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.

16 New Laws Take Effect Next Week

Sixteen of the 493 new laws approved by the Tennessee General Assembly this year take effect on Jan. 1, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Included on that list is a $50 fine for using a cell phone while driving within a school zone, a law that requires new school bus drivers to go through a training program, and the transfer of authority over marijuana sale and use from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Read a full list of the laws on the Legislature's website.
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General Assembly Policy: Guns Allowed, Hand-Carried Signs Prohibited

At the new home of the Tennessee General Assembly, citizens will be allowed to bring their guns into the building, but may not enter with hand-held signs, The Tennessean reports. The new policy, approved by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell on Dec. 14, states that such signs “represent a safety hazard.” The new rules also prohibit animals, with the exception of service animals.
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Mark Pody Wins Senate Special Election Victory

In an election decided by just 300 votes, Mark Pody has won the special election for Tennessee’s District 17 seat, The Tennessean reports. Pody, a current state House representative, defeated attorney Mary Alice Carfi to win the seat left vacant by Mae Beavers’ resignation. District 17 includes Wilson, Cannon, DeKalb, Smith, Clay and Macon counties.
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Miller Drops Out of 7th Congressional District Race

Songwriter Lee Thomas Miller of Williamson County has dropped out of the race for Tennessee’s 7th District Congressional seat, the Nashville Post reports. Miller was only active in the race for a month. Miller’s exit leaves Sen. Mark Green, R-Ashland City, as the sole Republican in the race. On the Democratic side, former Amazing Race contestant Justin Kanew, Green Beret and Congressional staffer Matt Reel and Franklin marketing professional Josh Penfold are all still active in the race.
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Moon Sworn In as Appointed State Representative for District 8

Blount County Commission Chair Jerome Moon was sworn in this week as the new state House representative for District 8, The Daily Times reports. Moon was appointed by the commission to replace Art Swann, R-Maryville, who was chosen to take over the District 2 state senate position from Doug Overbey. Overbey resigned earlier this year after he was nominated to become the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. District 8 includes most of Blount County. 
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Rep. Black Says She Was Sexually Harassed in State Legislature

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, says she was sexually harassed while she was a member of the Tennessee legislature, the Tennessean reports. Black, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, says the “Good Ol’ Boy culture” in the legislature created an atmosphere where she was called “Nurse Goodbody” by one member and was forced up against the wall of an elevator by another.

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Andy Cole to Run for House District 82

Andy Cole, the Republican who challenged House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in 2016, is again seeking to win the House District 82 seat, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Cole is a native of the district, which includes Crockett, Haywood and Lauderdale counties. Fitzhugh has held the seat since 1995 but is now seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Tennessee.
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2nd Democrat Enters Race to Replace Blackburn

Hickman County native and U.S. Army Green Beret Matt Reel has announced his candidacy for the 7th district U.S. Congressional seat currently occupied by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, the Nashville Post reports. Keel will face former Amazing Race contestant Justin Kanew in the Democratic primary. State Sen. Mark Green, R-Ashland City, and songwriter Lee Thomas Miller are competing for the position on the Republican side. Blackburn is currently running for U.S. Senate.
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Maury County GOP Chair to Run for House District 64

Following the announcement that Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, will not seek reelection, Maury County Republican Chair Scott Cepicky announced he will run for the 64th House district seat, the Tennessee Star reports. In his announcement, Cepicky touted Butt’s endorsement of his campaign, and noted the “professional friendship” they share. Butt will retire from the House after six years in the seat.
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Sheila Butt to Retire from State House

Tennessee state House Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, announced this week that she will not run for reelection in 2018, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Butt was first elected to the seat in 2010. She said that after her term is complete next year, she will devote her time to her ministry, called “Sisters, Servants and Soldiers.” Butt’s District 64 encompasses most of Maury County, but excludes downtown Columbia and a sliver of the western portion of the county. 
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