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.

Study on Voter ID Fraud Turns Up Few Cases

A group that's part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education focused on investigative reporting, analyzed 2,608 alleged election-fraud cases back to 2000 in all 50 states. In all, they found just 10 cases of voter impersonation. In Tennessee, the study turned up 14 total cases of reported fraud since 2000, none of which were cases of voter impersonation. The city of Memphis filed a lawsuit last week challenging the state's voter ID law on constitutional grounds. The Nashville Scene has more

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Courthouse Room Named for Former House Speaker

John T. Cunningham was honored Sunday when a Community Room in the Montgomery County Court House was dedicated to him. Cunningham served as Speaker of the House and, subsequently, county judge for Montgomery County.  Read more in the Leaf Chronicle

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6th Circuit: Put Green and Constitution Parties on Ballots

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee's November general election ballot in several races. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came following a request for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state's ballot access. The News Sentinel has more

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Memphis Files Direct Challenge to Photo ID Law

The city of Memphis is now mounting a direct challenge to the state’s voter photo identification law claiming the law adds a qualification beyond what is required in the state constitution. Attorneys for the city filed a motion Tuesday in federal court to amend their original suit, which sought approval for using photo library cards as valid voter identification. The new claim argues that Article 4, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution prohibits the imposition of additional qualifications beyond those enumerated: that voters be at least 18 years old, residents of the state and the United States, and registered in the county where the election is held. The Memphis Daily News has more

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Clayton Threatens FEC Complaint Against Party

Mark Clayton, presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, has called on Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester to resign or be dismissed from his post for refusing to support a party nominee and using party resources to attack “a duly elected nominee.” The Democratic Party has disavowed Clayton and was pursuing options this week for invalidating his primary win and holding a new election. Clayton said that if Forrester is not out of office by Monday, he plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. The News Sentinel reports

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Kernell Leaves 'Dream Job' After 38 Years

Rep. Mike Kernell talks with the Memphis Daily News about his 38 years in the House, calling it "a dream job." Kernell lost in last week's primary to fellow Democratic incumbent G.A. Hardaway. “We just flat ran out of money,” Kernell said. The District 93 race was where local election officials first acknowledged voters received incorrect ballots. By some estimates several hundred votes were affected. But with Hardaway's unofficial margin exceeding 1,000 votes, Kernell said he is unlikely to challenge the result.

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Former Sen. Ford Out of Prison This Month

Former state senator John Ford should be released from prison later this month after more than four years behind bars, his brother, Edmund Ford Sr., said today. The Memphis Democrat reported to prison on April 28, 2008, following a bribery conviction. He is expected to be released to a halfway house in less than two weeks, his brother said. Read more in the Commercial Appeal

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Casada to Support Harwell for Speaker

Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, told the Associated Press that he won't make another run for Speaker of the House despite the defeat of seven Republican House incumbents in last week's primary races. "Beth's done a good job and I will be supporting Beth for speaker next year," Casada said. Casada was considered the favorite for the speakership after Republicans picked up 14 seats in the 99-member chamber in 2010. But Harwell, a former professor and state Republican Party chairwoman, won the caucus nomination in a secret ballot. The News Sentinel reports

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Commission Asks Legislators for All Correspondence on School Issue

Lawyers handling the Shelby County Commission's municipal school-district lawsuit have asked the entire Tennessee legislature for "all communications or letters," including e-mail, regarding the consolidation of the city and county schools and the creation of new municipal school districts. The request by lawyers from the Baker Donelson law firm includes communications from "any citizen, constituents, residents or anyone else," legislative administrators said today. The request is not a subpoena but legislative officials said they are complying and sent a letter Friday to all 132 members of the General Assembly and their aides asking them if they had anything they felt fell under the scope of the request. The Commercial Appeal has more

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Election a 'Mixed Bag' for Challengers

Thursday's state legislative primary results likely signal more infighting among Republicans in the next two-year legislative term, particularly between the GOP's pro-business and tea party wings in the House, the Commercial Appeal argues. The paper calls the results "a mixed bag" for more conservative challengers.  Read its election follow-up

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