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.

Republicans Forecast Difficult Battle to Replace Casada

With a jumble of House Republicans taking aim at the House Speaker’s seat, Rep. Mark White, R-East Memphis, says “consensus” candidates are necessary before the vote goes to the floor, the Daily Memphian reports. Three have officially declared their candidacy for the House Speaker’s post being vacated by Glen Casada, but several more are being discussed for the position. Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, said that major changes are in order following Casada's brief tenure. Casada does not plan to step down until Aug. 2, leaving many weeks for Tennessee's legislators to debate who will succeed him.
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Clarksville Rep. Joins Race for House Speaker

Tennessee House Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, has confirmed that he will seek the House Speakership position following the planned resignation of Rep. Glen Casada from the role, the Leaf Chronicle reports. Deputy Speaker Matthew Hill, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn, Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton, Rep. Mike Carter, Rep. Robin Smith and Rep. Ryan Williams are all also rumored to be gauging interest in the position. Johnson portrayed himself as a temperate lawmaker who had avoided scandal, and one who would help unify the Republican caucus.
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Casada to Resign Leadership Position on Aug. 2, Calls for Special Session

More than two weeks after announcing he would resign from his leadership position, House Speaker Glen Casada today said he would step down effective Aug. 2, the Tennessean reports. Following a meeting with House Republican leadership Tuesday afternoon, Casada said in addition to resigning from his role as speaker in two months, he will ask Gov. Bill Lee to call a special session. Holt Whitt, director of policy for the speaker's office, said Casada's delayed resignation date was part of an effort to provide enough time for members to decide who will be the chamber’s next leader.
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Surgeon Enters GOP Primary for Alexander's Senate Seat

Trauma surgeon Manny Sethi says he's running for the GOP nomination for Tennessee's open U.S. Senate seat, the Associated Press reports. Sethi made the announcement today, months after Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said he was not seeking reelection in 2020. In the announcement video, the 41-year-old Sethi described himself as a conservative outsider who supports President Donald Trump. Democratic Nashville attorney and former Army helicopter pilot James Mackler is also running for the seat.
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Tennessee Rep. Jim Coley Won't Seek Re-election Next Year

Tennessee House Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, announced today he would not seek re-election next year. He recently was diagnosed with the early stages of dementia, the Daily Memphian reports. Coley has served in the House for 13 years, during which he championed tougher human trafficking laws. “It has been an incredible honor to serve the men, women and families of our community during my time in the House chamber, and I am proud of the progress we have made protecting our children from exploitation and abuse,” Coley said in a statement.
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Governor Calls On Rep. Byrd to Address Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Gov. Bill Lee says Rep. David Byrd, the Waynesboro Republican accused by three women of sexually assaulting them, now needs to answer to the allegations made against him more than a year ago, the Tennessean reports. Lee for months avoided taking a position on whether action should be taken against Byrd, although he met with one of his accusers in March. After two high-ranking House Republicans weighed in this week saying they believed the women's allegations, Lee followed suit Thursday afternoon. “I met with Christi Rice and found her to be credible," Lee said in a statement. "While the House must determine if Rep. Byrd should continue service, I believe it is past time for him to address these allegations publicly.”
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2 Candidates Seeking House Speakership, Dunn to Serve as Temporary Replacement

State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, became the first lawmaker to publicly signal interest in running to succeed House Speaker Glen Casada, who announced on Tuesday he planned to step back from the leadership role, the Nashville Post reports. Joining in the competition today is Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, who has sent a letter to Republican colleagues declaring his bid for the speakership, TNJ on the Hill reports. Carter pledges not to change any committee chairmanships, though he calls for an overhaul of the chamber’s rules to promote integrity. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, will take over on an interim basis upon Casada’s resignation, which is expected after he returns from a vacation on June  3.
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McNally Calls for Casada to Step Down as Speaker

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally today called for House Speaker Glen Casada to step down from his leadership post, while Gov. Bill Lee said that if Casada worked for him, he'd ask him to resign, the Tennessean reports. “It has been my goal over the past few days to allow the House of Representatives to address the issues they are facing without distraction," McNally said. "I am very aware that any comments from the other chamber can be counterproductive to their ongoing process. Questions of resignation or removal remain up to Speaker Casada and the House alone. I would expect any removal process to include due process." Casada is currently embroiled in a scandal involving his former chief of staff's sexual misconduct, racist messages and possible attempt at framing an activist.
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TBA Video Wraps Up High Points of Legislative Session

With the Tennessee General Assembly wrapping up business last week, today's weekly video update will be the last one for the year. Government Affairs Director Berkley Schwarz and Communications Coordinator Katharine Heriges are joined by TBA lobbyist Brad Lampley to take one last look at the TBA's bills for this session, as well as briefly discuss the tumult surrounding the past two weeks. Watch the full video on Facebook and catch up on previous ones on the TBA YouTube channel.
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Some Republicans Ask Casada to Step Aside, Dems Call for Investigation

Some Republicans are calling for House Speaker Glen Casada to step down after scandal has rocked his office, while Democrats are calling for a federal investigation following reports that the speaker’s former chief of staff could eavesdrop on committee rooms and fears that recording devices might have been placed in legislators’ offices. The Tennessean reports that while many GOP legislators offered support for Casada, several others called for resignation, including Rep. Bill  Dunn, R-Knoxville, Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby. Casada released an "action plan" late this afternoon, calling for an independent investigation and diversity training for legislators and staff.
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