Tennesseans – Please Call Your State Representatives – TN Laws that Victimize the Poor

– update lawsuit has been filed-

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/01/05/lawsuit-tennessee-drivers-license-law-punishes-poor/96204462/

 

 

Very few people seem to be aware of two different decisions made by our State Legislature that completely victimize the poor and put struggling people on the road to homelessness, illness and hopelessness.

The first is TCA 40-24-105. This law that was implemented a few years ago allows counties to seize driver’s licenses for non-payment of traffic fines, court costs and other fines. So, in most of Tennessee there are few options for mass transit so when a person’s drivers license is seized they lose their ability for the possibility of working to pay the fine.

There is a 180 day stay for:

(3) (A) A person who is unable to pay any portion of assessed litigation taxes, court costs, and fines may apply one (1) time to the court having original jurisdiction over the offense for an order staying the revocation of the license issued under title 55. An order to stay the revocation of the license shall be granted if the court finds that the person would experience extreme hardship from the revocation of the license and that no other means of transportation are reasonably available to the person. Grounds for finding of extreme hardship are limited to travel necessary for:

(i) Employment; or

(ii) Serious illness of the person or an immediate family member.

(B) The offender seeking a hardship exception shall make application to the court in the form of a sworn affidavit stating with particularity the grounds and circumstances of hardship. The court may enter a one-time stay for a period of not longer than one hundred and eighty (180) days. The court clerk shall promptly notify the commissioner of safety of the issuance or termination of any stay of revocation. The commissioner of safety shall not revoke any license under this subsection (b) while the stay is in effect.

However, if someone can’t pay the fine to begin with, it is not likely they are going to be able to pay it in 180 days.

homeless_person_on_3rd_st_memphis_tn_2013-01-20_006I think this law needs to be reexamined and wage garnishment be pursued as an alternative measure of collection (fully understand the heavy debt some counties carry because of fines) and/or community service for those without the ability to pay. Multiple offenses or serious traffic accidents should be treated as they always have been.

I have contacted my county office that does this collection and my legislators, but have not received any response.

Article from Washington Post regarding a similar law in VA:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/justice-department-virginia-may-be-punishing-poor-by-suspending-drivers-licenses/2016/11/10/760930a6-a6c5-11e6-ba59-a7d93165c6d4_story.html

You can read the TN law here:

http://search.mleesmith.com/tca/40-24-0105.html

Contact Tennessee Legislators Here

The second piece of legislation that victimizes the poor of our state is the failure of the Tennessee Legislature to accept federal medicaid expansion. This means that unless you are disabled, are a child covered under CHP, or in another extremely limited group you have no means of paying for health care.

In my county (Roane), what the poor have to do if they are sick is call the county health department on Thursday from 9 am – 9:15 am to try to get an appointment. The line is usually busy and appointments are difficult to obtain. The other option is to go to the Emergency Room, where they have to be treated but cannot pay – so that cost is passed along to everyone. There is no provision for follow up appointments with specialists etc.

And, as so many of the poor have reading disabilities or literacy challenges the simple understanding of the process is nearly impossible.

This situation is shameful. Please urge your legislator to accept the Medicaid expansion.

More information on the Medicaid issue here:

https://www.healthinsurance.org/tennessee-medicaid/

http://www.tn.gov/tenncare/article/categories

 

 

A Worthwhile Bill Introduced in the US House of Representatives

schoolhouse-rock-billIn light of the recent (rather shocking) election I have done some soul searching and have come to the conclusion that I have been rather lazy about politics. After living in Washington, DC, for 15 years and working in various lobbying groups for 10 years, I am very jaded about the political process and how much the average American actually has a say in what happens inside the Capital Beltway.

So, in my soul searching I sat down and made an attempt to sort out what is really important to me, as an American and as an individual. Issues that I can understand and that I think will have an effect on my little world that I care about.

So, I was looking through current legislation that has been introduced in the Senate and the House this session and I found this bill that was introduced in the House Ways and Means Committee that has some very good merit for Nell’s World Order.

We have a huge problem with drug addiction in my state – not just meth, which is a PLAGUE –  but also prescription drugs. And I thought this little bill was something that was something that mattered to me as an individual.

The Bill (H.R.6262 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)) is titled Addiction Recovery through Family Health Accounts Act. It was introduced by Rep. Thomas MacArthur R-NJ. The summary is:

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the family members with respect to whom treatment for alcohol and drug addiction is treated as a qualified medical expense for purposes of health reimbursement arrangements, health flexible spending arrangements, and health savings accounts.

This was brought before the House Ways and Means Committee on 9/28/16.

I like the entire idea behind this – it is a small thing, but it could possibly have a big effect on an issue that means something to ME. The idea of being able to use FSA funds for addiction recovery is something that I believe is of real use to the average American.

I’m also glad to see that not everyone on Capitol Hill is just sitting on their butts and angling for cash to get re-elected. And thanks to Rep. MacArthur for introducing a bill that could actually help families with a problem that is epidemic where I live.

More information here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/6262/titles?r=35