By Scott Robertson
The Tennessee General Assembly is in session. Ron Ramsey is not on the floor. I feel like the guy in the song “Rock Steady” who sings, “Woke up this morning and something had changed, like a room in my house had just been rearranged.” I know Ramsey has put himself in position to continue to serve Northeast Tennessee through his service on the East Tennessee State University Board, and I think it’s a great spot for him, especially considering how hard he worked to improved education in Tennessee during his time in Nashville. But I remember talking with Ramsey about stories when I was a cub radio reporter in Bristol back in the late 1990s. Let us hope his successor in the lieutenant governor’s seat, Randy McNally, is as productive for the state of Tennessee as Ramsey was.
We keep hearing from Democrats in Congress and the media that the GOP has nothing with which to replace Obamacare. I agree that the “replace” aspect of “repeal and replace” is essential. “Repeal and watch the system implode under the weight of the battles between the medical profession and the insurance industry” doesn’t sound like a good option. But if there is no GOP replacement for Obamacare, then what is our own Congressman Phil Roe’s American Health Care Reform Act of 2017? Chopped liver?
I have a lot of respect for the way Roe has handled Obamacare. For the last few years it was easy for House Republicans to vote dozens of times to repeal Obamacare because they knew the Senate would never back their play. But Congressman Roe did more than just issue press releases. He began by taking President Obama up on his offer to sit down and go over Obamacare line by line. Not surprisingly, it was the man in the White House who never got back to Roe to schedule that meeting. Then, when it became obvious the administration would not work with him on changing the myriad of problems with Obamacare, Roe worked up his own Obamacare replacement package.
Imagine that. Instead of just raging against the machine, Roe actually worked up the beginnings of a solution to the problem. Since Roe has reintroduced that bill, the widely publicized notion that the GOP has no replacement plan has been put to the lie. Time will tell what tweaks need to be made to Roe’s plan to make it work in 2017, but it’s out there. It’s real. And it ain’t nothing.
The Washington County Commission promises to be a little less entertaining in the coming year. With both David Tomita and Joe Wise resigning to focus on their duties on the Johnson City Commission, the two commissioners most-likely-to-offer-flippant-remarks have left Jonesborough. It’s not that Tomita and Wise didn’t take their duties at the county seriously. It’s just that they would, on occasion, see the humor in a topic and let their amusement slip out. Watching their colleague, former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sam Humphreys as he became agitated at Wise and Tomita’s chuckling was reminiscent of a teacher with two class clowns in the same room. The thing is, Tomita and Wise offered not only wit, but wisdom. I look forward to seeing how Johnson City is governed beginning this month.