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Gilmore Elected Chair of TN Black Caucus of State Legislators

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; February 12, 2015:

State Representative Brenda Gilmore has been elected Chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. Representative Gilmore is serving her fifth term in the Tennessee House representing District 54 in Davidson County. Prior to that, she spent 8 years on the Nashville Metro Council. Gilmore says, “It is a great honor to be elected Chair of this historic body that has worked tirelessly for Tennesseans. “ Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart noted Gilmore’s own tireless leadership in all her endeavors. Chairman Stewart said, “Representative Gilmore has brought a great deal of drive and energy to the State House and I believe that she will bring that same focus to the leadership of the Tennessee Black Caucus”.

Representative Gilmore serves on the House Business and Utilities Committee, the House Finance Ways and Means Committee, the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee and the Joint Fiscal Review Committee. She was also previously Vice-Chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus. Nationally, she serves as State Director for Women in Government, Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and Chair-elect of the Women’s Network, National Caucus of State Legislators (NCSL) and Executive Board of National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. Additionally, she has worked with the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Nashville Women Political Caucus and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

On the personal side, Gilmore is a proud graduate of Tennessee State University and received a Master of Human Resource Development degree from Vanderbilt University. She is married with one child and is a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Gilmore, Akbari Elected to Leadership Roles with Women In Government

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; January 14, 2015:

Tennessee— the 21st Annual State Directors’ and 11th Biennial First Term Legislators’ Conference in St. Pete Beach, Tennessee State Representatives Raumesh Akbari & Brenda Gilmore were sworn in as 2015 State Directors with Women In Government. They were elected by their peers

“Women In Government congratulates both Rep. Akbari & Rep. Gilmore on their positions as State Directors. State Directors play a critical role in setting policy priorities for our organization,” said Dyan Alexander, Executive Director of Women In Government. “Both of these members are recognized leaders in their state, and we are excited that they will now share their leadership skills with other women policymakers throughout the country.”

“Women in Government is a great organization that I have enjoyed participating in,” said Rep. Gilmore of Nashville. “As I begin my new term, I hope to work with women from across the country to advance our policy goals.”

“I am honored to have been chosen by my fellow legislators,” said Rep. Akbari of Memphis. “I look forward to working with WIG to make our state a better place for women & girls.”

At the 21st Annual State Directors’ Conference, women state legislators heard from expert speakers on a variety of public policy topics and their impact on states. Topics included developing energy diversity, the role of nutrition in healthy aging, methods for creating opportunities for families, diabetes prevention and awareness, and many others. This meeting also provided attendees with the opportunity to network with colleagues across state borders and share best practices to advance successful public policies.

About Women In Government
Women In Government Foundation, Inc. is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources. Women In Government serves all 1,785 women who serve in state legislatures from across the country. For more information, visit www.womeningovernment.org.

TN NAACP to Host 68th Annual Convention, Civil Rights Advocacy Conference in Nashville Sept 18-20

Press release from state Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville; September 12, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 12, 2014) – On Thursday September 18-Saturday 20, 2014 the NAACP Tennessee State Convention will host its 68th Annual State Convention and Civil Rights Advocacy Conference in Nashville, TN. Over 300 volunteers from across the State of Tennessee will participate in this three day leadership and motivational training. Our even will culminate with the Freedom Awards Banquet on Saturday September 20, 2014.The theme for the conference is “All in for Justice & Equality.”

WHO: Tennessee NAACP Conference
WHAT: 68th Annual Tennessee NAACP State Convention & Civil Rights Advocacy Training Conference
WHEN: Thursday, September 18th through Saturday, September 20th
WHERE: Various locations throughout Nashville

The conference begins on Thursday, September 19, 2014 with the Faith Leaders Forums/ Community Day at the Temple Church, 3610 Kings Lane. The Faith Leaders Forum begins at 8:30am. Rev Dr. William Barber, President, North Carolina NAACP is the featured speaker for the Religious Affairs/Membership Luncheon. Dr. Baber will also lead a “Teach In” at 10:30 a.m. about “Moral Mondays”. The evening will end with a Mass Meeting/Memorial Services & Soul Food Dinner with the John Faison, Senior Pastor, of Watson Grove Baptist Church. The public is encouraged to bring can goods to the Mass Meeting which will be distributed to the needy in the city of Nashville.

