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.

Carr Says Akin Should Stay, But Denies Agreement on Rape

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, denied telling a reporter today that he agreed with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that victims of “legitimate rape” seldom carry pregnancies to term, but he stood by his position that Akin should not be pressured to leave the Missouri Senate race. Carr confirmed to the Tennessean that he does not think Akin should be forced to drop out, but that view does not constitute proof that he agrees with Akin on the subject of rape.

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South Carolina Voter ID Law Trial Underway

The federal trial over South Carolina's voter identification law began Monday. During testimony, state Sen. George "Chip" Campsen III cited examples of fraud that he took into consideration while drafting early versions of South Carolina's law. But under questioning from Justice Department attorney Anna Baldwin, Campsen said the examples he gave did not involve the type of fraud that requiring photo identification would address. The Justice Department rejected South Carolina's law, passed last year, which requires specific photo identification be shown in order to vote. The department decided the law violates Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters. South Carolina's voter photo ID law was subject to approval from the Justice Department because of its history of racial discrimination. WRCB has this AP story

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Public Policy Added to UT Master's Degree

The University of Tennessee this fall began offering a new master of public policy and administration through a partnership between the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the College of Arts and Science’s political science department. The new degree replaces the existing master of public administration degree that has been offered for more than 40 years. The degree will "equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective managers, responsible executives and ethical public servants,” program director Professor David Folz said.

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Official Investigation Opens into 10th District Allegations

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today announced they have opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct and financial improprieties in the 10th Judicial District, the Times Free Press reports. On Saturday, three legislators also responded to allegations of legal and ethical impropriety surrounding 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steven Bebb. State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, House Judiciary Chair Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, and Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said impeachment proceedings could be started in January after the Tennessee General Assembly returns to session. “The integrity of the system of justice in the 10th District and in our state should not be determined by mere rumors, nor should the reputation of Steve Bebb," said Bell, who is secretary on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Cleveland Daily Banner has more

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Lawmakers Question Campus Gun and Knife Rules

Revisions to the University of Tennessee student conduct rules has sparked concern among some legislators who questioned rules banning guns and most knives with blades three inches or longer. The revamped rules also add some new provisions, such as a prohibition on surreptitiously recording another student when he or she has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." Under state law, the legislature must sign off on all new rules promulgated by state agencies. The Government Operations Committee this week gave its OK, but the rules will go before the full general assembly early next year, the News Sentinel reports.

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Summerville Booted as Chair for Comments to Black Caucus

State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, doesn’t “give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks.” That is what he told Memphis state Rep. Barbara Cooper via email Wednesday in response to her report from the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators criticising the probe of a state university for changing students’ grades. Response was swift on Thursday, TNReport says, when Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham stripped Summerville of his chairmanship on the Higher Education Subcommittee. On Friday, Summerville resigned from the Senate Education Committee, the Commercial Appeal reports and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said Friday that he has been asked to take over as chairman of the subcommittee, the Tennessean reports in its In Session blog.

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GOP Panel to Hear Vote Challenge

A special panel of state Republican Party executive committee members was to meet behind closed doors this morning to consider a challenge to a legislative primary race. The six-member subcommittee appointed by Chairman Chris Devaney was to evaluate the challenge brought by Shirley Curry, who wants to overturn her four-vote loss in the House District 71 primary. Adam Nickas, executive director of the party, declined to elaborate on the reason for the closed hearing or the basis for Curry’s challenge. The panel is expected to make recommendations to the full executive committee on Sept. 5. The News Sentinel reports

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LAWPAC Makes Campaign Contributions

LAWPAC -- the state legislative, independent, multi-candidate, political campaign committee for Tennessee lawyers -- has made contributions in 15 races this fall. At left, LAWPAC treasurer Allan Ramsaur (left) joins LAWPAC executive committee chair Nathan Ridley (right) in presenting a check to Tennessee Senate candidate Phillip North. See a complete list of candidates supported by LAWPAC this fall.

LAWPAC Makes Initial Contributions For Fall Campaign

LAWPAC -- the state legislative, independent, multi-candidate, political campaign committee for Tennessee lawyers -- today made known its contributions in 15 fall legislative races. In 10 of the 15 races , the candidates receiving contributions are lawyers. The group also made donations where candidates are law students, serve as key legislative committee officers, have relatives who are lawyers or take into account the views of lawyers on critical issues. See the full list of candidates supported by LAWPAC this fall.

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Both Sides of Aisle See Changes

Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, leaders of their respective parties talked together recently about changes for both parties, acknowledging the Republican majority in the Senate has seen some difference from within the last year. “This a typical trajectory, if you will,” Norris said. “The larger your majority grows, the more likely you are to have different opinions." Meanwhile, Kyle said Democrats have to get better at being the minority party and remember that Republicans became the majority in the state House and state Senate based on being an effective minority. The Daily News Journal has more

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