News

7 New Job Postings on TBA’s Joblink

See who is hiring in Tennessee. Recent job postings this month offer opportunities in litigation, real estate, health law and more. See full listings or post positions in your firm on TBA’s Joblink.
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Register Now to Get Early Bird Rate for TBA Convention in Nashville

The Tennessee Bar Association returns to Downtown Nashville's Renaissance Hotel for its Annual Convention June 12-15, with even better programming, exhibits and fun! Register NOW and receive:

  • Free Access to ALL 9 Hours of CLE, including the Bench Bar Program, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Judicial Conference
  • Opening welcome reception
  • Bench Bar Luncheon (featuring keynote speaker, Ken Starr)
  • Law School and General Breakfasts
  • Lawyers Luncheon (featuring special honor for Sen. Lamar Alexander)
  • Thursday night joint reception sponsored with TLAW and TABL
  • Thursday night Dinner/Dance Party featuring My So-Called Band
  • Friday night TBALL/YLD Party
  • Access to activities and programming designed for well-being including massages, contemplative space and more.
  • Access to TBA's sponsorship hall to meet with exhibitors, participate in our special TBA Wellness Corner and win prizes.
• QUESTIONS: Just email convention@tnbar.org to get help.
 

Early Bird Registration ends April 30, so register now to save $$$

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Tennessee Department of Health Seeks Deputy General Counsel

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), Office of General Counsel (OGC) is seeking a new deputy general counsel to serve as the manager of the downtown office of OGC and who will be responsible for the supervision of three attorneys and two administrative staff members. The deputy general counsel will report to the general counsel and perform legal services for the TDH Commissioner and other offices and divisions located within TDH, including the Office of the State Medical Examiner, the Office of Vital Records, the Division of Family Health and Wellness, and the Division of Communicable Diseases and Emergency Preparedness. You can learn more about this position and other employment opportunities by visiting TBA Joblink.

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Volunteers Needed to Assist in Review of Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors

The TBA Elder Law Section is seeking assistance reviewing an updated edition of the 2019 Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors. This resource contains practical information on a wide range of topics, including issues such as applying for Social Security benefits, long-term care considerations and estate planning, as well as completely new sections addressing online security and new health care legislation. Volunteers will aid in reviewing the resource for errors prior to release. If you are able to assist with this important initiative, please email Elder Law Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Federal Agencies Break Up $1.2 Billion Medicare Fraud Scheme

Federal officials on Tuesday announced breaking up a $1.2 billion Medicare scheme that preyed on elderly and disabled patients, The New York Times reports. Investigators say the racket that involved the prescription of unnecessary support braces is one of the largest health care frauds in United States history. The defendants — made up of both medical professionals and telemarketers — would allegedly contact Medicare beneficiaries and coerce them into getting free or low-cost back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces that were then paid for by the organization. The defendants are also accused of laundering the money received through shell companies, then using it to buy items such as exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate.

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Trump Administration Punts on Medicare Policy Changes

The Trump administration is punting on premium spikes for Medicare, seeking to delay policy changes until after his 2020 reelection bid, The Washington Post reports. An up to 19 percent increase is expected with the president’s plans to do away with Medicare rebates paid to firms that manage pharmacy insurance by drug makers. Proponents of health care reform have long derided these rebates as a kickbacks and an incentive to drive up the cost of medications. Pharmacy benefit managers, which will be directly affected by the plans to halt rebates, maintain that they stabilize premiums and argue that nixing them will drive up premiums, which the administration's actuaries confirmed. Long lead times to put the plan into place was cited as the reason for the delay.

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Bill Allowing Unlicensed 'Natural Hair Styling' Heads to Gov. Lee for Signature

Legislation allowing unlicensed “natural hair styling” passed the House of Representatives last night despite opposition from Memphis lawmakers, The Daily Memphian reports. The legislation will now head to the governor's office for his signature. Rep. Antonio Parkinson was one of the opposition voices, saying that he grew up in his mother’s hair salon and witnessed “atrocities” done to people who visited unlicensed hair professionals. However, despite efforts to add amendments to the bill, sponsor Rep. Mary Littleton stood firm against changes and it passed along party lines.
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Shelby Judge Reprimanded For Delayed Rulings

Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Robert Weiss has been reprimanded for unreasonable delays in rulings on two cases, the Daily Memphian reports. The public reprimand, issued in January by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, found that Weiss took up to five years to make a ruling in one case and three years in another. Reprimands of this nature from the board are somewhat rare, with Weiss being the only judge to receive one so far this year.

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Help4TNDay Kicks Off Saturday

Tennessee lawyers are invited to participate in Help4TNDay activities throughout the month of April. Events will bring attention to the ongoing need for free and low-cost legal services and highlight the groups that provide these services to disadvantaged Tennesseans. Opportunities include volunteering to help clients in need through Tennessee Free Legal Answers (TFLA) or at a local legal clinic. The events kick-off this Saturday with a statewide virtual legal clinic, where attorneys across the state will answer questions on TFLA from noon to 2 p.m. Simultaneously, the TBA will host an on-site TFLA Clinic and Luncheon in Nashville. To participate in the TBA event, contact Liz Todaro. Help4TNDay is a joint effort by the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association. 
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Knox News Story Draws Attention to Unlicensed Caregivers

A website that parents can use to find caregivers for their children has instituted a formal vetting process following stories of three children who died under supervision in unlicensed daycares, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The website, Care.com, became the center of an investigation by the paper when it discovered that unlicensed providers were using the site to solicit business. Knox News compiled a list of 52 caregivers from the site. DHS verified that only 22 had valid licenses. Going forward, Care.com says it will screen its clients using criminal databases and the national sex offender registry.

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About 128,000 Children Dropped from TennCare, CoverKids in the Past 2 Years

Almost 128,000 children were dropped from TennCare and its sister program, CoverKids, over the past two years, The Tennessean reports. Between 2016 and January 2019, approximately 1 in 8 children enrolled with the providers were purged from the system, with the agency saying that most were cut because the families did not respond to mandatory renewal forms that were mailed to them. Nashville and Memphis saw cuts of about 14,000 and 22,000 children, respectively. Cheatham County saw the most cuts per capita, with nearly 1 in every 5 enrolled children purged from the programs during that period.

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TennCare Block Grant Bill Moving Through House

Legislation that would allow Gov. Bill Lee to negotiate with the federal government to obtain a federal block grant to supplement TennCare sailed through the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee this week, the Tennessean reports. The bills — HB1280/SB1428 — sponsored by Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, and Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, would make Tennessee the first state to adopt such a measure. As submitted, the law calls for a lump-sum payment from the federal government, with Tennessee given autonomy to decide how to best apply the funds. Lee has signaled his support for the block grant concept despite concerns that he would block the measure out of opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state. The legislation has been referred to the Calendar & Rules Committee for review.
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Byrd Out as Education Subcommittee Chair

Citing bipartisan concerns over the controversy surrounding Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesville, House Speaker Glen Casada has removed him from his chairmanship of an education subcommittee, The Tennessean reports. Byrd faces allegations from women who accused him of sexual misconduct during his time as a high school basketball coach. Casada said his decision was not about the allegations but because the situation had become a distraction. Byrd said Thursday he had no intention of resigning. 
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Purdue Pharma, Oklahoma Reach Settlement, Praised by AG Slatery

Oklahoma has reached a landmark settlement with Purdue Pharma regarding its role in the opioid crisis, The Washington Post reports. This is the first such settlement in the more than 1,600 lawsuits faced by the drug maker, including the case in Tennessee where Knox County Circuit Court Judge Kristi M. Davis struck down Purdue’s motion for dismissal. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery released a statement praising the action and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to holding Purdue and other manufacturers accountable for possible violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. In the Oklahoma settlement, Purdue will pay $102.5 million to establish a new foundation for addiction treatment and research, provide $20 million worth of treatment drugs and cover about $60 million in litigation costs.
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Registration Now Open for TBA Convention in Nashville, June 12-15

 
The TBA's annual Convention returns to downtown Nashville this summer! Mark your calendars for June 12-15 and prepare for four days of CLE, networking, entertainment and more at the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street. Registration is officially open, with early bird rates available until April 30.
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TBA, Governor Opposes Bill Requiring Legislative Confirmation for Judicial Appointments

A bill currently making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly would require legislative confirmation for the governor’s picks for vacant lower-court judgeships and other local judicial positions, The Nashville Post reports. The TBA opposes the bill, with Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson saying  it "adds an unnecessary delay and political layer to the process." Gov. Bill Lee spokesperson Laine Arnold said the administration also opposes the bill because "our current process already provides a high level of accountability as these positions are often up for election within a short time from the governor’s appointment."
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Sixth Circuit Hears Tennessee Refugee Case

Nearly three years after state lawmakers approved a resolution directing Tennessee to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 19, The Tennessean reports. The case in front of the court of appeals comes after Tennessee's attorney general declined to initiate the state's lawsuit and one year after a federal judge in a lower court dismissed the matter. The case dates back to 2016, when the Tennessee legislature overwhelmingly approved a resolution ordering the lawsuit. When it was filed in March 2017, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to sue the federal government regarding refugee resettlement on the grounds of violating the 10th Amendment. It is unclear when a decision on the case will be made.
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Company Will Pay Over $2 Million for Role in Volkswagen Scandal

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced that Bosch, the company that facilitated the implementation of the defeat device software in more than 600,000 Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles, will pay the State of Tennessee $2,291,760 in consumer and environmental civil penalties. The agreement also includes precedent-setting injunctive terms and requires Bosch to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and to refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software. Under the multistate agreement involving Tennessee and 49 other jurisdictions, Bosch will pay a total of $98.7 million in civil penalties.
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TDEC to Issue Over $3 Million in Loans for Clean Water Infrastructure

Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers have announced over $3 million in low-interest loans for clean water infrastructure improvements for the towns of Smyrna and Lewisburg. The apportionment will be funded through the Tennessee Revolving Fund Loan Program, which prioritizes disbursement for both the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, with $90 million loaned annually to municipalities for planning, design, and construction of eligible water and wastewater projects. Smyrna will receive a $3 million for green infrastructure and wastewater treatment plant expansion, and Lewisburg will receive $130,000 for wastewater treatment plant improvements.

