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

 

 

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