Tennessee lawmakers at work under new federal administration

By: Rachel Moore and Shanell Hacker

With the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, many lawmakers in Tennessee have begun work on legislation to accommodate proposed changes under the new administration.

President Trump signed an executive order on his first day in office which seeks the prompt repeal of the Affordable Care Act. If the repeal is successful, it will not take effect until 2018, at the time of mid-term elections. However, with the executive order on the table and a continued plea for repeal among the electorate, Tennessee lawmakers are seeking alternative pieces of legislation to bring health care back to the state’s control.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam first received opposition to his Insure Tennessee proposal in 2015; however, with the change in administration, all discussions are back on the table. Insure Tennessee seeks to push control of healthcare and health insurance into the hands of state government as opposed to the federal government.

Haslam released a 19-page letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, answering questions “regarding the health insurance and Medicaid challenges and opportunities in Tennessee.”

In his letter, Haslam draws attention to states being able to create a more competitive market, as well as having tighter rein on controlling levy rates of individual plans. He expresses concern about any move that could add uncertainty to the individual market or encourages health insurers to remove themselves from the 2018 exchange.

Haslam’s work on healthcare reform is only the beginning of changes among Tennessee lawmakers.

On Tuesday Jan. 17, 2017, House Bill 61 was introduced and filed by Republican Representative Courtney Rogers. The bill would reduce some of the background check requirements during gun sale transactions between licensed gun manufacturers, importers and dealers. Transfers involving licensed gun manufacturers, dealers, importers, law enforcement agencies or the agency’s personnel will be exempt from criminal background checks upon the passing of the legislation.

H.B. 61 would also allow gun dealers to bypass background checks when selling their own personal gun collections.

“The burden of proving the legality of any transaction or transfer… is placed upon the transferor,” said Rogers, the sponsor of the bill.

Several gun bills have been proposed already throughout the beginning of the 2017 legislative session. These bills are expected to create deliberation among lawmakers as the 2017 legislative session continues.

Several house members have already declared their opposition toward the decrease in gun requirements. These lawmakers believe that strict enforcement is necessary to decrease gun-related deaths and injuries.

If passed, this legislation would take effect immediately upon the approval of the public welfare.

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