Archive for the ‘Democrats in the News’ Category

Remembering Ned Ray McWherter

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

By Chip Forrester, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party

It’s been said that Ned McWherter was born in a house with a dirt floor that he built with his own two hands.

McWherter

Gov. Ned Ray McWherter

Working on the McWherter campaign in 1986, I heard that quip about a hundred times and most people just chuckled, but with the larger-than-life Ned McWherter, you never knew.

On April 4, we lost a true Tennessee legend whom I was lucky enough to call my boss and my friend.

I first met Ned McWherter at a 7:30 a.m. job interview at the Loveless Café in Nashville. Then Speaker of the House, McWherter was looking for a tech-savvy worker to join his gubernatorial campaign. Well, tech-savvy for 1986.

“They tell me I gotta run a modern campaign, and if I do, I gotta have me some pewters,” McWherter said.

Not knowing if I had heard him correctly, I replied, “Speaker, I’m not sure what pewters are.”

Friendly and plain as before, McWherter explained, “Well, they gotta keyboard and a screen and people type on ‘em.”

“Oh, computers,” I said.

“Yeah, like I said, pewters,” McWherter said.

Luckily, I did know pewters, and I got the job. And, for its time, we ran the most technologically sophisticated campaign Tennessee had ever seen.

In campaigns and as governor, one of McWherter’s unique political skills was being able to envision the whole picture, and the always humble man wouldn’t let what he didn’t fully understand get in the way.

This vision enabled McWherter to accomplish many things as a two-term governor, a 14-year Speaker of the House and a businessman.

People were proud of McWherter’s achievements, and the people loved him because he was a genuine friend.

And in McWherter, the common man had a true ally.

A man who believed struggling people could lift themselves up if they had job opportunity. A man who believed our children deserved the best educators and the best classrooms to learn in. And a man who believed a rich and civilized society would do well to care for the poorest among us.

McWherter was a mountain of a man with an even bigger heart.

McWherter banner

Compassion. Care. Nowadays these are dirty words — political taboo — dangerous to even talk about in the halls of government. But it was every bit of who Ned McWherter was.

When Ned McWherter, a lifelong Democrat, became governor in 1987, times were tough. Almost half our counties — 42 out of 95 — had double-digit unemployment.

The son of sharecroppers and a self-described college dropout, McWherter could relate to tough times. So as a candidate for governor, McWherter promised to focus on the one thing that could deliver hope and dignity to struggling Tennesseans – jobs.

And deliver he did. When McWherter left office in 1995, only one Tennessee county had an unemployment rate above 10 percent.

Compare McWherter’s story to today: Tennessee now has 76 counties grappling with double-digit unemployment and a Republican governor who talked about “jobs in every county,” but has been unwilling to tackle the problem with any public show of resolve.

Other conservative leaders in the General Assembly have flat out said, “the government doesn’t create jobs.”

But Ned would have none of that hogwash. He had a vision of what this state could become, and he never lost sight of it, nor would he let others keep him from realizing that vision.

McWherterIn his time as governor, McWherter championed sweeping education reforms, ushered in 21st century school improvements, brought health care to those who needed it most and built miles and miles of roads that helped us foster business development throughout the state.

We saw government make a difference in the lives of citizens — a tide that lifted all boats.

Arguably the most successful and influential governor in Tennessee’s long history, McWherter shaped the state to be a government of the people, for the people.

The will to mold government to do good in the lives of man is largely missing from today’s conversation.

The majority of the work being done in Nashville today is focused on doing favors for big campaign contributors, stripping away the rights of teachers and other embarrassing distractions.

coffee and wafersWhile there will never be another Ned McWherter, we still have a need for leaders coffee-waferswho will act on Ned’s values and drive the government to do the people’s business.

On the campaign trail, McWherter famously said, “Just give me a cup of coffee and four vanilla wafers, and I’ll be ready to go to work.”

There’s still plenty of work to be done for education, health care and, most of all, the state economy. And if our elected leaders are willing, I’ve got a pot of coffee brewing and a full box of wafers ready to go.

