VOL. 132 | NO. 127 | Tuesday, June 27, 2017
By Bill Dries
Very different outlooks along party lines still in our delegation to Washington over the Senate’s version of Trumpcare.
On the day the Congressional Budget Office estimated the proposal would end health insurance coverage for 22 million Americans, Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s reaction:
“The Congressional Budget Office report is helpful information for every senator to consider as we review the draft Senate bill and look at how it will affect our states. I’m encouraged that CBO says premiums would begin to fall under this bill starting in 2020, especially in states that take advantage of the new flexibility available under the bill. It’s important to remember that the alternative to this bill is current law that leaves 162,000 Tennesseans who make less than $12,000 a year without aid to buy insurance, and as many as 350,000 Tennesseans in the individual market facing the real possibility of having zero insurance options next year.”
No formal statement from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis specifically on the CBO estimate, but he was pretty clear on this last week overall.
“The Senate version still has a crushing age tax, meaning those 50-64 years of age would pay significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. The tax breaks are a gift financially for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
This bill was hastily crafted behind closed doors with zero input from Democrats, women or minorities. Even members of the so-called health care working group, all of whom are white Republican men, had almost no input in the process. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to oppose this heartless bill and ensure Americans have access to the quality, affordable health insurance they deserve.”
Lots of discussion about Democrats vs. Republicans as the Memphis Branch NAACP marked its centennial over the weekend with some surprising comments by former Memphis Cong. Harold Ford Jr. and Melissa Harris-Perry, formerly of MSNBC and currently of Wake Forest.
The first African-American woman partner at Burch, Porter and Johnson talks about making partner at the law firm that was her first choice in law school.
No budget vote Monday at the Shelby County Commission but the commission did go on record as opposing the end of Justice Department oversight of Juvenile Court. And Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell went on record as saying he will veto the resolution.
Tourism in Memphis is turning a corner. It’s not necessarily about putting on a good face for tourists with no indication of the worry lines from the drama that is our true history. Tourism industry leaders at their annual meeting last week heard a lot about that including the upcoming 50th anniversary next year of the sanitation workers strike and Martin Luther King’s assassination in our city. Charles McKinney of Rhodes called that part of this transformation a phrase used by King – “the beautiful struggle.” While film producer Craig Brewer talked about the creative struggle and quoted Knox Phillips.
Meanwhile, several African-American museums – three in Memphis and one in Whiteville are among those getting state funding.
You know about the Memphis Mafia – Elvis Presley’s inner circle. Graceland’s series “Gates of Graceland” convenes in its latest installment in Graceland’s living room with Col. Tom Parker’s emissaries to Memphis and the rock and roll road on what would have been Parker’s 108th birthday. I am a really big fan of these videos and this is one of the best in the series.
In our Architects and Engineers Emphasis:
There are so many new buildings on the UT Health Science Center campus these days that when you talk about one in particular it’s difficult to narrow down. I’ll put it this way, the new building on the east side of Health Science Park that construction crews are now working on when you drive by – and when you don’t.
That building is a three story simulator – actually a medical simulation facility that is $37 million of bricks and mortar and state of the art technology that will range from a pharmacy to operating tables. And the architects who created the building modeled it after a hospital to give students working in the simulations the feel of working together at times as well as near each other when they are doing their own particular thing. Sorry to get ‘70s on you.
Meanwhile, the UT campus is hosting a four-day conference on pharmaceutical safety that got underway Monday. Later this summer UT opens a $16 million pharma manufacturing facility that is a huge step forward in its pharmacy efforts – education as well as research. In town this week for the conference are representatives of the World Health Organization, the FDA and the biggest corporate names in pharma.
The road to a new HQ for Resource Label Group in Bartlett was complex for a different reason. The Memphis-based company did not want to own and under Bartlett’s standards for such structures there is a lot of greenscaping required before you actually get to the building.
This is the season when some of you are thinking about the Memphis Botanic Garden. That season would be concert season. But there are other things going on there in the ground and on the grounds. Hardin Hall is getting a makeover. Have no fear. The clouds painted on the ceiling are staying. The goal is to connect the room more to the garden environment outside and to compete more for events like weddings that are a big user of the hall.
Charlie Morris is a North Memphis legend. He and his late wife Alma embody the grass-roots political work ethic that it takes to get votes in North Memphis. His activism goes back to the violent death of his brother here before World War II. Now 97, Charlie Morris talks with Associated Press about the new state legislation that could create a commission to investigate such “cold cases” – murders never solved from the Jim Crow era. The legislation was sponsored by state Representative Johnnie Turner, who herself is a veteran of the civil rights movement in Memphis. The study committee now in place could lead to the creation of a commission to pursue these aging cases and Turner says time is running out to pursue justice.
Meanwhile, the state of Mississippi is going after an estimated $155 million worth of U.S. savings bonds in a lawsuit against the federal government.
And the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Arkansas Supreme Court on a state law there that requires a court order to get the names of both spouses on a child’s birth certificate.