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.

New Legislation Aims to Make Craft Brewing Easier

A new bill proposed by an East Tennessee senator aiming to encourage the craft beer industry would authorize beer makers to self-distribute beer within a 100-mile radius of production, the Nashville Post reports. State law currently only allows self-distribution within the county in which the brewery operates. The new proposal would limit qualified brewers to those that produce 50,000 gallons or fewer.
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Audit Shows Lawmaker Spending Campaign Money Illegally

Tennessee state Rep. Harold Love Jr., D-Nashville, was found by a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance audit to have spent thousands of dollars of campaign money for dry cleaning, trips, meals and other questionable purchases, The Tennessean reports. Love was also found in violation of reporting laws, failing to report $7,830 in donations, failing to provide enough data for more than $1,000 in contributions and failing to properly itemizes thousands in expenditures. Love pushed back against the allegations, saying that many of the questionable purchases had been made for constituents. House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, said there should be an investigation before any conclusions are drawn.
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Committee Action Heats Up; 2 TBA Adoption Bills Advance

Activity on Capitol Hill has picked up now that all bills have all been introduced and referred to their respective committees. The TBA has circulated legislation affecting attorneys to the TBA Sections’ Executive Councils for review and feedback and are busy communicating positions on legislation to bill sponsors and committee chairs. The TBA’s two adoption bills (HB287/SB208, Adoption Corrections, and HB288/SB207, Post-adoption Contact Agreements) were recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Children and Families Subcommittee. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 20.
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2 Memphis Legislators Under Scrutiny for Campaign Finance Reporting

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has issued show-cause notices to Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Rep. Joe Towns, both Memphis Democrats, for shortcomings in their campaign finance reporting, The Daily Memphian reports. Hardaway, who filed his pre-general report late last year, had previously been told to submit a corrected report to show $7,000 in political action committee contributions by Jan. 18, but the report he filed contained no corrected information. The Registry voted to asses Towns $20,000 in civil penalties for failing to make two financial reports.
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Weekly Video Legislative Update Available

The TBA livestreamed its weekly video legislative update today, covering the progress of three of the TBA's current bills in the legislature. These videos will continue on most Thursdays while the Tennessee General Assembly is in session. Catch up with today's video on YouTube and tune in next Thursday on Facebook live.
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Legislative Update: More Caption Bills Among 1,500 Filed

There was a dramatic spike in the number of bill filings this week as lawmakers rushed to introduce legislation in advance of the House and Senate filing deadlines on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. While House rules limit most members to filing no more than 15 bills, many legislators filed their full allotment, and by the close of business on Thursday approximately 1,500 bills were filed for the year. Interestingly, there was a huge increase in "caption bills," which carry a caption broad enough to cover any number of legislative topics, and certainly more or different topics than what the bill seems to address on its face. These bills can be amended at the last moment to cover any topic allowed by the caption of the bill, and are frequently used to give legislators or lobbyists a way to comply with bill filing deadlines while not revealing the true purpose of the bill. The TBA Government Affairs team will keep an eye on these bills to see whether they are amended or begin to move. Next week the committees will step up their activity and have heavier agendas. Many committee chairs are encouraging members to go ahead and place their bills on notice, with the goal of completing as much work as possible before budget presentations begin in March.
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TBA Begins Weekly Livestream Legislative Updates

The TBA launched a series of weekly video legislative updates today, which will be posted most Thursdays while the Tennessee General Assembly is in session. Catch up with today's video on YouTube and tune in next Thursday on Facebook live.
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Senate Minority Leader Proposes Redistricting Prior to 2020 Censes

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, is proposing a bipartisan congressional redistricting process ahead of the 2020 census, The Nashville Post reports. His plan would establish a five-member redistricting commission tasked with developing a new congressional map following each census, which would include four voting members appointed by the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Each action by the body, including the appointment of a nonvoting chair, would require three votes. No one who ran for or held public office, or worked for a political party, in the previous four years would be allowed to serve on the commission, and no one who had been a lobbyist in the previous two years would be allowed. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Republican Senate speaker, pushed back on the proposal, saying the commission was not necessary. 
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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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