News

Upcoming Sports Law Webcast - Dec. 13

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal prohibition on sports gambling and opened the door for states to legalize sports betting on their own terms. A year-and-a-half later, the United States is the fastest growing sports betting market in the world. Nineteen states have legalized sports betting, and at least 10 more states are expected to pass legislation in 2020. Among the states to legalize sports betting is Tennessee, which will be the first state to offer an online only wagering platform.
 
Held at 10 a.m. CST on Dec. 13, the "Sports Betting: Tennessee and Beyond" webcast will examine sports betting legislation at the state level and prospects of a federal framework, including a closer look at the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act. We will discuss the emergence of sports betting in mainstream media and culture and take a look at legal issues related to the ownership and monetization of sports betting data. Register today!
 
Sponsored by the TBA Entertainment & Sports Law Section. Section members enjoy a reduced price for this webcast.

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TennCare Revises Medicaid Block Grant Proposal

TennCare officials recently submitted an amended version of the state's block grant proposal to the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services. The modest changes add “some color” to Gov. Bill Lee’s plans to use prospective shared savings with the federal government to invest in health initiatives for TennCare enrollees, officials said. The amended proposal also reiterates the state’s desire to use the extra funding from the shared savings model to increase TennCare eligibility — something not before explicitly stated. Read more about the changes in the Nashville Post. Federal officials will now complete a preliminary review of the amendment before beginning a 30-day public comment period.

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Registry of Election Finance Questions Ruling to Reduce Fines for Expelled Lawmaker Durham

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance (TREF) recently said it disagrees with an administrative law judge's recent ruling to reduce the fine levied against expelled former lawmaker Jeremy Durham regarding campaign finance law violations, The Tennessean reports. Durham was fined $465,000 in 2017 after investigations found that he misused donors’ money by making personal purchases of custom suits and sunglasses, among other allegations. Administrative Law Judge Steve Darnell said the initial fine was excessive and reduced it to $110,000. The registry agreed with the opinion of Executive Director of the Bureau of Ethics and Finance Bill Young, who recommended TREF hold another hearing to determine whether Darnell was correct in reducing the fines and to determine if TREF agreed with Darnell's decision to reconsider the case using a de novo judicial review. TREF member Hank Fincher said of the issue, “I think (Darnell) gave far too much benefit of the doubt to Mr. Durham … He didn't just do wrong, he did awful wrong.”

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CLE, Networking and Practice Area Updates at Friday's Administrative Law Forum

This year’s Administrative Law Annual Forum will include a panel discussion of the agency deference doctrine, a session delving into the implications of policymaking and rulemaking and will end with an ethics session that not only provides an update from the BPR, but also an ethical analysis of ex parte communications. Earn up to three hours of CLE (two general and one dual). Arrive early to the program and join us at the Meet Local breakfast networking event for government and public interest attorneys. Meet Local is a free event and will provide attendees with light breakfast options and a chance to network with others. Please complete the RSVP form here if you are planning to attend Friday's event. 

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Health Law Section Executive Council Accepting Nominations for Student Representatives

The TBA Health Law Executive Council is accepting nominations for law school students who are interested in the practice of health law and becoming involved with the section. Students will join the executive council in its monthly meetings, assist in development of programming and section newsletters, among other initiatives. One law school student representative will be selected from each Grand Division, with spots currently open for east and middle Tennessee. Please submit any nominations to TBA Health Law Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Remember Veterans' Sacrifices, Defending the Rule of Law

Today we honor the nation's Veterans. American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez reminds lawyers that the day is "to honor the patriotism, sacrifice and contributions of those who have served their country and defended the rule of law in the United States and across the globe." She highlights the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel; that the group has worked with state and local bar associations and state courts to establish more than 400 veterans’ courts; and that the ABA's Military Pro Bono Project accepts case referrals for civilian pro bono lawyers from military lawyers on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel and their families. Also, listen to NPR's StoryCorps, which collected veterans' stories in Middle Tennessee.

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HHS Issues Notice of Nonenforcement of Provisions Regarding Grant Regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a notice regarding nonenforcement of certain regulatory provisions in The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements because of concerns over the Obama Administration's implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act regarding grant appropriations. HHS is taking steps to address the issue by publishing a proposed rule to reissue the HHS grants regulation with revisions. The agency contends its proposed rule would better align with federal statutes by eliminating regulatory burden, including a burden on the free exercise of religion.

