcomes in our state and sustainable over the long run.”

Statement from State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision today to reject Medicaid expansion as envisioned by ObamaCare in this year’s budget,” stated Senator Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown) following the governor’s announcement
this morning. “I am happy to receive the governor’s commitment not to expand Medicaid in future years without legislative approval.”

Sen. Kelsey is the sponsor of Senate Bill 804, filed to block Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Sen. Kelsey originally filed Senate Bill 1 on Nov. 7, 2012 to block expansion. He redrafted the bill and filed SB 804 on January 31, 2013 with 15 of the 33 state Senators as co-sponsors. The bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday afternoon, March 27. Sen. Kelsey serves as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman.