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.

Olsen Announces Run for 1st U.S. Congressional District

East Tennessee State University professor and medical practitioner Martin Olsen has formally announced his bid for the Tennessee 1st District U.S. House seat, the Johnson City Press reports. Olsen, who first indicated his interest in the seat back in August, will run as a Democrat and challenge Rep. Phil Roe for the seat. He said he plans on running on a platform of responsible change, as well as jobs, education and health care.
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Sen. Harris Proposes Tennessee Ban on Bump Stock Possession

State Sen. Lee Harris (D-Memphis) introduced a bill in the Tennessee legislature Wednesday that would ban the possession of bump stock devices, The Commercial Appeal reports. Bump stocks, which speed up the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons, have come under scrutiny since the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting was found to have used them. The National Rifle Association has expressed support for regulating bump stocks since the shooting occurred, but has opposed an outright ban. Harris acknowledged that the NRA’s power over Tennessee legislators would make his bill difficult to pass, but said he’s hopeful to “change the hearts and minds of at least somebody on the other side of the aisle.”
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Former Congressman Fincher ‘Very Close’ to Entering Senate Race

Former U.S. Congressman Stephen Fincher said yesterday that he is “very close” to entering the race to replace U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who announced he would not seek reelection earlier this year, the Memphis Daily News reports. Fincher, a Republican, said he believes voters want Republicans who will “stand up with President Trump, who is right on all of the policy.” He said he will formally announce his decision later this week. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has already announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination, while attorney James Mackler and, potentially, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, will run on the Democratic side.
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Attorney to Run for State House District 89 Seat

Jesse Nelson, a Knox County attorney, has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for state House District 89. Current Rep. Roger Kane previously announced he would run for Knox County Clerk. In a release from his campaign, Nelson touted his experience in starting his own law firm, his conservative beliefs, and his previous work on political campaigns as his qualifications.
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TBA Seeking Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs

The Tennessee Bar Association is seeking to fill the position of Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs. The position will advocate for and organize TBA members to influence public policy as it relates to the law and the legal profession, utilizing research and direct contact with lawmakers and policy leaders. Learn more about the position, including how to apply and the qualifications for candidates, or contact Karen Belcher, administrative assistant to Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson.

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State Legislator to Run for Nashville Juvenile Court Clerk

State Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), has announced she will run for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk next year, The Tennessean reports. She will face former Metro Nashville Councilman and current director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods, Lonnell Matthews Jr., in the May primary election. Jones and Matthews jumped in the race after current Clerk David Smith announced his retirement earlier this year. Jones has served in the House since 1994.
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Interested in Running for Office?

In many parts of the state, attorneys aren’t just legal advocates, they serve as community leaders. In recent years, however, Tennessee has seen a decrease in lawyers seeking local public office. With that in mind, the TBA will host two information sessions to inform and encourage lawyers to run. “Running for Office 101: a Workshop and Q&A” will be held in Jackson and Columbia on Oct. 24. Each will  feature a panel with local elected officials. The event is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is required. There will be no CLE credit offered, but prior to the session in Columbia and after the Jackson session, the TBA will host its annual Court Square CLE programming.
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Blackburn In, Haslam Out for 2018 Senate Race

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn today said she is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, The Tennessean reports. The news broke less than an hour after Gov. Bill Haslam confirmed he would not run. Also ending speculation of a bid for Senate is prominent Nashville donor Bill Freeman, who said he would not run for the Democratic nomination and instead suggested former Gov. Phil Bredesen should throw his hat into the ring.
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Wilson County Attorney Announces Run for Senate in Special Election

Wilson County attorney Mary Alice Carfi announced her candidacy for the Democratic primary in the special election for the 17th district state senate seat, the Lebanon Democrat reports. Carfi said her campaign will focus on the cost of healthcare, jobs and public education. The seat came up for grabs when Sen. Mae Beavers resigned her post in order to run for governor. Carfi is the only announced Democrat, while state Rep. Mark Pody is the only candidate for the Republicans. The primary election is scheduled for Nov. 7, with the general election on Dec. 19.
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Sen. Lee Harris to Run for Shelby County Mayor

Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris (D-Memphis) has entered the race for Shelby County mayor, The Commercial Appeal reports. He confirmed he will not seek reelection for the Senate seat he has held since 2015. Harris is an attorney and serves as a tenured professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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