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.

President Trump Visits Nashville

President Donald Trump is visiting Tennessee today in support of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign, The Tennessean reports. People traveled from all over the country to line up outside Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium to see the president, who is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m.
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TBA Applauds Governor, General Assembly for Funding Indigent Representation Reform

Tennessee Bar Association President Lucian Pera today applauded Gov. Bill Haslam, the General Assembly and the Tennessee Supreme Court for their partnership in strengthening Tennessee’s commitment to indigent representation. The governor earlier this week signed the FY 2018/19 state budget that includes an additional $9.7 million in recurring funding for indigent representation reform. "Competent representation costs money, and the constitutional right to counsel is only real if lawyers appointed to defend them are paid reasonably,” Pera said in a media release. “The TBA especially wants to thank Chief Justice Jeff Bivins for his courageous leadership in making indigent representation reform and increased funding the Court’s top priority this year.”

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Evidence of Ukrainian Computer Involved in Tennessee Election Cyberattack

Cyber-security experts hired by Knox County to investigate a “denial of service” cyberattack on Election Day, May 1, found evidence linked to a computer in the Ukraine, CBS News reports. The experts added that “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the county’s elections website as votes were being reported. County officials said no voting data was affected, but the site was down for an hour after the polls closed.
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Harwell Campaign, PAC Hired Same Ad Company

House Speaker Beth Harwell and a PAC appearing to support her campaign for governor both made payments to the same Ohio-based advertising company, recent disclosures show, raising questions of coordination, The Tennessean reports. The PAC, Tennesseans for Good State Government – which formally was called “Harwell PAC” – paid $20,000 to Strategic Media Group on March 14. Harwell’s campaign also made a sizable payment to the same company on the same day. If there was connection to the campaign, the PAC would be limited to spending $11,800. An attorney for Tennesseans for Good State Government denied any wrongdoing in the matter. 
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Tennessee Legislature Wraps Up 2018 Session

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned for the year yesterday, with a last-minute flurry of bills passing or dying prior to the gavel. Two proposed constitutional amendments, one which would have declared that “Almighty God” is the source of all liberty and another that would have laid out procedures for replacing a governor when he or she becomes incapacitated, failed, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Legislators also approved a bill yesterday intended to block local governments from taking actions similar to the city of Memphis in regards to Confederate monuments.
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UAPA Appeals Bill Passes Through Legislature

The House and Senate have passed legislation providing that the venue for appeals of contested case hearings under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act will be in the Chancery Court nearest the place of residence of the person contesting the agency action or alternatively, at the person’s discretion, in the Chancery Court nearest to the place where the cause of action arose, or in the Chancery Court of Davidson County. The venue for appeals involving TennCare will continue to be in Davidson County. Sponsored by Senator Mike Bell and Rep. Martin Daniel, the bills (SB2603/HB2386) have been sent to the Speakers for signature. 
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Bill Raising Unpaid Child Support Interest Rate Advances

The Tennessee House today concurred with Senate-passed legislation raising interest rates on unpaid child support in private cases. HB2134, sponsored by Rep. Mike Carter and in the Senate by Sen. Ken Yager, raises the interest rate to 6 percent for all private child support cases in arrears but gives the court discretion to assess a lower interest rate if deemed appropriate. For unpaid child support cases that the Department of Human Services handles, the bill allows the court to charge interest up to 6 percent, but does not alter the current 0 percent default rate. The bill was drafted by the TBA from a compromise with District Attorneys and the Tennessee Department of Human Services. The measure was amended to also make it unlawful for any county clerk or deputy clerk to issue a marriage license to a person under 17, unless the person has consent from a legal guardian or is emancipated. It also states that any marriage that is entered into without freely given consent from both parties shall be void and unenforceable in this state. The child support and teen marriage sections of the bill will go into effect on July 1. 
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Senate Rejects 4 Haslam Nominees to New UT Board

Tennessee senators rejected almost half of the nominees Gov. Bill Haslam named to the newly revamped University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, WPLN reports. The Senate Education Committee turned down four of the nominees, including three who are currently serving on the board. Nashville attorney Brad Lampley and Franklin attorney Melvin Malone were among the rejected. Last week the state legislature voted to dissolve the current UT board and replace it with a smaller one chosen by the governor. 
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TBA Leaders in Washington to Meet with Legislators

Tennessee Bar Association leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week to participate in the 2018 ABA Day on the Hill. Over two days they are meeting with the members of the House and Senate from Tennessee to discuss issues of importance to lawyers across the state.

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Todd, Bush to Seek Republican Nomination for District 73 State House Seat

Jackson businessman Chris Todd announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the District 73 seat of the Tennessee State House, joining Madison County Commissioner Jay Bush in the race to replace retiring state Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, The Jackson Sun reports. Eldridge, a Republican, confirmed last month that he would not seek re-election after he announced plans to run for mayor of Jackson. Todd has never before sought political office.
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