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.

TBA Legislative Agenda – Probate Omnibus bill

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, have introduced a bill drafted by the TBA’s Probate Study Group, and supported by the TBA. SB542/HB675 addresses a variety of different issues within estates and trusts, such as allowing a trustee who has resigned the authority to petition the court for a release and discharge from all liability related to the trust and also permitting a revocable living trust that becomes irrevocable upon the death of the settlor to refer to a written statement of personal property not otherwise disposed of by the revocable trust. The TBA Governmental Affairs team will work with legislators to make this bill law.
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House Republicans File Legislation to Limit Nashville Police Oversight Board

A newly created civilian board tasked with overseeing the Metro Nashville Police Department could lose its subpoena powers, a move that would significantly hinder the panel's ability to investigate alleged officer misconduct, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee House Republican leaders announced yesterday that they have filed legislation to limit citizen boards' authority to compel witness testimony or issue subpoenas for documents, among other restrictions that would apply to any similar board around the state. The Metro Nashville Council last month elected its 11-member community oversight board, which voters approved by referendum in November through an amendment to the city charter.
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Republicans File Medical Marijuana Proposal

Two Republican lawmakers introduced a comprehensive bill Monday that would allow Tennesseans suffering from a variety of maladies to use medical marijuana, The Tennessean reports. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, is dubbed the "Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act." More than a dozen illnesses would qualify under the proposal.
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Tennessee Senators Propose Changes to Judicial Branch

Several State Senators are proposing a number of changes to the judicial branch, including another run at removing party labels from judicial elections in Davidson and Shelby counties and the creation of a new judicial district, The Nashville Post reports. A proposal from Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, would require elections for state trial court judgeships and county judicial offices to be conducted in a nonpartisan manner in Davidson and Shelby counties. Another newly filed bill from Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, would establish a 32nd judicial district in Tennessee. Williamson County, which currently shares the 21st judicial district with Hickman, Lewis and Perry counties, would get its own district while the three smaller counties would remain together.
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TBAToday Legislative Update

This week the House and Senate were both in session, and legislators were primarily focused on preparing bills to be filed before the Feb. 6 bill filing deadline next week. Committee meetings this week were mostly organizational, but next week they will start to consider legislation. The TBA is in the process of having the TBA legislative initiatives introduced. This year’s TBA legislation was drafted by the Adoption Law Section, the Creditors’ Practice Section, the Probate Study Group, and the Construction Law Section. We are also working closely with the Juvenile Court judges and the trial judges on a bill clarifying subject matter jurisdiction on family law matters before the trial courts. And finally we are working with the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to help introduce legislation drafted by Tennessee high school students participating in the YLD Civic Achievement Through Activism in the Legislature by Young Students in Tennessee (CATALYST) program.
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TBA Legislative Agenda – Service of Process

Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, and Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, introduced a bill drafted by the TBA’s Creditors Practice Section, and supported by the TBA. SB 456/HB 393 allows for process to be valid if a private process server does not include a mailing or physical address on the service return. The TBA Governmental Affairs team is working with legislators to pass this bill and have it signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.
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House Rep. Challenges Ban on Livestreaming

A Democratic state representative says he plans to continue personally livestreaming committee meetings, despite a ban on the practice announced this week, The Tennessean reports. Standing on the House floor yesterday, Rep. G.A. Hardaway asked Speaker Glen Casada where in the rules adopted by the House a ban on livestreaming was referenced. "If they can't show me that, it's not a rule, and thus it does not apply to any member of this House," Hardaway said.
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Memphis Legislator Proposes Marijuana Decriminalization

Possessing less than one ounce of marijuana would be decriminalized in Tennessee under a new bill proposed by state Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, The Commercial Appeal reports. The bill would be another try at decriminalizing marijuana in Tennessee after Memphis and Nashville city councils passed ordinances in 2016 giving police the ability to give out lighter penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2017 signed a bill into law that repealed the Memphis and Nashville local laws giving police more latitude with small marijuana possession citations.
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House Committee Chairs Move to Ban Livestreaming of Meetings

Members of the public are being forbidden from taking live video during some public House of Representatives legislative committee meetings, and the ban will be extended to the House chamber as well, The Tennessean reports. House Speaker Glen Casada said that the decision to ban live video is up to each individual chairman to implement and to what degree. Some are responding by not banning live video at all, while others are requiring that individuals and lawmakers request permission before beginning a livestream.

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Legislators File Bills to Gain Control Over Tennessee Attorney General

State lawmakers are proposing various changes to the way they interact with the state attorney general, The Nashville Post reports. Rep. Mike Carter, the chair of the civil justice subcommittee, has filed a resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would give the General Assembly confirmation authority over the attorney general. Currently the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints the attorney general for an eight-year term. Carter's bill would empower the legislature to veto the high court’s pick. Another proposal from Sen. Bo Watson and Rep. Bill Dunn would give the legislature the ability to intervene in legal proceedings to defend the constitutionality of a contested statute or to diverge from the advocacy of the attorney general or a district attorney general.
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