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.

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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