Fall has definitely taken center stage since last I sent The Loop. The wind chimes outside my window are whippin’ in the wind, while the screen door is flappin’ every now and then reminding me there is a storm brewing on this last day of October.
With Governor Haslam saying it is unlikely the state will present an agreement with the federal government on Medicaid expansion before the new year, a window to speak with the Governor's office concerning a more fiscally-responsible alternative to state exchanges and medicaid expansion opened up for me last month. I want to thank Governor Haslam for taking time to hear from my friend, C.L. Gray, an M.D. who presented a common sense approach that would give states the ability and incentive to create lean, efficient Medicaid programs. With our national debt now approaching $17 trillion and states operating under the current system of unlimited federal matching dollars, out of control spending continues to be propelled. The more states spend on Medicaid, the more money they receive from Washington—the trajectory is unsustainable for the feds and the states, leaving us cash-strapped, overextended, and most certainly headed for a huge train wreck not far down the tracks. Folks, the Federal Government has proven it is NOT capable to run healthcare. Ask the millions who tried to enroll through the troubled federal website. All indications continue to reveal to me this mandate called Obamacare is nothing but WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! There are ways for reform in healthcare and healthcost. To find out more info, read “The Battle for America's Soul” and watch “The Determinators” via YouTube, and decide for yourself. Are you on the side of empowering and protecting the individual OR surrendering power to the state?
The Tennessee Judicial Conference was held in October. When asked by Chief Justice Wade to “speak of your passion, Representative Weaver,” out of my heart rolled the need for Tennessee to establish more drug courts for mothers who can begin the process of healing, not only for themselves, but also for the babies they birthed who are addicted to prescription drugs. Being number one in the nation for the abuse of prescription drugs is not something to be proud of. This epidemic, stemming from the passage of the Intractable Act of 2001, plus the current lack of strong regulations on pain clinics, has resulted in the alarming number of babies being born forever affected by drugs. It will take all three branches of government to work as a team to heal our state of this sickness. Meeting the judges who already have successful drug courts in our state fueled my passion even more to stay the course. Also encouraging is to know that the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Corrections are talking the same language and realizing there has to be accountability for this abuse which is no different than being accountable for driving drunk behind the wheel when another's life is broken or taken. Senate hearings concerning this issue showed me members are more educated than last year and see the need to pass legislation that jerks the knee out from under the illegal and legal drug pushers of Tennessee.
During the Tennessee Public Transportation Association’s Annual Conference at Music City Center, I participated in a Legislative Roundtable with three fellow legislators to discuss our state’s highway and transit funding. We are second, with Texas being first, in the nation for Transportation and Infrastructure. We live within our means and top the list in the nation with no transportation debt. Though I see at some point where public transit is going to be a top concern--currently?—well, I like my car and the freedom having my vehicle gives me. Apparently I am not alone, for the mindset of many like the ability to go and come as they please. There is much education needed in order to show the masses Nashville needs a public rapid transit system. Today we face some serious challenges, one of which is how we are going to fund maintaining our current roads and bridges when the gas tax is not sufficient and the federal matching money ceases after December 2014. Having attended Regions 2 and 3 TDOT Summits—25-Year Long Range Plan, addressing the changing demographics that will impact transportation demands across the state, I have invited a speaker from TDOT to my Coffee & Conversations in Smith County on November 15. Please join us and learn how we plan to keep Tennessee moving.
Trousdale County has had a busy and exciting October. First, the Governor visited the Elementary School, which was recognized as a Rewards School. Then a $500,000 grant for water system rehabilitation and economic development was presented to Hartsville-Trousdale County. And most recently, the schools were a district finalist and winner of the SCORE Award, demonstrating great success in student achievement, receiving $25,000 for all that hard work!!!! Great job, students and teachers. Also, it was announced that Trousdale County would be the site for a 2500-bed correctional facility that will bring many jobs and more economical boost to the smallest county in the state. Yes indeed, big things come in small packages and we are grateful for all the good things that have come by Trousdale County here of late.
In closing, what a great week Mike and I have had, taking former NFL player Herman Weaver to the schools in district 40. The response from students and teachers truly was awesome. Placing more positive influences before our children and training them in the way they should go will make a difference in the lives of our leaders of tomorrow.
Now as we begin November ,’tis the season to be thankful. In spite of all the sadness, darkness, and unsettling circumstances around us, I close with words from The Message, Colossians chapter three:
“And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ--The Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives--words, actions, whatever--be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
Be ye thankful, and have a blessed Thanksgiving,
P.S.--Do not forget to join me every Friday at 7:30 for Coffee and Conversations:
1st Friday DeKalb County—Community Complex
2nd Friday Trousdale County—L & T Early Bird Café, Hartsville
3rd Friday Smith County—Smith County Chamber
4th Friday Sumner County—Mable’s Dining Room, Gallatin