Friday, September 19 and Saturday, September 20, events will be held at the Inn at Opryland. The theme for the day for Friday is Freedom Friday. The Labor/Human Rights Breakfast & Forum begins at 8:00am with Dr. Donna McDaniel-Mitchell, Special International Representative, LIUNA, Washington, DC. The 12:00 noon Advocacy Luncheon will feature Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of the New Covenant Christian Church. The evening will end with a Youth & College Town Hall Meetings at Tennessee State University Downtown, Avon Williams Building. The Youth and Town Hall Meeting is 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

The theme for Saturday is Women in NAACP (WIN) and Youth & College Day. The day begins at 7:30 am with the WIN Breakfast & Fashion Show featuring Rev. Olivia M. Cloud, Owner Garden Angel Communications. A Hat Fashion Show will be presented during the breakfast. Harriet Vaughn Wallace is the Moderator of the Hat Show. Afterwards, a series of adult and youth workshops: Game Changing Advocacy Workshops will be presented. Rev. Brandon Mason, Pastor, Praise Locus Ridge Primitive Baptist Church, Arlington, TN is the 12 noon speaker for the Youth and College Divisor. The conference closes with the Freedom Award Dinner. We are honored to have Attorney Cornell William Brooks, the new national president/CEO NAACP.

Honorary Chairs are Ms. Joelle Phillips, President of AT&T Tennessee., Mr. Bill Freeman, Chairman of Freeman Webb Inc. State Convention Honorary Program Chairs are Mr. Rob Wigington, President and CEO of the Nashville Metropolitan Airport Authority and Ms. Tina Hodges, CEO of Advance Financial.

Ms. Gloria J. Sweet-Love is the State Conference President. Dr. John E. Arradondo is the Nashville Host President. And, Rep. Brenda Gilmore is the Host Conference Chair.

Reps Camper, Gilmore Join Bi-partisan Group of State Lawmakers Fighting Hunger

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; September 10, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Reps. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) and Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) joined with over 200 state leaders from around the country to help pack 32,000 meals for the Alaska Food Bank as part of the Council of State Governments’ service project during their national conference in Anchorage on August 13th.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to work with a bi-partisan group of lawmakers from Tennessee and across the country to help feed those who are hungry,” said Rep. Gilmore. “Now we need to take that same sense of bi-partisanship and caring to find policy solutions that will end hunger in Tennessee and increase access to nutritional foods for everyone.”

September is “Hunger Action Month,” a campaign designed to engage the public on issues related to hunger and nutrition in America. According to statistics provided by Feeding America, Tennessee has over 1.1 million people who are food insecure, with 368,000 of them being children. A food insecure household is one that lacks, at times, access to enough nutritious food for a healthy, active lifestyle.

“No child in the richest nation in the world should ever go to bed hungry or have to skip a meal because their families can’t afford it,” said Rep. Camper. “Every man, woman and child in America should have access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food. I hope all of my fellow Tennesseans will join in making sure we make this goal a reality.”

Those who would like to make a difference during Hunger Action Month are encouraged to contact local agencies responsible for helping to feed the hungry. People in Nashville can contact the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (http://secondharvestmidtn.org/) while those in the Memphis area should visit the Mid-South Food Bank (http://www.midsouthfoodbank.org/) to learn more about how they can help end hunger in Tennessee.

Gilmore Elected to Leadership Positions in 2 National Legislative Organizations

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; August 27, 2014:

Rep. Gilmore to serve as President-Elect of the Women’s Legislative Network and a national board member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Representative Brenda Gilmore was honored to receive the support of her colleagues from around the country, having been elected to two key positions within national legislative organizations in the past two weeks.

Rep. Gilmore was elected to be President-elect of the Women’s Legislative Network at the National Conference of State Legislators’ Legislative Summit. Rep. Gilmore has served as Vice President of the organization since 2013.

“As women we are often a majority of the voters but a small minority of the legislators,” said Rep. Gilmore. “By working together to give each other strength and support, I believe we can expand our numbers and give women the voice they deserve in government.”

The Women’s Legislative Network was formally organized in 1985 at the Annual Meeting of NCSL in Seattle and it focuses on issues unique to women, as well as providing trainings to help women legislators better communicate with their constituents.

