Nashville, Tenn. (January 9, 2017) – As the 2018 Tennessee Legislative Session begins, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Mary Mancini,released the following statement:

“Every community in Tennessee is facing the same problems. Families can’t keep up with the rising costs of keeping a roof over their heads and food on their tables, and far too many are not able to see a doctor when they need one. The legislature should be focused on how to work together to solve these problems.

“This session starts just a week after the announcement that 10th rural hospital in Tennessee will close under total Republican control of the state. As Deputy Speaker of the House Steve McDaniel, a Republican, pointed out, the single most important step Republicans could take to stop this is to Expand Medicaid. Unimaginably, there is absolutely no sign that they will do this.

“Expanding Medicaid is not just about rural hospitals, it would also address the raging opioid crisis that, to this point, Republicans in the state have only paid lip service. Everyone agrees that access to quality treatment programs is needed and Republicans still refuse to consider the most efficient way to make that happen: expanding Medicaid.

“Another area where Republicans will refuse to act is giving Tennesseans a raise. As 18 other states increase their minimum wage, Tennessee will continue to have the lowest in the country. Anyone who has been to a grocery store recently knows that nobody can survive on $7.25/hour, but that apparently means nothing to Tennessee Republicans. They will likely continue to ignore the over 1 million Tennesseans living in poverty.

“Finally, Tennessee is one of the worst states in the country in voter turnout. One major reason is that Tennessee Republicans have made it harder and harder to vote. They even refuse to allow students to use state university issued identification to vote. This year instead of making voting easier, they will likely look for even more ways to discourage people from participating in our democracy, it’s shameful.