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TDHS Announces Increase for Child Care Assistance

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) on Monday announced that it will raise the weekly reimbursement rates for providers in its Child Care Certificate Program for the first time in over a decade.  The program – Smart Steps — aids parents who are working or pursuing secondary education who meet certain eligibility requirements, and teen parents enrolled in high school. Regarding the increase, TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes said: “Quality child care is essential to the development of children … These rate increases are a specific investment in Tennessee’s community of child care providers and will promote access to early childhood environments that are safe, healthy and educationally rich.” The new rates will see a 35 percent increase for infant and toddler care and a 20 percent increase for pre-school and school-age care.

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Gov. Lee Proposes School Voucher Program

Gov. Bill Lee's plan to create an education savings account program for Tennessee students may shape up to be one of the more controversial proposals addressed in his first State of the State address, The Tennessean reports. The program would use public funds to create a spending account, where the money can then be used for private school or homeschooling. Detractors argue that this takes money away from schools that need it the most and that the funds are better used for other services like tutoring or private lessons. Lee said he hopes to provide 5,000 students in low-performing districts access to state funds, with each student receiving about $7,300. 

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TBA Legislative Update: State of the State

Before the House chamber, Gov. Bill Lee recently delivered his first State of the State address to a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly. He emphasized the importance of criminal justice reform and the need to move away from the “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality that he said has long prevailed in Tennessee. Lee also announced the creation of a task force, to be chaired by senior advisor and former judge Brandon Gibson, that will develop legislative and budgetary recommendations on various issues, including crime prevention, recidivism, victim support, mental health, and reforming the criminal code and sentencing guidelines. In the legislature next week, committee activity will continue to ramp up as leadership encourages members to put their bills on notice, with a target goal of May 1 for adjournment. See more legislative coverage via TBA's Legislative Updates on the TBA YouTube channel.
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Bill Would Lower Local Governments' Sales Tax Fees

Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker continues his fight against an administrative fee he says is unnecessary and a strain on local governments, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The tax in question is a flat 1.125 percent fee to the state so that the Department of Revenue can process local option sales taxes and return them to the same counties and cities, for which the state collected $38 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year. New legislation promoted by Schoonmaker — HB1193/SB1126 — and sponsored by Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, seeks to reduce the 1.125 percent fee to 0.5 percent, which advocates estimate will save municipalities millions. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee yesterday with a negative recommendation.

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Tennessee Republicans Push for Medicaid Block Grants

Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a measure that seeks a fixed amount of federal block grants to provide health care to lower-income and disabled residents, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Under current law, Medicaid reimburses the state a fixed percentage on its Medicaid costs, with Tennessee receiving approximately $7.5 billion in federal money for its $12.1 billion Medicaid program, which state Republicans say gives little incentive to keep expenses under control because no state pays more than half the total cost, whereas the new bill — HB1280/SB1428 — would “convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for this state into an allotment that is tailored to meet the needs of this state and that is indexed for inflation and population growth.” Though lawmakers remain optimistic regarding the advancement of the legislation, it is unclear whether Gov. Bill Lee will support the measure, given his opposition to Medicaid expansion and insistence on finding an alternative option to aid the estimated 167,000 Tennesseans without health coverage.

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Labor & Employment Forum – May 3

This program provides timely, specialized and practical information on a range of labor and employment law topics. Presented by esteemed leaders in the field, the CLE sessions will focus on mediation and employment cases, accommodations in the modern era, case law updates, and a unique, interactive ethics session focused on attorney well-being and the power of laughter. Finally, this program will include a judicial panel giving practitioners unique insight into the best presentation techniques for employment cases in federal court. This is the most in-depth employment-focused CLE in the state. Review the agenda, read the session descriptions and register to attend by clicking here.
 
When: Friday, May 3. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
CLE Credits: 1 Dual, 5.5 Gen.
 
The program will feature presentations by Hon. Waverly Crenshaw Jr.Hon. Jon McCallaHon. Travis McDonoughJohn Bode of Miller & Martin PLLC, Celeste Bradley of Impark, Heather Collins of Collins & Hunter PLLC, Edmond Sims and Deborah Walker of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stan Graham of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, Dan Norwood of Working Boomer Advocate, Debra Norwood of LaughterLawyerUSA and Michael Russell of Russell Dispute Resolution, PLLC.
 
Produced by Donna Mikel of Burnette, Dobson & Pinchak.

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