News

GOP Lawmakers Want New Abortion Clinic Rules

Five Republican senators have asked Gov. Bill Haslam to order a series of emergency rules to govern how abortion clinics dispose of fetal remains, The Tennessean reports. In a letter to the governor, the lawmakers also asked the governor to authorize a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into Planned Parenthood and Tennessee’s other abortion providers. Planned Parenthood Tennessee officials say neither of its clinics participate in tissue sale or donation programs. 

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6th Circuit: Hobby Lobby Case Not Applicable to Contraception ‘Accommodation’

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said today it will not strike down the Affordable Care Act’s federal contraceptive mandate despite objections from the Michigan Catholic Conference, several Tennessee Catholic nonprofits and other religious-based groups, according to the Detroit News. The organizations had argued their rights were violated under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by the so-called accommodation rule, which allows religious groups to avoid paying for contraceptive services but still requires insurance carriers to provide the services to the groups’ employees. The judges upheld an earlier decision that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby opinion does not apply in this case, but put the mandate will be on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

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Legislators Push for More Abortion Clinic Regulations

State legislators say the Health Department should have more authority to track how fetal tissue is disposed of after abortions, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. In a joint hearing of the Government Operations Committee, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, expressed concern that illegal tissues sales could still be going on without health inspectors’ knowledge.

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Zachary Wins House Seat in Special Election

Jason Zachary thanked a higher power for his win in the Republican primary to represent West Knox County’s 14th District in the Tennessee House. “People would say, ‘Did God really call you to run for Congress?’ And I can say tonight, yes, tonight validates,” that, Zachary told Knoxnews. The telecommunications broker has been an outspoken opponent of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal. The Commercial Appeal looks at what the election may mean for that effort. The special election was held to replace former state Rep. Ryan Haynes who stepped down to become the chairman of the Tennessee Republican party.

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Restraining Order Lifted on Abortion Clinic Law

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp today lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped the state from enforcing an abortion law requiring new licensing standards for clinics, the Tennessean reports. However, Sharp left open the possibility he could revisit the order as soon as Thursday depending if several key district attorneys weigh in on whether they plan to prosecute doctors. Sharp had granted the temporary order after two clinics claimed they were unable to obtain the licenses needed to comply with the new law in time.

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2nd Circuit Upholds Contraceptive Opt-Out

The opt-out process for religious nonprofits that do not want to provide contraceptive insurance coverage for employees under the Affordable Care Act does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The challenge to the process was brought by four Catholic nonprofits, which argued it made them complicit in the delivery of contraceptive services. Six other federal appeals courts have issued similar rulings, either on the merits or by denying preliminary injunctions, the ABA Journal reports.

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Chattanooga, Hamilton County Launch Mental Health Court

The new Chattanooga-Hamilton County Mental Health Court launched yesterday, News Channel 9 reports. The mental health court aims to provide services and break down barriers to recovery for defendants with serious mental illness. The program offers judicial supervision combined with treatment services to help defendants who would otherwise be released without additional support.

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Learn More About the Post Tanco World

The outcome of the historical case Tanco v. Haslam will continue to have a significant impact on several aspects of the law. Join your colleagues on Sept. 18 for the first annual LGBT Law Forum to discuss how the case will impact family law, estate planning, real estate and health care practices. And in case you missed it, the TBA's one-hour webcast on marriage equality covers the basics of the case.

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TJC Elects New Board Officers

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) has appointed eight new board members: Ronette Adams-Taylor, associate general counsel at Meharry Medical College; Mark Behr, professor of English Literature and Fiction Writing at Rhodes College; Marvin Berry Jr., motivational speaker and former TJC client; Nashville lawyer Robb Bigelow; Terri Lynn Casola, litigation paralegal and former TJC client; Justice Janice Holder, former chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court; Brad Morgan, associate director for the Institute for Professional Leadership at the University of Tennessee College of Law; and Jerry Taylor, attorney and partner at Burr & Forman LLP. The TJC also announced its new board chair, Mike Abelow, an attorney at Sherrard & Roe PLC.

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HHS Issues Final Regs on Hobby Lobby Ruling

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final rules implementing the Supreme Court’s ruling that certain businesses that object to providing contraceptive coverage to employees on religious grounds will not have to do so. To be eligible for the exception, businesses must be privately held, with five or fewer individuals owning more than 50 percent of the company, and must notify HHS of the objection. For employees of these businesses, contraception will be provided by the companies’ insurance companies or third-party administrators at no additional cost. The Nashville Business Journal has the story.

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Date Set for Fungal Meningitis Criminal Trial

The 14 suspects accused of being involved in a criminal conspiracy that led to the fungal meningitis outbreak are scheduled to go to trial on April 4, 2016, the Tennessean reports. The U.S. Department of Justice has started sending notices of the trial to those victimized by the outbreak. Tennessee was one of the hardest hit states with 153 illnesses, including 16 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trial will take place in Boston.

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Forum on New Mental Health Court Set for Tuesday

The Hamilton County courts will hold a forum on its new Mental Health Court tomorrow from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Parkridge Diagnostic Center, 2205 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37404. The mental health court will launch later this month with the goal of providing services and breaking down barriers for defendants with serious mental illness, Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

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Obama Talks Health Care While Protesters Defend Confederate Flag

Supporters of the Confederate flag protested President Barack Obama's visit to Nashville today, the Tennessean reports. The flag has come under fire as a symbol of hate and racism after the apparently racially motivated shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina. During his remarks today at Taylor Stratton Elementary School, Obama lauded Tennessee's history of bipartisan efforts to expand health care access as an example of how the nation can move past the recent acrimony to make the U.S. health care system better.

