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MedSolutions Plans Williamson County Expansion

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Sept. 19, 2011:

Company to Invest $16 Million, Create 263 Jobs in Franklin

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today joined with representatives from MedSolutions to announce plans by the company to expand its corporate headquarters in Franklin. The company will invest $16 million and create 263 jobs over a three year period.

“We’re working to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, and focusing on existing Tennessee businesses and industry clusters where our state has a distinct advantage are priorities in our Jobs4TN strategy,” Haslam said. “I congratulate MedSolutions on the expansion of their headquarters, and thank them for the additional high quality jobs they will create in our state.”

“The health care industry is thriving in Tennessee thanks to our business friendly climate and the strategic importance Governor Haslam has placed on health care service providers,” Hagerty said. “We are pleased with MedSolutions’ decision to expand in our state and appreciative of their presence as a leading player in the health care industry.”

The company’s corporate headquarters is located at 730 Cool Springs Boulevard, Suite 800 in Franklin. MedSolutions specializes in quality-driven, intelligent cost management of medical services for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid payors. With over 800 employees, the company maintains management contracts for approximately 30 million individuals nationwide.

“Franklin has been the perfect fit for MedSolutions’ corporate headquarters,” Curt Thorne, president and chief executive officer, MedSolutions, said. “We thank state and local officials for making this expansion a reality and look forward to continual success in Williamson County.”

In addition to the company’s corporate headquarters and call center in Franklin, Tenn., MedSolutions also maintains a call center in Melbourne, Fla.

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go to www.tn.gov/ecd.

About MedSolutions

Using independently validated savings methodologies, MedSolutions specializes in quality-driven intelligent cost management of medical services for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid payors. The company maintains management contracts for approximately 30 million individuals nationwide. Using robust data, predictive intelligence technology and evidence-based clinical expertise, the company’s innovative solutions extend beyond Radiology Management to other areas of medical specialty, including Medical and Radiation Oncology, Cardiac Imaging, Sleep Diagnostics, Ultrasound Imaging, Lumbar Spine Surgery, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Surgery, and MedSolutions’ groundbreaking Premerus® Diagnostic Accuracy program – the nation’s first solution for reducing diagnostic error rates to improve the quality and cost of care. MedSolutions has been recognized for outstanding customer service and effective call center management by the International Customer Management Institute and for four consecutive years by the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Award. To learn more, visit www.medsolutions.com.

TN Right to Life Praises Shelby Co. for Denying Planned Parenthood Contract

Press Release from Tennessee Right to Life, Sept. 14, 2011:

The Commercial Appeal reported Wednesday morning that the Shelby County Public Health Department will no longer be contracting with Planned Parenthood’s Memphis affiliate, a decision which effectively ends a decades long practice in which the Tennessee Department of Health automatically awarded federal Title X family planning funds to Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities. Tennessee Right to Life has led the public fight since 2006 to defund the nation’s foremost abortion provider by directing the funds to ethical health care providers instead.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell stated that the family planning contract will awarded to Christ Community Health Services, a non-profit health service provider which does not perform or refer for abortion. Luttrell said that a six-person team of local health care professionals and members of his administration ranked three proposals and selected Christ Community. The contract must now be approved by the Shelby County Commission, likely within the next several weeks.

The action in Memphis follows similar developments last June when the Nashville Public Health Department announced that it would accept all available Title X family planning funds previously directed to Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. As a result, no 2011-12 Title X funds were awarded to the Nashville abortion facility either. At stake were grants totaling $1,062,500.00 which would otherwise have been directed to Planned Parenthood.

Both decisions to re-direct funds away from Planned Parenthood affiliates followed intense public outcry when the Tennessee Legislature failed to strip funding for the abortion behemoth. A pro-life amendment to the state budget by Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) was secretly undone when still publicly unidentified legislators inserted their own amendment into the state budget restoring the funding for Planned Parenthood. Governor Haslam acted administratively to identify alternative means of providing the services while fulfilling his campaign commitment to prevent funds from being directed to Planned Parenthood.

Tennessee Right to Life heralded today’s announcement. “Pro-life Tennesseans have proven again what can be positively accomplished for the protection of life when we work together,” said Brian Harris, the group’s president. “Pro-life voters have spoken in a consistent manner over the course of years and their elected officials—councilmen, commissioners, legislators, mayors, congressmen and our Governor—they have all joined the long effort to protect life and Tennessee’s taxpayers. Tennessee Right to Life thanks its members and these pro-life public officials for this long-awaited announcement today.”

