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.

Rep. Hawk Arrested on Domestic Assault Charges

According to the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee State Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, was arrested Sunday morning and charged with domestic assault. Hawk remained in the Greene County Jail as of Sunday evening. Hawk pleaded not guilty to the charge this morning in an appearance in Greene County General Sessions Court. He told the Greeneville Sun that he is innocent and "did not do what has been alleged against me. I did not harm my wife."

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Democrats Sue Over Redistricting Plan

Opponents of Republican-drawn lines for the Tennessee Senate are suing for the redistricting plan to be thrown out on the basis that it ignored proposals made by the Legislature’s Black Caucus, their lawyer, Bob Tuke, said Friday. Tennessee lawmakers in January approved new boundaries for the 132 seats in the Tennessee General Assembly and the state’s nine seats in the U.S. House. House Democrats had complained that the proposal, which placed five black incumbents into three seats, could reduce the number of African-Americans serving in the Legislature. The Leaf-Chronicle has the AP story

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'Conversation' Starts on Judicial Selection

Legislation, characterized by backers as a “conversation starter” on judicial selection, quickly emerged and cleared its first hurdle this week. HJR 753 by Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, proposes to amend the Tennessee constitution to explicitly establish merit selection, performance evaluation and retention elections as the method for selecting appellate judges in Tennessee. The proposal also inserts a requirement that judges nominated by a commission and selected by the governor also be confirmed by both houses of the General Assembly before facing the voters. The Tennessee Bar Association has consistently and firmly expressed the view that it is critical that extension of the present plan be accomplished while a constitutional amendment is under discussion and that legislative confirmation causes practical problems of delay in filling vacancies while adding little to the process other than unwanted political influence.

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House Panel Acts on Voter ID Bills

The House State and Local Government Subcommittee today advanced a Democratic proposal to change Tennessee's new voter ID law, but rejected a second bill and delayed a third. The panel voted 4-3 in favor of a measure that would allow people without government-issued identification to vote after being photographed at the polling place. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the bill would eliminate the need for voters who don't have the proper ID to cast provisional ballots. The panel went on to reject another Fitzhugh proposal to move the responsibility for making voter IDs to local election commissions instead of the state Department of Safety, and delayed until a later meeting, another Fitzhugh bill that would exempt people over age 60 from the ID requirement. Memphis Daily News has more

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Judicial Conduct Bill Wins Committee Nod

A compromise bill that would alter the handling of ethics complaints against judges won Senate Judiciary Committee approval Tuesday afternoon. The bill last week won approval from the House Judiciary Committee and was slated for action today at the House Government Operations Committee. The legislation would rename the Court of the Judiciary as the Board of Judicial Conduct, and would also change the appointing authorities and revise the standard for proceeding to a hearing. It would preserve the balance of 10 judges, three lawyers and three citizen members. Read more from the Tennessean

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Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The TBA has a number of tools to help you track action in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly. Watch TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in -- those it has  initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

'Don't Say Gay' Bill on Hold

Tennessee lawmakers backing the controversial "don’t say gay" legislation have agreed to put off debating the measure — a procedural move that usually signals they do not intend to pursue it. Legislators who had originally supported the measure are expected to shift their focus to an abstinence education measure.

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Rep. Naifeh to Step Down at End of Term

Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, announced Thursday that he won't seek re-election after 38 years in the House of Representatives. Naifeh, who was given the honorary title of speaker emeritus after holding the top House post for 18 years, said it's time to "pass the torch to the next generation of leaders." The former speaker was elected to the House in 1974 after losing his first bid for office in 1972. He was elected speaker in 1991 and holds the record as the longest serving speaker of the House in Tennessee history. During his time in office, Naifeh also served as floor leader, majority leader and president of the National Speaker's Conference. The Memphis Daily News has more

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Bills Moving as Session End Gets Closer

With some House subcommittees announcing they will be shutting down in the next couple of weeks, the General Assembly seems to be preparing to take more definitive action on pending legislation. The TBA-prepared bill to update Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code – making changes that track the 2010 Uniform Law Commission recommendations dealing with secured transactions -- was recommended for passage by the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Commerce Committee’s General Subcommittee this week. The bill, SB 2931 by Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville ), HB 3150 by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R- Kingsport), would be effective July 1, 2013, allowing the Secretary of State to prepare for the changes. The effective date would also coincide with that in the many other states adopting the changes.

Discussions also continued with state officials regarding SB 2200/HB 2338, which would alter the law regarding termination of parental rights, and more than a dozen proposals to affect tort law are set for committee and subcommittee calendars next week. The TBA is active in trying to defeat or limit the harmful impact of many of these proposals.

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Judge's Vote Challenged Under Photo ID Law

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Office is backing up the vote of Nashville Judge Barbara Haynes, whose state identification was briefly questioned by a poll worker when she voted yesterday. The issue created confusion among members of the Senate State & Local Government Committee during a hearing this morning, when Haynes' husband Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, mentioned the incident. Responding to the question, Blake Fortenay, spokesperson for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, confirmed that a judge's ID is a valid form of state identification. The Examiner.com reports

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