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Boyd sponsors key initiatives in House

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM

State Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, sponsored several Republican-led initiatives regarding the state’s TennCare and SNAP programs that would institute work requirements for the programs. 

One bill would direct the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration to file a waiver to institute reasonable work requirements for TennCare enrollees. The measure comes as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidelines for states, which allows them to implement work requirements on citizens who receive benefits.

Additionally, Boyd sponsored a measure that would reasonable work requirements for those who receive assistance through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Boyd also sponsored passage of five additional bills during his first legislative session in the House chamber. 

The House unanimously passed legislation that would reduce taxes on automobiles for Tennessee’s disabled veterans. The bill exempts a new or used vehicle that is sold, given or donated to a disabled veteran or service member from the sales and use tax.

It is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to support Tennessee veterans and military families. 

Opioid fight

Legislation designed to improve the quality of care for Tennesseans who are battling addiction gained support in the House this week in Nashville.

As part of the ongoing efforts to address Tennessee’s opioid and drug crisis, the Stopping Addiction and Fostering Excellence Act would ensure patients who use recovery houses receive high-quality care that empowers them to end the cycle of addiction.

The SAFE Act enables providers at the facilities to focus their efforts to implement more customized and targeted treatment plans for patients. Additionally, another bill would streamline operational guidelines and strengthen partnerships between the facility and its local municipality.

Tennessee’s opioid epidemic claimed the lives of more than 1,600 Tennesseans in 2016 alone. At least three people die from opioid-related overdoses each day in Tennessee, which is more than the state’s daily number of traffic deaths.

House leaders are also moving forward with other major pieces of opioid legislation to combat the state’s opioid problem head on, including the Tennessee Together plan.

Tennessee Together is a multi-faceted plan comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed 2018-2019 budget and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment and law enforcement. The plan incorporates recommendations made by House Speaker Beth Harwell’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

Education

A bill was introduced this week that would give Tennesseans a fresh start in life by using the state’s available education opportunities.

The bill would give an individual who has a Class E felony conviction the chance to apply for a records expunction immediately after he or she earns a certificate or degree under the Tennessee Reconnect program.

Passed in 2017, the Tennessee Reconnect program offers all adults without a degree access to community college tuition-free and at no cost to taxpayers.

Currently, residents who have paid their fines, court costs and restitution are eligible to apply for a Class E felony records expunction after a five-year waiting period. The bill would current stipulations for Class E offenders in place, but reduces the required wait time to apply for records expunction to as little as 12-18 months in some instances. 

The bill’s sponsors said it would offer a fresh start for residents, decrease recidivism and minimize use of taxpayer funds to cover incarceration costs.

According to the Tennessee Department of Correction, instances of recidivism have decreased by more than 3 percent statewide from 2010-2016. However, the state’s recent opioid crisis is leading to a larger number of drug related arrests, as well as repeat offenders. 

A survey conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice estimated the state spent $723 million on prison expenditures in 2015 alone.

The bill’s sponsors said the new initiative not only would save taxpayer money, but also encourage those who desire a fresh start to take advantage of the state’s many education opportunities so they can capitalize on a greater number of high-quality jobs currently available.

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