Senator Ken Yager Reports
March 12, 2015 — The pace of the Tennessee General Assembly has quickened with Senate Committees working overtime to study and act upon legislation before them, including the State and Local Government Committee which I chair. In this column, I want to share with you some of the bills and projects that I am working on to benefit the citizens of the 12 senatorial district as our State Legislature has reached the mid-point of the 2015 legislative session.
County Road Relief Act — One such bill is the “County Road Relief Act,” that would return millions of dollars to taxpayers in the form of highway infrastructure improvements. The “County Road Relief Act” would allow a county to use state highway aid for a project as long as they contribute at least two percent of the approved project cost or provide in-kind work as approved by the Department of Transportation. This legislation would be a tremendous help to counties who struggle to pay the required matching funds to get road improvement projects off the ground. I am very excited about the potential that it brings, not only to provide better roads for our citizens, but to bring in new industry and jobs to our communities
Currently, to receive funding through the State Highway Aid System, a 25 percent local match must be made by local governments. However, because many localities cannot afford the match, a large percentage of the highway improvement funding set aside by the state has gone unused. This bill has been passed on first and second consideration and now goes to the Senate Transportation Committee for a hearing.
State Route 29 Groundbreaking — Speaking of roads, I am very pleased that we are going to have a ground-breaking on the State Route 29 project on March 20 to begin the work of making the highway four lanes from Harriman to Wartburg. This project has been a priority of mine for the past seven years. This is a major step in moving towards my ultimate goal of making this a four lane road through Scott County. When this road is completed, it will open up economic opportunities for all of the counties in the 12th senatorial district. I look forward to seeing this project move forward and appreciate the Tennessee Department of Transportation working with me to make it a reality.
Good Samaritans — A bill that I am sponsoring, which helps encourage good Samaritans take to the roads to transport senior or disabled citizens to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or the pharmacy is scheduled to be heard in the General Assembly. It would help non-profit Human Resource Agencies by giving transportation volunteers civil immunity as they seek to provide these citizens the help they need to remain independent. Our Human Resource Agencies do a wonderful job serving those in need, but the threat of a lawsuit can hamper volunteerism. It is hoped that this bill will bring more volunteers to these agencies to help our disabled and senior citizens.
Opiate Abuse — Anyone who has followed my service in the State Senate knows that I am committed to curbing drug abuse. It is a major health problem in Tennessee. It fills our jails with abusers and is the number one reason why children come into state custody. If we are going to move this state forward, we must aggressively attack this scourge on our communities.
I am sponsoring legislation this year to address the problem of misuse of Suboxone, a drug to treat opiate addiction, which is similar to the use of Methadone in the treatment for heroin dependence. Unlike Methadone clinics, Suboxone Clinics are not regulated. Doctors are restricted to serving a certain number of patients; however, some clinics are skirting the law by opening multiple physician offices under the same roof. This bill attempts to root out these bad actors so opiate abusers do not utilize Suboxone to continue their life of addiction.
Likewise, I am sponsoring legislation calling for a certificate for doctors or advance practice nurses who prescribe pain management medication. We must ensure that pain clinics in Tennessee are not serving as a mecca for opiate abuse and that only highly trained professionals are writing prescriptions where highly addictive medications are prescribed.
Everyone has a family member, friend or loved one that has been affected by drug abuse. This legislation will help in our efforts to curb this terrible epidemic.
I hope that you will take the time to write me or call me about issues of importance to you. I would be very pleased to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me toll-free at 1-800 449-TENN ext. 11449 or write me at G-19 War Memorial Building, Nashville, Tennessee 37243.