Judge Issues Injunction Halting Plan to Finance Border Wall

A California federal judge last week granted a preliminary injunction which prevents the Trump administration from redirecting funds in order to pay for the construction of a border wall, The New York Times reports. Judge Haywood Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing two lawsuits related to border wall financing, one filed by the State of California along with 19 other states and a second from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Both suits allege that President Trump’s attempt to fund the project without congressional approval surpasses his constitutional authority. The suit brought by the ACLU seeks to block the president from accessing Department of Defense funds and claims that the president’s emergency declaration was an abuse of power as well as a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Tom Lee Park Redesign Plans on Hold

Mediation between the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) and Memphis in May organizers is on hold while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies MRPP’s redesign proposals for Tom Lee Park, the Commercial Appeal reports. The Corps will analyze the plan for functionality, flooding concerns and any potential impact on commercial river traffic. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland hopes that the Corps' input will help with the mediation. Construction has been pushed back to the fall due to the delays. The approval process takes at least 90 days.

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Casada to Resign as House Speaker

House Speaker Glen Casada recently announced he will resign his leadership position in the coming weeks, the Tennessean reports. The decision comes on the heels of a meeting of Republican leaders, which resulted in a vote of no confidence in Casada's leadership. "When I return to town on June 3rd, I will meet with caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can facilitate a smooth transition," Casada said in a statement. Casada has served as House Speaker for four months.
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Metro Nashville Government Releases Report on Tax Incentive Funding

The Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County released its Tax Increment Financing Study & Formulating Committee Report, which examines Metro’s Tax Incentive Funding (TIF) used to promote redevelopment in blighted areas. Mayor David Briley signed ordinance BL2018-1315 creating the committee to formulate recommendations on implementation of and ensure more transparency regarding the municipalities use of TIF. In its report, the committee compiled a number of observations and 17 recommendations, formally asking the Mayor’s Office to provide Metro Council with a description of agencies or departments that will address the recommendations, including cost estimates for implementation. The committee was scheduled to present its recommendations to the Metro Council last week. 

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IKEA in Memphis will Opt Out of PILOT Tax Breaks

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA will opt out of its 11-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) break because the company failed to meet program requirements, the Daily Memphian reports. IKEA initially agreed to hire 175 employees with an average wage of $41, 011, however, currently employs 147 people with an average wage of $36,944. The company may get another year of incentives if it follows through on environmental projects such as water conservation efforts and installing a solar powered roof.

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U.S. Department of the Treasury Releases Updated Rules Regarding Opportunity Zones

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Wednesday released its second set of proposed regulations regarding the Opportunity Zones tax incentive, The New York Times reports. Introduced in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the initiative is intended to encourage development in economically distressed communities by allowing investors to defer, reduce or eliminate taxes on some capital gains when the investments are held for at least 10 years. Critics argue that the incentives, as introduced, would benefit real estate developers, not small businesses, and speed up the displacement of low-income residents in gentrifying areas. The new rules seek to quell some of these concerns, also allowing long-vacant properties to immediately qualify for the tax breaks and provides investors incentives even if the business focuses on exported goods or services to markets outside of the zone, pending the money is reinvested in another qualifying business or asset.

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NYC Imposes Regulations on Greenhouse Gas Emitted by Buildings

New York City is taking a new step in its effort to combat climate change by imposing stricter limits on greenhouse gasses emitted by buildings, The New York Times reports. The plan is staunchly opposed by real estate executives because of associated costs for compliance, with estimates exceeding $4 billion. Some buildings will be exempted from the caps, including apartment complexes with rent-controlled units, places of worship and affordable housing communities, however, those buildings will still be required to take other energy-saving measures. This legislation is part of a group of bills passed yesterday known as the Climate Mobilization Act, which seeks a 40% decrease in emissions by the year 2030.