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Court Reverses Dismissal of Health Care Liability Lawsuit

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a health care liability lawsuit against an East Tennessee doctor and hospital, concluding that delivery of pre-suit notice of a health care liability action via FedEx is a proper method of service under Tennessee law. In a unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Supreme Court held that the delivery of pre-suit notice to health care defendants may be achieved by substantially complying with the statute and that use of FedEx as the carrier of the notice letters constitutes substantial compliance. The AOC has more.

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ACA Ruling Spurs Renewed Calls for Insure Tennessee

Health advocates are renewing their push for Insure Tennessee in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. Supporters gathered at Nashville’s Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital yesterday to urge state legislators to approve Gov. Bill Haslam’s alternative Medicaid expansion plan, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Those on hand for the event included representatives from the hospital, Tennessee Business Roundtable, Tennessee Justice Center and a number of federal, state and local elected officials.

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Court Grants 2, Declines Several for Fall

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a Texas affirmative action case when it returns in the fall. It also may hear challenges to a Texas law requiring certain abortion clinics to close, but gave the clinics a reprieve -- allowing them to stay open -- until a final decision is made. In addition, the justices rejected a number of cases, including a copyright dispute between Google with Oracle, an appeal of Clean Water Act fines imposed on BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and two public corruption cases. WDEF News 12 and Knoxnews have more on those decisions.

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President to Speak Wednesday in Middle Tennessee

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, the Tennessean reports. According to a White House official, the president will discuss how the nation can build on progress made under the Affordable Care Act during remarks at the Taylor Stratton Elementary School in the Madison area. It will be Obama’s third visit to the region in the past year and a half.

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Judge's Order Stops Closing of 2 Abortion Clinics

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp today issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing a law requiring two of the state's abortion clinics to meet new standards, the Tennessean reports. The Nashville and Bristol clinics faced certain closure by July 1, the date a new law requiring clinics to meet the stricter standards of ambulatory surgical treatment centers was scheduled to go into effect.

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Bill Banning Religious Exemptions for Vaccines Advances in California

The California House passed a proposal that would outlaw a family's personal and religious beliefs as reasons to exempt their children from school vaccinations, CNN reports. Under the proposal, if a parent chooses to not vaccinate their child, the parent would have to home-school their child or use public school independent study that's administered by local education agencies. 

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ACA Ruling Will Affect Thousands in Tennessee

Tens of thousands of Tennesseans will be able to keep their health insurance in light of today's 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upholds tax subsidies to make insurance more affordable, Knoxnews reports. The decision also solidifies the Affordable Care Act's place in the health care market and may give a boost to Gov. Bill Haslam's controversial health insurance proposal, Insure Tennessee, Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, writes in a letter sent to supporters today. House Minority leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, also wants that to happen and today wrote the governor asking for another special session on the issue, the Tennessean reports. The Tennessee Justice Center also will host a press conference Monday to discuss the decision and what it means for Insure Tennessee. The event will be at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital, 2000 Church Street.

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Supreme Court Rules Affordable Care Act Subsidies are Legal

The Supreme Court today ruled 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal, NPR reports. "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," the court's majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. The decision staved off a major political showdown and what would have been a mad scramble in some states to set up their own health care exchanges to keep millions from losing healthcare coverage. CNN has more

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Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Take Up Major Abortion Case

The Supreme Court is considering an emergency appeal from abortion providers in Texas, who want the justices to block two provisions of a state law that already has forced the closure of roughly half the licensed abortion clinics in the state. Ten of the remaining 19 clinics will have to shut their doors by July 1, without an order from the Supreme Court. The justices could signal by the end of June whether they are likely to take up the biggest case on the hot-button subject in nearly a quarter-century. WATE has more from the Associated Press.

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TennCare Applicant Suit Argued

An attorney for the state of Tennessee, Michael Kirk, told a federal appeals court Thursday that a court order is not needed to protect TennCare applicants because they are no longer being left in indefinite limbo. But Samuel Brooke, who represents the TennCare applicants, told the judges that even though the problems are being resolved, the state still is not fulfilling its duty to process the applications on time. "It seems to me this case is crying out for a settlement," Judge Karen Nelson Moore said, since both seemed to want to help TennCare applicants resolve their problems. The Greeneville Sun reports.

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State Asks Appeals Court to Dismiss TennCare Case

Tennessee is asking a federal appeals court to throw out a class-action suit claiming the state left thousands of TennCare applicants in limbo by failing to rule on applications in a timely manner and refusing to explain delays. Last fall, a federal judge approved class status for the applicants and ordered the state to provide each one with a hearing to explain the delay. The state is appealing to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are set for Thursday. Memphis Daily News has more from the Associated Press.

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Court Races Clock on Gay Marriage, Obamacare and More

The future of same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act hang in the balance as the Supreme Court's 2014 term draws rapidly to a close. But those aren't the only big issues on the justices' plate. The court is slated to complete action on 20 cases involving issues that include free speech, fair elections, religious liberty, racial discrimination, clean air and capital punishment. WBIR has more.

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