Ramsey Reviews NY Bond-Rating Discussions

Facebook Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Sept. 14, 2012

As I prepare to board the plane back to Nashville, I’d like to let you know a bit about how your state’s leadership has been working to improve Tennessee’s economy the past few days. As you may have read, a group including Governor Haslam, the Constitutional Officers and myself has been meeting with the various bond rating agencies in New York City making the case for Tennessee to retain its current bond rating.

We believe that Tennessee is clearly a AAA state and we told the folks at Fitch’s, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s just that. The evidence we presented is truly overwhelming and regardless of what designation the New York rating agencies give Tennessee, I just wanted you to know how proud I am of the presentation that we made and how proud I am of the state in which we live.

As we all know, the national economy is in a tailspin. The Obama Administration’s fiscal policy has deepened recession and enlarged our debt. Considering the national outlook, Tennessee is in an outstanding position.

Few states could even dream of making the impressive case we did these past two days. While the nation trends downward, Tennessee is looking up toward the horizon.

We were able not only to relay our confidence to the bond agencies in New York – we were able to back it up with numbers.

The best evidence of our strength? People are moving here. They want our quality of life, our job creating environment and our low taxes. Our population growth and in-migration statistics are well above the national average. Families and businesses from around the nation are attracted by our low regulation and our newly reform-minded education system.

Our manufacturing sector remains remarkably strong and well ahead of the nation at large. Our private sector employment is rising and our state’s unemployment, while not at the rate we would like to see, has fallen at a rate faster than the nation’s.

Not only did we boast of our low taxes and our pro-business climate, we made clear our state government’s fiscal house is in order. If this recession continues or if the federal government ends up pulling the rug out from underneath us, we will have the structure in place to withstand the hit — far better and for far longer than many other states.

For instance, Tennessee’s unemployment trust fund stands at $381 million and we are one of only six states that have no outstanding obligation to the federal government. Our fund is in position to grow and protect us against a prolonged recession.

While other states are treading water, we were able to tell the rating agency analysts that the budget we passed this past spring contains $1.1 billion less in federal funding than the previous year and restored $70.4 million to our rainy day fund. Our budget is balanced on a current and reoccurring basis. Perhaps most important is the fact that our budget passed unanimously. Even Tennessee Democrats conceded that our conservative budgeting practices are best.

Our sales tax growth rate is up almost 50% over last year and August marked the 13th consecutive month in which total tax collections surpassed our budgeted estimates. Tennessee’s economy and tax revenue maintains low volatility relative to other AAA rated states.

A point we stressed in each presentation was Tennessee’s long standing commitment to fulfilling our obligations and carrying a small amount of debt. Since 1972, we have always funded our pension system. Tennessee is clearly committed to supporting its retirees and we have the flexibility to adjust benefits and premium sharing provisions. The Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System is internally managed and financially sound. Tennessee has operated a successful commercial paper program since its inception 11 years ago and is structured to provide the liquidity protection we need.

Tennessee ranks below most states in debt per capita and debt as a percent of personal income. Debt repayment remains aggressive. Put simply, we have very little debt and what debt we do carry we pay off quickly.

Most of all, we stressed Tennessee’s commitment to reform: whether education reform that strengthens the quality of our workforce and quality of life or tort reform which gives corporations and entrepreneurs a new level of confidence in Tennessee, this state is clearly committed to reform.

Tennessee’s leaders know how to work together. We may not always agree on every issue but Tennesseans should know that when the future of our state’s economy is on the line, we are a team dedicated to success. We are proactive. Our state is financially strong in the present and we have well thought out contingency plans for a soft economy. To state it plainly: Tennessee is not Washington.

That was our message. It was well presented and I hope and pray it was well received and that Tennessee retains the high ratings I believe it so richly deserves.

Bills Named THDA Board Chairman

State of Tennessee Press Release, Jul 25, 2011:

Brian Bills Appointed to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his appointment of Brian Bills as Chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. His term began July 1.

“I’m pleased that Brian has agreed to serve the Tennessee Housing Development Agency in this capacity,” Haslam said. “His years of management and business experience made him the best choice to fill this position, and he will serve Tennesseans well in this new role”.

With more than 17 years experience in management and business, Bills most recently served as Regional Line of Business Manager, Senior Vice President for SunTrust Mortgage in Knoxville.