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Documentary Addresses Housing Problems Faced by Low-Income Residents of Memphis

Two Memphis-based documentarians on Monday presented the first chapter in a series of films highlighting housing concerns in the city, The Commercial Appeal reports. Jordan Danelz and Benjamin Rednour created the documentary to address common problems faced by Memphis’ low-income residents. The films will look at predatory lending, foreclosures, inability to afford necessary home repairs, absentee landlords and lack of transit. The series was created with assistance from Neighborhood Preservation Inc., an organization founded by Memphis community leaders who seek to promote revitalization of blighted parcels in the city and clear legal hurdles regarding development of these properties.

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Apply by June 1: Board of Governors to Fill Open Positions

Two open positions will be filled by the Tennessee Board of Governors at its meeting on June 15. In accordance with Article 47 of the TBA Bylaws, the board may fill the vacancies at its 2019 meeting. The West Grand Division Governor Position 1 seat represents Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Shelby, Tipton and Weakley counties. The Fifth District Governor Position 1 seat is open because its current holder, Sherie Edwards, was elected to Vice President. The Fifth District represents Davidson County. If you would like to be considered for one of these positions, contact TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson in writing with your interest by June 1. Please include a resume with your submission.
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Tennessee AG Joins Coalition Pushing for Replacement of Obama-era Environmental Rule

Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined a 17-state coalition this week in urging the Trump administration to adopt a replacement of the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule. The rule extended the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate bodies of water. The Trump Administration proposal would restore jurisdiction to the states.
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5 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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TBA Convention Kicks Off TOMORROW!

The big week is finally upon us: The Tennessee Bar Association’s Annual Convention begins tomorrow, June 12. This year’s Convention is chock-full of even better programming, exhibits and fun than last year! Look forward to:

  • Free Access to 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 to get help.
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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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Bill Proposing State Historic Tax Credit Under Consideration

A bill that proposes adding a state historic tax credit in exchange for renovating qualified historic buildings is being considered in the Tennessee legislature, Johnson City Press reports. Tennessee is one of 15 states that do not offer a state historic tax credit. The bill proposes tiered economic incentives based on the location of the historical structure. Developers completing qualified rehabilitation work in Davidson and Williamson counties would be eligible to receive up to 10 percent in tax credits. Knox, Hamilton and Shelby counties can receive up to 20 percent, while counties in northeast Tennessee are eligible to receive up to 30 percent. For buildings to qualify for the credit, it must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or located in a registered historic district and certified by the secretary of the Department of the Interior. Projects would be overseen by the Tennessee Historic Commission and have to meet the Department of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit over MLS Stadium Construction

A Nashville judge on Tuesday denied the request of the Save Our Fairgrounds coalition to revive a lawsuit over the construction of an MLS stadium, the Tennessean reports. The coalition argued that the construction and elimination of 3,500 parking spaces make operating the Nashville Flea Market on the fairgrounds unmanageable. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs dismissed the suit citing Metro’s efforts in preserving existing uses of the property as well as adding new uses.
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Memphis Mayor Appoints Holder as Mediator in Park Redesign Dispute

Following disagreements regarding the planned redesign of Tom Lee Park, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has appointed retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder to mediate discussions between the organizers of Memphis in May International Festival and Memphis River Parks Partnership, the Commercial Appeal reports. Construction on the park is slated to begin in June and will be underway during the 2020 Beale Street Music Festival. Festival organizers believe there will not be enough space for the music festival and BBQ contest while leaders of the redesign claim the opposite. In a written statement, Strickland advocated the use of experienced mediators to get opposing parties back on the same page. Justice Holder has mediated for the City of Memphis before, including the removal of a Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest statue.

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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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Legislative Update - Pace Picks Up at General Assembly

Legislative activity continued to increase last week, with full committee calendars that included both bills and budget presentations of executive branch agencies. Additionally, some committees already have their projected end dates in sight as leadership continues to target an early May adjournment. The overall level of legislative activity will increase even more next week, as the bulk of legislation for 2019 will have its fate determined in the next four weeks. 
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Gov. Lee to Seek FEMA Assistance Regarding Flood Damage

Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday renewed his promise to secure FEMA funding to aid with flooding damage in the state, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Tennessee will surpass the agency’s damage threshold after an unprecedented bout of rain throughout the past couple of months. Though state-wide figures have yet to be made available, it is estimated that Knoxville alone took a $43.5 million hit because of flooding.

