News

Zachary Sworn in as New State Rep.

Jason Zachary was sworn in Monday as the State Representative for the 14th District, after winning the Republican primary earlier this month. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell swore in Zachary at his church, First Baptist Concord in Farragut, WBIR reports. The 2016 session of the General Assembly will convene on Jan. 12.

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GOP Lawmakers Want New Abortion Clinic Rules

Five Republican senators have asked Gov. Bill Haslam to order a series of emergency rules to govern how abortion clinics dispose of fetal remains, The Tennessean reports. In a letter to the governor, the lawmakers also asked the governor to authorize a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into Planned Parenthood and Tennessee’s other abortion providers. Planned Parenthood Tennessee officials say neither of its clinics participate in tissue sale or donation programs. 

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Bill Provides Protection for State National Guard Members

State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, is introducing legislation that would provide immunity and personal liability protection for Tennessee National Guard members involved in protection during a terrorist attack, Nooga reports. “Our Tennessee National Guardsmen have become targets of terrorists, as demonstrated by the tragic events in Chattanooga,” Briggs said. The proposal comes one month after the July 16 shooting in Chattanooga that killed five service members. The bill is being developed in consultation with Gov. Bill Haslam and Adjutant General Max Haston, according to the paper.

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TBA Welcomes New Staff Members

The Tennessee Bar Association this month welcomed three new staff members. Brenda Gadd is the TBA’s new public policy coordinator. She will work closely with the Government Affairs Committee to help represent the TBA and its members before the General Assembly and other policy making bodies. Also new to the TBA is Kate Prince, who will serve as TBA Leadership Law Coordinator, as well as manage the TBA’s Mentoring Program and work with a new committee studying advancements in the delivery of legal services. Finally, TBA welcomed Amelia Ferrell, the newest addition to its communications team. Ferrell will write for TBAToday and the Tennessee Bar Journal, as well as expand TBA’s activity on social media platforms and coordinate media relations.

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Zachary Wins House Seat in Special Election

Jason Zachary thanked a higher power for his win in the Republican primary to represent West Knox County’s 14th District in the Tennessee House. “People would say, ‘Did God really call you to run for Congress?’ And I can say tonight, yes, tonight validates,” that, Zachary told Knoxnews. The telecommunications broker has been an outspoken opponent of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal. The Commercial Appeal looks at what the election may mean for that effort. The special election was held to replace former state Rep. Ryan Haynes who stepped down to become the chairman of the Tennessee Republican party.

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Sen. Ted Cruz to Speak in Murfreesboro Aug. 10

Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, plans to be in Murfreesboro Aug. 10, according to a release from the Rutherford County Republican Party. The Daily News Journal reports that Cruz will participate in a town-hall meeting at 11 a.m. at Patterson Park Community Center sponsored by the local Republican Party as a public service offered to all GOP candidates. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made to director@RutherfordGOP.org.

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Wealthy Donors Dominating Presidential Campaign Giving

Nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election, according to an Associated Press analysis of fundraising reports filed with federal regulators through Friday. Donors who gave at least $100,000 account for about half of all donations so far to candidates' presidential committees and the super PACs that support them. That concentration of money from a small group of wealthy donors builds on a trend that began in 2012, the first presidential contest after a series of court rulings and regulatory steps that created the super PAC. WRCB has the story from the AP.

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Democrats Critical of Ramsey Goal of GOP Supreme Court Majority

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart is critical of reports that Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey "intends to let partisan politics dictate the choice for the next Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court,“ the Chattanoogan reports. “Until now, Tennessee governors of both parties have picked justices of our highest court based on merit, not politics,” Stewart said, citing Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s selection of Justice Bill Koch, who had earlier served as legal counsel to Republican Gov. Lamar Alexander.

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Rep. Beck’s DUI Case Dismissed

A judge on Tuesday threw out a drunken driving case against freshman state Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, on the basis that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull him over, the Tennessean reports. Beck was arrested April 17 after an officer said he spotted Beck's truck traveling with two wheels in the turn lane. Judge Phillip Maxey, who was brought in from Cheatham County to preside over the case, said dashboard video from the officer's patrol car did not show that Beck was veering, and that a "momentary observation" of the vehicle crossing the line did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion for making the traffic stop.

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Hicky Named YLD Public Policy Liaison


YLD President Rachel Moses has named Nashville lawyer William B. Hicky to a new position on the YLD Board. Hicky will begin serving immediately as the division’s Public Policy Liaison. In his new role, he will hold a seat on the TBA Government Affairs Committee and will serve as the voice of young lawyers on the committee. He also will serve as a liaison between the YLD and TBA Public Policy Coordinator Brenda Gadd. Finally, he will encourage and facilitate policy discussions among the young lawyer members of the TBA House of Delegates and between the delegates and the YLD membership. Hicky, a solo practioner, can be reached at (615) 324-8777 or will@hickylaw.com.
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Opinion: With No Real Rival, State GOP Attack Their Own

Republicans may control state government, but that does not mean they are on the same page, writes Sam Stockard in the Memphis Daily News. Whether it is disagreements over making the Bible the state book, Common Core education standards or Insure Tennessee, GOP lawmakers found themselves fighting against each other during the past legislative session. Now, one Republican lawmaker has called for Gov. Bill Haslam’s impeachment for following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. In this column, Stockard provides his view of what the future looks like for the majority party.

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Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program on Chopping Block?

