News

Corker Reconsidering Retirement

Sen. Bob Corker is “listening” to Republicans pushing for him to abandon his plans to retire at the end of his term, Politico reports. Corker announced in September that he would not run for reelection, triggering many high-profile names to step into the race, including 7th district U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. A poll taken last month shows Bredesen with the edge over Blackburn, prompting concern from Republicans. Today in response, a Blackburn spokeswoman called anyone who doubts Blackburn’s chances a “sexist pig," The Tennessean reports.
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Drafting Legislation Online Series

Representatives from the Tennessee General Assembly present sessions on drafting legislation in this one-click series
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Hayes Drops Out of House Race After Voter Fraud Investigation

A candidate for the Republican nomination for state House District 57 has dropped out amid an investigation into voter fraud, The Tennessean reports. Jeremy Hayes has pulled out of his bid to challenge incumbent Rep. Susan Lynn after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation searched both the house in Wilson County Hayes claims to live in with his grandmother, and the house he admits he owns in Davidson County in the Hermitage area. District Attorney General Tommy Thompson agreed to not prosecute the case any further if Hayes dropped out of the race and removed his name as a voter in Wilson County.
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Proposal Would Expand Legislators Review of Budget, Finances

Legislation that would give Senators and House members a bigger voice in state financial matters has been introduced by House Majority Leader Glen Casada and Sen. Ken Yager, who chairs the Fiscal Review Committee and the Senate State and Local Government Committee. WKRN.com reports that the bill (HB 2096/SB 2122) requires fiscal review staff to cite sources in making estimates for fiscal notes, calls for establishment of an appeals process for members and requires top agency officials to testify about any financial information that has been provided by their agencies. It would also give legislators more input in the budget process, by adding dedicated budget staff and empowering the body to create its own budget.

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Hawkins County Mayor to Run for State House District 9

Outgoing Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey will challenge state Rep. Gary Hicks in the Republican primary for House District 9, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Bailey announced several weeks ago that he would not seek reelection as county mayor. Hicks was first sworn in to the House in January 2016. District 9 serves Hawkins and Hancock counties.
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Senator Amends Bill to Move AG Appointment to General Assembly

A Republican senator said he will alter his bill aimed at giving the Tennessee General Assembly authority to choose the next attorney general, the Times Free Press reports. Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, added an amendment from Sen. Art Swann, R-Maryville, that would allow Tennessee’s Supreme Court to nominate an attorney general and give the legislature power to confirm or reject the candidate. The current protocol allows the Supreme Court members to choose the AG themselves. An amendment to the state Constitution will be required to change the process.
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SCOTUS Denies GOP Request to Block Gerrymandering Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied a request to delay a court ruling in Pennsylvania that would require the state to redraw its congressional map, The Hill reports. Justice Samuel Alito denied the two requests — one from state Republican lawmakers and the other from Republican voters — to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said the current maps were gerrymandered in an unfairly partisan manner. The state court’s ruling gave lawmakers until Feb. 9 to submit a new map to the governor.
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New TBJ: Adverse Legal Authority, #MeToo, a Lewie Donelson Tribute and More

The February Tennessee Bar Journal has a lot packed into it, including an article by Nashville lawyer David Hudson Jr. about the duty to disclose adverse legal authority. Chattanooga lawyer Russell Fowler details the life of Tennessee lawyer and American President James K. Polk and Knoxville lawyers Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow take an employment law look at the Faragher-Ellerth framework in the #MeToo Era. Learn from Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin what it takes to be an elder law attorney, read a book review by Jackson attorney Mary Jo Middlebrooks of The Fight to Vote, as well as a touching tribute to Lewie Donelson, by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

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How Will the New Tax Law Affect Lawyers and Firms?

How will the new tax law affect lawyers and law firms? The answer is still developing and in the February issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Rob Breunig gives an overview of what to expect and where you can look for ongoing updates. And TBA President Lucian T. Pera writes to encourage lawyers to run for office, announcing the upcoming inaugural 2018 TBA Public Service Academy. “We’re committed to strict non-partisanship,” he writes. “Having more lawyers in public office, and in the legislature, is good for lawmaking, good for the profession, and good for the public.”

