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.

State Rep. McCormick Drops Re-election Bid

State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, announced he will not seek re-election after 14 years of service, saying he will drop out of the race immediately, the Times Free Press reports. He will resign from his position in the House on Oct. 1 and return to full-time work. Republicans in House District 26 have a special seven-day opportunity to qualify for the Aug. 2 primary ballot. McCormick denied the sudden change had anything to do with recent reports of a home he and his wife purchased last year in Nashville, triggering questions about residency requirements.
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Blackburn Initially Discouraged from Running for Office, Was Told ‘Waste of Time’

In a new profile of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, she recounts that she was told by political insiders that running for office was a waste of time and money, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The story recounts Blackburn’s downplaying of her role as a female leader, even though she has broken many barriers as a female member of Congress. She was the first woman ever elected to Congress by Tennessee voters – the only female members before her were appointed or had won in special elections.
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TBA, Commercial Appeal to Co-Host Gubernatorial Forum at Convention

The TBA and The Commercial Appeal are teaming up to host a gubernatorial candidate forum during the TBA’s annual Convention in Memphis. The forum will take place on June 14 at 8:30 a.m. during this year’s Bench/Bar program. Four major candidates have confirmed to attend the event, which will be moderated by The Commercial Appeal’s executive editor, Mark Russell. The program will offer the chance to hear each candidate’s position on issues that matter to attorneys, as well as opportunities to mix and mingle with the candidates. The event will be livestreamed on TBA.org.
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TBA Surveying Attorneys Who Represent the Indigent Under Rule 13

The Tennessee Bar Association is soliciting the comments of all Tennessee-licensed attorneys who represent the indigent under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13. In the state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, the Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $9.7 million in additional recurring funding to compensate Tennessee lawyers for representing the indigent under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13. On May 25, the Court issued an order soliciting public input on amending Rule 13 to adjust the hourly rates and per-case caps for this work.  The TBA intends to provide comments. If you handle matter for which you are compensated by the state under Supreme Court Rule 13, please provide us your comments here before June 8.
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President Trump Visits Nashville

President Donald Trump is visiting Tennessee today in support of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign, The Tennessean reports. People traveled from all over the country to line up outside Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium to see the president, who is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m.
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TBA Applauds Governor, General Assembly for Funding Indigent Representation Reform

Tennessee Bar Association President Lucian Pera today applauded Gov. Bill Haslam, the General Assembly and the Tennessee Supreme Court for their partnership in strengthening Tennessee’s commitment to indigent representation. The governor earlier this week signed the FY 2018/19 state budget that includes an additional $9.7 million in recurring funding for indigent representation reform. "Competent representation costs money, and the constitutional right to counsel is only real if lawyers appointed to defend them are paid reasonably,” Pera said in a media release. “The TBA especially wants to thank Chief Justice Jeff Bivins for his courageous leadership in making indigent representation reform and increased funding the Court’s top priority this year.”

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Evidence of Ukrainian Computer Involved in Tennessee Election Cyberattack

Cyber-security experts hired by Knox County to investigate a “denial of service” cyberattack on Election Day, May 1, found evidence linked to a computer in the Ukraine, CBS News reports. The experts added that “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the county’s elections website as votes were being reported. County officials said no voting data was affected, but the site was down for an hour after the polls closed.
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Harwell Campaign, PAC Hired Same Ad Company

House Speaker Beth Harwell and a PAC appearing to support her campaign for governor both made payments to the same Ohio-based advertising company, recent disclosures show, raising questions of coordination, The Tennessean reports. The PAC, Tennesseans for Good State Government – which formally was called “Harwell PAC” – paid $20,000 to Strategic Media Group on March 14. Harwell’s campaign also made a sizable payment to the same company on the same day. If there was connection to the campaign, the PAC would be limited to spending $11,800. An attorney for Tennesseans for Good State Government denied any wrongdoing in the matter. 
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Tennessee Legislature Wraps Up 2018 Session

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned for the year yesterday, with a last-minute flurry of bills passing or dying prior to the gavel. Two proposed constitutional amendments, one which would have declared that “Almighty God” is the source of all liberty and another that would have laid out procedures for replacing a governor when he or she becomes incapacitated, failed, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Legislators also approved a bill yesterday intended to block local governments from taking actions similar to the city of Memphis in regards to Confederate monuments.
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UAPA Appeals Bill Passes Through Legislature

The House and Senate have passed legislation providing that the venue for appeals of contested case hearings under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act will be in the Chancery Court nearest the place of residence of the person contesting the agency action or alternatively, at the person’s discretion, in the Chancery Court nearest to the place where the cause of action arose, or in the Chancery Court of Davidson County. The venue for appeals involving TennCare will continue to be in Davidson County. Sponsored by Senator Mike Bell and Rep. Martin Daniel, the bills (SB2603/HB2386) have been sent to the Speakers for signature. 
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