Not Fair, Not Helpful, Not Reform, Not Relief – Legislative Update, Friday, February 1, 2013


THEY’RE BAAAAAAAAACK…The Tennessee State Legislature started back in earnest this week, kicked off by Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State address on Monday night.

And while we’re all smacking our foreheads and working hard to fight back against the antics of certain state senator from Knoxville (Will someone please tell him there are less embarassing ways to get on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno? –Ed.), we must also keep a watchful eye on the many other bills that could potentially negatively impact the hardworking working families of Tennessee.


TNCA Watchdog
This year, the Governor’s legislative package includes fundamental changes to the state’s worker’s compensations laws. First, it’s not “reform,” so please don’t use the term while talking about it. Worker’s Compensation is there to give relief to workers and their families when they get hurt on the job, plain and simple. The proposal to change the way the system works – and it’s a big, big, BIG change – will not only severly limit the amount of relief that will go to an injured worker and his family, but changes the way the system works so much that it will primarily concentrate all the decision-making power into the hands of one politically-appointed bureaucrat. Not fair. Not Helpful. Not Reform. Not Relief.
Want to help save worker’s compensation for the hardworking folks of the state and their families? Contact Mary for more information: or 615-736-6040.

Starting in 2014, all states have the chance to help more of it’s hardworking families get the health care coverage they so desparately need to have a real chance of living the American Dream without fear of losing what little they have to pay for an unexpected or catastrophic illness. Tennessee is included, of course. Using federal funds designated solely for this effort, all families that have low income (about $31,000 or less for family of four) and need health insurance would be eligible for insurance. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Well…since each state can decide whether to accept the federal funds to expand this type of health care coverage – and our Governor is waiting and wavering and several legislators have filed bills that would explicitly prohibit us from accepting these already designated federal funds (while others are filing bills that say “yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!) – don’t be so sure.
But why would we say no? Why would we refuse to allow healthcare coverage for those hardworking people in TN who need it? And why would we let TN taxpayer money go to pay for heath care in, say, Alabama or New York or Arizona?
Organizing around this issue is happening now. Contact Ann Caldwell at for more info.

The decision was made at the last Tennessee State Election Commission to conduct a performance audit of the Davidson County Election Commission. At the same time, the Metro Audit Commission is also conducting an audit of the Davidson County Election Commission. So the score is now Concerned Citizens Working to Keep Elections Fair and Equal 2, Davidson County Election Commission 0.
So while we wait for the results and recommendations of each of these audits, and with your help!, we will keep an eye on each of the other 94 county election commissions as well as any proposed changes to state election law.
If you’d like to help us with this statewide election protection project, please send an email to our exective director,


Once again this year, there are many good folks working to protect the mountains necessary for a healthy Tennessee – Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowermentSierra Club TennesseeLeague of Women Voters of TennesseeTennessee Conservation VotersAppalachian VoicesLEAFTN Clean Water Network, and Southern Environmental Law Center.
If you’d like to volunteer for this effort, email JW Randolph at Appalachian Voices, More info at

TN Equality Project Logo
Tennessee Equality Project does fantastic – and hilariously creative! – work and has put together a two-session basic advocacy training session to help prepare those who want to fight negative legislation effectively and help advance positive bills in our cities and counties.
Information is here about the Feb. 18 and 25 sessions. Let them know if you would like to participate by


G.O.T. Power, Mid-South Peace & Justice Center’s training program, is committed to building the Memphis community’s capacity through building skills in grassroots organizing, providing support to people doing community work and offering anti-oppression and liberation education. You can find a list of their upcoming trainings and workshops on their calendar.
Topics include emotional support (for activists, social workers, counsellors, community service workers, healing practitioners, people working for peace, teachers, labor organizers, and anyone who is or wants to be involved with social change), empowerment for women, non-violent communication, core organizing training, and emotional support for men.
For more information call 901-725-4992, email to or visit

As always, send any questions or comments to
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