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.

Bill Would Make It Easier to Get Concealed Carry Permit in Tennessee

A bill has been introduced in the legislature that would lessen requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit, The Tennessean reports. Under the current system, individuals must pay $100, take an eight-hour training course and undergo a background check. The new proposal, which sponsor Rep. Andy Holt says was designed to make the process cheaper for permit-seekers, would reduce the number of training hours required to two. It would also allow people to renew their permit every eight years instead of every five.
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TBA Bills Advance in Judiciary Committee

Despite having a somewhat compressed schedule due to the President’s day holiday, the legislature picked up steam this week in anticipation of Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address, which will occur in less than two weeks. The TBA's adoption bills, SB208/HB287 and SB207/HB288 both passed the House Judiciary Committee this week, with SB208 also passing in the Senate. The CATALYST bill (SB837/HB1002), which requires every person applying for a driver license or photo identification card to be automatically registered to vote upon the applicant's 18th birthday, will go before the Senate State and Local Government Committee next week. SB719/HB854, which allows a trial court to exercise domestic relations jurisdiction regardless of the nature of the allegations unless and until a pleading is filed or relief is otherwise sought in a juvenile court invoking its exclusive original jurisdiction, will be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee next week.
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Attorneys for Rep. Byrd Ask Federal Court to Drop Free Speech Lawsuit

State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit in which a Wayne County High School student alleged that the lawmaker and school officials violated free speech rights by telling students to wear shirts advertising Byrd’s campaign, The Nashville Post reports. The defendants alleged in a Thursday court filing that the anonymous student was not on the field trip last year. Byrd’s attorneys argued that prior to the student’s “voluntary decision to forego attending the field trip” he was told there was “no requirement whatsoever” that the student wear the t-shirt.
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TBA Weekly Video Legislative Update - CATALYST

The TBA's legislative update livestreamed this afternoon featured TBA Young Lawyers Division President Christian Barker, who helped explain the TBA YLD's CATALYST program and its accompanying legislation. Watch the livestream here and submit your questions about the TBA's legislative agenda to TBA Public Policy Director Berkley Schwarz.

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Thornton to Chair Council for Judicial Appointments, 3 New Members Named

Gov. Bill Lee announced new members to the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments, as well as the appointment of Gif Thornton as chair. The council is responsible for recommending candidates to the governor to fill vacancies for Tennessee’s appellate courts. New members include David McKinney of Memphis, who is currently the Vice President of Government Relations for AutoZone Inc., Jody Pickens of Jackson, who is currently the District Attorney General for the 26th Judicial District, and Charles Tuggle of Memphis, who is currently the General Counsel for First Horizon National Corp. Current members of the council, including George Brown, Sarah K. Campbell, David Golden, Rosemarie Hill, Michelle Long and Cheryl Rice, will continue to serve.
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Bill Would Require Tennesseans to Officially Declare Party Affiliation to Vote in Primaries

A bill requiring Tennessee voters to declare their party affiliation in order to vote in a primary election made its way through its first committee today, The Tennessean reports. The legislation would force voters to choose between being registered as a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated with a statewide party or other in order to cast a primary ballot. If a voter chooses unaffiliated, they would not be able to vote in any primary elections. The bill was met with concerns from Democrats and Republicans, but received key support in the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee. Gov. Bill Lee and former Gov. Bill Haslam both expressed opposition to such a measure in the past.
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New Legislation Aims to Make Craft Brewing Easier

A new bill proposed by an East Tennessee senator aiming to encourage the craft beer industry would authorize beer makers to self-distribute beer within a 100-mile radius of production, the Nashville Post reports. State law currently only allows self-distribution within the county in which the brewery operates. The new proposal would limit qualified brewers to those that produce 50,000 gallons or fewer.
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Audit Shows Lawmaker Spending Campaign Money Illegally

Tennessee state Rep. Harold Love Jr., D-Nashville, was found by a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance audit to have spent thousands of dollars of campaign money for dry cleaning, trips, meals and other questionable purchases, The Tennessean reports. Love was also found in violation of reporting laws, failing to report $7,830 in donations, failing to provide enough data for more than $1,000 in contributions and failing to properly itemizes thousands in expenditures. Love pushed back against the allegations, saying that many of the questionable purchases had been made for constituents. House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, said there should be an investigation before any conclusions are drawn.
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Committee Action Heats Up; 2 TBA Adoption Bills Advance

Activity on Capitol Hill has picked up now that all bills have all been introduced and referred to their respective committees. The TBA has circulated legislation affecting attorneys to the TBA Sections’ Executive Councils for review and feedback and are busy communicating positions on legislation to bill sponsors and committee chairs. The TBA’s two adoption bills (HB287/SB208, Adoption Corrections, and HB288/SB207, Post-adoption Contact Agreements) were recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Children and Families Subcommittee. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 20.
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2 Memphis Legislators Under Scrutiny for Campaign Finance Reporting

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has issued show-cause notices to Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Rep. Joe Towns, both Memphis Democrats, for shortcomings in their campaign finance reporting, The Daily Memphian reports. Hardaway, who filed his pre-general report late last year, had previously been told to submit a corrected report to show $7,000 in political action committee contributions by Jan. 18, but the report he filed contained no corrected information. The Registry voted to asses Towns $20,000 in civil penalties for failing to make two financial reports.
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