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 Public Service Academy Holds First Session

The TBA’s Public Service Academy met for the first time this weekend, with a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys from across the state gathering to learn the basics of running for local elected office. On Friday, former state senator and current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doug Overbey, spoke about his experiences campaigning and holding elected office. On Saturday, former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell spoke to the group about his life as a mayor and former legislator, as well as the importance of attorneys choosing a life of public service. The class heard further presentations about fundraising, building a campaign team, crafting their campaign message and more. They will reconvene again Nov. 9-10 in Nashville for another weekend training.
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Appeals Court Finds Jeremy Durham Has Standing to Sue for Benefits

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that former Tennessee legislator Jeremy Durham, who was expelled from the House of Representatives two years ago, has standing to sue the state over health insurance and pension benefits he claims he is owed, The Nashville Post reports. Last year, the federal District Court ruled differently, saying Durham had no right to sue the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley and Treasurer David Lillard because they did not cause Durham to be expelled. The new ruling states Durham has standing “because his injury that he seeks to remedy is fairly traceable to the administrators’ conduct.”
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SCOTUS Lets Stand Decision Requiring Dark Money Disclosure

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court’s decision forcing politically active nonprofit groups to disclose the identity of any donor giving more than $200 when those groups advertise for or against political candidates, The Atlantic reports. It’s not immediately clear whether nonprofit groups that advocate for and against political candidates must retroactively disclose their funders or only do so going forward.
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Casada to Run for Speaker of the House

Tennessee State House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, announced his plans today to run for speaker of the House, The Nashville Post reports. Casada was long presumed to make a bid for the position, as he previously ran for it against Current Speaker Beth Harwell in 2010. Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, and Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, are also seeking the position.
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Leadership Battles Already Shaping Up in Legislature

With the general election still two months away, incumbents in the state House and Senate are already positioning themselves for who will lead each legislative body. Active races are already shaping up for House Speaker and caucus leadership posts in both parties, the Memphis Daily News reports in its View from the Hill column. Find out who are the favorites.

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Federal Court: North Carolina May Use Gerrymandered Map in November Elections

A panel of judges in the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina has ruled that the state will be allowed to use its current electoral map for the November elections, despite having declared it an unconstitutional gerrymander last week, NPR reports. The judges wrote in their order that forcing the state to hastily redraw maps prior to November would “unduly interfere with the State’s electoral machinery and likely confuse voters and depress turnout.” Voting rights advocacy groups that challenged the map agreed with the court’s decision, saying they would rather voters use the current, unconstitutional map than risk depressing turnout.
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Your New TBJ: Child Visitation and Lots More

Miles Mason Sr. explains in the new Tennessee Bar Journal why separating or divorcing parents should not ask children what visitation they want, and Donna Harkness writes about why the concept of Supported Decision Making is becoming more a part of planning for clients with diminished capacity. TBA President Jason M. Pannu talks about the importance of effective government relations and how the association approaches it. Read these and more in the September issue.

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Legislators Host 'First in Adoption' Luncheon

Members of the Adoption Law Section of the TBA today attended the Tennessee: First in Adoption Law Luncheon hosted by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah. Other attendees included Deputy Governor Jim Henry, Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich, lawyers from the Department of Human Services, Thea Ramirez, founder of Adoption-Share Inc. and TBA Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Berkley Schwarz. The “Tennessee: First in Adoption Act” makes a number of modifications in many areas of adoption and termination law, including a new, less bureaucratic surrender form, included in the Tennessee Code. The new law went into effect on July 1, 2018.
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Campaign Finance Complaints Dismissed Against Harwell, Lee

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has dismissed complaints filed against Rep. Beth Harwell and Bill Lee’s gubernatorial campaigns, The Tennessee Journal reports. Both had been accused of illegal coordination with a political action committee.
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Hawk Joins Race for House Speaker Post

Republican Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville is running for speaker of the House, hoping to succeed Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) who gave up the post to seek the governorship, TNJ: On the Hill reports. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) earlier announced his bid for the post and will likely be joined in the race by Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

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