News

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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2nd Democrat Enters Race to Replace Blackburn

Hickman County native and U.S. Army Green Beret Matt Reel has announced his candidacy for the 7th district U.S. Congressional seat currently occupied by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, the Nashville Post reports. Keel will face former Amazing Race contestant Justin Kanew in the Democratic primary. State Sen. Mark Green, R-Ashland City, and songwriter Lee Thomas Miller are competing for the position on the Republican side. Blackburn is currently running for U.S. Senate.
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Maury County GOP Chair to Run for House District 64

Following the announcement that Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, will not seek reelection, Maury County Republican Chair Scott Cepicky announced he will run for the 64th House district seat, the Tennessee Star reports. In his announcement, Cepicky touted Butt’s endorsement of his campaign, and noted the “professional friendship” they share. Butt will retire from the House after six years in the seat.
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Sheila Butt to Retire from State House

Tennessee state House Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, announced this week that she will not run for reelection in 2018, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Butt was first elected to the seat in 2010. She said that after her term is complete next year, she will devote her time to her ministry, called “Sisters, Servants and Soldiers.” Butt’s District 64 encompasses most of Maury County, but excludes downtown Columbia and a sliver of the western portion of the county. 
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Former Gov. Phil Bredesen to Run for U.S. Senate

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen will officially enter the race for the U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Bob Corker will be vacating after his term ends in 2018, The Tennessean reports. Bredesen is expected to make the official announcement tomorrow morning. He will first face a fellow Democrat, attorney and veteran James Mackler, in the Aug. 2 primary. If victorious, he will move on to the general election in November. Current candidates on the Republican side include U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher and Dr. Rolando Toyos.

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Former State House Rep. Spivey Enters Race for Senate District 14

A third Republican has thrown his hat into the ring for the Tennessee Senate District 14 special election, triggered by the resignation of Jim Tracy, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Former state Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg today announced his campaign to serve a district that covers Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and parts of Rutherford counties. Former state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and Shane Reeves of Murfreesboro have already declared their candidacies. The primary election date is set for Jan. 25.

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Chattanooga Businessman to Run for Favors’ Seat

Following the retirement announcement of longtime House of Representatives member JoAnne Favors, Chattanooga businessman Brandon Woodruff has announced his plans to seek the seat in next year’s election, Nooga.com reports. Woodruff is the owner of Brainerd’s Scenic City T’s and is also a licensed sales producer for Allstate Insurance. Earlier this month, former Chattanooga city council member Yusuf Hakeem also declared his intentions to run for the District 28 seat.

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Special Election Dates Set for District 14 Senate Election

Gov. Bill Haslam has authorized a special election to fill the Tennessee State Senate seat recently vacated by Jim Tracy, who resigned to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office, The Tennessean reports. The primary for Senate District 14 will be held on Jan. 25, with the general election on March 13. Current candidates in the race include former state Rep. Joe Carr and Murfreesboro businessman Shane Reeves. The district includes Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and parts of Rutherford Counties.

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Today First Day to Pick Up Petitions to Run in County Primaries

Today is the first day candidates for local office are eligible to pick up petitions to run in the May county primary elections. Petitions are available at county election commission offices. For a list of county election offices, visit the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website. For a calendar of important upcoming election dates, visit the TBA website.
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Tennessee Senate Candidates Respond to Roy Moore Allegations

With Republicans nationally, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down amid sexual misconduct allegations, Tennessee’s GOP U.S. Senate candidates are speaking up in response. The Tennessean reports that U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, said that she cannot support Moore’s candidacy if the “extremely disturbing” allegations are true, but that “it’s up to the people of Alabama to ultimately decide." Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher declined to directly address the case, only echoing Blackburn’s statement that it’s “up to Alabama voters.” Current Sen. Lamar Alexander has called for Moore to withdraw, and Sen. Bob Corker has also spoken out against Moore.
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Andy Ogles Quits U.S. Senate Bid

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Andy Ogles has ended his campaign, effective immediately, The Tennessean reports. Ogles entered the race when incumbent Sen. Bob Corker was still considering a re-election run. Ogles said that with Corker out of the race, his situation has changed. He said that he no longer saw a path to victory with two Republican candidates in the race who each have the potential to raise millions. Current U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher have both announced runs for the Republican nomination in the weeks following Corker's decision.
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State Rep. Favors Will Not Seek Re-election

Tennessee State House Rep. JoAnne Favors announced this week that she will not seek re-election for her District 28 seat, Chattanoogan.com reports. Favors has been in office since 2004, representing portions of the city of Chattanooga, and currently serves on the Opioid Task Force, the Health Committee, Health Sub-Committee and the Business and Utilities Committee. She is also the House Democratic Whip and the vice chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. 
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Bankers Association Names New General Counsel

The Tennessee Bankers Association has chosen Amy Smith Heaslet to serve as the organization’s new general counsel, the Nashville Post reports. Healset will replace Tim Amos, who left to start his own legal and government affairs firm earlier this year. She has been with the group since 2009 as associate counsel, and previously worked as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
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Doss Will Face Primary Challenger in House District 70 Race

Rep. Barry Doss, an incumbent Republican in the Tennessee House for District 70, will face a primary challenger in 2018. Humphrey on the Hill reports that Clay Doggett, a businessman from Pulaski, has announced he will seek the GOP nomination for the seat. Doss, of Leoma, currently serves as the House Transportation Committee chairman and served as the House sponsor for Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act last session.
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SCOTUS to Review Law Banning Political Apparel at Polling Locations

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review a Minnesota law that bans political apparel and insignias at Election Day polling places, the ABA Journal reports. The challengers claimed the law violated their rights to free speech. The Minnesota law defines banned apparel as material promoting a group with recognizable political views. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge in February because states have a legitimate interest in upholding “peace, order and decorum” at polling locations.
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