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.

Senator Amends Bill to Move AG Appointment to General Assembly

A Republican senator said he will alter his bill aimed at giving the Tennessee General Assembly authority to choose the next attorney general, the Times Free Press reports. Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, added an amendment from Sen. Art Swann, R-Maryville, that would allow Tennessee’s Supreme Court to nominate an attorney general and give the legislature power to confirm or reject the candidate. The current protocol allows the Supreme Court members to choose the AG themselves. An amendment to the state Constitution will be required to change the process.
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SCOTUS Denies GOP Request to Block Gerrymandering Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied a request to delay a court ruling in Pennsylvania that would require the state to redraw its congressional map, The Hill reports. Justice Samuel Alito denied the two requests — one from state Republican lawmakers and the other from Republican voters — to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said the current maps were gerrymandered in an unfairly partisan manner. The state court’s ruling gave lawmakers until Feb. 9 to submit a new map to the governor.
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New TBJ: Adverse Legal Authority, #MeToo, a Lewie Donelson Tribute and More

The February Tennessee Bar Journal has a lot packed into it, including an article by Nashville lawyer David Hudson Jr. about the duty to disclose adverse legal authority. Chattanooga lawyer Russell Fowler details the life of Tennessee lawyer and American President James K. Polk and Knoxville lawyers Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow take an employment law look at the Faragher-Ellerth framework in the #MeToo Era. Learn from Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin what it takes to be an elder law attorney, read a book review by Jackson attorney Mary Jo Middlebrooks of The Fight to Vote, as well as a touching tribute to Lewie Donelson, by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

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How Will the New Tax Law Affect Lawyers and Firms?

How will the new tax law affect lawyers and law firms? The answer is still developing and in the February issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Rob Breunig gives an overview of what to expect and where you can look for ongoing updates. And TBA President Lucian T. Pera writes to encourage lawyers to run for office, announcing the upcoming inaugural 2018 TBA Public Service Academy. “We’re committed to strict non-partisanship,” he writes. “Having more lawyers in public office, and in the legislature, is good for lawmaking, good for the profession, and good for the public.”

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Beavers Exits Governors Race

Former Tennessee Senator Mae Beavers has dropped out of the race for governor, the Nashville Post reports. Beavers is the first candidate to do so, after reporting raising just $150,000 in the latest fundraising cycle and the news that her mother had died after a long struggle with dementia. With qualifying deadlines looming, Beavers could still run for a state or local position this year.
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Budget Includes $10M Indigent Representation Increase, TBA to Press for More

Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2018-2019 budget submitted yesterday includes $9,880,000 “to provide recurring funding for the Indigent Representation Task Force initiatives to raise hourly rates and case caps.” The Tennessee Bar Association termed it “gratifying" that the administration acknowledged the dedication and hard work by the lawyers who accept appointments to represent the indigent and vowed to press for more money in the appropriations process.
 
The Supreme Court’s task force, headed by former justice and now Nashville School of Law Dean Bill Koch, spent two years studying all facets of indigent representation. Among the recommendations of the group are elimination of the per case cap on amounts of compensation for appointed counsel and guardians ad litem, an increase in the rate to $75 to $125 per hour and creation of a commission to oversee and administer the program. The first task of the TBA will be to learn the exact contours of the administration recommendation, which funds only part of the task force plan. The TBA will then quickly pivot to equipping and mobilizing members to advocate for a more substantial increase. TBA policy calls for elimination of the caps and at least a $100 per hour rate. The TBA also supports establishment of the commission. 
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Medical Marijuana Proponent To Run For State's 6th House District

David Michel of Telford confirmed on Tuesday his plans to run for Tennessee’s 6th House District, the Johnson City Press reports. Michel has been a leading voice of the Tri-Cities chapter of Safe Access, a nonprofit group advocating for safe and legal access to medical marijuana. Michel’s decision to run was influenced by his success in helping the group grow to become the state’s largest chapter. In addition to legalizing marijuana for medical use, Michel says he would also focus on improving infrastructure and bringing in more “blue-collar jobs." He plans to run as an independent.

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State of the State: Education, Job Growth, Employee Cuts

See photos from the Tennessee Journal and read the full text of Gov. Bill Haslam's State of the State address, delivered Monday. His final budget proposal calls for more than $200 million in new state funding for K-12 education, $128 million in job-growth investments and $30 million for a previously announced effort to address the opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, the Leaf-Chronicle reports, the budget calls for $108.1 million in cuts, including a total of 335 positions eliminated across state government.

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Haslam to Talk Education, Job Growth in Final State of State Address

Gov. Bill Haslam will address the Tennessee General Assembly for the final time tonight, when he is expected to reflect on progress made in job creation and public schools, as well as discuss his new plan to fight the opioid epidemic, the Times Free Press reports. The address will begin at 6 p.m. CST and will be streamed online.
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Former State Sen. Joe Haynes Dies at 81

Former Democratic state Sen. Joe Haynes died today, The Tennessean reports. He was 81. Haynes, an attorney, served nearly three decades in the Tennessee legislature before his retirement in 2012. He then returned to private practice as an attorney with Haynes, Freeman and Bracey. Last year, Haynes was indicted on one charge of sexual battery. He pleaded not guilty and was awaiting the start of the trial this year.
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