Rep. Gilmore was also elected to the board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) at their first ever national issues forum in Minneapolis. Rep. Gilmore has been an environmental leader in Tennessee, having consistently been ranked as one of the top environmentally friendly legislators by Tennessee Conservation Voters.

“Everyone deserves the right to clean water and breathable air,” said Rep. Gilmore. “I have been a staunch supporter of environmental laws that will protect our air and water for those of us here today, as well as future generations to come.”

NCEL was organized in 1996 for the purpose of providing environmentally progressive legislators with an opportunity to coordinate their activities with respect to national legislative organizations, and to share ideas both on affirmative and negative environmental issues.

TennCare Computer System’s Completion Date Still Unknown

Although he won’t speculate as to when the state’s new TennCare computer system will be completed, Darin Gordon, the program’s director, told members of the General Assembly he hopes a planned third-party audit will provide that answer.

Gordon gave testimony Tuesday to the Joint Fiscal Review Committee on the progress, or lack thereof, of the Northrop Grumman Corporation in developing the new “Tennessee Eligibility Determination System” for TennCare.

Tennessee has so far paid Northrop about $4.7 million of the $35.7 million it committed to the cybersecurity contractor in December of 2012, when they signed a three-year contract to develop the new system made necessary by the Affordable Care Act, Gordon said.

TEDS was supposed to go live in October 2013, and Northrop was last paid in January, Gordon added.

There are four “different tools” for the agency to ensure contractors comply with contract stipulations: penalties, liquidated damages, withholds and non-payment, in order of weakest to strongest. “We’re using the biggest tool that we have at this point to make sure that everybody is properly motivated to getting to where we want to be,” Gordon said.

Gordon said that Northrop, one of five firms to bid on the contract, made the lowest bid to produce the system. The next lowest was for $58 million, with the highest bid coming in at $109 million.

Wyoming, one of the other states to use Northrop to produce their system, is also “having challenges,” Gordon said.

Gordon told the committee that he had no idea as to when the system would be completed, because he’s “lost confidence in people’s ability to accurately predict” a timeline for completion.

Northrop is currently 99 percent done with its systems integration testing, the second phase of its five phases of implementation — but that doesn’t mean that phase is nearly done, Gordon said, because when issues with testing arise, developmental changes need to be made and the phase “can be at 99 percent for a longer period of time.”

The company is also about 80 percent complete with its third phase — user integration testing, but can’t start on the last two phases until the others are completed, Gordon explained.

“These are complex systems, there’s a lot of working in a very tight time-frame, and we want to make sure that what we do turn on, works,” Gordon said.

On Aug. 18, TennCare signed a no-bid contract with KPMG, an audit and advisory services firm, to run a 14-week audit of Northrop’s progress at a cost to the state of $1.2 million, Gordon told the committee. That report is expected to be ready sometime in late November or early December.

Following Gordon’s testimony, the committee also approved an extension of a contract with Policy Studies, Inc., the contractor who provides eligibility determination and processes application for the state’s children health insurance program. The contract, which is being extended through Dec. 2015 as a result of the delay in implementing TEDS. The contract extension is eligible for a 75 percent federal match.

The total cost to the state of the delay in getting the computer system on-line is not currently known, Gordon said.

The failure in bringing the new system online is one reason that TennCare is facing a lawsuit from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Health Law Program and the Tennessee Justice Center on behalf of several Tennesseans who have allegedly been denied coverage, though they claim eligibility.

“These system failures have serious impact on vulnerable Tennesseans and the health care infrastructure we all reply upon. It’s time for the state to spend less time blaming others and more time managing problems that have devastating consequences for our state,” said Michele Johnson, executive director for the TJC, in an e-mail.  Tennessee’s “lack” of a TennCare enrollment process “makes us unique in the nation,” she added.

The TJC filed the lawsuit because despite having met with TennCare officials since October of last year, “at some point it became clear that their willingness to problem-solve was not there,” and the Tennesseans they represent “couldn’t wait any longer,” Johnson told TNReport Wednesday.

Gordon was questioned by state Rep. Brenda Gilmore, a Nashville Democrat, about whether anything was being done to help hospitals cope with financial problems stemming from the inability to process emergency Medicaid applications because of the delay in TEDS implementation.

Gordon told Gilmore that because of the pending litigation the only information he could give was already included in his response to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or in the briefs filed in the lawsuit.

However, the Gordon assured Gilmore that TennCare is in contact with the Tennessee Hospital Association “pretty much every week.”

