If you have watched the news or listened to the radio recently, then you know that the Tennessee General Assembly reconvened on January 14 for the second half of its 108th session, and leadership intends for both chambers to conclude their work by mid-April. But make no mistake, the legislature has a host of issues that it will be considering this session, and over the next couple of weeks more than 1,000 bills will be filed on a range of topics from guns to healthcare. If you have gotten to this point in the article, you may be asking yourself what this post has to do with being a CRNA. The answer is simple—everything, so please read on!
TANA leadership has been working very hard over the past several months to re-brand itself. The website is being redone with all kinds of new features to engage members and even TANA’s logo has a new look. Part of the makeover includes a new motto or slogan to highlight TANA’s mission—“Unite and Protect – our profession, our patients.” And there’s no better place to direct these efforts than the legislature. Each and every session, the legislature considers legislation that will impact your profession and the quality of care provided to patients across the state. Healthcare is a hot button issue these days. From Medicaid expansion to scope of practice and everything in between, these issues have the potential to benefit or to harm your profession, and you have the opportunity – no, the responsibility, as a healthcare professional and as a member of TANA to Unite and Protect!
Now that I have peaked your interest enough to think about getting involved, you are probably asking yourself, “what do I do next?” As TANA’s lobbyist, I spend my days in the halls of Legislative Plaza and the Capitol, talking with legislators and working issues. I know it can be intimidating, but here are few simple ways to engage in the process:
- Pay Attention. The only way you will know about issues is to pay attention. Local news and radio report on legislative activity throughout session. In addition, each week TANA makes available to its members a government relations update. It provides an overview of the session as well as information on TANA-specific issues and a bill listing. It comes via e-mail and only takes a couple of minutes to read.
- Surf the Internet. Take the time to peruse the Tennessee General Assembly’s website. It contains a host of information on legislators, bills sponsored, committee meetings, etc. It even has a live streaming feature to allow you to watch legislative committee meetings as well as floor sessions.
- Know Your Legislator. How can you expect to influence someone on an issue when you don’t know them or their background?!? Legislators want to hear from constituents in their district. You are their voting base, and they need your vote to get re-elected. If you don’t know your legislator, you can do a simple search on the website for that too or click here. Take the time to introduce yourself back home in the district. It can be as simple as saying hello at a community event or inviting them for a cup of coffee. And, in turn, let them get to know you. Don’t be afraid to share your story and background. Educate legislators about your profession and how you help the citizens of this state.
- Be Active. Each year, TANA hosts a Day on the Hill. It’s a great opportunity to meet legislators and to see how the process works. If you cannot attend the Day on the Hill, then make plans to attend the Legislative Reception that evening. It’s a more casual opportunity to, once again, meet legislators and get to know them. This year’s Day on the Hill is March 4.
- Support TANA PAC. Contributing to TANA PAC is an investment in your profession. Even just a few dollars a month makes a difference, because the PAC allows your resources to be leveraged with others to provide campaign support to candidates.
Thank you for your time! I have had the privilege to represent TANA and its members for the past five years. It is truly a wonderful association that represents a tremendously talented group of healthcare professionals who provide quality care each and everyday, so be proud and make the decision to get involved and to Unite and Protect!