News

Incumbent Endorses Jones for DA

District Attorney General Bill Whitesell announced he would not seek re-election and has endorsed Assistant District Attorney Jennings Jones to be his replacement. Jones is running in the May 6 Republican Primary for District Attorney General, 16th Judicial District, which includes Rutherford and Cannon counties. The Murfreesboro Post has more.

read more »

AAA Opposes Weakening Helmet Law

AAA/The Auto Club Group today announced its opposition to a bill that would weaken Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The proposed bill will allow riders older than 25 years to ride without a helmet. Currently, all readers are required to wear a helmet, regardless of age. Senate and House subcommittees are slated to hear the bill next week.

read more »

Proposed Election of AG Fails a Second Time

An attempt to change the selection process for Tennessee's attorney general failed again on the Senate floor Thursday. Brought by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the proposed constitutional amendment sought popular election of the AG. Currently, the AG is appointed to an eight-year term by the state Supreme Court. This was the second vote on the measure, and the AP reports Senate rules prohibit Beavers from bringing the measure to the floor again this session.

read more »

Memphis Attorney Announces Bid for Congressional Seat

Attorney Ricky Wilkins formally announced his candidacy for the 9th district Congressional seat yesterday, backed by a roomful of enthusiastic supporters. Wilkins faces four-term incumbent Rep. Steve Cohen in the Democratic primary. “I know what it’s like to live off food stamps,” he said. “Who better to represent the people of the 9th Congressional district than one who has walked a mile in their shoes?” The Memphis Flyer has the story.

read more »

Haslam Signs Wine-in-Grocery Stores Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam today signed the bill allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores, the Memphis Business Journal reports. Municipalities can now begin petitioning for referendums on allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores but it will be at least two years before wine could be on shelves. Because of a compromise to allow retailers to continue to compete with grocery stores, liquor stores will be able to sell beer and other items as soon as this summer without a referendum.

read more »

Former Councilman to Run for Nashville Vice Mayor in 2015

Former Metro councilman David Briley announced he will run for vice mayor of Nashville next year. Incumbent Diane Neighbors will be stepping down in 2015 because of term limits. Vice mayor presides over the 40-member Metro Council and only votes when necessary to break a tie. "It's a hard job. It's thankless. It's not necessarily a stepping stone to anything else. This is something I want to do because I love Nashville,” Briley, an attorney with Bone McAllester Norton, told the Tennessean.

read more »

NC Supreme Court Candidates Face Difficulties in Campaigns

Judges vying for North Carolina’s State Supreme Court face difficult and expensive challenges on the campaign trail ever since the state did away with public financing for judicial candidates last year, Gavel Grab reports. Judicial candidates can’t make promises or use traditional campaign tactics when trying to define their candidacies, which leads to an "awkward world of judges stumping for votes and money." North Carolina Supreme Court justice Cheri Beasley says the $1.2 to $2 million her consultants say she needs to raise for her reelection bid is outrageous. “We want judges that are focusing on doing their jobs and not focusing on being politicians,” she said.

read more »

Senate Hopeful Launches ‘Backbone of Tennessee’ Tour

Knoxville attorney Terry Adams stopped in Nashville today during his two-day, six-city “Backbone of Tennessee” tour, part of his campaign to challenge Lamar Alexander for the U.S. Senate. The Democrat launched his tour yesterday with stops in Tri-Cities, Knoxville and Chattanooga, and planned to visit Jackson and Memphis today, as well. The Tennessean has the story.

read more »

Gov. Christie to Keynote GOP Dinner

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will headline the Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner in May, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Christie, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, will give the keynote address at the annual event, the largest yearly gathering of Tennessee Republicans and a major fundraising event for the party.

read more »

