By State Rep. Matt Hill
The House last week fought for passage of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, legislation which aims to protect the right of an individual to purchase and the right of doctors to provide lawful medical services without penalty.
The bill, House Bill 3433, would also require the state Attorney General to take the necessary steps to defend these rights.
The legislation has already passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority, and was presented in the House Industrial Impact Subcommittee.
Supporters gathered in the committee room to watch the bill, and later held a rally on Legislative Plaza to support the legislation and protest against the federal takeover of health care signed by the President last Wednesday.
The federal action is expected to cost Tennessee more than $200 million annually.
It comes at a time when the state is in its 21st consecutive month in which sales tax revenues have recorded negative growth.
Other states have already come forward saying they will be suing the federal government over the bill, while others have passed legislation similar to the Tennessee Health Freedom Act in an attempt to slow the implementation of the bill in their respective states.
As emotions run high regarding health care reform in the United States, the House continues to fight for passage of House Bill 3433. The bill will be heard again in the subcommittee Wednesday, when a vote is expected.
The House State and Local Government Committee considered legislation that would have outlawed open containers of alcohol in vehicles, and ultimately killed the bill.
The bill experienced resistance last year as it moved through the committee system, with members expressing concern over the ability of sober drivers to take friends home who are drinking, and also regarding sporting events, such as University of Tennessee football games.
The sponsor argued that Tennessee must reform its drunk driving laws in order to save lives.
He said further that there must be consequences for irresponsible actions that put other law-abiding citizens in danger.
The Senate and the House have both passed a bill to increase efficiency in state government departments. The legislation, House Bill 3007, won approval by the House and the Senate.
It encourages departments within state government to take comments and suggestions from both the public and employees on how to improve efficiency and report back to the Tennessee General Assembly with their results.
The legislation will now go to the Governor for his signature before becoming law.
The House Budget Subcommittee considered and passed legislation last week that calls for the state to acknowledge the birth of a stillborn infant by issuing a birth certificate if the parents request one. House Bill 3286 would apply to stillborn infants who are 20 weeks or more gestation or 350 grams.
The bill will next be heard in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
The House is moving forward at an aggressive pace, hoping for the General Assembly to complete its business earlier than the last few years.
In keeping with that time line, House subcommittees have already begun to close.
Within the next two weeks, it is expected that the House will begin debate on the technical corrections bill which, among other things, contains proposed tax increases to raise revenues.
By State Rep. Matt Hill