The Night Before Session


January 11, 2016 4:25PM

Tomorrow, the 109th Tennessee General Assembly will begin to stir, convening for what promises to be another robust, heated, and opportunistic year. Expect to see fireworks on a range of issues, but the pending dialogue on a few key topics will present great opportunities for our state to roll back bad policies and move towards greater freedom for Tennesseans’ education, healthcare, and economic outlook.

Let’s shine a spotlight on the three areas that the Beacon Center will be focusing our efforts and what you can expect over the next four months:

1. Opportunity Scholarships and Course Access: Look for opportunity scholarships to again push the envelope of traditional, antiquated education models by empowering low-income families trapped in failing school districts with options to choose the school that best fits the needs of their child. In addition to opportunity scholarships, we will also be advancing Course Access—a very distinct opportunity for high school children, regardless of income or geographical location, the ability to customize their course loads with the flexibility of combining curriculum from their public school classroom with online, private, home, and specialized trade courses. Together, Opportunity Scholarships and Course Access will represent two reforms that will raise the bar of excellence in education for Tennessee students.

2. Direct Primary Care and Reform of Certificate of Need: Direct Primary Care (DPC) will allow patients to contract with primary care physicians in an arrangement that functions much like a gym membership. For a very low monthly fee averaging $40 per month, individuals can establish meaningful relationships with their doctor that gives them a home base for preventative care and treatment. With DPC, patients are placed back in the drivers’ seat of determining what care and providers best serve their healthcare needs. Additionally, there will be serious discussions surrounding the legitimacy of Certificate of Need (CON) laws in our state, with serious reforms expected. Long outdated, these barriers serve to prevent competing providers from expanding their capacities to care—leading to higher costs and lack of access for rural areas in particular.

3. Hall Tax on Investment Income: For years, the legislature has debated the merits of the Hall Income Tax, otherwise referred to as the Nest Egg Tax, which steals income from investments at a high rate and discourages seniors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses from planting roots in Tennessee. That’s not the Tennessee Way. Look for legislators to call for a repeal of this unfair tax, allowing retirees to rest more securely, attracting new businesses into our state, and making sure that we no longer penalize those taxpayers who work hard and plan ahead.

So buckle up and stay in touch with us as we march into the storm. To get updates on these priorities throughout the legislative session, please sign-up here.