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.

Williamson Commissioner Joins Activist in Race for District 61 Seat

In the wake of state Rep. Charles Sargent’s recent retirement announcement, Williamson County Commissioner Jeff Ford said today he would run for the seat in 2018, The Tennessean reports. Aside from his work on the commission, Ford works as a sales representative for a software company in the workers’ compensation insurance industry. He joins conservative activist Rebecca Burke in seeking the Republican nomination for the District 61 position. Burke announced her run prior to Sargent’s retirement.
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Knox Businessman to Run for 2nd District Congressional Seat

Young Republicans National Federation chairman and Knoxville businessman Jason Emert has begun a campaign for Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional seat, soon to be vacated by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., Knoxnews reports. Already in the race for the GOP are state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Vito Sagliano and Marc Whitmire. For the Democrats, Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos are seeking the position, and William Samples will run as a libertarian. Emert previously ran in the Republican primary for the 13th District State House seat. He was defeated by Rep. Eddie Smith.
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Durham Fined $10K for Inaccurate PAC Disclosures

Expelled former state legislator Jeremy Durham has been fined for the second time in a week over campaign finance violations, The Tennessean reports. The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance imposed two fines on Durham totaling $10,000 for failing to accurately report campaign contributions and expenditures to his political action committee. That brings his total to more than $500,000 in penalties for various campaign finance law violations.
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Country Music Songwriter Aims for Congress

Lee Thomas Miller, a country music songwriter and conservative advocate, is heading towards a run for the 7th district congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the Nashville Post reports. Miller, who has composed hits for the likes of Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, has led volunteer lobbying efforts for the Nashville Songwriters Association International in the past. He says his timeline for jumping in the race is “sooner rather than later.” Currently, the only announced Republican candidate in the race is state Sen. Mark Green.
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Poll: Black, Dean, Harwell Score High Approval Ratings in Gubernatorial Race

According to a recent poll from Middle Tennessee State University, U.S. Rep. Diane Black and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean have the highest approval ratings in the primary race among the announced gubernatorial candidates, The Tennessean reports. When combining results from both parties together, Dean and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell have the highest approval. The same poll tested potential U.S. Senate candidates and found that Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen had “statistically indistinguishable” approval ratings. Notably, announced Republican candidate Stephen Fincher, a former Tennessee Congressman, was not included in the poll.
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TBI Questions House Majority Leader About Possible Durham Bribery

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently interviewed two state legislators about ousted Rep. Jeremy Durham, specifically asking questions about bribery, The Tennessean reports. House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, confirmed they were questioned by TBI agents about Durham related to bribery. Casada said that the agents asked him if he knew anything about Durham receiving favors or money in exchange for sponsoring legislation. He said he did not. 
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11 Tennessee DAs Join Black’s ‘Law and Order’ Coalition

Gubernatorial candidate Diane Black yesterday announced a statewide “Law and Order Coalition” with 23 sheriffs and 11 district attorneys backing her campaign, The Tennessean reports. Among the co-chairs are Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley and 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson.
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Former State Rep. Considers Run for 7th District Congressional Seat

Former state representative and current vice mayor of the city of Bolivar, Page Walley, says he is interested in running for Congress in the 7th District, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Walley served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, in addition to his five terms in the state House. The 7th District is currently represented by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate.
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Nashville Attorney Seeks Beth Harwell’s House Seat

A Nashville attorney will seek the Republican nomination for the state House seat currently occupied by Speaker Beth Harwell, the Nashville Post reports. Joseph Williams is the second Republican to toss his hat into the ring after Harwell announced she would run for governor instead of reelection. Also in the race is a physician, Brent Moody, who will face Williams in the primary. Democrat Bob Freeman is considering a bid for the position as well.
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CLE on Drafting Legislation for the General Assembly: A Pathway to Excellence

CLE on drafting legislation for the General Assembly will be held tomorrow at the Tennessee Bar Center. Attendees will take away templates and samples of legislation, form and style guidelines used by the Tennessee General Assembly, and a very helpful drafter’s checklist. If you have ever wanted to develop your ability to help your firm or a client with a legislative issue, this program is for you.

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