- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014
Bill seeks to ban federal health care law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Health insurance exchanges established under President Barack Obama’s signature law would be illegal under legislation proposed Wednesday by Republicans aiming to prevent state agencies from carrying out the mandates of the health overhaul.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet and Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon held a news conference to announce the measure that seeks to prohibit any cooperation by the state or its agencies in implementing or administering the federal law.

“The federal government does not have constitutional authority to commandeer state and local governments to enforce or implement these federal health care mandates,” Beavers said. “This legislation takes a very strong stand to resist this federal overreach of power.”

The legislation would ban new health insurance exchanges established under the law. So far, more than 36,000 Tennesseans have signed up for coverage under the exchanges. More than 2 million people nationwide had enrolled through the end of the year, according to the most recent statistics.

Beavers said she’s not sure how the legislation would affect people who have already signed up for coverage under the exchanges.

“That remains to be seen,” she said.


Full Senate to vote on latest AG election proposal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state Senate is taking another run at changing the way Tennessee’s attorney general gains office.

Under a proposed constitutional amendment advanced to a full Senate vote Tuesday, the attorney general would stand for popular election rather than being appointed by the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, questioned why the panel was taking up the resolution when the full chamber voted 22-9 last year in favor of his proposal to have the attorney general appointed by a joint convention of the General Assembly.

“This body voted last year to do it completely differently,” he said. “That makes little to no sense.”

The panel voted 6-2 to advance the measure sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, to a full Senate vote.

The rival measures are still at the earliest steps of a lengthy process for constitutional amendments. In order to be placed on the ballot in 2018, they must pass both chambers during the General Assembly that ends this year, and again by a two-thirds vote during the next two-year session.


Tenn. gay marriage supporters encouraged by Okla.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Supporters of gay marriage in Tennessee say they are encouraged by recent federal court rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that struck down state limits on same-sex marriage.

Although the judge in Tennessee is not required to follow that lead, the attorney for four same-sex couples who have sued in the state says she thinks those other opinions will be influential.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Abby Rubenfeld said the Utah and Oklahoma rulings show that people across the country are in favor of same-sex marriage.

“It’s not just a blue-state issue,” she said. “It’s an American issue to be treated equally.”

The Tennessee Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The attorney general’s office issued a statement saying, “Nothing in these two cases changes our position that Tennessee’s laws are constitutional.”


Nashville prosecutor Torry Johnson won’t run again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Nashville’s longtime district attorney general has announced he won’t seek re-election to another term in August.

Victor S. “Torry” Johnson III told his staff Wednesday that he would end his 26-year run as the city’s top prosecutor. Johnson was first appointed to the post by then-Gov. Ned McWherter, and was re-elected to three more eight-year terms.

Johnson supervises a staff of about 125, including 60 assistant district attorneys. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University and served both in the district attorney’s office and in private practice before his appointment to the top job.

Johnson did not say what he plans to do after leaving office.

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