published Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Tennessee Senate OKs bill requiring legislative sanction on Medicaid expansion deals

NASHVILLE — Republican state senators took final action today on a bill requiring Gov. Bill Haslam to obtain legislative approval for any deal he makes with the federal government to expand Medicaid in Tennessee.

The Senate approved the measure, sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, on a 23-6 vote.

Senators had previously approved the bill and were dealing with a House-enacted change to their version. And that generated debate since the Senate amendment would have prohibited lawmakers from collecting pay and per diem expenses if called into special session by Haslam.

House members had refused to go along with the ban on pay.

Kelsey argued the provision violates the Tennessee Constitution's provisions that lawmakers can't alter their pay until a next General Assembly takes office after an election.

But Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, who sponsored that amendment, disagreed and asked for time to consult with State Attorney General Robert Cooper.

Kyle said if the special session occurs after the November election, which appears likely, a new General Assembly would be in office and thus his proposal would be constitutional.

He warned Republicans their constituents "would see" they were getting paid in a special session even as they moved to block the expansion on Medicaid in Tennessee to 180,000 people in a special session.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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