Government Affairs Update

Follow the TBA's efforts to influence federal and state policy as it fulfills one of the core missions of the association – advocacy for the profession and for our system of justice.

Williamson County Businessman Joins Governor’s Race

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, former CEO of Lee Company, will seek the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. Lee, a political novice, will face former Tennessee Economic and Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and likely several others in the GOP primary. On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has announced his candidacy as well.
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ASAE Opposes Tennessee Bill Aimed at Association Codes of Ethics

The American Society of Association Executives has released a statement against a Tennessee bill that would require state licensing boards to create unique ethics rules for each profession, thus undermining ethical codes established by professional associations. “This bill potentially puts additional unnecessary burdens on all state licensed professionals in Tennessee, and may cause Tennessee professionals to be out of compliance with nationally recognized standards for their vocation,” the organization wrote in a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam on April 19. The bill was created to allow mental health counselors and therapists to disregard sections of the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics in order to deny services to LGBT individuals. ASAE argues that the legislation gives "rise to state sanctioned discrimination."
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Tennessee AG Says Bill Could Conflict with Gay Marriage Ruling

Attorney General Herbert Slatery says in a new opinion that legislation requiring the use of the “natural and ordinary meaning” of undefined words in Tennessee code -- including “husband,” “wife,” “mother” and “father” -- could conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling as well as state laws about interpreting gender-specific words as inclusive, the Times Free Press reports. The Senate could vote on the bill next week. The House passed it last month.
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Gilmore Announces Run for State Senate

Tennessee Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, announced her intention to run in 2018 for the state Senate seat now held by Sen. Thelma Harper, the Tennessean reports. Gilmore was first elected to the state House in 2006, and previously considered challenging Harper in a Democratic primary in 2014. It is unclear whether Harper will seek reelection next year.
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TBA to Join Push for Legal Services Funding in Washington

Lawyers from Tennessee and other states will be in Washington next week to speak to members of Congress and their staffs about the importance of funding for the Legal Services Corporation as part of ABA Day 2017. The TBA effort will be lead by President Jason Long and will include President-elect Lucian Pera, YLD President Rachel Mancl, TBA Legislative Counsel Gif Thornton and Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur. Nashville attorneys Ann Pruitt from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Jonathan Cole, president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, will accompany the delegation as they visit each lawmaker from Tennessee in the American Bar Association's annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession.

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Nashville Attorney to Challenge Corker for U.S. Senate

James Mackler, a Nashville attorney and Iraq War veteran, will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Senator Bob Corker in 2018, the Tennessean reports. Prior to practicing law in Nashville, Mackler was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the 101st Airborne Division, and later became a JAG officer.
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Governor's Gas Tax Bill May Get Speaker Support

Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislation to increase gas taxes may gain support from House Speaker Beth Harwell, the Nashville Post reports. After a Harwell-backed amendment to strip gas and diesel tax hikes from transportation funding failed to advance this week, she said she is keeping an open mind on the governor’s bill. Democratic legislators, whose votes are likely needed for passage, are threatening they will help kill it unless the governor offers concessions for their support, the Post says.

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Sit-In Demonstrators Arrested at State Capitol

Two of 11 demonstrators sitting in at the governor’s office yesterday were arrested by state troopers, the Tennessean reports. The demonstrators were there to call for the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, and sang songs and prayed in the office until the arrests occurred. The two who were arrested were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct, while nine others were cited with trespassing and released.
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Bill to Create Solicitor General Office Dead for Year

A bill that would have moved many duties of the attorney general’s office to a newly created solicitor general’s office is dead for the year, the Nashville Post reports. The legislation would allow the General Assembly to jointly appoint a solicitor general, who would serve as the head of the legal department of the state. AG employees would move over to the new office and the AG would only be responsible for reporting opinions of the Supreme Court.
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Committees Move Campaign Finance Bill, Asset Forfeiture, Probate Clean Up

Tennessee House and Senate committees both moved forward with legislation that would double the number of campaign finance audits, the Tennessean reports. Also at the legislature, the asset forfeiture bill, as amended in the House, was recommended for adoption in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The TBA-backed probate clean up legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntington), cleared a Senate committee with minor changes.
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