“It has been my great pleasure to serve on the THDA Board for the past two years. I am very proud to be associated with such a mission driven, successful and professional organization,” Bills said. “The appointment to chair the THDA Board from Governor Haslam is an honor and a service opportunity that I am thankful for and one I am very excited about. I am confident that the agency will continue its great work with the support of the entire board taking on and meeting the housing needs of many Tennesseans.”

Established in 1973 by the General Assembly, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) was created to promote the production of more affordable new housing units for very low, low and moderate income individuals and families in the state, to promote the preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing units for such persons, and bring greater stability to the residential construction industry and related industries so as to assure a steady flow or production of new housing units.

Bills is a Michigan native who has made his home in Tennessee in 1979. He is active in several professional community organizations including the First Book of Knoxville and the SunTrust of Eastern Tennessee Diversity Council.

Bills holds a B.A. in Management from Maryville College.

McCormick’s Next Task Force to Tackle Economic Development

Press Release from Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; July 14, 2011:

Representative Jimmy Matlock Named Chairman; Group Will Explore Ways to Reduce Government, Allow Private Sector to Expand

(July 14, 2011, NASHVILLE) – With the 2011 Southern Legislative Conference coming up this weekend in Memphis, giving Tennessee legislators the opportunity to learn about the best practices from other States and share our own, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R—Chattanooga) announced the formation of what is expected to be the final task force of the House Majority.

The Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force will consist of ten Members of the House Majority. In a letter announcing the appointments to the task force, Leader McCormick outlined specific duties for the working group. They include:

  • Identifying regulations that are impeding job growth in Tennessee’s private sector and developing measures to remove those hurdles;
  • Ascertain the best practices of other States when it comes to paving the way for job creation by small businesses and companies;
  • Develop strategies and potential policy initiatives to make Tennessee’s environment better for business expansion and recruitment.

Representative Jimmy Matlock (R—Lenoir City) was given the responsibility of chairing the task force. The other Members include: Representative Charles Sargent (R—Franklin), Representative Curtis Johnson (R—Clarksville), Representative Steve McManus (R—Cordova), Representative Jon Lundberg (R—Bristol), Representative Pat Marsh (R—Shelbyville), Representative Sheila Butt (R—Columbia), Representative David Alexander (R—Winchester), Representative Bill Sanderson (R—Kenton), Representative Ryan Williams (R—Cookeville), and Representative Tim Wirgau (R—Buchanan). The group intends to meet when other scheduled legislative committees meet such as the Fiscal Review Committee or summer study meetings.

“With unpredictable policies that affect businesses coming out of Washington, I believe it is our responsibility to create good policies that will have a positive effect on job development for Tennesseans,” said Majority Leader McCormick. “This task force will conduct a thorough review of our Code and find places where we can eliminate burdensome government regulations that are hurting Tennessee businesses. While Democrats are the Party of income taxes and ineffective government solutions to our challenges, I believe the proper path to sustainable, long-term economic growth is by unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and our business community.”

Rep. Matlock agreed and added, “We had a successful 2011 that included a number of pro-growth reforms for Tennesseans. However, there is much work to be done. This task force will be responsible for presenting a package of recommendations to the full Majority that will form the basis of our next economic development package. I appreciate the opportunity to lead this group and look forward to getting to work.”

“Since Governor Haslam and our Republican Majority were elected last fall, we have been consistent in our efforts to reform the way government operates and to create a consistent environment for Tennessee businesses. This task force is the next logical step in that cause and I look forward to hearing how we can help Tennessee’s job creators,” said Rep. Johnson.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy and our economy here at home,” said Rep. Wirgau. “Job development is the number one issue on the minds of Tennesseans and, as a business owner myself, I look forward to identifying ways we can get government out of the way so our job market can start growing once more.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R—Nashville) concluded, “This is a smart undertaking for our Majority. 2011 saw us institute a number of critical reforms that will help businesses grow. We reformed education for our children, implemented tort reforms for the business environment, and we reduced the size of government. Next session, I believe we can drill down and identify some specific policies that will have a positive impact on Tennessee’s job market. I look forward to hearing the results of this task force’s work.”

Leader McCormick announced the appointments in a letter to all Members of the House Republican Majority. The full text of the letter is below:

July 14, 2011

Fellow Caucus Members:

I sent a letter to each of you yesterday announcing the appointment of a Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force. This task force, along with the Energy Task Force that was formed earlier this year, will provide a vital service to our Caucus and to our State by conducting significant research on complex issues.

