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.

Casada Elected Republican Nominee for House Speaker

State House Republicans today selected longtime Franklin lawmaker Glen Casada to be their nominee for the chamber's next speaker, The Tennessean reports. Casada was chosen over Reps. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, and David Hawk, R-Greeneville. His election comes eight years after he lost his bid for speaker to Beth Harwell, who resigned from her seat to run for governor this year. A tea party favorite, Casada was viewed as the most conservative choice for the position.
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Former Senate Minority Leader Ben Atchley Dies at 88

Former state Sen. Ben Atchley, who served as Senate Minority Leader during his time in the legislature, died yesterday Knoxnews reports. He was 88. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and a former Southern Bell lineman, Atchley was first elected to the Tennessee House in 1972 and to the Tennessee Senate shortly after in 1976. Nicknamed "Gentle Ben," he retired in 2004 after serving 32 years with a reputation of resolving differences between lawmakers. A graveside service will be held at New Prospect Presbyterian Church Cemetery, 4920 Prospect Rd. in Knoxville on Sunday at 1 p.m. Following a graveside service, the family will receive friends at Graystone Presbyterian Church, 139 S. Woodlawn Pike, from 2:30 p.m., with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 4 p.m. Memorials may be made to Graystone Presbyterian Church or the charity of your choice.
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Covington Businessman Enters Race to Replace Norris

Covington businessman Paul Rose will join the race for the 32nd District Senate seat vacated by Mark Norris, The Daily Memphian reports. Rose, 65, owns a construction company and is a Republican from Tipton County. His announcement sets up a potential four-way race for the job, with three others mulling a run for the seat that Norris only officially resigned last week. Gov. Bill Haslam has yet to officially call for a special election to fill the final two years of Norris' term.
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Attorneys Graduate TBA’s First Public Service Academy

The first class of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Academy graduated this weekend in Nashville. The program was designed to support lawyers who intend to seek local public offices such as city council, county commission and school board. The bipartisan group of lawyers from across the state trained on topics including messaging, budgets, field strategy and social media for their future campaigns. Many also announced their intent to run in their upcoming municipal elections in 2019. See photos here.
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Vick to Chair Bass Berry's Government Advocacy Group

Bass, Berry & Sims announced today that Erica Bell Vick will serve as chair of the firm’s government advocacy and public policy practice group, The Nashville Post reports. Vick succeeds Richard “Dick” Lodge, who will retire at year’s end. Vick will advocate for clients’ business interests before the Tennessee General Assembly and before various executive branch departments, agencies and commissions of state government.
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Hargett: Norris Replacement Likely to be Filled Via Special Election

State Sen. Mark Norris’ legislative seat will likely be filled by a special election, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said this week, The Commercial Appeal reports. Norris was confirmed last week to fill a vacant federal judgeship in West Tennessee. Norris has not technically resigned from his current seat, which must be done in order for Gov. Bill Haslam to call for a special election. In the extremely unlikely case that Norris were to resign prior to Election Day, it would create a write-in contest to fill the seat on the Nov. 6 ballot.
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TBA Public Service Academy Holds First Session

The TBA’s Public Service Academy met for the first time this weekend, with a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys from across the state gathering to learn the basics of running for local elected office. On Friday, former state senator and current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doug Overbey, spoke about his experiences campaigning and holding elected office. On Saturday, former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell spoke to the group about his life as a mayor and former legislator, as well as the importance of attorneys choosing a life of public service. The class heard further presentations about fundraising, building a campaign team, crafting their campaign message and more. They will reconvene again Nov. 9-10 in Nashville for another weekend training.
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Appeals Court Finds Jeremy Durham Has Standing to Sue for Benefits

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that former Tennessee legislator Jeremy Durham, who was expelled from the House of Representatives two years ago, has standing to sue the state over health insurance and pension benefits he claims he is owed, The Nashville Post reports. Last year, the federal District Court ruled differently, saying Durham had no right to sue the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley and Treasurer David Lillard because they did not cause Durham to be expelled. The new ruling states Durham has standing “because his injury that he seeks to remedy is fairly traceable to the administrators’ conduct.”
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SCOTUS Lets Stand Decision Requiring Dark Money Disclosure

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court’s decision forcing politically active nonprofit groups to disclose the identity of any donor giving more than $200 when those groups advertise for or against political candidates, The Atlantic reports. It’s not immediately clear whether nonprofit groups that advocate for and against political candidates must retroactively disclose their funders or only do so going forward.
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Casada to Run for Speaker of the House

Tennessee State House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, announced his plans today to run for speaker of the House, The Nashville Post reports. Casada was long presumed to make a bid for the position, as he previously ran for it against Current Speaker Beth Harwell in 2010. Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, and Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, are also seeking the position.
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