4/15/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!
It’s a rainy Friday morning as I make my way to The Early Bird Café for Coffee and Conversations. What is normally an hour drive from Seabowisha Lane to Hartsville took me an extra 15 minutes today. Only when you’re running short on time with no opportunity to pass does the drive time become longer because you are one of many stuck behind, not one, but two, slow moving trucks, on Highway 25.  Remembering an old song I shared with my son years ago and now share with my grandchildren comes to mind:  “have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry.” Deciding to think on “whatsoever things are good” I began to appreciate the deep, lush red and pink in the redbud trees, the vibrant shades of green all across the open fields and on the hillsides. Spring has created a canvas of fresh new colors, as the browns and greys relinquish their winter palate. Something I would have never noticed had I not slowed down enough to observe it on my drive to Trousdale County. With breakfast having not been served to the school superintendent, county mayor, or local paper reporter when I arrived, I guess you could say I got my one egg and sausage patty ordered just in time plus great conversations at the table.

As you know, House Bill 164 is scheduled for a House floor vote on April 17th. This bill prohibits handheld devices while driving. Tennessee has the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities in the nation at nearly five times the national average. 91% of Tennesseans approve of distraction-free driving legislation. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security research from 2008 through 2018, there are 53 crashes per day, 373 crashes per week, 1,624 crashes per month, and 19,487 crashes per year!  Indeed, distracted drivers are everyone’s problem. Distracted Free Tennessee! 

House Bill 949 now awaits the Governor’s signature. Known as the GIVE Act, this legislation expands access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. It passed on the House Floor 92-0. With work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities, our communities will now have funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry. This is a tremendous opportunity for students who do not necessarily want four years of college, but instead want to graduate with a trade to prepare them for jobs right out of high school.

House Bill 1280 calls the Governor, along with the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, to submit a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to immediately provide assistance to the state’s TennCare population by way of block grants. Designed to transform healthcare through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure that individuals and families can make all medical decisions instead of insurance companies or the government. The General Assembly will also partner with the Governor during the negotiation process and will have oversight on the implementation of federal funding allocated to TennCare. The people of Tennessee have become leaders in various camps of innovation, whether job creation or improving education, and now this legislation will enable us to once again lead on a critical local and national issue without federal mandates on how we do healthcare in Tennessee.

As we approach the end of this month, with a May 2nd closing of the first half of the 111th General Assembly, be sure to keep up with the bill debates and discussions found on the Tennessee General Assembly website via live streaming. Also, due to April 19th being Good Friday, there will not be a Coffee Conversations in Smith County. 
 
Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver
 
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