The main goal of the House Republican Caucus is to implement good public policy that will benefit all of Tennessee’s citizens. Without a doubt, the greatest issue for Tennesseans is the lagging economy that our nation is currently experiencing. Since our Majority was formed, our number one concern has been economic development for Tennessee. This includes job development, business expansion, and private sector growth. Though we had a successful 2011 legislative session, we can do more. That is why I am excited to announce the formation of a final task force that will concentrate squarely on that issue.

I have asked ten of our members to form the Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force. This group will develop strategies and potential policy initiatives to make Tennessee’s environment better for business expansion and recruitment, as well as identify regulations that impede job growth in Tennessee’s private sector and develop measures to remove those hurdles. Another key task of this group will be to ascertain the best practices of other States when it comes to paving the way for job creation by small businesses and companies. Providing a great business climate is a process of constant improvement, and I look forward to hearing the task force’s report to the Caucus at the conclusion of their research.

The Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force will consist of the following members:

Rep. Jimmy Matlock, Chairman

Rep. Charles Sargent

Rep. Curtis Johnson

Rep. Pat Marsh

Rep. Tim Wirgau

Rep. Steve McManus

Rep. Jon Lundberg

Rep. David Alexander

Rep. Sheila Butt

Rep. Ryan Williams

Rep. Bill Sanderson

 

Herron: Goodyear Closing Showed ‘Lack of Patriotism,’ ‘Insensitivity’

Press Release from Tennessee State Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, July 11, 2011:

DRESDEN – State Senator Roy Herron issued a statement Monday regarding the treatment of 2,000 Tennesseans who found themselves suddenly without jobs at the Goodyear plant in Union City.

“Goodyear showed its lack of patriotism by firing 2,000 Americans the week of the Fourth of July, its callousness by stopping their pay on 9/11, and its insensitivity by both firing everyone and cutting off their pay on the Sabbath,” Herron said.

“Goodyear is firing Tennesseans while they are hiring Chinese, and they can sell their tires overseas and forget selling another tire to this Tennessean. I have driven my truck 417,000 miles on American-made Goodyear tires, but this American will never buy a single foreign-made Goodyear tire.”

Workers at the plant were told upon arriving to their shifts Sunday and Monday morning that production at the plant had ceased. The announcement came five months to the day after Goodyear had announced the plant would close by the end of the year. Goodyear has been closing American plants as it has been opening new plants overseas, including a new plant opening in China in a few months.

Under federal law, workers will receive two months’ salary — meaning their pay will end on September 11, the 10-year anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Herron is already working to fill the massive hole that Goodyear’s sudden departure will leave in the regional economy.

“I have invited Governor Haslam, the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to come to Northwest Tennessee and talk with workers, business leaders, and citizens about what they are going to do to help our people,” Herron said. “I will do everything I can to make sure the state government responds to the needs of our people and helps bring new jobs here.”

Tort Reform Law a ‘Tremendous Victory,’ But ‘More to be Done’: TCPR

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, June 16, 2011:

Lawsuit Abuse Reform Arrives in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TN – Today Governor Haslam signed the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011. This is a successful first step in one of many necessary to make Tennessee competitive for new jobs, says Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), a key organization that led the grassroots charge to pass lawsuit abuse reform this legislative session.

“We’re glad that the governor and legislative leadership recognized the importance of making our state more business friendly to attract more jobs, and we’re pleased that lawmakers passed the bill,” said Owen. “Over the next several months, we will be researching how we can build on this significant first step to make Tennessee the number one choice for employers to locate and expand, without offering inconsistent and costly taxpayer handouts.”

Recent government statistics show that Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, which is higher than the national rate. Unemployment rates range by county from the lowest at 6.6 to the highest at 22.1 percent. With more than 60 of the state’s 95 counties having double-digit unemployment numbers, Owen said lawmakers need to continue to focus on ways to add jobs.

“There has never been a more important time to make job creation our top priority,” said Owen. “While the foundation has been laid for a more predictable and balanced civil justice system that’s critical to quality employers, we want to strengthen that foundation because all states are competing for the same jobs. This is a tremendous victory, yet there is more to be done.”

Owen acknowledged the role that TCPR and its volunteers played in passing lawsuit abuse reform. “First and foremost, our mission is to educate our fellow citizens, and we believe we successfully did that with our campaign to bring about lawsuit abuse reform. We could not have done this without the countless number of people and supporters who tirelessly worked to help us educate, inform and communicate with Tennesseans about the importance of this issue. We also thank the many other individuals and groups that worked to make this job-creating reform a reality.”

