Press Release from Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet; June 10, 2010:
State Senate Revives Tennessee Health Freedom Act to Attempt to Challenge National Healthcare Bill; However Bill Fails in House
Below is a press release explaining how last night played out in terms of trying to pass legislation that attempted to combat what I believe to be unconstitutional provisions of the national healthcare bill…after working hard with Representative Clark from Idaho on this issue since last winter, it is a shame that political games and votes – mainly by House Democrats, but also Speaker Kent Williams – allowed this bill to be defeated in the State House last night. I appreciate my Senate colleagues for helping pass the Tennessee Health Freedom Act on two separate occasions, and I pledge to continue filing this bill every year until it passes. I will also continue to push for the Attorney General to represent the people of this great state against unconstitutional federal intrusion! – Mae
Last Friday, June 4th, Senate leaders enacted a procedural method that revived the Tennessee Health Freedom Act. The original Health Freedom Act, SB 3498, was sponsored by Senator Beavers and passed the Senate Floor overwhelmingly last February. Yet, due to parliamentary maneuvers and side-deals being struck by House members and the House Speaker, that bill was killed last week in a budget subcommittee.
“The House Speaker cast a tie-breaking vote to kill that bill in committee last week,” said Senator Beavers. “The House committee then decided to pass out a similar, but substantially weaker bill to cover their tracks; however, all of the members knew that bill had not moved in the Senate. Their attempt to only advance the version that was dead in the Senate was their attempt to kill the Tennessee Health Freedom Act.”
The legislature was then left with a predicament in that there were two different versions of a bill that sought to protect Tennesseans from unconstitutional provisions of the national healthcare bill; however, both of their companion bills were stalled in the opposite legislative chamber. Therefore, SB 2560 was recalled from committee and brought straight to the Senate Floor. The only way the Senate agreed to recall the bill was to have an amendment that would put Beavers’ version of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act onto the bill since that was the only amendment that had been through the Senate committee process. If the Senate had not adopted that version of the bill, the bill would have been dead.
“This was an unusual procedural motion,” acknowledged Senator Beavers. “However the difference between this motion and others that have failed in the past is that this amendment has been vetted in committee and passed overwhelmingly in February. To me, its not a question of politics, it’s a matter of policy and principle…the Tennessee legislature needs to send a firm message to Washington that we do not agree with their unprecedented and unconstitutional national healthcare legislation.
Senate Bill 2560 passed the State Senate by a large margin on Wednesday afternoon. The bill was then sent to the House floor Wednesday night, where the sponsor of the House version of the bill non-concurred with the amendment, sending the bill to a conference committee where a compromise was reached. The House then voted to adopt the Tennessee Health Freedom Act by a vote of 44-39. Yet, the bill did not receive the necessary 50 votes to pass in its final form in the House of Representatives.
“I was incredibly discouraged that House Democrats voted to kill this bill,” said Senator Beavers. “The Senate did every maneuver we could to resurrect this bill – even passing the Tennessee Health Freedom Act once in February and then again last night.”
Many Democrats cited the reason for their vote being that Tennessee’s Attorney General said it was likely unconstitutional, yet Senator Beavers argued that such a statement was merely his opinion. “The only way you could say that my bill is unconstitutional would be if you believe Obamacare is constitutional – and the State Senate said loud and clear last night that we do not think it is…it’s the Attorney General’s job to defend the policies of this state, and there is no way that an unconstitutional federal law should trump a constitutional state law!”
To read the two different versions of the bill, as well as the compromise that was reached you can go to the following links:
Tennessee Health Freedom Act (SB3498):
Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act (SB2560):
Compromise Reached (Conference Committee for SB 2560):