Johnson told TNReport that she “thought it was interesting” the administration continued to say they couldn’t comment on anything related to the lawsuit because government agencies are required to “answer questions that the legislature has for their constituents.”

The next hearing in the federal case is scheduled for Friday.

Gordon noted to the committee that although TennCare has appeared before the legislature in the past, it wasn’t a result of computer system problems.

“Every state in the country all started from different starting points,” Gordon said. “Some had some modern technology already in place, and only had to adapt that technology to the new requirements. Other states, such as ourselves, had to start from scratch because our system was an old legacy system not capable of handling the changes that would be necessary to comply with the ACA.”

Additionally, the changes required by Obamacare have been “some of the most complicated” for the system since it began, Gordon explained.

Several other states — such as California’s backlog of hundreds of thousands of enrollees, or Oregon’s broken website and over-taxed Medicaid rolls — have had their own problems in developing a working system, Gordon said.

“These are complex systems, and are being implemented on a very quick runway, and so I think, if you look across the country, a lot of folks have had challenges with these,” Gordon said.

Gilmore Receives ‘Elected Women in Excellence’ Award

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; November 26, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) was honored with the Elected Women in Excellence Award at the National Foundation of Women Legislators Capital Forum in Washington, DC. Rep. Gilmore was one of only ten legislators in the nation to receive the honor.

“I am honored to receive this award from such a prestigious organization dedicated to helping women legislators be the best public servants they can be,” said Rep. Gilmore. “My goal has always been to be the advocate and representative my constituents deserve, and I am humbled to have been recognized for these efforts.”

Rep. Gilmore received the award on Thursday, November 21st at the NFWL Capital Forum. The conference also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the National Order of Women Legislators.

About the National Federation of Women Legislators:

The mission of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) is to provide strategic resources to women leaders for leadership development and effective governance through conferences, seminars, education materials, professional and personal relationships, and networking at both the state and federal levels.

NFWL is a non-partisan 501c-3, educational foundation. Its membership consists of members of the National Order of Women Legislators (all current and former women elected officials), corporate leadership, and association members.

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.

Gilmore Named VP of Women’s Legislative Network

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; August 22, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 22, 2013) – State Representative Brenda Gilmore (D-54) was elected to serve as Vice President of the Women’s Legislative Network at the National Conference of State Legislature’s annual Legislative Summit in Atlanta on August 14, 2013.

“I am humbled and grateful to have received the support of a bi-partisan group of women legislators from around the country,” said Rep. Gilmore. “We have a long way to go in our state and in the country as a whole until women have equal representation in our legislative bodies. As Vice President of the Women’s Legislative Network, I hope to work with fellow female legislators across the country to ensure our voices are heard when it comes time to drafting and passing laws that impact all of us.”

The Women’s Legislative Network was formally organized in 1985 at the Annual Meeting of NCSL in Seattle. The Women’s Legislative Network focuses on issues unique to women, as well as trainings to help women legislators better communicate with their constituents. Rep. Gilmore will serve in this role until the next NCSL Legislative Summit in 2014.

Gilmore, 5 Other Nashvilleans to be Honored by Teamster International Black Caucus

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; February 4, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Representative Brenda Gilmore (D-54) will be honored by the Teamsters International Black Caucus on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Rep. Gilmore is being honored for her tireless commitment to working families and African-Americans in Nashville and Tennessee.

“I am proud to be honored by a group of individuals so dedicated to improving the lives of working people in my district,” said Rep. Gilmore. “When working men and women join together with a common purpose, there is nothing that can stop them.”

Rep. Gilmore will be honored alongside five of Nashville’s Black History Leaders for their commitment to “Education and Accountability.”

Tommy “DR. B” Barnes
Retired Teamsters Local 480 BA & Member

Carolyn Hunter
Retired Teamsters Local 480 Pension Clerk

Gary Gray
Teamsters Local 480 Member UPS Massman

Sam Smith
Retired Educator and Coach of The Continental TBells

John Patton
Metro Police Officer and UNA football Coach

The 1st Annual Awards Banquet of the Nashville & Middle Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Teamsters National Black Caucus will be held at the Holiday Inn (Opryland/Airport) 2200 Elm Hill Pike on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 7PM. Tickets to the banquet can be reserved by calling Tammy at (615) 316-1052.