Based on reports out of Washington, discussions on the future direction of federal student loans include a possible plan to end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The TBA has begun discussions with representatives of a broad range of groups representing organizations that have members receiving student loan debt relief under the program. Also participating in the discussions are non-profit and public agencies, that are able to employ talented graduates because the program allows them to work for lower public sector salaries. The TBA has set up a TBA IMPACT contact page for members to register their interest and to contact members of Congress, particularly Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate HELP Committee that oversees the program.

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Nashville Chamber Releases 2015 Legislative Scorecard

The Nashville Area Chamber yesterday released its full 2015 legislative scorecard, including issues before Metro and the General Assembly. The report outlines how elected official voted on issues in the chamber’s four key policy baskets: Business-friendly environment, workforce development, quality of life and regional efforts to encourage economic prosperity. The Nashville Business Journal has more.

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Lawmaker Wants Refund for New State Logo

State Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, is calling for a refund of most of the $46,000 the state paid for a new logo, saying the design company failed to comply with outsourcing rules and was “substantially over compensated.” Knoxnews reports that Daniel wrote to executives of GS&F, the Nashville advertising firm that developed the logo, to complain about the nature of the final product, the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected trademark protection for the logo and widespread public discontent with the mark.

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Lawmaker Slows Effort to Remove Forrest Bust

Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he plans to slow the effort to remove a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee capitol so “a calmer discussion” can take place. McCormick said he still favors removing the statue and intends to talk about it when the State Capitol Commission meets July 17 but that recent “hysteria” over Confederate symbols needs to be replaced with “a calm, reasonable discussion.”

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6th Circuit Finds Tennessee’s Ballot Law Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that Tennessee’s law governing which political parties get candidates on a ballot “imposes a greater burden” on third parties, and thus violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The Green Party of Tennessee and Constitution Party of Tennessee filed the suit, the Tennessean reports.

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Wamp to Lead Rubio Campaign in Tennessee

Former Congressman Zach Wamp will be leading Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign efforts in Tennessee, Nooga.com reports. Rubio tweeted the news yesterday. Wamp represented Tennessee’s Third Congressional District for 16 years before an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2010.

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Lawmakers Seek Removal of Forrest Bust in State Capitol

In the wake of last week’s shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and calls in that state and Mississippi to remove the confederate flag from government property, Tennessee lawmakers are calling for area likenesses of Nathan Bedford Forrest to be removed. According to the Nashville Business Journal, both Democrats and Republicans said Monday that a bust of Forrest should be removed from the Tennessee Capitol. Another statue of Forrest is on private land, but lawmakers suggested the state plant trees along the highway to block views of it from Interstate Highway 65.

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Legislature Names Co-Legal Directors

The Tennessee General Assembly has named two new directors of legal affairs following the retirement of attorney Joe Barnes. Karen Garrett and Doug Himes will co-lead the office. Himes also will continue to serve in his current role as counsel to House Speaker Beth Harwell, while Garrett will remain in the same role for Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey. The Memphis Daily News has the Associated Press story.

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Rep. Armstrong Indicted on Fraud, Tax Charges

A federal grand jury today indicted veteran state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, on charges he used insider knowledge on a bill he supported to earn $500,000 in a scheme involving the purchase and sale of cigarette tax stamps. He has been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, attempting to evade and defeat income taxes and making false statements. Armstrong’s accountant already pleaded guilty to helping the legislator by funneling the profits through the accounting firm and lying on Armstrong’s tax return. Knoxnews has the story.

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State Agency Withdraws from Execution Lawsuit

Facing objections from legislators and a Senate Government Operations Committee hearing set for August, the Office of Post-Conviction Defender has decided to abandon its role in a lawsuit seeking information about executions, Knoxnews reports. The office, which is tasked with representing death row inmates in appeals, was representing a group of inmates suing the state for information about the people and drugs involved in executions. Nashville attorney Kathleen G. Morris now will provide pro bono representation to the death row inmates.

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Former State Rep. Remembered at Weekend Service

Funeral services were held this past Saturday for former Republican state Rep. Clint Callicott, who died Wednesday at his home in the Hickman County community of Only after a long struggle with colon cancer, Knoxnews reports. Callicott, 66, was elected to represent state House District 61 in 1988 and served through 1996, when he did not seek re-election and instead successfully ran for election as mayor of Williamson County. He held that post until 2002, when he opted to step down and move to Hickman County.

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Services Pending for Former State Legislator

Former Tennessee legislator Kathryn Bowers died Wednesday at 72, the Commercial Appeal reports. Bowers was a Shelby County election commissioner in the 1970s and later chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party. She was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1995 and to the state Senate in 2005. Bowers had served just 15 days in the Senate before being caught up in the Tennessee Waltz corruption scandal.

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Haslam Chief of Staff Leaving Administration

Gov. Bill Haslam’s Chief of Staff Mark Cate is leaving to establish a "strategic consulting and management firm," according to an announcement from the governor's office. Haslam has not yet named a replacement; Cate will continue serving "through the summer," according to a news release. The Tennessean has more.

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Haslam Signs ‘Right to Try’ Legislation

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the so-called Right to Try Act into law this past Friday, the Chattanoogan reports. The new law, which passed the legislature unanimously, will allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all conventional treatment options and cannot enroll in a clinical trial to access medicine that has been deemed safe by the Food & Drug Administration but has yet to receive the agency’s final approval. All medications available under the law must have successfully completed basic safety testing and be part of the FDA’s on-going approval process.

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