Democrats Call Out Republicans for Ignoring Jobs Crisis

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Republican Jobs Rhetoric Amounts to Lip Service

Many people are asking, “Where are the jobs?”

In Tennessee, the more important question may be, “Where is the jobs plan?” It must be top secret because Republicans refuse to talk about what their plans are to help the 76 counties being strangled by double-digit unemployment.

In the past Democrats and Republicans have worked together to bring public-private partnerships to the state, such as Hemlock and Volkswagen.

This session of the General Assembly, Democrats have proposed a slate of laws that will spur job creation in Tennessee. One being a proposal that gives Tennessee contractors priority when seeking state business. Another would allow small businesses to have a sales tax holiday similar to Tennessee’s back-to-school tax holiday.

But Republicans won’t even schedule the bills for discussion. Why are they blocking 300,000 unemployed Tennesseans from getting relief?

Our Democratic leaders in the General Assembly took Republican leaders to task on Monday.

Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney discusses Republicans’ refusal to work toward jobs creation in a press conference Monday.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh discusses how Republicans say government doesn’t create jobs, yet are all too willing to benefit from government-spurred job creation.

Republican rhetoric doesn’t match their actions — or lack thereof

Haslam’s ad: Jobs in every county, that’s what matters now

Rep. Debra Maggart: “We’re going to work on jobs”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: “We are truly trying to concentrate on jobs”

Speaker Harwell: “Jobs get top priority”

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After 86 Days, Democrats Still Asking for Answers on Jobs

Governor’s campaign promised regional jobs creation strategy more than a year ago

 

(Nashville) – Following another month of rising unemployment in Tennessee, Democrats Monday again asked for answers on promised job-creation strategies from the administration and the Republican majority in the legislature.

 

“Now more than ever, we need people who place priorities on performance rather than politics,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney (D-Jackson). “Instead, we’re up here debating whether dogs should wear seat belts, or rewriting science books, or talking about creating our own currency.”

 

While national unemployment rates dropped to 8.9 percent last month, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent. Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Haslam gave raises to his commissioners of 11 to 20 percent, even though they were already making six-figure salaries.

 

Democratic leaders also are questioning the use of more than half a million dollars in federal stimulus money, sent from Washington, to fund three R.V.s to drive around the state to teach Tennesseans resume-writing skills.

 

“A resume doesn’t matter if there’s nowhere to send it,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “They’re telling rural West Tennessee how to apply for jobs, yet the governor didn’t include the West Tennessee Megasite in his budget. It doesn’t make sense.”

 

Democrats again asked Republicans to consider their jobs creation plans and work together to help 300,000 Tennesseans searching for work. The call came on the same day House Republican leaders claimed that Democrats had rejected a seat at the table with them.

 

“I sit at the leadership breakfast table every week with the governor and the majority party, and I have yet to hear a word from them about our jobs crisis,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory). “Tennesseans deserve to have their elected officials working together to put Tennesseans back to work.”

 

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Republican-Controlled Government: Still No Jobs

 

Jan. 15 (Day 1 of Haslam Administration): Newly-elected Gov. Haslam signs an executive order closing financial disclosures for himself and his cabinet.

 

Feb. 2 (Day 18): Senate Republicans ram through a committee vote to stop Memphis City Schools from merging with Shelby County Schools. The bill is passed by House and Senate Republican majorities and signed by Gov. Haslam on Feb. 11.

 

Feb. 10 (Day 26): Union City Goodyear plant announces it will close, putting 1,900 Tennesseans out of work.

 

Feb. 14 (Day 30): Senate Republicans pass a bill to require photo ID to vote, jeopardizing the voting rights of 500,000 Tennesseans.

 

Feb. 16 (Day 32): Senate Republicans vote in committee to strip teachers of collective bargaining rights.

 

March 5 (Day 49): Gov. Haslam tells Rutherford Co. GOP at a fundraiser that “the government doesn’t create jobs.”

National unemployment rate in January: 9.0 percent, down from December.

Tennessee unemployment rate: 9.4 percent, unchanged from December.

 

March 14 (Day 58): Gov. Haslam releases budget with no funds for the West Tennessee Megasite, despite repeated pledges of support to West Tennessee voters and media.

