- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015
Senate panel advances Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A revived version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans on Wednesday cleared its first full Senate committee.

The Senate Health Committee voted 6-2 to advance the Insure Tennessee proposal to the commerce committee, where it is expected to face difficult prospects. Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has predicted that the measure won’t make it to a full floor vote.

The resolution would allow Haslam to draw down $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid money over the course of the two-year pilot program. State hospitals have agreed to cover the state’s $74 million share.

Haslam had been rejected in his previous attempt to seek authorization for the plan during a special legislative session last month.

The renewed measure is sponsored by freshman Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville, the lone Democrat on the committee. It includes three changes designed to ease various concerns raised about the measure during last month’s special session. They include:

- Adding a “lockout provision” for enrollees who fail to pay premiums, similar to one approved for Indiana’s plan.


Knox County superintendent ‘surprised’ by Hamilton Co. suit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The superintendent of Knox County Schools says he’s surprised Hamilton County and six Chattanooga-area school systems filed a lawsuit against the state over funding after what he thought was a productive meeting with the governor.

Superintendent James McIntyre, Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith and the superintendents for Metro Nashville and Shelby County schools met with Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday to discuss their grievances about the state’s school funding formula.

Haslam told the superintendents he’s working on short-term and long-term plans to address their concerns, and the superintendents said they’d like to see those plans play out before taking legal action.

However, Hamilton County and the school systems filed the lawsuit the next day.

McIntyre told The Associated Press Wednesday that their action is “unfortunate” considering the dialogue the superintendents had collectively with the governor.


Lawsuit: Boy, 11, died of allergic reaction to Publix cookie

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The family of an 11-year-old boy is suing the Publix grocery chain, saying the child was allergic to nuts and died from a severe reaction after eating a cookie despite a worker’s assurance it was safe.

The lawsuit says Derek Landon Wood of Alabama died in June 2014 shortly after eating a chocolate chip cookie purchased at a Publix store in Clarksville. The boy, who was visiting family in Tennessee, was allergic to tree nuts. The lawsuit, which was filed March 20 in federal court in Nashville, says the store bakery did not post warnings about ingredients or possible cross-contamination. It says the mother bought the cookie only after a worker assured her it was safe.

“Our thoughts are with the family over the loss of their child,” Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said in an email to The Associated Press. “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the pending litigation.” However, Brous said that the company does post allergen information in its bakeries.

Gary Cline and Sabrina “Beth” Cline, the boy’s grandfather and mother, who both live in Sterrett, Alabama, filed the suit along with the boy’s aunt, Stephanie Blankenship, who lives in Clarksville.

The boy, who went by the name Landon, almost immediately started experiencing symptoms when bit into the cookie at his aunt’s house, according to the lawsuit. The mother first gave the boy Benadryl and then injected him in the thigh to ease his reaction before an ambulance arrived, but the boy’s condition quickly went out of control, an attorney for the family said.

“It was horrible,” said Eddie Schmidt III, a lawyer who represents the family. “The child went into anaphylactic shock at his aunt’s house in front of his aunt and his mother and his cousins.” He said the family did everything they could do to save the boy, who later died at a hospital.


Bill would require citizenship test for Tennessee students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee students would have to pass the U.S. citizenship and immigration services’ civic test before getting a high school diploma under legislation advancing in the state House.

The measure sponsored by Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga was approved on a voice vote in a House education subcommittee on Wednesday.

The legislation is similar to other measures being proposed across the country.

In order to pass, the Tennessee bill requires students to answer at least 60 percent of the questions correctly. They will be allowed to take the test as many times as necessary to pass.

The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Education Committee.

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