Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd September 30, 2020

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   Legislation to extend CoverKids Program passes General Assembly — An extension of CoverKids (Public Chapter 582), Tennessee’s children’s health insurance program (CHIP) was approved this year, extending the program to June 30, 2025. CoverKids provides coverage to uninsured Tennessee children who are not eligible for the Tennessee’s Medicaid program. Similar to Medicaid, the program is financed and administered by both the federal and state government. The new legislation covers about 40,000 children and 6,000 pregnant women in Tennessee.

   Legislation aims to strengthen the work of Tennessee’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Advisory Council — The General Assembly adopted Public Chapter 526 adding the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, a representative of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and a representative of the Tennessee Nurses Association to the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Advisory Council. The council, which was created as a result of legislation passed last year, is examining existing industries, services, and resources to address the needs of those diagnosed with the disease, their families, and approximately 439,000 caregivers.  The experts added that the new law will give the council more in-depth experience to enhance their work.

   Approximately 120,000 Tennesseans suffer with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is estimated that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to double by 2050. 

   New law encourages raw milk safety – State lawmakers approved a new law in 2020 which encourages farmers who produce raw milk to complete a safe milk-handling course to help ensure health and safety for consumers. Commercial dairies produce pasteurized milk, while small farmers are allowed to produce raw milk for themselves and their herd co-owners. Cow share programs involve a contractual agreement between a farmer and livestock shareholders through which a person is able to obtain raw milk.   

   Public Chapter 714 provides that when a farmer producing raw milk completes a brief University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension course in safe milk production, they can participate in the cooperative agriculture extension fund. The legislation also provides that to operate in a herd-share program, farmers must maintain the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all partial owners; as well as a transaction log. The contract must include a warning label regarding consumption of raw foods. If contamination occurs, the farm owner would be required to allow the Department of Health to access the farm within 24 hours to investigate and partial owners must be notified. 

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. 

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