HealthCare & Health Insurance
Healthcare in the United States is in crisis, and Tennessee is no exception. The middle class is holding on by a string as they struggle to find, and pay for, affordable health insurance. Our legislators have condemned 300,000 of our most needy Tennesseans, and for political reasons, have refused to expand medicaid. The Tennessee government passed up $4 billion in federal funding that would have covered 95% of medicaid expansion costs. The failure of our legislators to expand medicaid has directly resulted in the closures of multiple hospitals in rural areas.
When people don't have health insurance, little problems quickly become big problems and inexpensive problems quickly become costly. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and late stage cancers are often treated in emergency rooms at great expense to the Tennessee taxpayer.
I believe quality healthcare and health insurance are a right... a right all Tennesseans deserve.
JOBS & THE ECONOMY
For too long, Tennessee's economy has suffered. While unemployment falls, it's still high in state. Instead of the state promoting its educated workforce to obtain higher-paying jobs, the economy has suffered from the recruitment of low-wage jobs with little to no benefits. Lack of options and opportunities have severely limited employment for people looking to stay in the area.
Tennessee is amongst the highest in the nation for bankruptcy and in 2016 over 15% of the population lived below the poverty line. A high number of children in the Anderson County and Oak Ridge City school districts receive free or reduced lunches.
I believe all Tennesseans are entitled to the dignity of a living wage, a stable job, and benefits that will support a family. Workers should be represented in Nashville just like corporations are recognized there. Anderson county is ripe for development and could be even more attractive to high-tech, high-paying companies looking to locate their business here.
Governor Haslam deserves credit for programs like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, but our state remains behind the curve in providing a world class education to our children. Tennessee is ranked low in educational achievement (high school diplomas, college degrees, and advanced degrees awarded) and student expenditures. Our teachers are trying to do a good job, but they’re mired in excessive regulations and constantly changing requirements.
While many in the legislature believe school vouchers and charter schools are the answer to Tennessee’s educational woes, I do not. I believe in more funding for schools, teacher incentives, loan forgiveness programs, job and vocational training, and a strong curriculum, including STEM programs. I am also in favor of tuition-free college for everyone.
We must continue to support a strong public school system that is responsive to the needs of our children so they can compete and succeed in our constantly changing world.
As a retired military officer, I believe in the 2nd amendment. I collect guns, I have a Tennessee carry permit, and I've seen first hand the tragedy guns can inflict. In the military, we trained in firearm operation and safety with a refresher course every three years. The training I received for my Tennessee carry permit was nowhere close to the comprehensive military training I received.
Gun collecting, target shooting, and hunting are enjoyable hobbies, while some own guns for self-protection. However, it is time that we demand that all gun purchases are subject to strict background checks, that military style weapons and large capacity magazine sales are restricted, and gun owners are required to have and maintain firearm safety trainings.
We are required to register our automobiles, to pass a drivers license exam, and carry liability insurance. It's time we did the same for firearms. The NRA is an organization that promotes gun sales instead of common-sense gun safety legislation. We can't allow the NRA to continue to obstruct and dictate gun legislation. I promise this: I will never take a dime from the NRA.
No one fix will prevent all gun tragedies, but I believe common-sense legislation can help reduce them.
The people of Flint, Michigan discovered what happens when environmental regulations go unenforced and I don’t want that to happen in Anderson County or Tennessee. Our beautiful mountains, lakes, and waterways must be preserved for our children and grandchildren. Not just for their beauty and health, but for the tourism and tax revenue they bring to Tennessee and Anderson County. When I’m in Nashville I will work to keep our environment clean and beautiful for everyone’s enjoyment.
More Tennesseans are dying from opioids than from murders in Anderson County. Roughly 300,000 Tennesseans are misusing drugs and an estimated 83,000 are addicted. The opioid epidemic is no longer a problem, it’s a crisis. To get serious about squashing the opioid crisis in its tracks, we need better prescriber education, implementation of prescription guidelines, integrating prescription drug monitoring programs into clinical settings, improving data collection and sharing, treating overdoses, and increasing the availability of opioid addiction treatment programs, including rehab and the possibility of other prescription medicines to help with pain. The treatment of infants born with addiction also needs to be fully funded, with a focus on helping both the mother and child. When I’m in Nashville, I promise to work hard to find solid, sensible solutions to the crisis.