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Beavers Exits Governors Race

Former Tennessee Senator Mae Beavers has dropped out of the race for governor, the Nashville Post reports. Beavers is the first candidate to do so, after reporting raising just $150,000 in the latest fundraising cycle and the news that her mother had died after a long struggle with dementia. With qualifying deadlines looming, Beavers could still run for a state or local position this year.
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Budget Includes $10M Indigent Representation Increase, TBA to Press for More

Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2018-2019 budget submitted yesterday includes $9,880,000 “to provide recurring funding for the Indigent Representation Task Force initiatives to raise hourly rates and case caps.” The Tennessee Bar Association termed it “gratifying" that the administration acknowledged the dedication and hard work by the lawyers who accept appointments to represent the indigent and vowed to press for more money in the appropriations process.
 
The Supreme Court’s task force, headed by former justice and now Nashville School of Law Dean Bill Koch, spent two years studying all facets of indigent representation. Among the recommendations of the group are elimination of the per case cap on amounts of compensation for appointed counsel and guardians ad litem, an increase in the rate to $75 to $125 per hour and creation of a commission to oversee and administer the program. The first task of the TBA will be to learn the exact contours of the administration recommendation, which funds only part of the task force plan. The TBA will then quickly pivot to equipping and mobilizing members to advocate for a more substantial increase. TBA policy calls for elimination of the caps and at least a $100 per hour rate. The TBA also supports establishment of the commission. 
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Medical Marijuana Proponent To Run For State's 6th House District

David Michel of Telford confirmed on Tuesday his plans to run for Tennessee’s 6th House District, the Johnson City Press reports. Michel has been a leading voice of the Tri-Cities chapter of Safe Access, a nonprofit group advocating for safe and legal access to medical marijuana. Michel’s decision to run was influenced by his success in helping the group grow to become the state’s largest chapter. In addition to legalizing marijuana for medical use, Michel says he would also focus on improving infrastructure and bringing in more “blue-collar jobs." He plans to run as an independent.

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State of the State: Education, Job Growth, Employee Cuts

See photos from the Tennessee Journal and read the full text of Gov. Bill Haslam's State of the State address, delivered Monday. His final budget proposal calls for more than $200 million in new state funding for K-12 education, $128 million in job-growth investments and $30 million for a previously announced effort to address the opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, the Leaf-Chronicle reports, the budget calls for $108.1 million in cuts, including a total of 335 positions eliminated across state government.

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Haslam to Talk Education, Job Growth in Final State of State Address

Gov. Bill Haslam will address the Tennessee General Assembly for the final time tonight, when he is expected to reflect on progress made in job creation and public schools, as well as discuss his new plan to fight the opioid epidemic, the Times Free Press reports. The address will begin at 6 p.m. CST and will be streamed online.
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Former State Sen. Joe Haynes Dies at 81

Former Democratic state Sen. Joe Haynes died today, The Tennessean reports. He was 81. Haynes, an attorney, served nearly three decades in the Tennessee legislature before his retirement in 2012. He then returned to private practice as an attorney with Haynes, Freeman and Bracey. Last year, Haynes was indicted on one charge of sexual battery. He pleaded not guilty and was awaiting the start of the trial this year.
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Reeves Tops Carr in Senate District 14 Primary Special Election

Murfreesboro businessman Shane Reeves defeated former state Rep. Joe Carr yesterday in the Republican primary for the special election to fill the District 14 senate seat, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Reeves scored more than 64 percent of the vote. Democrat Gayle Jordan, a Murfreesboro attorney, was unopposed for her party's nomination. She will face Reeves in a March 13 election. The special election was triggered by the resignation of Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.
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Democratic Primary Challenger Emerges in Senate District 33

A challenger to Democratic incumbent Sen. Reginald Tate, D-Memphis, has declared her intention to run in District 33, the Nashville Post reports. Katrina Robinson, a nonprofit creator and former nurse, has thrown her hat into the ring. Tate has not formally announced his intent to run for a fourth term. Robinson has already been endorsed by one of Tate’s colleagues, Sen. Sara Kyle.
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Senate Committee Moves to Have Legislators Appoint AG

