Hughes: Overbey dishonest on voting record
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The race between incumbent state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, and Seymour resident Scott Hughes, his opponent for the Republican nomination for the 2nd District seat, is generating allegations of dishonesty.
Formerly the 8th Senate District, the 2nd District includes all of Blount and most of Sevier County.
The Hughes campaign recently launched a website, http://www.howdougvotes.com , to evaluate Overbey’s voting record.
“... I do not feel that my opponent has been entirely forthcoming about his voting record,” Hughes said in an accompanying press release. “While (Overbey) has been quick to assert that he has ‘a conservative voting record,’ after looking at his voting history for myself, I feel that his votes tell a very different tale.”
Overbey disputes the truthfulness of some of the allegations. “To echo, to some extent, Ronald Reagan, here he goes again. Scott simply isn’t telling the truth. I’ve seen some other things that campaign has handed out, which are either half-truths, not-truths, or misleading. We intend to run a positive campaign and talk about the issues facing our constituents, and what legislation I’ve been involved with and sponsored.”
According to the website, and a direct mail flyer from the Hughes campaign, Overbey voted to “criminalize parents who monitor their children’s Internet activity under criminal wiretapping laws” when he voted against adding a specific exemption to the state’s wiretapping statute. The exemption was ultimately added to state law.
Overbey said the activity has never been a crime and that nobody had ever been prosecuted for it in Tennessee. “(The vote) did not criminalize parents monitoring their children’s online activity. It wasn’t illegal before this statute, and I certainly didn’t vote to criminalize parents of monitoring their children’s Internet use. I’m a parent of three daughters myself, and there is no way I’d criminalize this activity. Scott is simply not telling the truth of my record.”
Hughes said that just because nobody had been prosecuted for doing so under the wiretapping laws did not mean it couldn’t happen. “Where I take a stand on that is we should not wait to have a parent arrested or questioned about monitoring the children’s online activities. We should be in Nashville working on protecting parents’ rights. ... This is a proactive move that Doug didn’t vote for.”
The information on the website also alleges that Overbey “sponsored numerous bills imposing government mandates on health insurers to cover everything from hearing aids to gastric bypass and weight-loss surgeries, raising the cost of health insurance by millions of dollars statewide.”
Overbey successfully passed legislation that requires insurers to cover hearing aids for children, but two bills, sponsored by him, to require the coverage of weight-loss surgery never made it into law. “It’s far from covering everything,” he said.
The hearing aid requirement did not raise health care costs by millions, Overbey said. “My recollection is that we put $1,000 cap (for cost per child) and for a replacement every three years. I think what it reflects was just pennies on premiums. ... Once they have hearing aids, these children can go to school and keep up with their classmates and graduate high school with their cohort. What we are talking about is improving children’s lives and helping to make them productive citizens.”
The legislation requiring insurers to cover weight-loss surgery was the result of a request from two local physicians, Overbey said. “(They) felt like such surgeries would save money by helping people reduce weight, which would eventually get them off of expensive medications they are taking.”Hughes said he opposes government mandates on private businesses. “I’m not saying that health insurance companies should not cover hearing aids for kids, but it points to a bigger issue with Doug. That is the issue of large government, large regulations, and getting involved in private industry with a mandate.”
In general, the more mandates levied upon health insurance companies, the higher costs will rise, Hughes said. “The more and more mandates we put on them, the more and more costs are pushed onto consumers. It costs our state millions of dollars.”
Present, not voting
There are allegations on the website that Overbey voted against bills to overturn Vanderbilt’s policy allowing non-Christian students to serve as officers in Christian student groups, to require a two-thirds majority to override the state’s Copeland spending cap, and to establish a school voucher program in certain cities in the state.
In all three cases, though, the official record indicates that Overbey was counted as being “present but not voting” and did not actually vote against any of the bills.
In a fourth case, the Hughes campaign alleges that Overbey voted against a bill to require legislative confirmation of state judges. The official record indicates that Overbey was counted as “present but not voting” during two committee votes and then voted “yes” during two floor votes on the bill.
It is Hughes’ view that “present but not voting” still counts as a “no” vote because it can deprive a bill of enough “yes” votes for it to pass. “If someone is sitting at their desk or votes presents or choose not to vote, in essence, that’s a vote against something,” he said.
Hughes said the website is mean to inform voters. “We’re trying to do this the right way. This race is nothing personal between Doug and I. ... I don’t have an vendetta against him in any way. It comes down to a difference in the way he votes and the way I would vote.”
Overbey has a different take. “These wild allegations are just signs of desperation,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s what turns people off of participating in politics or the electoral process — the sorts of tactics that my opponent is engaging in.”
Coming Thursday: Overbey responds to further allegations about his voting record.