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Construction Law Forum Programming Available Online

New videos from this year’s Construction Law Forum are now available to purchase on the Tennessee Bar Association website. Topics for these videos include: 
These online programs offer an opportunity for you to brush up on essential issues related to the practice while allowing the flexibility to work around your busy schedule in the pursual of CLE credit. You can view other upcoming programs and online video options on our CLE webpage.
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Nashville Mayor Briley Expected to Announce Major Public Housing Initiative

Nashville Mayor David Briley is expected to announce plans later this month for the allocation of millions in city funds to support redevelopment of aged public housing, The Tennessean reports. If approved, Briley’s plan will take a three-pronged approach —a ten-year commitment to pay for redevelopment projects, city-funded infrastructure at those sites and earmarks for the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing Innovation, which provides grants to affordable housing developers. The city recently took ownership of its public housing stock from the federal government, to facilitate private borrowing for new construction and upgrades.

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Jackson Officials Warn of Scammers Following Severe Floods

Officials are warning residents of communities affected by flooding to be vigilant for scammers attempting to take advantage of disaster victims, The Jackson Sun reports. Jackson Madison County EMA Director Marty Clements said Madison County residents have fallen victim to these types of scams in the past, mostly perpetrated by people posing as construction workers and clean-up crews. The agency also encourages people to check business references, make sure companies doing work for them are registered with the county and speak with insurance companies before getting work done.
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Legislation Affecting Construction Law Practice

As the legislative session progresses, many bills of interest to construction law practitioners are on the move. Here is a list of notable legislation that has the potential to affect your practice area:
Requires the register of deeds to send written notice to the property owner prior to recording a lien.
Removes various provisions regarding state property tax, including authority to place liens and issue distress warrants.
Payment rights of contractors and subcontractors. Prohibits a written contract to have a condition precedent for payment clause where the prime contractor is not required to pay the remote contractor due to contract or until they are paid by the construction owner. Declares that if payment is not received, work by contractor can be suspended until received. Makes other revisions relative to the payment rights of contractors and subcontractors. 
Requires baby changing station in new buildings. Adds at least one baby diaper changing station that is accessible to both men and women for new public bathrooms in any public building that is owned or operated by a public entity. Requires baby diaper changing station have signage and be maintained. The station is not required if the inspector finds installation not feasible or interrupting building standards for persons with disability.
Requires home improvement contractors initially licensed after January 1, 2009 to complete eight hours of continuing education beginning January 1, 2020, with membership in a professional trade association qualifying as four hours biennially.
Requires electrical inspectors employed by a local or state government to be certified by the state fire marshal and for this certification to be completed every three years. Declares that certain electrical inspectors contracted under the commissioner of commerce and insurance to be certified on and after January 1, 2020.

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Next Thursday: Business Law Forum

Register now for the TBA Business Law Forum 2019.
This program will help business lawyers learn and refresh their knowledge about issues that may arise when drafting an LLC operating agreement. Topics will include an overview of the two extant Tennessee LLC acts and a comparison of those acts with the Delaware LLC Act; other distinctions of Tennessee law that impact the operating agreement; drafting key provisions, including distribution and allocation, employee and member compensation, and exit rights; and ethical considerations for lawyers drafting LLC operating agreements.
When: Thursday, May 9. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville

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Court Seeking Comments on Proposed Rule 46A

The Tennessee Supreme Court is considering the adoption of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 46A, which would govern the electronic service of papers that are e-filed, and it is seeking comments from the legal community and the public on the proposed rule. The deadline for submitting written comments is March 22. Comments should be e-mailed to or mailed to: James M. Hivner, Clerk, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407.
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