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.

Shipley Starts Campaign for 3rd Term

Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley kicked off his re-election bid for a third term in office Thursday night with testimonials from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, other state lawmakers and local officials, according to the Kingsport Times News. Shipley, R-Kingsport, is again seeking the 2nd House District seat in the GOP primary and faces a challenge from former Kingsport Alderman Ben Mallicote.

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High Court Declines to Review Residency Dispute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Shelley Breeding, who wanted to run for Knox County's new seat in the state House but was ruled ineligible because her home is just outside the district, WATE reports.

Settlement Reached in Voter Files Case

A spokesman for Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins say they both welcome a settlement reached last week in a legal dispute involving state voter files. Tennessee Democratic Party officials say their data experts found full or partial voter histories missing for about 11,000 state-maintained voter files they obtained last month. The assertions were introduced in federal court Friday in a lawsuit filed by Democrats and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who was turned away from the polls in the March primary. U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp requested both sides agree to a proposed consent decree, which they did Friday night. It will be submitted to the court this week. The Times Free Press reports

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Candidate to Take Appeal to Supreme Court

Shelley Breeding will ask the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear the residency issue that is keeping her off a Democrat primary ballot for the new 89th House District seat. Breeding has disputed the accuracy of maps that show part of her residential lot, including her house, are in Anderson County, while her driveway and mailbox are in Knox County, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

DA's Role in Campaign Questioned

A Roane County election official is calling for an investigation into whether 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson violated the law by aiding the campaign of former state Rep. Dennis Ferguson for Roane County road supervisor, the News Sentinel reports. Johnson depicts the matter as a "lapse in judgment" in which an employee reserved a domain name for the candidate as an unpaid favor outside business hours. He said no further campaign work occurred.

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6th Congressional District Race a Rematch from 2010

The nasty primary between U.S. Rep. Diane Black and tea party activist Lou Ann Zelenik two years ago is being repeated this summer as the two face off in August for the Republican nomination to represent Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. The battle also could help shape the character of the Tennessee Republican Party for years to come — offering voters a straight-up choice between a firebrand activist and a veteran Republican lawmaker who differ in style more than they differ on policy. Read more in the Tennessean

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Rep. Curry Todd Indicted

State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, has been indicted by a Davidson County grand jury on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence stemming from his October 2011 arrest, The Tennessean reports. Todd, a chief proponent of a 2010 law that allowed permit holders to carry guns into places that serve alcohol, was arrested after officers found a loaded handgun in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Despite the arrest, Todd, who is a retired police officer, does not face opposition for his House seat. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said Monday that the indictments will make it “difficult if not impossible” for Todd to be restored to his powerful post as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee from which he resigned after his arrest.

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Court May Take Second Look at Campaign Financing Case

At their private conference, the justices of the Supreme Court are scheduled to decide Thursday whether and how to take a second look at the Citizens United campaign finance decision. Observers believe that it's a sure bet that the court will look at it. The justices have already temporarily blocked a lower court decision in the case. In that decision, the Montana Supreme Court seemed to defy the higher court by saying that a state law regulating corporate political spending was constitutional notwithstanding Citizens United. The main question on Thursday, then, will be how the court will reverse the Montana decision. It could call for briefs, set the case down for argument in the fall and issue a decision months later. Or it could use a favorite tool of the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — the summary reversal. Read more in The New York Times

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Online Efforts Don't Impress Open Government Advocates

Gov. Bill Haslam announced moves to give taxpayers access to state construction and traffic tie-up data on their smartphones this fall and just finished a massive overhaul of the state’s website in an effort to give residents more information. But various open government groups give Tennessee’s website grades ranging from a “B” overall, to a “C+” for transparency of the state budget process to a “D-” for online access to government spending data. The Tennessee Report looks into it

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New District Pits Two Established Memphis Dems Against Each Other

Democratic primary voters in Memphis must choose between two of the party's Memphis leaders -- State Sens. Jim Kyle and Beverly Marrero -- as a result of this year's redistricting of the state legislature. Shelby County is losing one of the six Senate seats it has held since the 1960s because of slower population growth than other areas, placing Kyle and Marrero together in a newly configured Senate District 30. Read about the candidates in the Commercial Appeal, and the issues the redistricting raises for them.

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