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Tennesseans Express Disapproval of TennCare Block Grant Proposal

A TennCare spokesperson said the agency received nearly 1,800 public comments regarding its Medicaid block grant proposal, only 9 of which were supportive, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The comments came from emails and five public hearings on Gov. Bill Lee's plan to convert nearly $8 billion in federal dollars, more than half of its funding, into a modified block grant that would effectively give the state more control as to how the money is spent. Opinions in support of the plan came from 7 individuals and two organizations — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and a Florida-based conservative lobby group. 

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Ethics Roadshow Coming to a City Near You

The TBA is bringing its Ethics Roadshow to a city near you on multiple days in December. The program will be in Knoxville on Dec. 4, Chattanooga on Dec. 5, Memphis on Dec. 9, Nashville on Dec. 10, Jackson on Dec. 16, and Johnson City on Dec. 18. Sign up today to reserve your spot for this annual event, guaranteed to meet your ethics requirements for the year and enhance your knowledge of crucial changes in the legal profession. The course also is always full of surprises and humor. Earn up to three hours of dual CLE credit. See the list of all courses.

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Judge Rejects Ketron's Request to Dismiss Fraud Case

Administrative Judge Phillip R. Hilliard has rejected Kelsey Ketron's request to dismiss a fraud case against her that alleges she acted as an unlicensed insurance agent, the Daily News Journal reports. Ketron, who is the daughter of Rutherford County mayor Bill Ketron, also faces complaints of impersonating a licensed professional and committing theft while serving as a vice president of her father’s insurance company. She has since resigned from that position. Ketron’s attorney Trey Harwell said the decision does not speak to the merit of the case and that “The court seems to recognize this, in its ruling, by stating that we raised 'legitimate arguments about possible shortcomings.”

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CLE & Networking at Administrative Law Forum

This year’s Administrative Law Forum, set for Nov. 15, will include a panel discussion of the agency deference doctrine, a session delving into the implications of policymaking and rulemaking, and an ethics session that includes updates from the BPR and an ethical analysis of ex parte communications. This year’s program also features a free “Meet Local” breakfast and networking event for government and public interest attorneys. Find out more and get registered here

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Family of Man Killed by Knoxville Police Officer File Suit Alleging Suppression of Evidence

Attorneys for the family of a man killed by a Knoxville police officer have filed a lawsuit in Knox County Chancery Court alleging that city officials are withholding records regarding the incident, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Channara Tom “Philly” Pheap was shot in the back by Knoxville Police Officer Dylan Williams after an altercation in response to a hit-and-run call. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, Joshua Hedrick and Lance Baker, say they are being stonewalled in their quest for public records such as the final autopsy report, 911 recordings and police cruiser video. The suit named the city of Knoxville, Knox County and the Knox County Emergency Communications District as defendants.

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Medicaid Block Grant Meets with Opposition at Public Hearings

Public hearings on the proposed Medicaid block grant amendment drew large crowds in Memphis and Chattanooga this week, with many expressing concern and sometimes anger over the proposal. Out of dozens of speakers at the Memphis forum on Tuesday, not one spoke in favor of the amendment, reports the Daily Memphian. During the Chattanooga hearing on Wednesday, 35 of 36 spoke against the block grant system, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Gov. Bill Lee was not present at either of this week’s hearings. Public response was similar at additional hearings in Nashville, Knoxville and Jackson earlier this month. The deadline for the public to submit a comment on the proposal is Friday.

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Affordable Group Health Insurance - At Last!

Spiraling health insurance costs represent an enormous challenge to the profitability of law firms. That’s why we’re proud to announce the new TBA exclusive group health insurance plan; rates could be as much as 30 percent less than what you’re paying today! The plan offers convenient and easy online enrollment with three plan options to meet your needs. Guaranteed issue coverage, no health questions and no pre-existing condition exclusions. Enrollment is open and ends Dec. 15. Get a quote or enroll today! For more information contact us at tbams@tnbar.org  or call 423-629-2400 x264.

 

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TennCare Seeks Public Comments on Block Grant Proposal

The Tennessee Division of TennCare is seeking feedback on Amendment 42, regarding its Block Grant Proposal, prior to its submission to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Members of the public are invited to offer comments regarding Amendment 42 until Oct. 18, 2019. You can view more information, including the proposal using this link. Comments can be submitted by email or by mail to:

Gabe Roberts, Director
Division of TennCare
310 Great Circle Road
Nashville, TN 37243

Individuals who prefer to make their comments in person may attend one of the following public hearings:

East Tennessee
When: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2:30 p.m., EDT
Where: Burlington Branch of the Knox County Library, Community Meeting Room, 4614 Asheville Highway, Knoxville
 
West Tennessee
When: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2:30 p.m., CDT
Where: Jackson-Madison County Library, Program Center, 433 East Lafayette Street, Jackson
 
Additional Public Hearings
TennCare is in the process of scheduling two additional hearings on Amendment 42, to take place in Chattanooga and in Memphis. Details of these hearings will be announced when finalized.
 
