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Crowe will continue to lead Senate's health committee

Robert Houk • Jan 10, 2019 at 8:02 PM

State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, will return as chairman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, made the appointment Thursday as lawmakers wrapped up their first week of work in the Tennessee’s 111th General Assembly.

Crowe, who represents the 3rd District, which includes of Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties in the state Senate, is beginning his eighth four-year term on Capitol Hill. With 29 years, Crowe is second behind McNally for length of service in the Senate.

He was also reappointed to the Senate Education Committee, which reviews all legislation regarding K-12 schools and higher education, and the Senate Government Operations Committee, which reviews all department and agencies of state government.

The dean of the Northeast Tennessee legislative delegation said he was “very pleased” to return his leadership role on the Health and Welfare Committee. The panel is responsible for legislation dealing with all aspects of health and public welfare, including hospitals, nursing homes and health care professions.

Crowe said his committee also has oversight of the state departments of Health, Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health, as well as the Commission on Children and Youth and the Commission on the Aging and Disability.

The Health and Welfare Committee will tackle a number of key issues this session, Crowe said, including medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion and limits on the amount of opioids that doctors can prescribe to their patients in Tennessee.

Closer to home, Crowe said Carter County officials have expressed concerns about a state law requiring mandatory autopsies in suspected drug overdose cases that they say has placed an added financial burden on small and rural counties. Crowe also said Thursday his committee will also deal with a request from Ballad Health and East Tennessee State University to create a Regional Center for Rural Research to adress issues such as opioid addition in rural areas and the plight of hospitals in rural areas.

“Ballad and ETSU will be pitching for this center in the new governor’s first budget,” Crowe said.

Crowe was also reappointed to the Education Committee, which reviews all legislation regarding K-12 schools and higher education, and the Government Operations Committee, which reviews all department and agencies of state government to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

State Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, was also reappointed as first vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which saw a leadership change this week when McNally named state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, to replace state Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, as the panel’s chairman.

“I don’t think we will see any philosophical changes in the Judiciary Committee,” Lundberg said. “I think Mike Bell will do a great job as chairman.”

Lundberg said he expects sentencing reform, which has been cited as a top issue for Gov.-elect Bill Lee, will be something the Senate panel addresses this year. The Sullivan County lawmaker said “truth in sentencing” is also an important issue for him, as well as jail crowding.

“That’s something that counties across the state are seeing now,” he said.

Lundberg will also serve as a member of the Education Committee and as the second vice chairman of the Commerce Committee.

 

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