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.

Editorial: Governor Should Sign Diversion Bill

In an editorial, the Jackson Sun urges Gov. Bill Haslam to sign legislation on his desk that makes state public officials ineligible for pretrial diversion for criminal acts committed in their official capacity. "Gov. Haslam can raise the ethics bar and improve the image and the reputation of Tennessee public officials by signing this legislation into law," the paper says.

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Editorial: Judicial Selection Process Works, Support It

The Knoxville News Sentinel is calling for legislators to support the proposal from Gov. Bill Haslam that would affirm by constitutional amendment the state's method of selecting justices for the Tennessee Supreme Court and appeals courts. In an editorial, the newspaper says  that some lawmakers who "can't resist trying to fix things that are not really broken" should listen to the proposal's top supporters: Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell. "There are good reasons the Founding Fathers of our nation and the writers of many state constitutions focused on separation of powers and checks and balances to make republican government work," the editorial says. "In making decisions from the bench, justices must consider the law before them, not the special interests that bankrolled their election."

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Elizabethton Lawyer To Run for House

Thom Gray has formally announced his candidacy for State Representative from the Fourth District, representing Carter and Unicoi counties. The Elizabethton lawyer will seek the Republican nomination in the Aug. 2 primary election. The Elizabethton Star has more

Moore Won't Run for Re-election

State Rep. Gary Moore, D-Nashville, announced today he will not run for re-election this fall. Moore served eight years in the House and recently was elected president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. He becomes the seventh Democratic member to retire this year. Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, a Democrat, filed papers today to run for the seat. WPLN reports

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Bill Allowing Governor to Appoint AG Gets Committee OK

The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Tuesday that would allow the governor to appoint the state attorney general for a four-year term, subject to legislative confirmation. The measure also requires the attorney general be at least 30 years old, a licensed Tennessee attorney, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the state for at least seven years. The legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 693, is sponsored by committee chair Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, who argues a change is needed to bring more accountability to the position. The resolution requires a simple majority vote by the current General Assembly and a two-thirds vote by the next assembly. If approved, the question would then be put to voters in a November 2014 statewide referendum. Chattanoogan.com has the story

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House Majority Leader to Seek Re-Election

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, majority leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives, announced today he will seek re-election to House District 26 this fall. After redistricting, the district is now the heart of Hamilton County, with new precincts in the Hixson, Riverview, Stuart Heights and North Chattanooga areas. McCormick was first elected in 2004, and was chosen by his colleagues to serve as the majority leader of the Tennessee House in 2010. Chattanoogan.com has more

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Rep. Todd Tells Panel He Has Cancer

State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, informed colleagues that he has cancer during a House Commerce Committee hearing today on a proposal to require insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy treatments. Todd later told reporters that he has a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The News Sentinel has more

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Haslam Budget Update Adds Money for Local Jails

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday a budget amendment that includes funding for a more rapid decrease in a food tax cut and extra money for local jails. Increasing the state's daily payment to local jails by $2 a day is designed in part, Haslam says, to help break an impasse over his proposal to require incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders. The $4 million jails reimbursement provision is the most expensive item in Haslam's budget plan. He also announced that weekend negotiations resulted in an agreement from the Tennessee State Employees Association to support his plan to overhaul state civil service rules. The Tennessean has this AP story

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Bill to Stop Pre-trial Diversion for Public Officials Goes to Governor

The House on Monday unanimously approved and sent to the governor a bill prohibiting any public official convicted of a crime related to his or her duties in office from receiving pretrial diversion. The measure has a direct connection to former Judge Richard Baumgartner, who received diversion last year on a charge of official misconduct. "We had an instance in Knox County where we had a judge who went out and committed crimes related to his office," sponsor Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, told colleagues who questioned the need for SB 2566. "He created a whole host of problems." The bill had already passed the Senate unanimously under the sponsorship of Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman. The News Sentinel reports

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Opinion: Fee for Diversion 'Bad Idea'

The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a new tax this week that will require people to pay to have their name cleared upon the completion of diversion. HB 2774, sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, introduces the new tax, which includes $100 that must be paid to the court when requesting diversion. Chattanoogan columnist and lawyer Lee Davis calls the new measure “a bad idea.” Read more

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