Next 2 Weeks Critical for Legislators

The next two weeks could be crucial for the General Assembly, the Tennessean suggests, as big issues such as meth abuse, school vouchers, free tuition for community college students and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants still face decisions in the House and Senate before they shut down. The TBA's package of bills continues to progress towards passage. The five-year statute of repose for legal malpractice passed the House Monday and is now headed to the Governor, as is the TBA's family law bill. However, the TBA has concerns about bills regarding patent litigation, employment discrimination, and confidentiality for victims of sexual offenses and has communicated these concerns to the legislature. These measures continue to move forward without changes. A bill on the issue of bad faith patent infringement (SB1967/HB2117) is ineffective, since any litigation would likely not survive a preemption challenge and existing case law effectively addresses these issues. Another bill (SB2126/HB1954) would gut protections for whistleblowers in employment discrimination cases, and only protects against retaliation if a report was in writing or email. Under the guise of keeping crime victim information confidential, SB2254/HB2361 would make it more difficult for defense attorneys to discuss identifying information about the victim with their client. TBAImpact has more.

read more »

Senate Delays Vote on AG Election Bill

A proposal that would result in a constitutional amendment for the popular election of the Attorney General was delayed again today. The sponsor of SJR123, Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, rolled it to next Thursday's Senate floor calendar. The resolution failed to gain support in the Senate last month when it fell two votes short of a majority. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, and Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, were considering putting their support behind the measure. Currently, the AG is appointed to an eight-year term by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The TBA supports the current selection process, and urges members to express their support through TBAImpact, the TBA's legislative advocacy tool.

read more »

Senate Approves Bill for Felons' Employability Certificate

The Tennessee Senate today passed a bipartisan bill 27-2 by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, that will "help reformed former felons find employment and lead lawful lives as productive members of society," a news release from the Senate Republican Caucus says. The House companion, HB1109, is sponsored by Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis. Senate Bill 276 will help spur job creation, reduce crime, and protect businesses from needless lawsuits by allowing individuals to petition courts for a certificate of employability, it says. These certificates operate to protect employers who hire new job-seekers from claims of negligent hiring. Knoxblogs.com carried the news.

read more »

More Involved Women Shaping Political Landscape

On Davidson County's May primary ballot, 19 of the registered candidates in 39 races are women. Fox17 looks at how female voters and candidates increasingly are helping to shape the political landscape both locally and nationally.

read more »

Vandy Law Hosts 'Justice at Risk' Conference

Judicial selection and the role money plays in judicial elections will be the focus of a conference held at Vanderbilt Law School March 20-21. Titled “Justice at Risk: Research Opportunities and Policy Alternatives Regarding State Judicial Selection,” the conference will focus specifically on how the method of selecting state judges affects judicial decision making. It is jointly sponsored by the American Constitution Society, the American Judicature Society, and Vanderbilt Law.

read more »

Bill Shifting AG Powers Headed to Full Senate Vote

A bill that would give state officials the power to direct the actions of the Attorney General passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. SB 2085 would allow the legislature, through joint resolution, or the governor, via executive order, to instruct the attorney general when to file legal actions. It would also allow the speakers of the House and Senate to direct the AG by joint agreement when the General Assembly is not in session. The TBA opposes this bill, as it raises constitutional questions that are untenable. Use TBAImpact to weigh in on this issue. Read more in the Chattanoogan.

read more »

Minimum Wage Bill Voted Down

Legislation to raise the minimum wage in Tennessee was defeated 3-2 today in the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee, the Tennessean reports. House Bill 1694, sponsored by Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, would have required employers to raise the hourly wage $1 to at least $8.25 starting July 1 for thousands of workers who have not been offered health insurance.

read more »

Bill Would Give Legislature Power to Direct AG

A bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, would give the Tennessee General Assembly the power to direct the actions of the state attorney general. One of several pieces of legislation that aim to change the way the judicial branch operates in Tennessee, SB 2085/HB 2059 would allow the legislature to direct the AG to file or drop an action if directed by both houses or the governor. An article in the Times Free Press looks at the issue and includes a quote from TBA President Cindy Wyrick, who says the TBA opposes the bill over constitutional questions that make it "untenable." Visit TBAImpact to learn more about the bill and to contact your representatives.

