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.

Is a Gun Owner Liable for a Crime Committed with Their Gun?

An investigation by The Tennessean examines the liability of gun owners for stolen or found weapons that are used in crimes. Nashville grand jurors sent a stern warning to Tennessee lawmakers in a report released this year, recommending making a requirement for gun owners to “act responsibly” when storing their weapons. “Leaving a gun in an unlocked car, for anyone to take, is reckless and should be treated as such by the law,” the report stated.
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TBA Legislative Update

The TBA has updated its website with a Legislative Update from the 110th General Assembly, highlighting TBA initiatives and legislation important to Tennessee lawyers. A list of all laws that go into effect July 1 can be found here.
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Judge Strikes Down Kansas Voter ID, Orders Secretary of State to Take Additional CLE

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled Monday that Kansas’ voter ID law infringes on the right to vote under the 14th Amendment, and ordered that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach take additional CLE classes for “repeated and flagrant violations” of federal rules requiring the disclosure of evidence, the ABA Journal reports. Kobach previously championed the law, which requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, and even represented his own office at trial. Robinson said that there is little evidence of non-citizen voter fraud, citing only 67 examples of non-citizens attempting registration in the last 19 years.
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SCOTUS Passes on Partisan Gerrymandering Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has sent back two cases to lower courts that would have blocked states from drawing hyper-partisan electoral maps, USA Today reports. The justices found procedural faults in the two cases, one brought by Republicans in Maryland and the other brought by Democrats in Wisconsin. Chief Justice John Roberts said in one opinion that the case was flawed because it was about group political interests instead of individual legal rights. Justice Elena Kagan wrote that she anticipates the issue to come before the court again.
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State Rep. McCormick Drops Re-election Bid

State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, announced he will not seek re-election after 14 years of service, saying he will drop out of the race immediately, the Times Free Press reports. He will resign from his position in the House on Oct. 1 and return to full-time work. Republicans in House District 26 have a special seven-day opportunity to qualify for the Aug. 2 primary ballot. McCormick denied the sudden change had anything to do with recent reports of a home he and his wife purchased last year in Nashville, triggering questions about residency requirements.
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Blackburn Initially Discouraged from Running for Office, Was Told ‘Waste of Time’

In a new profile of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, she recounts that she was told by political insiders that running for office was a waste of time and money, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The story recounts Blackburn’s downplaying of her role as a female leader, even though she has broken many barriers as a female member of Congress. She was the first woman ever elected to Congress by Tennessee voters – the only female members before her were appointed or had won in special elections.
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TBA, Commercial Appeal to Co-Host Gubernatorial Forum at Convention

The TBA and The Commercial Appeal are teaming up to host a gubernatorial candidate forum during the TBA’s annual Convention in Memphis. The forum will take place on June 14 at 8:30 a.m. during this year’s Bench/Bar program. Four major candidates have confirmed to attend the event, which will be moderated by The Commercial Appeal’s executive editor, Mark Russell. The program will offer the chance to hear each candidate’s position on issues that matter to attorneys, as well as opportunities to mix and mingle with the candidates. The event will be livestreamed on TBA.org.
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TBA Surveying Attorneys Who Represent the Indigent Under Rule 13

The Tennessee Bar Association is soliciting the comments of all Tennessee-licensed attorneys who represent the indigent under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13. In the state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, the Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $9.7 million in additional recurring funding to compensate Tennessee lawyers for representing the indigent under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13. On May 25, the Court issued an order soliciting public input on amending Rule 13 to adjust the hourly rates and per-case caps for this work.  The TBA intends to provide comments. If you handle matter for which you are compensated by the state under Supreme Court Rule 13, please provide us your comments here before June 8.
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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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