Press Releases

Mancini Praises State Democratic Legislators’ Renewal of Push for Medicaid Expansion

Press release from Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini; February 12, 2015:

After Republicans such as Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-has his choice of two health care plans) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R- Springfield-defended his vote based on false information) tried to kill Insure Tennessee last week in a special legislative session and thereby deny 300,000 hardworking Tennesseans access to affordable health care, Democrats introduced two bills and two resolutions today that will keep Insure Tennessee alive:

“State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville)…has introduced two senate joint resolutions and one bill…The first resolution would allow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to pursue his Insure Tennessee proposal in the regular General Assembly session. The second aims to authorize full expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, according to a news release….Yarbro’s bill (SB 885) would repeal legislation passed last year that would require the governor to get the General Assembly’s approval before expanding the state’s Medicaid population under the Affordable Care Act….”Democratic lawmakers agree this issue is too important to let drop just because the governor’s own party let him down,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart (D-Nashvillle) said…”We are committed to finding a way to bring affordable health care to Tennesseans.” State Sen. Lee Harris (D-Memphis) also filed a bill Thursday to make part-time state employees eligible for the same health insurance plans available to state lawmakers.” (Read more...)

Please share this story far and wide (here’s the link: and let folks know that:

Press Releases

Fitzhugh Accuses GOP of Getting ‘Cold Feet’ on Insure Tennessee

Press release from Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley; February 4, 2015:

Nashville, TN: House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh issued the following statement after the failure of Insure Tennessee:

“When 280,000 Tennesseans are just hours away from getting insurance, Republicans get cold feet and walk away. This is an insult to Governor Haslam, a betrayal of our constituents and proves that Republicans are totally incapable of governing. In my 21 years of service, I cannot recall being more disappointed than I am today.

I hope no Republican has the audacity to file for per diem, because they wasted three days looking for an excuse to vote against Insure Tennessee. For my part, I will return all mine later this week. Going forward I hope the Governor calls us back into special session again and again until we get this right. This isn’t over.”

Press Releases

Harris: Out of State Special Interests Pressing Legislators to Choose Politics Over People

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; January 27, 2015:

Leader: “It’s easy to be a critic, but we were elected to govern.”

NASHVILLE – Political mailers and radio ads funded by out-of-state interests are putting undue pressure on legislators to consider politics first, people second, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said.

“Instead of listening to out-of-state special interests, we should be hearing from people who are working but still can’t afford quality health care,” state Sen. Lee Harris said. “It’s easy to be a critic, but we were elected to govern.”

Mailers and radio spots funded by the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity have blanketed the state at a time when legislators are considering whether to expand Medicaid for 200,000 Tennesseans, half of whom work but can’t afford health insurance.

“Unfortunately, the Tennesseans whose lives would change with access to health care can’t afford to influence legislators in the same way,” Sen. Harris said.

A copy of an Americans for Prosperity funded mailing sent to Chattanooga-area constituents is attached below.

Press Releases

Sens. Kyle, Harris to Take Part in Memphis Insure TN Roundtable

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; January 20, 2015:

NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic leaders said they hope to learn some of the details of a plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee at a legislative roundtable on the issue Wednesday in Memphis.

“We know that co-pays and premiums can serve as a barrier to receiving care for the poorest among us,” state Sen. Sara Kyle said. “In many cases, we are talking about families who work but still can’t afford basic necessities. Will they be able to afford the governor’s plan?”

“Under the plan, the state would make direct payments to employers to cover the employee’s share,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “How much the state will contribute to these private insurance plans is still unknown, as far as I can tell. Look, we’re going to have to know real soon how much the state will contribute to private insurance plans.

“The incentive effects on this score could be alarming. Employers will have some incentives to reduce their employer coverage to whatever’s not paid for by public resources. I believe the governor’s got a cap on the private insurance subsidy, but I want these issues to be front and center. I’m glad he’s coming to Memphis to answer some of these questions. It’s absolutely the right thing to do. If we’re going to do this – and I hope we do – we have to do it right.”

Sens. Kyle and Harris are set to take part in a roundtable discussion on the Medicaid expansion plan at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Christ Community Health Services Frayser Health Center at 969 Frayser Blvd. in Memphis.

Press Releases

Harris Announces Appointment of 2 Memphians to State Boards

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

NASHVILLE – Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris is proud to announce the appointments by Gov. Bill Haslam of two distinguished Memphians – William Evans and William Troutt – to serve on state boards.

“I want to congratulate Mr. Evans and Mr. Troutt on their selection by the governor to these boards, which make crucial decisions about education in Tennessee,” Sen. Harris said. “I want to thank Gov. Haslam for recognizing their expertise, and I know they will serve Tennessee well.”

Appointed to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, William Evans is the retired President and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He currently serves on the Board of Memphis Tomorrow until July 2014. During Evans’ te4nure as its CEO, St. Jude was ranked annually in the top 10 best places to work in academia by Scientist magazine and ranked the No. 1 children’s cancer hospital by Parents Magazine and U.S. News and World Report.

Appointed to the State Board of Education, William Troutt is in his third decade as a college president, currently serving as president of Rhodes College in Memphis. A nationally recognized leader in education, he has chaired the American Council on Education and National Association of Independent Colleges at Universities, as well as national Congressional committees on education.