Effective October 1, 2011, the Tennessee Civil Justice Act includes several key components that are designed to boost the state’s economy while ensuring that Tennesseans have fair and open access to civil courts. Among the law’s key components are:

  • There is no cap on economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, job loss, property damage, and rehabilitation costs as a result of a tort action. These damages are considered measurable, provable and objectively quantifiable.
  • Subjective, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, or humiliation, are capped at $750,000 cap per occurrence for medical liability actions and per plaintiff for non-medical actions.
  • There are higher caps in place for catastrophic events such as spinal cord injuries, extensive burn injuries, intent to injure and other specific circumstances.
  • Punitive damages are capped at the greater of $500,000 or twice all other damages. The caps do not apply to specific circumstances such as intent to harm.
  • Unless directly involved in the design and/or manufacturing of a product, sellers are no longer liable for punitive damages.
  • Unless the manufacturer withheld or omitted regulatory information, manufacturers are no longer liable for punitive damages as long as they were in regulatory compliance.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, TCPR promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. For more information, visit www.tennesseepolicy.org .

Bipartisan Support for Bill Ending ‘Social Promotion’

Press Release from the Senate GOP Caucus, May 31, 2011:

(NASHVILLE, TN), May 31, 2011 — Legislation requiring results-based promotion for third graders across the state was approved by state lawmakers before the General Assembly adjourned the 2011 session. The measure requires a third grade student to show basic understanding for curriculum through standardized test scores or daily grades before passing to the fourth grade.

Senate Bill 1776 was sponsored by Senator Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) and co-sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville).

Gresham said the bill will go far to help students be prepared for the next grade level instead of falling behind.

“We cheat our children and ourselves when we allow students to move through our schools without actually learning the material,” said Senator Burks. “This legislation will lay a foundation for greater accountability in the classroom that puts our children first. We can spend millions of dollars and implement all kinds of new programs, but real education improvement will only happen when we set goals for our children and help them reach those goals.”

“The main problem with social promotion is that the student falls further and further behind if they cannot master the third grade-appropriate testing,” said Senator Gresham. “Mastery of the basics, which are tested in the third grade, is critical to a child’s future success in school. Everything else builds on that foundation. Without this foundational knowledge, the student has far less chance for educational success and will fall hopelessly behind.”

Estimates show about 45,000 students in Tennessee are considered to be socially promoted. The bill approved by the legislature does not apply to special education students.

“If we truly want to increase education attainment, this measure had to be addressed,” Gresham added. “I am very pleased that our General Assembly has passed this education reform bill.”

The bill now awaits Governor Haslam’s signature and, if signed, will become effective on July 1.

Fitzhugh: ‘I Shudder to Think What the Second Session has in Store’

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, Posted the Following on Facebook, May 31, 2011:

An Open Letter: The 4 Pillars of the New Majority

Senator Douglas Henry, a veteran legislator who is respected on both sides of the aisle, often says that the citizens of Tennessee were safer when the legislature only met every two years.

I am no longer sure he’s wrong.

The first session of the 107th General Assembly has been about 4 things: government mandates, raising government salaries, attacking public education & ignoring the jobs crisis.

I shudder to think what the second session has in store.

More Mandates

If one word could describe this legislative session, that word would be mandate.

HB 0368: Mandate on teachers’ lesson plans.

HB 0600: Mandate on local government ordinances.

HB 0051: Mandate on local school board systems.

HB 2008: Mandate on jury verdicts.

HB 1380: Unfunded mandate on local law enforcement.

HB 2016: Mandate on schools’ gun policies.

HB 2019: Mandate on professional associations & their group activities.

HB 0007: Unfunded mandate on elderly voters.

HB 0130: Mandate on teacher negotiations.

These are only a portion of the mandates placed on local governments, schools and business by the majority party. If this was just the “appetizer”, I hate to see what kind of big government awaits us in the main course.

Government Salary Increases

Lt. Governor Ramsey has made a point of saying how much money he saved the state by adjourning session a week earlier than usual. While I am happy we saved this $450,000, I am disappointed that the majority chose to spend this savings and more on raises for their staff.

The facts are these: while Republicans have been talking about shrinking government & saving tax payer dollars, they’ve also been handing out large pay raises to their staffers.

Governor Haslam handed out 11-32% raises to 14 of his cabinet secretaries-all of whom already made well north of $100,000 per year.

Not to be outdone, last fall Lt. Governor Ramsey secretly handed out 4-8% increases to 18 Senate staffers, while state employees went without a raise for the third year in a row.

So while I agree with Lt. Governor Ramsey that we need the best staff available in state government, I can’t justify large pay raises for a few select individuals while state employees go without & unemployment hovers at 10%.

