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.

SCOTUS to Review Law Banning Political Apparel at Polling Locations

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review a Minnesota law that bans political apparel and insignias at Election Day polling places, the ABA Journal reports. The challengers claimed the law violated their rights to free speech. The Minnesota law defines banned apparel as material promoting a group with recognizable political views. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge in February because states have a legitimate interest in upholding “peace, order and decorum” at polling locations.
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Henderson County Mayor to Run for House District 72

Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes officially launched his campaign for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 72 seat yesterday, The Jackson Sun reports. Current representative for the district, Steve McDaniel, announced plans to retire at the end of his term next year. District 72 covers Chester, Decatur, Henderson and Perry counties. Hughes will run as a Republican.
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Freeman to Run for Harwell’s Nashville House Seat

Bob Freeman, a real estate professional and son of former Nashville mayoral candidate Bill Freeman, officially announced over the weekend his run for Tennessee House District 56, the seat currently occupied by departing House Speaker Beth Harwell. The Tennessean reports that Freeman is the only Democrat currently in the race, while Brent Moody, a surgeon, and Joseph Williams, an attorney, are running on the Republican side. Freeman is the co-founder of Freeman Applegate Partners, a consulting and construction firm.
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Toyos Clinics Founder Adds Name to GOP Senate Field

The field of candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Bob Corker grew by one Wednesday, when doctor and eye care entrepreneur Rolando Toyos announced his campaign for the GOP nomination, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. The son of Hispanic immigrants, Toyos grew his eye care business from one location in Jackson to its current five locations. Toyos faces U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former U.S. Rep. Steve Fincher for the Republican nomination. The only Democrat to announce so far is Nashville attorney and Iraq war veteran James Mackler. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke are also exploring bids.

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Legislators to Allow Guns in Their New Offices

People with valid carry permits will be allowed to bring their firearms into the Tennessee General Assembly's new home, the Cordell Hull Building. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally announced the new policy in a joint statement. The Tennessean reports that permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security to gain entry.

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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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