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.

Supreme Court Strikes Down N.C. Voting Maps

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down two North Carolina congressional district maps in a ruling today, holding that the state had engaged in racist gerrymandering, CNN reports. Read the full opinion by Justice Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court's website. The N.C. legislature will now have to redraw the districts. The decision comes after a SCOTUS ruling last week held a lower court’s decision that the state passed a voter ID law that would “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
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State Legislature Adjourns Until 2018

The Tennessee legislature adjourned last week concluding the first part of the 110th General Assembly. Out of the nearly 1,500 bills filed by legislators, many passed both the House and Senate and have either been assigned a public chapter or are in process of being assigned a public chapter. TBA members can look at the status of legislation by the category. The Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes January 2018 to wrap up the second half of the 110th General Assembly.
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SCOTUS Will Not Reinstate N.C. Voter ID Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has again declined to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law, NPR reports. The law, considered one of the strictest in the nation, was found by a lower court to have been intentionally designed to stop African-Americans from voting. The appeals court said the law would “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” This is the second time that North Carolina Republicans have attempted to have the Supreme Court revisit the case.
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White House Panel to Investigate Voter Fraud

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today launching a commission that will review voter fraud, the Washington Post reports. The president’s “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” would examine allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration. It will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump has alleged in the past that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized the commission, saying it would lead to increased voter suppression into Republican-controlled state governments.  
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TBA Limited Partnership Bill Adopted By Legislature

The TBA’s Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act (TULPA) was adopted by unanimous vote of the House this week, clearing its last legislative hurdle. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton), modernizes and harmonizes provisions of the limited partnership law with other forms of business organization. The 110th General Assembly adjourned today and will reconvene on Jan. 9, 2018. 
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Senate Gives Final Approval to State Budget Bill

The Tennessee Senate signed off last night on a $37 billion state budget, which will now head to Gov. Bill Haslam for approval, the Tennessee Journal reports. Only Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Sen. Lee Harris (D-Memphis) voted against the proposal. The House approved the budget last week
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Bill Provides for Triple Legal Fees in Gun Rights Lawsuits

A proposal that would put cities and counties that ban guns in public buildings at risk of lawsuits passed the state House yesterday, the Times Free Press reports. The bill asks local authorities to choose between allowing those with handgun permits to bring guns to public locations or else buy metal detectors, hire security and check bags at those locations. It would also offer expanded protections for gun-rights groups to sue on behalf of those who feel slighted by gun restrictions, including being eligible for triple attorney’s fees. The Tennessee Journal reported that in House floor debate, Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, and other critics said the provision for lawyers receiving triple the fees they are due for work on a lawsuit is unprecedented in Tennessee. Dunn's amendment to delete the fees provision was killed, 60-32.
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State House Halts After Bipartisan Insurrection on Budget

The legislature came to a halt this morning after a group of frustrated Republican House members held a meeting with Democrats to advance last-minute changes to the state’s budget, the Tennessean reports. The House did not take a vote on the budget bill and adjourned until tomorrow morning. The Senate, which had been awaiting House approval before taking up the measure, adjourned until Monday. Earlier today after going through a series of bills during a floor session, the House went into recess before taking up the various budget bills. A flurry of amendments to the budget were filed in the last 24 hours, many of them multi-million dollar changes to the $37 billion budget proposal. Read more about discussed amendments at The Tennessee Journal.
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TNGOP Names New Executive Director

The Tennessee Republican Party has named a new executive director, five months after electing a new chairman, the Nashville Post reports. Former TNGOP political director and deputy executive director Michael Sullivan will take the reins, after serving as the state director for the Republican National Committee in Iowa in 2015 and 2016.
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Obergefell to Visit Tennessee to Urge ‘LGBT Erasure’ Veto

Jim Obergefell, the primary plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark same-sex marriage case, will visit the Tennessee state Capitol tomorrow to urge Gov. Bill Haslam to veto the so-called “LGBT erasure” bill, the Tennessean reports. The legislation requires undefined terms in state law to be given their “natural and ordinary meaning.” The measure includes terms such as “husband,” “wife,” “mother” and “father,” which are not explicitly defined in state law. It heads to Haslam’s desk after passing the Senate last week and the House last month.
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