Attacking Teachers & Public Education

When Tennessee won the Race to the Top competition last year, it was an accomplishment shared by Democrats & Republicans, businesses & communities, teachers & school boards alike.

What a difference a year makes.

One year later, Republicans have passed legislation aimed squarely at teachers, to the detriment of our public school system.

Republicans have taken away the job security of our veteran teachers, stripped their ability to negotiate for things like text books, janitorial services & basic school supplies, opened the door to for profit charter schools & nearly ripped millions from the public school system with a voucher proposal.

Lt. Governor Ramsey & his counterparts call this reform, but our teachers & the people of Tennessee know better. This is not reform; it’s regression.

Ignoring the Jobs Crisis

In 2010, Lt. Governor Ramsey & the Republican majority ran on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Less than one year later, the majority continues to bury its head in the sand and ignore Tennessee’s jobs crisis.

While 1500 people lost their jobs at the Good Year plant in Union City, Governor Haslam cut funds for the Department of Economic & Community Development- the lead job recruiting organization for the state.

While killing 12 Democrat-sponsored jobs bills, Governor Haslam & the Republican majority ceased job recruitment programs that brought international corporations like Volkswagen to Tennessee.

While people can’t find work, Republicans put 3,900 new jobs & potentially two more distribution centers at risk by threatening to renege on agreements already made between the state & Amazon.com.

Perhaps most egregious, while the state’s unemployment rate rose toward 10%, Republicans cut off unemployment benefits to 28,000 out of work Tennesseans. Thankfully, Democratic efforts restored these benefits so these individuals can feed their families for a while longer.

What’s Next?

This is just a sampling of “the appetizer” served up by Lt. Governor Ramsey & the Republican majority. There are numerous other issues that could be discussed, but that would take all day.

Lt. Governor Ramsey & the majority party have full control of all three branches of government, so only they know what is coming with the “main course” in 2012.

What we know as Democrats, however, is that we will continue to fight for those left behind by this legislative session.

We will fight for the rights of the individual & local governments, against the unfunded mandates of the state.

We will fight for the working people of Tennessee; those who didn’t enjoy a posh raise at their job last year.

We will fight for a strong public education system. One that values it’s teachers & pushes it’s students.

Most of all, we will fight for the 10% of Tennesseans that are unemployed and the thousands more that are under-employed.

Make no mistake, while Lt. Governor Ramsey & Republicans may ignore the jobs issue, Democrats will continue to fight until every Tennessean can find work.

Craig Fitzhugh

House Minority Leader

(D-Ripley)

Passage of Haslam’s Tort Reform Means More Jobs, Fewer Lawsuits: TCPR

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, May 12, 2011:

Lawmakers Agree: Tennessee Needs More Jobs, Not More Lawsuits

NASHVILLE, TN – With bipartisan support, the 107th Tennessee General Assembly agreed that the Volunteer State needs more jobs, not more lawsuits, by passing the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011.

The House voted 72-24 on Monday to pass the bill, and the Senate passed it this morning by a 21-12 vote. Governor Haslam is expected to sign the bill in the coming days, making the law effective October 1, 2011.

“Tennesseans spoke loud and clear to lawmakers that they were more interested in jobs than the status quo and an unpredictable civil justice system,” said Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the organization that led the grassroots effort for change. “This reform allows for a much more balanced and just system, and one that attracts quality employers with much needed and competitively-paying jobs. The beneficiaries of reform include local economies, under and unemployed Tennesseans, uninsured families, communities underserved by doctors, and the list goes on. We applaud the Legislature for doing what’s right for Tennesseans.”

Highlights of the bill include:

  • There is no cap on economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, job loss, property damage, and rehabilitation costs as a result of a tort action. These damages are considered measurable, provable and objectively quantifiable.
  • Subjective, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, or humiliation, are capped at $750,000 cap per occurrence for medical liability actions and per plaintiff for non-medical actions.
  • There are higher caps in place for catastrophic events such as spinal cord injuries, extensive burn injuries, intent to injure and other specific circumstances.
  • Punitive damages are capped at the greater of $500,000 or twice all other damages.
  • Unless directly involved in the design and/or manufacturing of a product, sellers are no longer liable for punitive damages.
  • Unless the manufacturer withheld or omitted regulatory information, manufacturers are no longer liable for punitive damages as long as they were in regulatory compliance.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, the Center promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. For more information, visit www.tennesseepolicy.org.