 

March 23 (Day 67): A House subcommittee hears presentations on Haslam’s biggest “jobs plan” to date: tort reform.

 

March 31 (Day 75): Gov. Haslam hosts a $3,000- to $25,000-per-couple fundraiser at the Governor’s Mansion. February unemployment numbers released same day.

National unemployment rate: 8.9 percent, down from January.

Tennessee unemployment rate: 9.6 percent, up from January.

 

April 5 (Day 80): Gov. Haslam announces three stimulus-funded RVs stocked with flat screen TVs and wireless Internet will go to rural Tennessee to help with job searches.

 

Haslam in Commercial Appeal, March 19:

If you think governments can go create jobs, go look and see how much was spent on the (federal) stimulus plan from Washington – trillions of dollars – and did that really help create more jobs? I don’t think so. I just don’t believe in that process.

 

April 6 (Day 81): AP story details average 11 percent raises for Gov. Haslam’s commissioners. State employees would get 1.6 percent raise amidst 1,200 job cuts under Haslam’s budget.

 

April 7 (Day 82): House Republicans debate for hours over changing science curriculum in schools and requiring dogs to wear seat belts. No discussion on job creation.

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State Democratic Party Chair Condemns High-Dollar ‘Pay-to-Play’ Republican Fundraiser

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Big Money Bash During Legislative Session Likely Breaks Election Finance Laws

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement today condemning the state G.O.P.’s high-dollar fundraiser being hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam at the Governor’s mansion tonight:

We’re now 77 days into Gov. Bill Haslam’s first term. In that time, we have not seen any inkling whatsoever that Republicans have a jobs plan — or even any ideas to put struggling Tennesseans back to work.

On the other hand, we have seen plenty of proposals that: grow the size of government, attack teachers, attack science, restrict religion, blow the tops off our Smoky Mountains, build a state mint, turn away affordable health care, disenfranchise voters, micromanage local school districts from Nashville, make government less transparent, waste millions of tax dollars, stifle economic growth BUT most of all — protect the financial interests of their big dollar campaign donors.

Tonight, those titans of industry are coming to the governor’s mansion to pay the piper.

“Shakedown” Bill Haslam is hosting a fundraiser for the Tennessee Republican Party at $3,000 to $25,000 a ticket — all this smack dab in the middle of legislative session.

What kind of message does this send to the everyday man who can’t afford to spend a year’s salary on Shakedown Bill’s one night soiree?

This event likely shatters the ethics laws designed to keep special interest money out of government, and it surely doesn’t pass muster in the eyes of working Tennesseans.

This governor and the Republican Party are running a pay-to-play scheme on Capitol Hill. Government for sale! All expenses paid for by taxpaying Tennesseans.

In his eight years in office, Gov. Phil Bredesen never held a fundraiser during session. He also mandated that he and his cabinet members would fully disclose their incomes and income sources.

That’s the way it should be.

In contrast, Bill Haslam’s first directive as governor was to repeal Bredesen’s executive order that made financial disclosure for the governor and his cabinet the law of the land.

Hard-working Tennesseans don’t want government business done behind locked doors anymore than they want big money, special interest groups influencing the legislative process.

But that doesn’t seem to bother “Shakedown” Bill and other Republicans, who are standing at the door of their fundraiser with hat in hand

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FACTS:

1. Tennessee law puts major restrictions on fundraising during the legislative session for the governor, state senators, state representatives and state parties.

2010 Tennessee Code?Title 2 – Elections
Chapter 10 – Campaign Finances
Part 3 – Campaign Contributions Limits
2-10-310 – Fund raising during general assembly session.

