Rep. Kelly Keisling’s Newsroom

Representative Keisling’s Tennessee Rural Hospital Transformation Act Approved By General Assembly

May 7, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — Recently, members of the Tennessee General Assembly approved a measure sponsored by State Representative Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) supporting Tennessee’s rural hospitals.

House Bill 2326 — also known as the Tennessee Rural Hospital Transformation Act of 2018 — creates a program within the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD) to provide support to our rural, private and public hospitals by developing strategies that help them operate more efficiently.

The measure permits these types of facilities to apply for grants through TNECD that will fund evaluations of current practices being conducted in an effort to ensure the future success of our rural Tennessee hospitals.

While business model evaluations are fairly common at our metropolitan and regional hospitals because of an abundance of resources at these much larger facilities, House Bill 2326 provides a pathway for their rural counterparts to take similar action in order to guarantee they are able to continue operating and better serve future generations of rural Tennesseans.

“Our rural hospitals often do not have the resources available or know who to turn to for advice on how to streamline operations in order for them to become more effective,” said Representative Keisling. “I am grateful to TNECD and all parties involved for their partnership on a measure that will support the long-term sustainability of these facilities. House Bill 2326 will also enable them to better serve our rural communities.”

House Bill 2326 now awaits Governor Haslam’s signature. For more information, please click here.

Kelly Keisling serves as Chairman of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. He also serves as a member of the House Transportation Committee and the House Insurance and Banking Committee. Keisling lives in Byrdstown and represents House District 38, which includes Macon, Clay, Pickett, Scott, and part of Fentress Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Kelly.Keisling@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6852.

State Representative Kelly Keisling’s Capitol Hill Review: 04/19/18

April 20, 2018

Balanced Budget Passed By House Of Representatives

In the final few days of this year’s legislative session, the House of Representatives passed Tennessee’s annual budget with a near-unanimous vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a balanced budget.

The $37.5 billion budget builds on previous legislative priorities by making strategic and thoughtful investments across state government. Because of recent choices lawmakers have made over the last several years, Tennessee currently ranks as the lowest taxed and lowest debt state in the entire nation.

As part of the budget debate, lawmakers also worked together in fixing problems with one of the state’s standardized tests — called TNReady — that have once again plagued the 2018 testing assessments of schools across Tennessee. The discussions followed three days of problems tied to TNReady’s online testing platform, the most significant of which occurred on Tuesday when the Department of Education reported its testing vendor had experienced a cyber-attack on its computer system. The day before and after this attack, many students were unable to log into or complete their tests. These tests are vitally important to students, teachers, and schools across Tennessee because they count for large portions of final student grades as well as final teacher evaluations and school rankings. The solution agreed upon by lawmakers to address these TNReady problems include giving local education agencies the option to not count TNReady test scores for the year for both students and teachers, allowing each of these groups to be held harmless for the widespread TNReady failures experienced by school systems statewide in 2018.

Specific highlights of the 2018-2019 budget include:

  • Opioids — The multi-faceted plan, called Tennessee Together, is comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through the budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. In 2016, there were over 1,600 opioid-related overdose deaths, one of the highest in the nation, and statistics show the numbers are only increasing. Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from opioid-related overdoses — more than the daily number of traffic fatalities. Tennessee Together limits the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions, with reasonable exception and an emphasis on new patients, as well as education for elementary and secondary schools through revisions to the state’s health education academic standards. The plan increases state funding to attack the illicit sale and trafficking of opioids through additional law enforcement and training and includes updates to the controlled substance schedules in order to better track, monitor, and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs — including fentanyl. Finally, the plan provides every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose prior to paramedic arrival.
  • School Safety — House lawmakers approved recommendations made by a working group organized to make suggestions for immediate enhancements to school safety across the state as part of this year’s budget, including a review and risk assessment of all school facilities to identify vulnerabilities, an increase in available resources to help secure school resource officers, and a statewide technology application for anonymous reporting of security threats. The 2018-2019 budget and school safety plan doubles the amount of recurring school safety grant funding for schools, which can be used for resource officers or other facility security measures. To address immediate needs while further state, local, and federal conversations around school security and budgeting take place, total state school safety grant funding will increase by more than 500 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.
  • Education — The approved budget fully funds education in Tennessee with more than $200 million in new funding for K-12 education, $55 million for teacher pay raises, $114 million in additional funding for higher education initiatives, $11 million for an energy-efficient schools program, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds to purchase equipment at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to improve and modernize a broad variety of workforce development programs.
  • Juvenile Justice — The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 includes $4.5 million in the 2018-2019 budget for targeted investments that support evidence-based programming and community resources — especially in the state’s rural and distressed counties. The measure overhauls the current system of juvenile justice for the first time in more than 20 years by tackling inefficiencies and variations in the system. The program empowers members of local law enforcement communities to intervene in instances involving minor offenses in order to better address a youth’s underlying issues. It also limits probation and incarceration for minor offenses while maintaining judicial discretion. Research suggests that taking youths out of their homes and schools for minor offenses increases the risk of recidivism, diverts resources from youth who pose a risk to the community, and unnecessarily uses taxpayer dollars. Often, studies show, community-based services are more effective and are a wiser use of resources.
  • Economic Development — The 2018-2019 budget includes investments in several key business-friendly programs, including $128 million in new funding for employment job growth, funding to bring the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $850 million — the highest amount in state history, $15 million in broadband accessibility grant dollars, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds for the Aeronautics Development Fund to create jobs and investment opportunities in Tennessee’s aviation industry.
  • Additional Investments — Other important funding contained in this year’s budget includes $3 million in funds for school districts to address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts, $10 million for repairs on the state’s important short-line railroads, $11.7 million to help individuals with developmental disabilities, an additional $136 million for TennCare — the state’s version of Medicaid, and funding for capital construction projects and maintenance across the state.

