Posts Tagged ‘Justin Owen’

FCC Tramples on State Sovereignty

FCC Tramples on State Sovereignty

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took one of the most egregious, unconstitutional steps in its 80-year existence. And I’m not talking about its endorsement of net neutrality. Rather, the FCC squeezed itself into the middle of a longstanding relationship between cities and their states.

Currently, various electric utilities are dabbling in the Internet business. Among them is Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board, an agency of the city that has spent half a billion dollars in taxpayer and ratepayer money to expand its Internet services. The Electric Power Board petitioned the FCC to expand its footprint so that it could provide Internet in neighboring counties.

That expansion is currently prohibited by state law, and for good reason. Government-owned Internet has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and raises serious privacy and censorship concerns. In addition, it destroys the neutral and level playing field that exists in the market. When government both umpires the game and takes a turn at bat, it’s hard to argue the game is not rigged.

After failing to change state law despite numerous attempts, the Chattanooga utility took its case to Washington, asking the FCC to arbitrarily override the state. In response, the governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House all pleaded with the FCC to respect state sovereignty. The attorney general sent a letter noting that the FCC lacked the legal authority to approve the Electric Power Board’s expansion, because Chattanooga is a “political subdivision of the state,” and thus must get the state’s permission—not Washington’s—to expand its footprint.

The Electric Power Board and FCC’s actions are akin to a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum, and then running to the neighbor for permission to do something his parents wouldn’t allow.

Of course, just like the parents could still punish the spoiled child for his actions, so too can the state of Tennessee make the Electric Power Board put its nose in the corner. The state has the express and constitutional authority over the Electric Power Board and any other public utility, and the FCC needs to mind its own business. As Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Rep. Glen Casada warned to the FCC, “Tennessee state legislators are accountable to the voters who elect us, and the FCC would be well advised to respect state sovereignty.”

Kudos to our state leaders for pushing back against a wanton FCC and a bratty utility. From the looks of it, they won’t be getting away with this one.

-Justin Owen

February 27th, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Recent News

My Insure Tennessee Thoughts

My Insure Tennessee Thoughts

After watching many of the legislative proceedings and managing the Beacon media outreach, here are a couple of my observations and takeaways from last week’s Medicaid expansion debate from the perspective of a Communications Director.

Respect Across the Board

For the most part, the discussions around Medicaid expansion were polite and respectful in the legislature and across social media. Since Medicaid expansion is such an explosive issue, I expected more fireworks and personal attacks. However, during the proceedings I was pleasantly surprised by the respect shown both by legislators and interested parties on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, I think it shows that everyone involved in this issue was well intentioned and this will hopefully serve as an example we follow in future debates.

What is the Beacon Center?

The Beacon Center is a free market nonprofit, but our description seemed to be changing with each news article written. Politico referred to us as conservative, Tennessean writer Dave Boucher called us a “tea-party aligned think tank” and a “conservative think tank” in different articles, and numerous outlets routinely refer to us as a libertarian think tank. Surprisingly, the most apt description of the Beacon Center came from none other than the New York Times, who called us “a Nashville nonprofit that advocates smaller government.”

Anti-Medicaid Expansion Arguments Based More in Reality Than Speculation

After watching most of the testimony, including fantastic testimony from our very own Justin Owen and Lindsay Boyd, it seemed to me that the main reason Medicaid expansion was killed was based on the persuasiveness of the arguments. The anti-expansion argument was based on the results from other states and the fact that we are giving the federal government too much power over healthcare in Tennessee. The biggest problem with the argument in favor Medicaid expansion was the fact that there was no written legislation to vote on, it was all speculation, a point Justin Owen really hammered home. None of the legislators knew exactly what they were voting on, and I think that speculation is what ultimately killed the proposal so quickly.

-Mark Cunningham

February 11th, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Beacon Center Successful in Fight Against Medicaid Expansion

Beacon Center Successful in Fight Against Medicaid Expansion

The Beacon Center applauds legislators for rejecting a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Instead of supporting this extension of Obamacare in our state, lawmakers stood with the Beacon Center and fought for what was right, choosing taxpayers over special interest groups.

While the Beacon Center disagreed with Governor Haslam’s plan, we do want to thank him for bringing an important issue to light and trying to come up with a unique Tennessee solution to this issue. We also believe those who supported “Insure Tennessee” had the best of intentions, and we look forward to working with them in the coming months to find a responsible, cost-effective, free market solution that will truly benefit low-income Tennesseans.

“While stopping the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare was a necessary first step, it is still our responsibility as Tennesseans to find affordable healthcare solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

To that end, Beacon is calling for passage of right-to-try legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to access potentially life-saving medicine. Beacon will also work with state leaders to expand access to charity care, reduce the costs imposed by health insurance mandates, and allow Tennesseans to purchase health insurance across state lines.

“There are many things we can do to make healthcare and health insurance more affordable and accessible for all Tennesseans,” said Lindsay Boyd, Beacon Director of Policy. “We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work helping those most in need.”


February 4th, 2015 | Feature, Recent News