(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3), from the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, no member of the general assembly or a member’s campaign committee or the governor or the governor’s campaign committee shall conduct a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or member or candidate of the general assembly or governor.
(2) During such period, a member of the general assembly who is a candidate for a local public office shall be permitted to conduct fundraising events and solicit or accept contributions for such campaign for local public office only under the following conditions:
(A) Such fundraising events may be held only in the county in which such member is a candidate for local public office;
(B) Solicitations and acceptance of contributions for such purposes may only be made from individuals residing in such county;
(C) Such fundraising events shall not be held, nor contributions be solicited nor accepted, on state property;
(D) The member shall not be permitted to solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any actual or in-kind contribution during such period from a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist; and
(E) No other member of the general assembly or the campaign committee of such other member shall be permitted to solicit or accept contributions during such period for the member campaigning for local public office. It shall be unlawful for any lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist to make any contribution to such member’s campaign committee during such period for any purpose.
(3) All contributions raised as a result of fundraising or a fundraising event authorized and held in accordance with subdivision (a)(2) shall be reported on a form prescribed and provided by the registry of election finance for such purposes. Such form shall be filed with and attached to the applicable campaign finance disclosure report. The following disclosures shall be made on such form:
(A) The amount of contributions collected as a result of such fundraising event;
(B) The date and place such fundraising event was held;
(C) The dates on which such contributions were accepted; and
(D) All other information required by law to be reported on a campaign financial disclosure report.
(b) From the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, a political campaign committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level, or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly, that makes contributions to a candidate for the general assembly or governor for election or to defray the expenses of such person’s office shall not conduct a fundraiser, solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or candidate for the general assembly or governor.
(c) Excess funds for election to a local public office are not eligible for transfer under § 2-10-114 to a campaign account for election to the general assembly or governor.

[Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 1998, ch. 1062, § 7; 2002, ch. 470, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 17, 18.]

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Tennessee Democratic Party Announces Biennial County Reorganization

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Democratic Party announced Wednesday schedules for county reorganization, a biennial event where Democrats meet county by county to pick new local officers.

Reorganization ButtonState Party Chair Chip Forrester sent the following email encouraging Democrats to get involved:

Dear Friend,

The only thing necessary for Republicans to keep running roughshod over our rights is for good men and women to do nothing.

Here’s your chance to do something big.

In the coming weeks, county Democratic parties across Tennessee will host local conventions where Democrats will pick new county party officers and lay the groundwork for selecting delegates to attend the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Do something big and sign up to attend your county convention.

County conventions, also called reorganization, only come along every two years so it’s important you get involved now. You and other passionate progressives will be the engine that drives our campaign to take back Tennessee for working people.

As a member of the Democratic Party, you know we can do big things. But nothing comes without rolling up your sleeves.

Will you work with your county party to take back Tennessee for working people?

The strength of the Tennessee Democratic Party comes from the dedication and hard work of people, like you, who take a leadership role in their local Democratic Party. Our county officers and delegates provide critical support to Democratic candidates and are essential to turning out the Democratic vote and winning electoral victories.

It’s also a great way to meet other like-minded people who want to make a positive difference in their community.

Help us do big things for working people here in Tennessee. Be a doer and get involved with your county party convention.

Click here to find out how.

Yours truly,

Chip Forrester
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party

P.S. Due to local county bylaws, Davidson, Decatur & Dekalb counties will not be hosting reorganization conventions this spring. Call our office at (615) 327-9779 to find out how to get involved in those counties.

Stewart: “It’s time to cut the tax on milk, bread and eggs”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Legislation Seeks to Help Family Budgets and Children’s Health

NASHVILLE (March 28, 2011) – We need to get rid of Tennessee’s tax on food and HB 537 is a step in the right direction.

HB 537 offers a simple trade – cut Tennessee’s food tax – one of the highest in the nation – and pay for it with a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, which have been linked by many experts to the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Stewart: "It's time to cut the tax on milk, eggs and bread"

“Families have to buy food, but they can cut back on non-essential items like soda when times get tough,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Mike Stewart.

Even with the proposed tax, soda would remain cheaper than it was in the 1970’s, adjusted for inflation. “With the use of high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, the price of soda has come way down whereas the price of food is going through the roof. This is one way to help a young family buy food without imposing a new tax on businesses that might hurt the economic recovery,” Stewart observed.

Additionally, studies show that much like the increase in the cigarette tax this would likely lower consumption and improve health, an increase in soda taxes also can lower the obesity rate for high risk children.

