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.

Legislative Update: More Caption Bills Among 1,500 Filed

There was a dramatic spike in the number of bill filings this week as lawmakers rushed to introduce legislation in advance of the House and Senate filing deadlines on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. While House rules limit most members to filing no more than 15 bills, many legislators filed their full allotment, and by the close of business on Thursday approximately 1,500 bills were filed for the year. Interestingly, there was a huge increase in "caption bills," which carry a caption broad enough to cover any number of legislative topics, and certainly more or different topics than what the bill seems to address on its face. These bills can be amended at the last moment to cover any topic allowed by the caption of the bill, and are frequently used to give legislators or lobbyists a way to comply with bill filing deadlines while not revealing the true purpose of the bill. The TBA Government Affairs team will keep an eye on these bills to see whether they are amended or begin to move. Next week the committees will step up their activity and have heavier agendas. Many committee chairs are encouraging members to go ahead and place their bills on notice, with the goal of completing as much work as possible before budget presentations begin in March.
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TBA Begins Weekly Livestream Legislative Updates

The TBA launched a series of weekly video legislative updates today, which will be posted most Thursdays while the Tennessee General Assembly is in session. Catch up with today's video on YouTube and tune in next Thursday on Facebook live.
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Senate Minority Leader Proposes Redistricting Prior to 2020 Censes

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, is proposing a bipartisan congressional redistricting process ahead of the 2020 census, The Nashville Post reports. His plan would establish a five-member redistricting commission tasked with developing a new congressional map following each census, which would include four voting members appointed by the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Each action by the body, including the appointment of a nonvoting chair, would require three votes. No one who ran for or held public office, or worked for a political party, in the previous four years would be allowed to serve on the commission, and no one who had been a lobbyist in the previous two years would be allowed. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Republican Senate speaker, pushed back on the proposal, saying the commission was not necessary. 
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TBA Legislative Agenda – Probate Omnibus bill

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, have introduced a bill drafted by the TBA’s Probate Study Group, and supported by the TBA. SB542/HB675 addresses a variety of different issues within estates and trusts, such as allowing a trustee who has resigned the authority to petition the court for a release and discharge from all liability related to the trust and also permitting a revocable living trust that becomes irrevocable upon the death of the settlor to refer to a written statement of personal property not otherwise disposed of by the revocable trust. The TBA Governmental Affairs team will work with legislators to make this bill law.
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House Republicans File Legislation to Limit Nashville Police Oversight Board

A newly created civilian board tasked with overseeing the Metro Nashville Police Department could lose its subpoena powers, a move that would significantly hinder the panel's ability to investigate alleged officer misconduct, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee House Republican leaders announced yesterday that they have filed legislation to limit citizen boards' authority to compel witness testimony or issue subpoenas for documents, among other restrictions that would apply to any similar board around the state. The Metro Nashville Council last month elected its 11-member community oversight board, which voters approved by referendum in November through an amendment to the city charter.
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Republicans File Medical Marijuana Proposal

Two Republican lawmakers introduced a comprehensive bill Monday that would allow Tennesseans suffering from a variety of maladies to use medical marijuana, The Tennessean reports. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, is dubbed the "Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act." More than a dozen illnesses would qualify under the proposal.
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Tennessee Senators Propose Changes to Judicial Branch

Several State Senators are proposing a number of changes to the judicial branch, including another run at removing party labels from judicial elections in Davidson and Shelby counties and the creation of a new judicial district, The Nashville Post reports. A proposal from Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, would require elections for state trial court judgeships and county judicial offices to be conducted in a nonpartisan manner in Davidson and Shelby counties. Another newly filed bill from Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, would establish a 32nd judicial district in Tennessee. Williamson County, which currently shares the 21st judicial district with Hickman, Lewis and Perry counties, would get its own district while the three smaller counties would remain together.
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TBAToday Legislative Update

This week the House and Senate were both in session, and legislators were primarily focused on preparing bills to be filed before the Feb. 6 bill filing deadline next week. Committee meetings this week were mostly organizational, but next week they will start to consider legislation. The TBA is in the process of having the TBA legislative initiatives introduced. This year’s TBA legislation was drafted by the Adoption Law Section, the Creditors’ Practice Section, the Probate Study Group, and the Construction Law Section. We are also working closely with the Juvenile Court judges and the trial judges on a bill clarifying subject matter jurisdiction on family law matters before the trial courts. And finally we are working with the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to help introduce legislation drafted by Tennessee high school students participating in the YLD Civic Achievement Through Activism in the Legislature by Young Students in Tennessee (CATALYST) program.
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TBA Legislative Agenda – Service of Process

Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, and Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, introduced a bill yesterday, drafted by the TBA’s Creditors Practice Section, and supported by the TBA. SB 456/HB 393 allows for process to be valid if a private process server does not include a mailing or physical address on the service return. The TBA Governmental Affairs team will work with legislators to pass this bill and have it signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.
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House Rep. Challenges Ban on Livestreaming

A Democratic state representative says he plans to continue personally livestreaming committee meetings, despite a ban on the practice announced this week, The Tennessean reports. Standing on the House floor yesterday, Rep. G.A. Hardaway asked Speaker Glen Casada where in the rules adopted by the House a ban on livestreaming was referenced. "If they can't show me that, it's not a rule, and thus it does not apply to any member of this House," Hardaway said.
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