House Republican Leaders Praise Move To Raise Pay For DIDD Workers; Democrats Say Much More Needed For Opiod Fight

Monday, January 29, 2018

House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) and House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station) on Monday night applauded proposed wage increases for employees of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (DIDD).

 

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam included them as part of his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which he outlined in his final State of the State address inside the House chamber.

 

State Rep.

Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) led advocacy efforts in securing this proposed funding, it was stated. Last fall, Rep. Hazlewood met with House leadership and the governor to push for its inclusion in the budget.

 

The DIDD’s mission is to help all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities live fulfilling and rewarding lives. Services provided by the department include case management, behavioral and therapeutic services, medication administration, as well as job training and placement.

 

“These increases are long overdue for the men and women who provide vital services to Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Chairman Williams. “I am grateful to Representative Hazlewood for bringing this proposal to the governor; it was an honor to support her as she advocated for these increases to be included in the budget.”

 

“Rep. Hazlewood has been a vocal leader on this very important issue,” said Majority Leader Casada. “Her knowledge, expertise, and advocacy clearly resonated with the governor. I am pleased that the employees who provide critical services to some of our neediest Tennesseans will now have a little more financial flexibility so they can provide for themselves and their families.”

 

“Having a family member with a disability and seeing the amount of care he required demonstrates the essential need to retain the best and brightest DIDD employees in communities across our state, “said Rep. Hazlewood. “I am pleased that more of our vulnerable Tennesseans will have access to the services and people they depend on in order to live fulfilling lives.”   

 

Meanwhile, Democrats responded to the Governor’s State of the State Address by introducing their own plan to radically increase funding to fight Tennessee’s opioid crisis.

“Sadly, the Governor’s paltry 25 million opioid plan represents a business-as-usual approach to the opioid crisis – our communities are facing a dire emergency and we need to take bold action to stem the tide of opioids that is destroying Tennessee’s families and communities,” said Democratic House Caucus Chair Mike Stewart. “The Governor was willing to eliminate a hundred million dollars a year when they repealed the estate tax on Tennessee’s richest families but proposes to spend a quarter of that amount on Tennessee’s most pressing health crisis – we can obviously do much better,” he added.

“This disagreement isn’t politics, its math,” Democratic Senate Caucus Chair Jeff Yarbro said. “If you look at the numbers, we would get a fraction of the people who need it into treatment, when we had 21,000 overdoses that led to death or hospitalization last year.  We believe this is a fight we could actually win, if the Governor’s hands weren’t tied behind his back by the supermajority leadership.”
“The easiest way to get many Tennesseans much needed treatment is to expand healthcare, as we’ve been urging the Republicans to do for years,” Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh stated.  “If the Republicans won’t do that, then we need to put the resources in the budget to adequately address the crisis.”

Democrats pointed to "alarming statistics" to underscore the crisis currently faced by Tennessee’s communities:

  • The number of overdose deaths in Tennessee continues to skyrocket, with over 1600 deaths in 2016, a 12 percent increase over the prior year.  More Tennessee citizens now die of opioid overdoses than car accidents.
  • From 2005 to 2016, the number of Tennessee babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome has increased six-fold.
  • The economic costs of opioid abuse in Tennessee are estimated at $2 billion annually, including 1.29 billion in income lost because people have dropped out of the job market and $422.5 million for hospitalizations associated with opioid abuse.
  • Vermont obtained a special Medicaid waiver to subsidize their approach to opioid addiction.  As a result, Medicaid alone now pays for most of the expenses incurred by the system’s more than 8,000 opioid addiction patients, each of whom costs on average nearly $16,000 a year.

“We saw with the crack epidemic that failure to provide treatment to addicts hurt families and for years made it difficult if not impossible to really get the problem under control. In this drug crisis, as any, government should respond effectively and equally to the total community. Let’s not repeat past mistakes with this new crisis,” stated Assistant House Democratic Leader Joe Towns.


Troopers Chasing Car Stop It From Driving Over Chickamauga Dam The Wrong Way

Man Trapped In Car For Several Hours In Hixson Ravine

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report


A vehicle started going the wrong way on Highway 153 during a police chase early Saturday morning. The Tennessee Highway Patrol was able to stop the car from driving over Chickamauga Dam. ... (click for more)

A man was rescued from a vehicle early Saturday morning after being trapped for several hours in a Hixson ravine. Authorities said he was trapped for about two hours at 5900 Gann Road. ... (click for more)

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, CHRISTOPHER DEWAYNE 5700 ROPER ST APT M14 EAST RIDGE, 37412 Age at Arrest: 48 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Troopers Chasing Car Stop It From Driving Over Chickamauga Dam The Wrong Way

A vehicle started going the wrong way on Highway 153 during a police chase early Saturday morning. The Tennessee Highway Patrol was able to stop the car from driving over Chickamauga Dam. Both the driver's vehicle and a state trooper patrol vehicle were damaged in the incident. It happened shortly after 1 a.m. with the chase beginning at the Ridge Cut and leading to Highway ... (click for more)

Man Trapped In Car For Several Hours In Hixson Ravine

A man was rescued from a vehicle early Saturday morning after being trapped for several hours in a Hixson ravine. Authorities said he was trapped for about two hours at 5900 Gann Road. Emergency personnel from Dallas Bay were finally summoned to the scene. The front windshield had to be cut out so he could be freed. The man was able to walk out on his own. However, ... (click for more)

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Don’t Trust County Attorney Taylor’s Gag Order

At this point, most of us are aware of the WWTA debacle on site selection and the half-baked planning for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road. There were also untruths given to the public about the basis or need for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road by WWTA. That, my friends, is offensive. Pam Sohn of the Times Free Press outed the WWTA’s false contention ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It seems there has been quite an increase in calls from telemarketers and I asked my man Cleo if he had any idea how to stop them. “What works if you are male -- Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company." You wait for a second and, with a real husky voice, ask, "What are you wearing?" If you are a female try this: Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my ... (click for more)

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Hendricks, Kurtz Lead Baylor Past McCallie

It’s still the most intense high school rivalry in Hamilton County and there have been plenty of athletic contests between the two schools that went down to the wire or determined on the final play, but that was not the case at Baylor’s Jimmy Duke Arena and Austin Clark Court Friday night when McCallie stopped by for a visit. The Blue Tornado struck first with a 3 from Tanner ... (click for more)

CSAS Holds Off Scrappy Jackets In 4-A Rivalry

Both Mark Dragoo and Eric Ford are masters when it comes to teaching moments and tough love. For Dragoo and his Chattanooga Arts & Sciences basketball team it has been a brutal schedule to better prepare the Patriots for what he hopes will be a postseason run in Class A. “I think we annually play the toughest schedule for a Class A team in this area and it might not ... (click for more)