The fiscal note for the bill shows that the proposed 1% reduction in Tennessee’s food tax, which would reduce Tennessee’s rate to 4.5%, would be entirely paid for by the increased tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Beverages that are not sugar sweetened, such as diet sodas, would be taxed less under the proposed change. “For most families, this will be a well-deserved tax break,” Stewart noted.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:00am.

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Stewart: “It’s time to cut the tax on milk, bread and eggs”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Legislation Seeks to Help Family Budgets and Children’s Health

NASHVILLE (March 28, 2011) – We need to get rid of Tennessee’s tax on food and HB 537 is a step in the right direction.

HB 537 offers a simple trade – cut Tennessee’s food tax – one of the highest in the nation – and pay for it with a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, which have been linked by many experts to the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Stewart: "It's time to cut the tax on milk, eggs and bread"

“Families have to buy food, but they can cut back on non-essential items like soda when times get tough,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Mike Stewart.

Even with the proposed tax, soda would remain cheaper than it was in the 1970’s, adjusted for inflation. “With the use of high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, the price of soda has come way down whereas the price of food is going through the roof. This is one way to help a young family buy food without imposing a new tax on businesses that might hurt the economic recovery,” Stewart observed.

Additionally, studies show that much like the increase in the cigarette tax this would likely lower consumption and improve health, an increase in soda taxes also can lower the obesity rate for high risk children.

The fiscal note for the bill shows that the proposed 1% reduction in Tennessee’s food tax, which would reduce Tennessee’s rate to 4.5%, would be entirely paid for by the increased tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Beverages that are not sugar sweetened, such as diet sodas, would be taxed less under the proposed change. “For most families, this will be a well-deserved tax break,” Stewart noted.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:00am.

Tenn. Republicans Resisting Third Party Access

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Some Tennessee Republicans are showing that the only ideas they want to hear are their own.

Take for instance, the legislative proposal — ordered by a federal court — to give third parties easier access to Tennessee ballots.

In every sense, a third party adds to the free marketplace of ideas in an open society. But Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga is not interested in shopping around for the best ideas.

From The AP:

House Majority Leader Rep. McCormick of Chattanooga

“I don’t want to see us become like Italy and have a dozen different parties and all these splinter groups, and have to make coalitions with them,” said McCormick.

Heavens to Betsy! Working with “different parties?” Having to “make coalitions with them?!” That would just be awful.

The Knoxville News Sentinel says it more eloquently:

A vast majority of American voters cast their ballots for one of two parties, not only recently but going all the way back to the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans in the early days of presidential politics.

But third parties – the generic name given to political parties opposing Democrats and Republicans – deserve to have their names on the ballot and try to win public approval.

The state Legislature has an opportunity to make that happen this term, and that should be one of its accomplishments when the session ends.

Third parties have provided a colorful and thoughtful element to American politics, although none in modern times has been able to displace either of the top two. Nevertheless, there is always that possibility in an open and free society.

Sen. Kyle: "Democracy works better when the rules are fair."

Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis has also spoken in favor of third party access to Tennessee ballots. He suggests 10,000 signatures from eligible voters should be enough to get your preferred party on the ticket.

“My goal is to allow people who believe they’re in the Tea Party or the Green Party or the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot,” Kyle said. “Any organization that can get 10,000 signatures is as legitimate a political entity as any other. People should be able to stand up there and say I believe in these principles. I just think democracy works better when the rules are fair.”

Well said, Sen. Kyle. Well said.

The Jackson Sun: Republican Bill ‘an Embarrassment to Tennessee’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

From The Jackson Sun:

A bill in the state legislature that would require federal agents to obtain written permission from the local sheriff before making an arrest for a non-federal offense is ridiculous and should be voted down.

The bill has been submitted by state Sen. Stacey Campfield and state Rep. Bill Dunn, Republicans from Knoxville. It would also require federal agents to get written permission from the local sheriff before conducting a search or confiscating property.

We find it intriguing that while he is a sponsor of the bill, Dunn says he’s not ready to talk about it. Campfield says the bill is an outgrowth of a Supreme Court decision that says the sheriff should have the “ultimate decision-making power.”

“I think we need to start doing some things that show where that power lies,” Campfield said.

And there we have it. This boils down to a power play.

Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork says he is not aware of any problems with federal agents overstepping their authority or trampling state rights. In fact, he noted the excellent cooperation shown between local, state and federal authorities in the hunt that centered on Jackson this month for two fugitives from Louisiana.

Woolfork says the law would limit federal authorities at the expense of public safety.

State Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, says the law would only help “every terrorist, Mafia thug, drug lord or corrupt politician” and would potentially tie the hands of the FBI in its fight against illegal drugs and terrorism.

Laws such as the one proposed by Campfield and Dunn are an embarrassment to Tennessee. They say our lawmakers would rather make political statements than address the real problems of our state.

Unemployment. Education. Crime. Those are issues that deserve the full attention of our state legislature. And they deserve it now.

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Forrester Slams ‘So-Called Compromise’

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Bill strips Tennessee teachers’ ability to negotiate contracts

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Democratic Party chair denounced Thursday the anti-teacher bill approved by House Republicans on the Education Committee this week.

The “so-called compromise” bill continues a misguided effort to strip teachers of their current right to negotiate classroom improvements for students, better working conditions and fair wages.

“To call this a compromise is nothing short of ridiculous,” said Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “You don’t make compromises with yourself. This was a back room deal cut in secret between Republicans, Republicans and presumably their public relations people.”

The anti-teacher bill makes it illegal for teachers to effectively negotiate a contract covering their salary, benefits, working conditions, school safety, class size, planning time, time to teach, length of the school day, scheduling and other priorities. The measure passed the House Education Committee Tuesday on a 12-6 party-line vote.

“This is nothing more than a Republican PR stunt,” Forrester said. “It is not a compromise — it is a blatant power play to strip teachers of their right to effectively negotiate with their employer.”

“With state unemployment rising and Tennesseans clamoring for work, the majority party and the administration should be pursuing an aggressive jobs package, but once again, all we are seeing is a concerted effort to shred the rights of working people,” Forrester said. “Meanwhile Democrats are standing by their pledge to get people working again and will introduce proposals in the coming weeks that would bring more jobs to Tennessee and preserve quality jobs and rights for our teachers and all working families across the state.”

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Media Contact: Brandon Puttbrese at 615-327-9779

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On the One-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

One year ago today, President Obama signed the historic Affordable Care Act into law. In the 12 months since enacted, many new patient protections and benefits have already taken effect – insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions or take away individuals’ health coverage when they need it most; all new health plans must offer free preventive care that will help Americans stay healthy; and young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, while they look for a job or finish school.

The Affordable Care Act has made a difference for people across the country, people like Janice of Cleveland, Tenn. Janice’s daughter was born with Down’s Syndrome and because it is a pre-existing condition, she could never get coverage.

In January, Janice received a letter from her insurance company explaining that because of the Affordable Care Act, her family’s policy is no longer subject to a lifetime maximum of $250,000.

Janice said: “This is huge for our family.  It means our family is protected from losing our home, our farm, our life savings simply because someone gets hurt or sick. My husband & daughter, because of the Affordable Care Act can no longer be denied access to insurance because of pre-existing conditions.”

Janice’s daughter is one of 2,800,000 Tennessee residents with a pre-existing condition who could be denied coverage by insurance companies without the protections in the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act provides Tennesseans with more freedom and control in their health care choices. It gives families the freedom from worrying about losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. It frees Americans from discrimination when insurance companies deny women health insurance because they are pregnant, or refuse to provide coverage to children who are born with disabilities.

Despite the clear benefits of this law for every Tennessean, our Republican lawmakers in Nashville and Washington, D.C. continue to challenge health care reform in Congress and in the courts. Repealing or even defunding the Affordable Care Act would put the many benefits of health reform at risk and add over a trillion dollars to the national deficit.

It is critical that we continue to protect the Affordable Care Act and prevent Republicans from rolling back new health care benefits for Tennesseans. We applaud President Obama, our Democratic delegation and other Democrats in Congress for their leadership in making tough choices to improve America’s health care system and we look forward to celebrating the passage of this historic law far into the future.

To see how the Affordable Care Act benefits you, click here: http://www.heathcare.gov.

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