Individuals with disabilities or individuals with limited English proficiency who wish to participate in one of the hearings and who may require language or communication assistance to do so should contact Talley Olson of TennCare’s Office of Civil Rights Compliance by phone at 855-857-1673, or by email prior to the date of the hearing.
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Secretary of State Hargett Addresses Recently Blocked Voter Registration Law

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett on Tuesday spoke up regarding the new state law that would require voter registration groups to undergo state training, and fine paid registration groups for incomplete forms, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The legislation was introduced after complaints from Republican election officials in Shelby and Davidson counties who said they were overwhelmed by last-minute voter registration forms, many of which were incomplete. Hargett stressed the law was to cover paid registration assistance and said “If you're doing a voter registration drive, you owe it to that individual to make sure that voter registration form is complete … If you turn in a form that's half done, you really haven't helped that voter, have you?" HB1079/SB0971 was set to take effect on October 1; however, was blocked by by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger who called the law a “complex and punitive regulatory scheme.”

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U.S. Supreme Court to Consider National Workplace Protections Regarding Sexual Orientation

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8 will consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees federal protection from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, The New York Times reports. The case under consideration — Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia — centers around a man who was a county Child Welfare Services Coordinator and claims he was fired after he joined a gay recreational softball league, despite 10 years of employment and receiving positive performance evaluations and professional accolades. The defendant argues that his termination was due to “conduct unbecoming of a Clayton County employee;” however, Bostock maintains that several other employees had made critical comments regarding his sexual orientation and that the defendant conceded to him that he was fired because of sexual orientation. You can view the Petition for Writ of Certiorari using this link.

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New TBA Sidebar Podcast Episode Shares Benefits of Improv Comedy For Lawyers

A new installment of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network show, Sidebar, is now available. The episode focuses on improv skills for attorneys and features interviews with the co-owner of the Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville and Kirsten Jacobson, staff attorney at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and improv student. Sidebar is available on the TBA's website or anywhere you listen to podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and TuneIn. Simply search the show title of "Tennessee Bar Association." Do you have a story lead you'd like to hear on a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Roberts to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising medical needs of its rural citizens and seeks to realize its Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many developments on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these plans on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. Roberts’ address — along with presentations by Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary and health care policy advisor to the White House Larry Van Horn — will make this year’s forum the must-see, must-do event in health law. You can learn more and see the rest of the program’s stellar line-up using this link.
 
When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Oct. 17
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
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Does Tennessee's Block Grant Proposal Jibe With Medicaid Statute?

Lawyers across the country have begun to weigh in on Tennessee’s block grant Medicaid proposal, including one University of Michigan (UM) law professor who questions the legality of such a measure, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. UM professor Nicholas Bagley, who teaches and writes about administrative law, regulatory theory and health law, in a recent health policy blog post contends that Tennessee’s plan to issue a waiver as specified in section 1115 of the Medicaid statute would not apply to section 1903, which he maintains is “pointedly omitted from the list of statutory provisions that HHS is empowered to waive.” Bagley went on to say, "you can't use Medicaid waivers to change Medicaid's financing structure. And that's exactly what Tennessee is proposing to do.” Tennessee's current $12.1 billion TennCare program includes $7.5 billion in federal money.

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The Hidden Cost of Medicaid Benefits

A recent article by The Atlantic explores the Medicaid assistance program and its implications regarding the estates of decedent beneficiaries. The piece examines one case in particular where a Massachusetts woman was notified of an almost $200,000 lien on a family home after her mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. As it stands, Medicaid is the only welfare program that can function as a loan, with recipients over the age of 55 expected to repay the government for medical expenses or face seizure of property to satisfy the debt.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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September Episode Of TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Available

Get a monthly recap of bar association news and upcoming events on this month’s episode of BarBuzz, part of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network. Also included in the network are Sidebar, a show covering human interest stories from attorneys in Tennessee and HealthyBar, a podcast centered on attorney wellbeing. The shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA’s website. Simply search the show title or “Tennessee Bar Association” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Growing Acceptance for 'Gender X' from States, Companies

A growing number of states and companies are allowing people to designate their gender as “X” instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, The Wall Street Journal reports. Nine states and the District of Columbia now allow it, and at least six more states say they will make the change in the coming months. “The developments are moving so fast,” Vanderbilt Law School professor Jessica Clarke told the newspaper. With the legalization of same-sex marriage there are fewer legal arrangements that rely on categorizing a person as a man or a woman, she said, leaving few legal reasons to restrict people to two gender categories.

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