House Panel Acts on Voter ID Bills

The House State and Local Government Subcommittee today advanced a Democratic proposal to change Tennessee's new voter ID law, but rejected a second bill and delayed a third. The panel voted 4-3 in favor of a measure that would allow people without government-issued identification to vote after being photographed at the polling place. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the bill would eliminate the need for voters who don't have the proper ID to cast provisional ballots. The panel went on to reject another Fitzhugh proposal to move the responsibility for making voter IDs to local election commissions instead of the state Department of Safety, and delayed until a later meeting, another Fitzhugh bill that would exempt people over age 60 from the ID requirement. Memphis Daily News has more

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Judicial Conduct Bill Wins Committee Nod

A compromise bill that would alter the handling of ethics complaints against judges won Senate Judiciary Committee approval Tuesday afternoon. The bill last week won approval from the House Judiciary Committee and was slated for action today at the House Government Operations Committee. The legislation would rename the Court of the Judiciary as the Board of Judicial Conduct, and would also change the appointing authorities and revise the standard for proceeding to a hearing. It would preserve the balance of 10 judges, three lawyers and three citizen members. Read more from the Tennessean

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Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The TBA has a number of tools to help you track action in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly. Watch TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in -- those it has  initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

'Don't Say Gay' Bill on Hold

Tennessee lawmakers backing the controversial "don’t say gay" legislation have agreed to put off debating the measure — a procedural move that usually signals they do not intend to pursue it. Legislators who had originally supported the measure are expected to shift their focus to an abstinence education measure.

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Rep. Naifeh to Step Down at End of Term

Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, announced Thursday that he won't seek re-election after 38 years in the House of Representatives. Naifeh, who was given the honorary title of speaker emeritus after holding the top House post for 18 years, said it's time to "pass the torch to the next generation of leaders." The former speaker was elected to the House in 1974 after losing his first bid for office in 1972. He was elected speaker in 1991 and holds the record as the longest serving speaker of the House in Tennessee history. During his time in office, Naifeh also served as floor leader, majority leader and president of the National Speaker's Conference. The Memphis Daily News has more

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Bills Moving as Session End Gets Closer

With some House subcommittees announcing they will be shutting down in the next couple of weeks, the General Assembly seems to be preparing to take more definitive action on pending legislation. The TBA-prepared bill to update Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code – making changes that track the 2010 Uniform Law Commission recommendations dealing with secured transactions -- was recommended for passage by the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Commerce Committee’s General Subcommittee this week. The bill, SB 2931 by Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville ), HB 3150 by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R- Kingsport), would be effective July 1, 2013, allowing the Secretary of State to prepare for the changes. The effective date would also coincide with that in the many other states adopting the changes.

Discussions also continued with state officials regarding SB 2200/HB 2338, which would alter the law regarding termination of parental rights, and more than a dozen proposals to affect tort law are set for committee and subcommittee calendars next week. The TBA is active in trying to defeat or limit the harmful impact of many of these proposals.

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Judge's Vote Challenged Under Photo ID Law

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Office is backing up the vote of Nashville Judge Barbara Haynes, whose state identification was briefly questioned by a poll worker when she voted yesterday. The issue created confusion among members of the Senate State & Local Government Committee during a hearing this morning, when Haynes' husband Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, mentioned the incident. Responding to the question, Blake Fortenay, spokesperson for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, confirmed that a judge's ID is a valid form of state identification. The reports

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Board of Judicial Conduct Bill Makes First Big Move

Legislation that would make changes to the Court of the Judiciary cleared its first major hurdle today. The bill, which would rename the Court as the Board of Judicial Conduct, would also change the appointing authorities, and revise the standard for proceeding to hearing. It would preserve the balance of 10 judges, three lawyers and three citizen members. Sponsored by Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, the bill received a 12-2 vote in the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the floor. Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins, who chairs the Judicial Conference Committee charged with working with the legislature on the bill, indicated that the changes were suitable. Download the amendment.

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ABA Washington Office Moves

The American Bar Association announced today that it has entered into a 15-year lease with Washington Square Limited Partnership LLP, at 1050 Connecticut Ave., NW, where it will occupy 61,000 square feet of space. This follows the Dec. 16 sale of its historic 175,000-square-foot building at 740 15th St. NW — a block from the White House.

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Governor Signs Bill, Occupy Protestors Given One Week to Vacate

Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill today banning unauthorized camping on public grounds, giving notice to Occupy Nashville protestors. The Department of General Services announced that beginning a week from today it will start enforcing a new state law that punishes unauthorized camping with up to a $2,500 fine and 11 months, 29 days in jail. The Tennessean has the story.

House Sponsor Stands by 'Don't Say Gay' Bill

The Republican sponsor of a proposal to ban the teaching of gay issues to elementary and middle school students said Tuesday that he's not backing off the legislation despite concerns from GOP leaders. Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald acknowledged the proposal's language needs more work to avoid any unintended consequences but said, "It's certainly not off the table. We're moving forward with it." The Memphis Daily News reports

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Sen. Berke Will Not Seek Re-election

Senator Andy Berke announced today that he will not seek re-election to the State Senate District 10 seat he has held since 2007. He has not announced his future political plans, but there is much speculation that he may run in the Chattanooga mayoral race. has more.

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Legislative Reference Updated for iPhone

For more than 30 years, Capitol Hill insiders have relied upon a booklet published by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association to provide a quick and easy reference to who is who in the General Assembly. Now you can get the information on your iPhone -- and soon your iPad and Droid, too. It’s available at iTunes for $4.99.

More Tort Reform Proposals to Come, Including ‘Loser Pay’

The same coalition of businesspeople that helped sell the governor’s tort reform package, which became the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011, this year wants more limitations imposed in civil lawsuits, including a handful of bills targeting the losing side in civil cases and litigants who refuse to settle lawsuits.

One bill would require a party who loses a motion to dismiss to pay the litigation costs of the opposing party. Read more in the Tennessean.

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