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.

Rep. Todd Tells Panel He Has Cancer

State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, informed colleagues that he has cancer during a House Commerce Committee hearing today on a proposal to require insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy treatments. Todd later told reporters that he has a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The News Sentinel has more

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Haslam Budget Update Adds Money for Local Jails

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday a budget amendment that includes funding for a more rapid decrease in a food tax cut and extra money for local jails. Increasing the state's daily payment to local jails by $2 a day is designed in part, Haslam says, to help break an impasse over his proposal to require incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders. The $4 million jails reimbursement provision is the most expensive item in Haslam's budget plan. He also announced that weekend negotiations resulted in an agreement from the Tennessee State Employees Association to support his plan to overhaul state civil service rules. The Tennessean has this AP story

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Bill to Stop Pre-trial Diversion for Public Officials Goes to Governor

The House on Monday unanimously approved and sent to the governor a bill prohibiting any public official convicted of a crime related to his or her duties in office from receiving pretrial diversion. The measure has a direct connection to former Judge Richard Baumgartner, who received diversion last year on a charge of official misconduct. "We had an instance in Knox County where we had a judge who went out and committed crimes related to his office," sponsor Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, told colleagues who questioned the need for SB 2566. "He created a whole host of problems." The bill had already passed the Senate unanimously under the sponsorship of Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman. The News Sentinel reports

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Opinion: Fee for Diversion 'Bad Idea'

The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a new tax this week that will require people to pay to have their name cleared upon the completion of diversion. HB 2774, sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, introduces the new tax, which includes $100 that must be paid to the court when requesting diversion. Chattanoogan columnist and lawyer Lee Davis calls the new measure “a bad idea.” Read more

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Campfield Blogs About Gingrich Diss

State Sen. Stacey Campfield responded on his blog to the Gingrich campaign’s request to not seat him at the Republican National Convention. It turns out, Campfield writes, it is up to the delegate, not the campaign, on whether or not a substitution can be made. “Not a good way to ingratiate yourself to the one person who can help you,” he writes. Humphrey on the Hill has more

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Senate Passes Bill to Replace Court of the Judiciary

Tennessee senators voted on Thursday 30-0 to replace the Court of the Judiciary with a new 16-member board called the Board of Judicial Conduct, which would be appointed by judges, legislative leaders and the governor. The board would be comprised of 10 judges and 6 non-judges. The measure, SB 2671, also sets up a procedure for investigating complaints against judges and requires the board to report regularly to the legislature on how grievances are resolved. A companion bill is being scheduled for a vote on the House floor. 
Get details on how the panel would be appointed
The Tennessean has more

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Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The 107th Tennessee General Assembly is now in session and the TBA has a number of tools to help you track the status of legislation. Watch TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in -- those it has  initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community. Find complete TBA legislative resources

TBA at Work on Emerging Judicial Election, Tort Bills

Another vehicle for addressing the manner of election for Supreme Court and appellate judges emerged this week when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out its third conflicting proposal. The TBA remains deeply involved in the ongoing discussions to preserve the Tennessee Plan. Read more in TN Report

More Tort Changes – Bills which, as amended, require the loser to pay attorney’s fees when a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is granted (HB 3124) and limiting vicarious liability for punitive damages (HB 3125) advanced from a House Judiciary subcommittee today and could be voted on as early as next week in full committee. The TBA has worked to try to narrow and clarify these measures.

Conservatorship Law – The sponsor of a far-reaching restructuring of Tennessee's conservatorship law has agreed to a much more modest revision while the TBA undertakes a thorough review of the fiduciary and conservatorship statutes. Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, publicly expressed his appreciation for the TBA's cooperation in this matter. The TBA applauded Odom's willingness to undertake a thoughtful examination of the issues involved. The bill, HB 2648/SB 2519, should now proceed through the legislative process with the modest changes proposed.

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'Guns in Trunks' Bill Moves to Full Senate

A measure that would prevent employers and landowners from prohibiting individuals licensed to carry guns from storing them in locked, personal vehicles is headed for a full Senate vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 today (Tuesday) to advance the bill after Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, refused a request to hear from representatives of FedEx Corp. or other large employers that oppose the bill. "I don't know that any more testimony is going to change anybody's mind," Beaver said. The News Sentinel has the story

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House Approves, Bills Now Ready for Governor's Signature

With approval by the House on Monday, legislation now headed to Gov. Haslam's desk for his signature include an anti-crime package, a bill that would allow public buildings to display "historically significant documents" including the 10 Commandments, and a bill that would encourage classroom debate over evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

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