With the budget officially passed, lawmakers now turn their attention to debating the last few legislative items for the year while remaining focused on continuing work to make Tennessee an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.

Kelly Keisling is the Chairman of the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Insurance & Banking Committee and the House Transportation Committee. Keisling lives in Byrdstown and represents House District 38, which includes Macon, Clay, Pickett, Scott and part of Fentress Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Kelly.Keisling@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6852.

State Representative Kelly Keisling Named State Representative Of The Year

March 16, 2018

Upper Cumberland Development District honors Subcommittee Chairman

(NASHVILLE) — This week, State Representative Kelly Keisling (R–Byrdstown) was named State Representative of the Year by the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) during an official ceremony held at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Chairman Keisling was recognized because of his support and advocacy on issues and programs designed to improve the quality of life for residents throughout the Upper Cumberland region.

The Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) was created by the Tennessee General Assembly to provide regional planning and assistance to the following counties:  Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren, and White. Supporters agree that the fourteen counties, along with the many municipalities contained within, are made stronger through regional cooperation and shared resources.

“I am grateful for the partnership between our General Assembly and the UCDD,” said Chairman Keisling. “This remarkable organization has made an extraordinary impact on our communities. It is a great honor to receive this award, and the opportunity to serve our region is a tremendous privilege. Together, I know our efforts will enable the Upper Cumberland and all of Tennessee to continue to thrive.”

For more information about the UCDD, please click here.

Kelly Keisling serves as Chairman of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. He also serves as a member of the House Transportation Committee and the House Insurance and Banking Committee. Keisling lives in Byrdstown and represents House District 38, which includes Macon, Clay, Pickett, Scott, and part of Fentress Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Kelly.Keisling@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6852.

State Representative Kelly Keisling, Department of Education Announce Critical Growth Funds

February 20, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) and the Tennessee Department of Education today announced that Clay County Schools, Macon County Schools, and Scott County Schools have all received district growth funding to support education initiatives in House District 38.

Specifically, Clay County Schools received $64,500, Macon County Schools received $125,500, and Scott County Schools received $83,000.

This funding is a direct result of a Republican-led effort by Tennessee General Assembly members to not only fully fund education in Tennessee but also provide $18 million to cover school district growth as part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

These significant investments will allow many of our state’s school districts with soaring populations to maintain proper student to teacher ratios so that they can continue offering quality education for our next generation of leaders.

“It was an honor to support this funding last spring and it is an honor to announce that portions of the growth fund will be arriving in House District 38,” said Representative Keisling. “The students and teachers of Clay, Macon, and Scott Counties will greatly benefit from this investment.”

The inclusion of growth funding as part of the budget has been so well received by parents, education officials, and teachers that the governor has added an additional $18 million in growth funding as part of his Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Kelly Keisling serves as Chairman of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. He also serves as a member of the House Transportation Committee and the House Insurance and Banking Committee. Keisling lives in Byrdstown and represents House District 38, which includes Macon, Clay, Pickett, Scott, and part of Fentress Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Kelly.Keisling@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6852.