Lamar Alexander

Corker criticizes ‘awkward process’ of closed-door Senate development of Obamacare replacement

There has been some media attention to Sen. Bob Corker’s recent criticism of secrecy surrounding development of a Republican U.S. Senate plan to replace and repeal Obamacare – a process where fellow Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander has been actively engaged, though the committee Alexander chairs was bypassed.

Corker’s comments, as initially reported by the Huffington Post Tuesday:

“It’s a very awkward process, at best,” he told reporters. “There are no experts. There’s no actuarials. … Typically, in a hearing, you’d have people coming in and you’d also have the media opining about if a hearing took place, and X came in and made comments.”

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With Trump ‘shouting death spiral’ for Obamacare, TN insurance commissioner wonders who’s in charge

Tennessee’s commissioner of commerce and insurance and Sen. Lamar Alexander are both quoted in a New York Times article bearing the headline, “Trump, Shouting ‘Death Spiral,’ Has Nudged Affordable Care Act Downward.” An excerpt:

Frustrated state officials have ideas for stabilizing the individual insurance market, but they say they cannot figure out where to make their case because they have been bounced from one agency to another in the Trump administration.

“We have trouble discerning who has decision-making authority,” said Julie Mix McPeak, the Tennessee insurance commissioner and president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents state officials. “We reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services. They referred us to the Office of Management and Budget, which referred us to the Department of Justice. We reached out to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.”

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Haslam, Alexander defend Insurance Commissioner McPeak

Gov. Bill Haslam has come to the defense of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak, reports WTVF-TV, which earlier aired a report on her extensive travel on the job – 120 trips since Haslam appointed her to the position in 2011 with expenses paid by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

U.S.  Sen. Lamar Alexander also issued a statement supporting McPeak. Some of her travel has been to Washington, where she met with congressmen and testified before committees – including one chaired by Alexander.

From WTVF:

“Julie’s worked for me for six years. I am very convinced of her professional approach to this in terms of looking out for what’s the best interests of the state,” Haslam explained.

…The governor said someone in his office reviews all travel requests from commissioners. So someone there knew just how many trips McPeak was taking.

Said Alexander in a statement emailed by his staff:

“Julie McPeak has been very effective in working with Congress to solve a real emergency for nearly 200,000 vulnerable Tennesseans as she works to give them options next year and beyond. Unless Congress acts, these Tennesseans who have federal subsidies to purchase insurance in the individual market may have zero options for insurance next year. I’ve invited her to meet with me in Nashville, and at my invitation, she testified before the Senate health committee and again to brief senators.”

Note: Previous post HERE. The station reported McPeak was out of her office on trips for 117 days in 2015, 120 days in 2016.

Lamar Alexander really likes one bill passed in 2017 legislative session

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, though generally declaring a reluctance to involve himself in matters of state policy despite his status as a former governor, has made an exception in the case of a bill imposing a temporary block on construction of wind-powered electricity generation that was signed into law last week. The measure meshes with his status at the national level as a big opponent generally of wind power and a big proponent of nuclear energy for electricity generation.

The wind energy moratorium bill (HB1021 by Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta) is basically a compromise between Apex Energy, which plans a big wind turbine development near Crossville, and intense opposition to the development from Cumberland County constituents of Sexton and Bailey who would be impacted.

The deal allows the company to continue its preliminary work, though not beginning actual construction while the moratorium runs until next July 1 – basically in accord with company plans. In the meantime, a legislator committee will look at whether the state government should regulate wind turbines and give its recommendations to the General Assembly in January.

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander (belatedly posted)

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said Governor Haslam’s signature on legislation approved by the Tennessee General Assembly will give Tennesseans “an opportunity to decide whether we want our landscape littered with unreliable wind turbines over two times as tall as the skyboxes at the University of Tennessee football stadium.”

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Fed budget deal has record Corps of Engineers funding; $19M for Chickamauga Lock

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), vice chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, today announced that the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill provides $6.038 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – a record funding level in a regular appropriations bill – allowing up to $19.3 million to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock.

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Alexander praises TN moratorium on wind power generation

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a longtime critic of wind-powered electricity generation, is praising a state House vote to place a partial moratorium on such developments in Tennessee while a special committee of state lawmakers drafts rules for regulating them, reports the News Sentinel.

“This will give Tennesseans the opportunity to evaluate whether we want our landscape littered with wind turbines that are over two times as tall as the skyboxes at the University of Tennessee football stadium and produce only a small amount of unreliable electricity,” Alexander said in an emailed statement.

The bill approved by the House 85-3 on Thursday (HB1021) amounts to a compromise that sponsor Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said had been agreed upon by “all stakeholders.” That includes Apex Energy Solutions, which has stirred considerable controversy in Cumberland County with plans to spend $130 million erecting at least 20 electricity-generating turbines on a mountain near Crab Orchard.

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Alexander, Corker, Duncan seek fed focus on alleged defective guardrails

Three Tennessee congressmen – Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with Rep. John Duncan Jr. – are asking federal officials to consider revoking their approval for the use of highway guardrails linked to four fatalities in Tennessee, reports WJHL-TV.

In the letter, they asked FHWA Acting Deputy Administrator Butch Waidelich, Jr. to consider revoking its letter of eligibility for the X-Lite Terminal Guard rail issued in 2011.

The eligibility letter indicates the product has been tested and is eligible for federal reimbursements for states that use it.

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Alexander staffer, charged with theft, resigns

A staff member in Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Knoxville office has resigned after being charged with felony identity theft, reports WBIR-TV.

Jonathan C. Griswold, 38, is set to appear April 13 in Knox County General Sessions Court, records show.

…David Cleary, the senator’s chief of staff, issued a statement on Friday about the charges, “Senator Alexander was disappointed to hear of Jonathan’s arrest and has accepted his resignation. Based on the information we have today, the charges have nothing to do with his official duties.”

Griswold formerly worked as constituent services manager for Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. He resigned abruptly in 2013, soon after he was found to have consumed alcohol and then used a county vehicle, personnel records showed.

According to the ID theft warrant, Griswold used someone’s stolen Home Federal debit card to make ATM withdrawals from the bank at 5538 Kingston Pike. Griswold had the victim’s PIN number, the warrant states. In all, the victim lost about $6,000, according to the warrant.

A Senate step forward for more National Park sites in TN — including Polk home

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2017 – A Senate committee today approved legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to take the next step in including former President James K. Polk’s home in Columbia, Tenn., in the National Park System. The committee also approved legislation to expand the boundaries of Shiloh National Military Park to include three Civil War battlefields in Tennessee and Mississippi and designate Parker’s Crossroads as an affiliated area of the National Park System. Alexander sponsored the Senate version of the legislation.

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Corker, Alexander produce Obamacare backup plan

News release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker

WASHINGTON – Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today introduced legislation to rescue Americans with Affordable Care Act subsidies who have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year.

“There are 34,000 Knoxville area residents who rely on an Affordable Care Act subsidy to purchase insurance, and after the one remaining insurer pulled out of the exchange for 2018, these subsidies are worth as much as bus tickets in a town with no buses running,” Alexander said. “There is also a real prospect that all 230,000 Tennesseans who buy insurance on the exchange—approximately 195,000 with a subsidy—won’t have any plans to buy next year either, and millions of Americans in other states are facing the same dire circumstances.”

He continued, “This legislation would help those in Knoxville and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance off of the exchange. Second, the bill would waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that these Americans, who have zero insurance options with their subsides, have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance.  And third, this legislation will help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans, some of the most vulnerable people in the country, who face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy.”

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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