By Marlana Ward
Several lawmakers and their representatives came together at the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast on May 6th, 2016. Members of the community were given the opportunity to bend the ears of elected officials as they made themselves available to answer questions and give accounts of the work they have done on behalf of Johnson County.
Chamber president John Coolahan welcomed all in attendance and served as emcee for the morning’s event. He thanked the sponsors of the event including Maymead, Inc., Mountain Electric, and Danny Herman Trucking. He also thanked the ladies of the Levi’s Retirees for their outstanding breakfast that was served. Coolahan then proceeded to introduce the morning’s speakers.
Representing Senator Lamar Alexander’s office was Lana Moore. Moore spoke of Alexander’s work in Washington and things he hopes to accomplish in the future. Alexander’s work on the health, labor, and education committees were highlighted. Moore stated Alexander’s work on replacing the No Child Left Behind Act with Every Student Succeeds is a step towards bringing education decisions back to the states. Moore also spoke of the 21st Century Cures Act, which Alexander has been a part of. This act focuses funds and attention to furthering research into experimental procedures that may prevent or cure diseases that affect thousands of Americans each year. With support, it is hoped that more researchers can be brought in to make more cures a reality.
Senator Bob Corker’s office was represented by Jill Salyers who explained Corker understood that the American people are dissatisfied with their representation in Washington, D.C. She spoke of how Corker was urging fellow congressmen on both sides of the aisle to take into consideration the will of the people they were elected by and not lose sight of why they were elected. As Corker sits on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he is largely concerned with America’s place on the global stage. Salyers also shared Corker’s commitment to seeing the government running in a more fiscally responsible manner. Another topic Salyers discussed was Corker’s hope to see an end to modern slavery. She shared that 27 million men, women, and children are currently trapped in slavery and that 85 percent of nations are affected, including the United States. National security, terrorism, and refugees were also listed as concerns Corker is focusing on presently.
Congressman Phil Roe came to the podium to discuss the problems facing America he sees as the most pressing. Healthcare was a major point of Roe’s speech. He first spoke of the strides being made in addressing the health care needs of American veterans. According to Roe, when he was first elected it was estimated that there were 100,000 honorably discharged veterans living homeless on the streets of America. He said that the number had been decreased to 40,000 today and that while that means there is still much room for improvement, it shows progress. Roe also discussed the need to put the educational system back into the hands of the states and not to allow the government to withhold funding to make state’s operate in a certain manner. He discussed his work in reforming the way in which Medicare and Medicaid doctors are compensated. The change means that doctors will be paid according to performance rather than just on numbers seen. Healthcare was additionally discussed as Roe brought attention to the staggering number of prescription drug overdoses in Tennessee. He reported that more Tennesseans now die from drug overdoses than car accidents. According to Roe, the new neo-natal unit being built by Niswonger Children’s Hospital will accommodate babies born with drug addictions.
Roe continued his presentation by explaining how lack of strong leadership in the country has led to security concerns domestically and internationally. He expressed his opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal and special concern of how Islamic terrorists have already taken lives on American soil. He concluded by saying that all around the world, our country’s weak leadership has led other countries to ask “What happened to America?”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.