read more »

Lawmakers Postpone Bill to Eliminate Shelby Circuit Courts

The state House Civil Justice Subcommittee last week decided not to take up legislation that would have eliminated two divisions of Shelby County’s Circuit Court. Instead, the committee “rolled” the bill (HB 2209 / SB 1484) for two weeks. It is now scheduled to be considered on March 5.

read more »

Contested Races Take Shape Across State

Thursday at noon was the deadline for all candidates to submit qualifying petitions to run in the May 6 county primaries. General elections are set for Aug. 7. Contenders -- including a “Saturday Night Live” cast member --  filled the ballots in counties throughout the state including in Davidson, Hamilton, Hawkins, Knox, Madison, Maury, Shelby, Sumner and Williamson counties. Watch for  information on additional races as it becomes available.

read more »

AG Appointment Bill Taken Off Notice in Subcommittee

Legislative efforts to remove the Supreme Court’s power to select the state Attorney General appear to be stalled. A bill calling for popular election of the post (SJR 123) was rejected by the full Senate on Feb. 5 and Wednesday the House Civil Justice Subcommittee took off notice SJR 196, which called for appointment of the AG by the General Assembly. Gavel to Gavel looks back at similar bills that have failed to change the selection process over the past 17 years.

read more »

TBA Hosts Legislators at Big Shrimp Event

TBA leaders, legislators and their staff filled the Tennessee Bar Center Tuesday evening for the Big Shrimp Legislative reception. The annual event provides an opportunity for legislators to meet with members of the Tennessee legal community in a casual atmosphere to learn their concerns and discuss policy issues. More than 200 people attended the event, including the TBA Leadership Law class, which had spent the day learning about issues in policy and politics. See photos from the event.

read more »

Big Shrimp a Big Hit for Legislators, Lawyers

TBA leaders, legislators and their staff filled the Tennessee Bar Center Tuesday evening for the  Big Shrimp Legislative reception. The annual event provides and opportunity for legislators to meet with members of the Tennessee legal community in a casual atmosphere to learn their concerns and discuss policy issues. More than 200 peple attended the event, including the TBA Leadership Law class, which had spent the day learning about issues in policy and politics.

read more »

Opinion: Bill Shielding Rape Information Goes Too Far

In her Sunday piece for The Tennessean, columnist Gail Kerr says a bill intended to shield rape victims’ identity and personal information would turn rape into an "invisible crime" and would hurt public safety. Kerr notes that the bill was filed only days after The Tennessean and other media outlets filed suit seeking information about a Vanderbilt rape case, which the Metro Police Department and the university have refused to turn over. In an earlier article, TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur expressed concern about the proposal saying it could “compromise the right of the accused to confront the accuser and participate in their own defense.” Follow news regarding legislation through TBAImpact.

read more »

Guns-in-Cars Bill Voted Down in Senate

A proposed amendment to add further protections for employees who bring their guns to work was defeated in the Tennessee Senate yesterday, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The so-called "guns-in-cars" law made it legal for employees to keep their guns locked in their vehicles while at work, but confusion remains over whether they can be legally fired for doing so. A proposed clarification by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, which would have prohibited employers from firing employees who were in compliance with the law, was defeated 23-8.

read more »

Hamilton County Candidates Submit Campaign Finance Reports

Candidates running in Hamilton County judicial races submitted campaign finance reports last Friday, the Chattanoogan reports. Attorney J.B. Bennett, who is vying for circuit court, division I, raised more than $100,000 in the two-month period covered by the report. Stuart James and Catherine White also are seeking the post. In the race for criminal court clerk, Republican Rep. Vince Dean was able to convert his state funds for use in the current race against longtime incumbent Gwen Tidwell, a Democrat. Others filing reports included County Commissioner Larry Henry, who is running for circuit court clerk, and General Sessions Court Judge Christie Mahn Sell.

read more »