News

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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Jeremy Durham to Appeal Ruling Dismissing Lawsuit

Former Tennessee House Rep. Jeremy Durham will appeal the federal court ruling that dismissed his lawsuit against the state to provide him benefits after his ouster, The Tennessean reports. Durham’s attorney filed notice yesterday announcing the intent to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In December, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled Durham’s case should be dismissed because he sued the wrong entities.
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Today First Day for Candidates to Pick Up Petitions

Today is the first day for candidates for public office in 2018’s August primary ballot to pick up petitions. Individuals interested in running for office should pick up a nominating petition at their local election commission office. The deadline to submit petitions for the August ballot is April 5.
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Rep. Brooks Will Not Seek Reelection in 2018

State House District 24 Rep. Kevin Brooks announced he will not seek reelection for his seat, opting instead to run for mayor of Cleveland, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Current Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he would not run again and endorsed Brooks’ candidacy. House District 24 includes parts of Bradley County.
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Rep. Forgety to Retire from State Legislature

State House Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens, has announced he will retire from the Tennessee General Assembly after the completion of his fourth term this year, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Forgety, a former teacher and veteran, currently serves as chair of the House Education Instructions and Program Committee. Forgety represents House District 23, which covers all of McMinn and parts of Monroe counties.
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16 New Laws Take Effect Next Week

Sixteen of the 493 new laws approved by the Tennessee General Assembly this year take effect on Jan. 1, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Included on that list is a $50 fine for using a cell phone while driving within a school zone, a law that requires new school bus drivers to go through a training program, and the transfer of authority over marijuana sale and use from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Read a full list of the laws on the Legislature's website.
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General Assembly Policy: Guns Allowed, Hand-Carried Signs Prohibited

At the new home of the Tennessee General Assembly, citizens will be allowed to bring their guns into the building, but may not enter with hand-held signs, The Tennessean reports. The new policy, approved by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell on Dec. 14, states that such signs “represent a safety hazard.” The new rules also prohibit animals, with the exception of service animals.
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Mark Pody Wins Senate Special Election Victory

In an election decided by just 300 votes, Mark Pody has won the special election for Tennessee’s District 17 seat, The Tennessean reports. Pody, a current state House representative, defeated attorney Mary Alice Carfi to win the seat left vacant by Mae Beavers’ resignation. District 17 includes Wilson, Cannon, DeKalb, Smith, Clay and Macon counties.
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Miller Drops Out of 7th Congressional District Race

Songwriter Lee Thomas Miller of Williamson County has dropped out of the race for Tennessee’s 7th District Congressional seat, the Nashville Post reports. Miller was only active in the race for a month. Miller’s exit leaves Sen. Mark Green, R-Ashland City, as the sole Republican in the race. On the Democratic side, former Amazing Race contestant Justin Kanew, Green Beret and Congressional staffer Matt Reel and Franklin marketing professional Josh Penfold are all still active in the race.
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Moon Sworn In as Appointed State Representative for District 8

Blount County Commission Chair Jerome Moon was sworn in this week as the new state House representative for District 8, The Daily Times reports. Moon was appointed by the commission to replace Art Swann, R-Maryville, who was chosen to take over the District 2 state senate position from Doug Overbey. Overbey resigned earlier this year after he was nominated to become the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. District 8 includes most of Blount County. 
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Rep. Black Says She Was Sexually Harassed in State Legislature

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, says she was sexually harassed while she was a member of the Tennessee legislature, the Tennessean reports. Black, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, says the “Good Ol’ Boy culture” in the legislature created an atmosphere where she was called “Nurse Goodbody” by one member and was forced up against the wall of an elevator by another.

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Andy Cole to Run for House District 82

Andy Cole, the Republican who challenged House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in 2016, is again seeking to win the House District 82 seat, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Cole is a native of the district, which includes Crockett, Haywood and Lauderdale counties. Fitzhugh has held the seat since 1995 but is now seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Tennessee.
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