By a party-line 7 to 2 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee today recommended to the full Senate a plan (SJR-88, from Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston) to allow the legislature to appoint the Tennessee Attorney General and Reporter. The measure requires a constitutional amendment. Observers believe the measure may see a rockier road on the Senate floor, where some members have expressed reservations about partisan politics in the process. The TBA supports the present method of selection of the AG by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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TBA Government Affairs Team Gears Up for Session

The Tennessee General Assembly got down to real work this week with a first round of committee meetings, subcommittee meetings and hearings. So far, about 200 of the expected 1,500 bills have been introduced. More are expected by the cut-off for bill filing, which is Feb. 1. The TBA Governmental Affairs team is reviewing legislation that has been introduced, asking sections and committees for recommendations and meeting with lawmakers. The group includes Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur, Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, Legislative Counsel Gif Thornton and Brad Lampley. Effective Feb. 5, the team will also include Director of Public Policy Berkley Schwarz, who comes to the TBA from the Tennessee Secretary of State's office.  Watch TBAToday for updates on legislation of interest to lawyers, including TBA’s most important initiative this year, Indigent Representation. Use TBA Impact to contact lawmakers regarding your view on issues important to the bar. 
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Lawmakers Change Policy to Allow Small Signs at Legislature

After a House representative asked Attorney General Herbert Slatery for an opinion on the issue, state lawmakers are backtracking on a decision to prohibit hand-held signs at the new legislative office building, The Tennessean reports. Despite forbidding such materials in a policy approved on Dec. 14, the director of legislative administration confirmed today that small letter-sized signs will be allowed. The December policy change was allegedly because the signs “represent a serious safety hazard.” Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, requested the opinion from Slatery, asking whether the rules violated the First Amendment.
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Election Officials Say Tennessee Voting Records Secure

State election officials told a panel of state senators yesterday that Tennessee’s voting procedures are safe, but they are nonetheless preparing preventative measures to protect the vote, WPLN reports. The officials, led by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, noted that while most votes are cast via electronic machine, those machines are not hooked to the internet. Last year, state officials found about 40 potential cases of improper voting out of more than 4 million votes cast.

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TLA Announces Officers

The Tennessee Lobbyists Association (TLA) announced its 2018 Officers and Board of Directors who will oversee the organization and services it provides to more than 280 members. As of Jan. 10, the board's new chair is Meagan Frazier with Smith Harris & Carr. The following directors, who are also attorneys, will serve on the TLA Board: Beth Berry of Berry Government Strategies LLC, Dan Haskell of Gullett, Sanford, Robinson, & Martin PLLC, Amy Smith Heaslet of the Tennessee Bankers Association, Trammel Hoehn of Butler Snow LLP and Fred (Tony) Thompson Jr. of Attorney-Government Relations.
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Lawmakers Crack Jokes During First Sexual Harassment Training

During the first-ever sexual harassment training for members of the Tennessee State House, lawmakers made jokes and blamed provocative clothing for harassment, The Tennessean reports. Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, said she “had to fight the urge to laugh” at the clothing of female lobbyists and interns, saying women have a “responsibility” to maintain decorum. Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, and Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, joked with each other, one claiming the other had harassed him and asking for his colleague to be removed. Former Rep. Jeremy Durham’s conduct was one of the triggers for the new training, and Rogers was one of only two House members to not vote for Durham’s expulsion. 
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Sumner County Rep. Courtney Rogers Will Not Seek Reelection

State Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, will not seek reelection in House District 45 this year, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Rogers has served three terms in the legislature. District 45 includes parts of Sumner County, including Goodlettsville, Millersville and portions of Hendersonville.
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Cancer Survivor to Challenge Kelsey in Senate District 31

Gabriela Salinas, a three-time cancer survivor who once gained media attention while being treated at St. Jude’s Hospital as a child, has announced her candidacy for the Tennessee Senate, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Salinas will seek the Democratic nomination for the District 31 seat, currently occupied by Republican Brian Kelsey of Germantown. District 31 covers parts of Shelby County, including Germantown, Collierville and Cordova.
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