Sen. Harris filed the Senate Resolution 0001 and Senate Joint Resolution 0035 for their respective appointments Thursday, and they now await approval by the General Assembly.

Press Releases

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

Press Releases

Kyle to Address Women’s Issues at Women’s March on Capitol

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; January 12, 2015:

Kyle: Democrats may be in minority, but women are a strong voice

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Sara Kyle will address women’s issues, including equal pay and abortion rights, at the Women’s March on the Capitol in Nashville Tuesday.

“Democrats may be in the minority, but women are a strong voice,” state Sen. Sara Kyle said. “We’re expecting an unprecedented attack on women this year, with Republican legislation aimed at the private medical decisions women have to make, while ignoring the economic health of their families.”

The Women’s March on the Capitol is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 13, the day the 109th General Assembly begins its 2015 session.

For more information, click here.

Press Releases

Fitzhugh Celebrates Fall with New Call for Medicaid Expansion

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; September 23, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 23, 2014) – House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh is celebrating the beginning of fall as a countdown to the release of Governor Haslam’s long-awaited “Tennessee Plan” to expand Medicaid.

To mark the start of the season, Leader Fitzhugh has released a video asking Governor Haslam to make good on his pledge. Transcript to follow:

“Hi, I’m House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

“Today marks the beginning of fall. This is the time of year that I look forward to cooler weather, changing leaves and UT Football.

“This year, I’m also looking forward to Governor Haslam’s “Tennessee Plan” for expanding Medicaid. A few weeks back, the Governor promised to submit a plan this fall.

“Well, Governor, fall starts today and the countdown for Medicaid expansion begins anew. I hope the Governor makes good on his promise. Meanwhile, we’ll be back throughout the coming weeks with updates about how the Governor’s dithering affects you, the tax payer.

“Again, I’m House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. Fall is here and—I truly hope—we can soon say the same thing about the Governor’s Tennessee Plan. Thanks.”

In August, Governor Haslam told reporters that he would probably go to the Department of Health and Human Services with a plan this fall that “makes sense for Tennessee.” Over the past year, House Democrats have implored Governor Haslam to follow the lead of Republican Governors like John Kasich of Ohio and Jan Brewer of Arizona who have put the residents of their state first by accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid.

It has been 545 days since Governor Haslam announced to a joint convention of legislators that he would seek a “Tennessee Plan” to expand Medicaid, and 266 since Tennessee began losing $2.5 million a day in federal funds, costing taxpayers $665,000,000 in lost revenue.

Press Releases

Harper, DCS Chief to Hold Forum on Woodland Hills Escape

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; September 5, 2014:

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Thelma Harper and Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry will host a community forum to discuss public safety concerns following the escape of 32 teens from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center.

“We want to be sure that we are doing everything we can at Woodland Hills to ensure not just the well-being of the young men in custody, but also safety of the neighbors who are concerned by recent events,” state Sen. Thelma Harper said.

Commissioner Jim Henry will answer questions from members of the community.

“We want the neighbors to be safe, and we want them to understand the work we do,” Commissioner Henry said. “It is just as important for us to hear what the neighbors have to say.”

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Northwest YMCA at 3700 Ashland City Highway.

Press Releases

TN House Dems Warn of “Fiscal, Moral Disaster” At Years End

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; December 3, 2013:

28 Days until Fiscal and Moral Disaster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In 28 days, Tennessee’s Republican leadership is poised to make the greatest fiscal, economic and moral blunder in decades. According to reports in the Tennessean, the Governor’s decision to put politics above policy is already resulting in layoffs and hiring freezes in hospitals across the state – a trend that will only worsen as the full impact of Governor Haslam’s decision goes into effect on January 1, 2014.

“The indifference shown by Governor Haslam and Tennessee’s Republican leaders is truly remarkable given the stakes,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “There has never been an easier way for the state of Tennessee to improve the lives of its citizens without having to spend a single dime in state funds for years to come.”

When the 2010 Affordable Care Act was passed, hospitals struck a bargain with the federal government that they would forgo money in the form of reimbursements in order to get more patients through the Medicaid expansion. When the Supreme Court left the decision to expand Medicaid up to the states, it created a fiscal disaster for hospitals in states with political leadership too focused on partisanship to put the needs of their people first.

“This Christmas, Governor Haslam has the opportunity to give thousands of working men and women in Tennessee the best gift possible – longer and healthier lives,” said Chairman Turner. “I understand it will be difficult to get the expansion passed in the legislature, but the Governor owes it to the people of our state to try. If he stands by and does nothing, the hospital closures, the jobs lost, and the premature and preventable deaths of Tennesseans will rest squarely on his shoulders.”

Governor Haslam has claimed to be working on a “Tennessee Plan” with the federal government, however, a waiver that would start the process of adopting the plan has not been requested by the Haslam administration. Said Chairman Turner, “Has Governor Haslam reached out to Tennessee’s Congressional delegation with his ‘plan’ in order to help get the approval of HHS? Does he even have a plan to present?”

“People across this state need to understand that if we do not expand Medicaid, their health care options and jobs may be at risk, even if they have private or employer based insurance,” said Chairman Turner. “How many people in our state must suffer so that the Republican leadership can please its Tea Party base?”