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.

Fincher Drops Out of U.S. Senate Race

Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and is encouraging U.S. Sen Bob Corker to seek re-election, Knoxnews reports. "The party must get behind a candidate that can win in November and stop Democrat Phil Bredesen," Fincher said. Fincher's primary opponent was current U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
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Funding for Indigent Representation Reform Now Under Review

With the Tennessee General Assembly in full swing, committees and subcommittees are now conducting budget hearings. One budget being considered would fund indigent representation reform, which is an important issue to the TBA and its members. The TBA is working with lawmakers to ensure that indigent representation reform receives adequate and complete funding, and members are being asked to weigh in on this timely topic as well. Be on the lookout for an email from TBAImpact with details of how you can contact your elected legislators and tell them to support indigent representation reform.

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Campaign Finance Complaints Filed Against Matlock, Burchett

Federal Election Commission complaints have been filed against Jimmy Matlock and Tim Burchett, both Republican candidates in the 2nd District congressional race, Knoxnews reports. Both complaints, filed within one day of each other, cite improper donations. The complaint against Matlock was filed by Knox County resident Lee Dunlap, who alleged that Matlock’s campaign took two $500 contributions from corporations. The complaint against Burchett, filed by Loudon County Commissioner Van Shaver, makes similar claims. Matlock’s campaign has said they will file an amended report, but Burchett’s campaign claims no wrongdoing.
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Corker Reconsidering Retirement

Sen. Bob Corker is “listening” to Republicans pushing for him to abandon his plans to retire at the end of his term, Politico reports. Corker announced in September that he would not run for reelection, triggering many high-profile names to step into the race, including 7th district U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. A poll taken last month shows Bredesen with the edge over Blackburn, prompting concern from Republicans. Today in response, a Blackburn spokeswoman called anyone who doubts Blackburn’s chances a “sexist pig," The Tennessean reports.
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Drafting Legislation Online Series

Representatives from the Tennessee General Assembly present sessions on drafting legislation in this one-click series
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Hayes Drops Out of House Race After Voter Fraud Investigation

A candidate for the Republican nomination for state House District 57 has dropped out amid an investigation into voter fraud, The Tennessean reports. Jeremy Hayes has pulled out of his bid to challenge incumbent Rep. Susan Lynn after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation searched both the house in Wilson County Hayes claims to live in with his grandmother, and the house he admits he owns in Davidson County in the Hermitage area. District Attorney General Tommy Thompson agreed to not prosecute the case any further if Hayes dropped out of the race and removed his name as a voter in Wilson County.
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Proposal Would Expand Legislators Review of Budget, Finances

Legislation that would give Senators and House members a bigger voice in state financial matters has been introduced by House Majority Leader Glen Casada and Sen. Ken Yager, who chairs the Fiscal Review Committee and the Senate State and Local Government Committee. WKRN.com reports that the bill (HB 2096/SB 2122) requires fiscal review staff to cite sources in making estimates for fiscal notes, calls for establishment of an appeals process for members and requires top agency officials to testify about any financial information that has been provided by their agencies. It would also give legislators more input in the budget process, by adding dedicated budget staff and empowering the body to create its own budget.

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Hawkins County Mayor to Run for State House District 9

Outgoing Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey will challenge state Rep. Gary Hicks in the Republican primary for House District 9, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Bailey announced several weeks ago that he would not seek reelection as county mayor. Hicks was first sworn in to the House in January 2016. District 9 serves Hawkins and Hancock counties.
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Senator Amends Bill to Move AG Appointment to General Assembly

A Republican senator said he will alter his bill aimed at giving the Tennessee General Assembly authority to choose the next attorney general, the Times Free Press reports. Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, added an amendment from Sen. Art Swann, R-Maryville, that would allow Tennessee’s Supreme Court to nominate an attorney general and give the legislature power to confirm or reject the candidate. The current protocol allows the Supreme Court members to choose the AG themselves. An amendment to the state Constitution will be required to change the process.
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SCOTUS Denies GOP Request to Block Gerrymandering Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied a request to delay a court ruling in Pennsylvania that would require the state to redraw its congressional map, The Hill reports. Justice Samuel Alito denied the two requests — one from state Republican lawmakers and the other from Republican voters — to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said the current maps were gerrymandered in an unfairly partisan manner. The state court’s ruling gave lawmakers until Feb. 9 to submit a new map to the governor.
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