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.

Details Set for Attorney Town Halls in Memphis

Details have been finalized for two town hall meetings for lawyers hosted in Memphis by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. Sen. Kelsey will host criminal law practitioners on Jan. 26 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. CST and civil law practitioners on Jan. 27 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. CST. Both meetings will take place at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, 1 N Front Street, in Room 230. Please contact TBA Public Policy Coordinator Brenda Gadd if you are interested in attending.

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Lawmaker Requests AG Opinion on Parks Privatization

Tennessee Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, has requested an opinion from Attorney General Herbert Slatery III on whether Gov. Haslam’s plans to privatize hospitality services at parks violate state procedures. The Times Free Press reports that Bowling, whose district includes the Falls Creek Falls state park, asked for the opinion at the request of park employees.
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Haslam Names Barnes DHS Commissioner

Danielle Whitworth Barnes was named commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services today by Gov. Haslam. Barnes is currently the deputy commissioner and general counsel for the Department of Human Resources, but began her career in state government at the DHS. Barnes is a 2013 graduate of the TBA Leadership Law program.
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Tennessee Lawmaker Hoping to Repeal Recess Requirement in Schools

Tennessee House Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, is proposing a bill in the General Assembly that would repeal a law requiring students to have periods of recess at school, the Tennessean reports. Dunn said that the requirement is too restrictive, and is a "scheduling nightmare” for schools and teachers. Once the law is repealed, Dunn added “someone can come along behind that to deal with physical activity."
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Senate Judiciary Chair Kelsey to Meet with Lawyers

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, is hosting a pair of town hall meeting for lawyers next week in Memphis. Sen. Kelsey will host criminal law practitioners on Jan. 26 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. CST, and civil law practitioners on Jan. 27 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. CST. Please contact TBA Public Policy Coordinator Brenda Gadd if you are interested in attending. She will provide location information once it is determined.

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McNally Names New Senate Chief of Staff

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, appointed Rick Nicholson as Senate Chief of Staff on Friday. A 26-year veteran of the General Assembly, Nicholson started in the chief clerk’s office, later being appointed assistant chief clerk. In 2001, he went to work for McNally as a committee research analyst and in 2012, he was appointed Senate budget director by then Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. Nicholson replaces Lance Frizzell, whose appointment expired in January. Humphrey on the Hill has the news from McNally’s office.

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Holder to Lead Effort to Redraw District Lines

Former Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday formally announced a new effort aimed at redrawing state districting maps. After the 2008 election, Republicans poured money into state legislative races, gaining control of redistricting that took place after the 2010 census. During Obama's presidency, Democrats lost more than 1,030 seats in statehouses, governor's mansions and Congress. The new organization, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, will devote legal and political resources to reapportionment, which will happen after the 2020 census. WRCB-TV has more from the Associated Press.

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House Creates Sexual Harassment Panel

The Tennessee House has created a committtee to focus on complaints of sexual harassment. The Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Subcommittee will have authority to conduct investigations and “subpoena and compel the attendance of witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require and compel the production of any documents or other items of evidence relative to any matter under investigation.” Any recommendations for corrective action will be reported to the speaker. Unlike the full Ethics Committee, the work of the subcommittee will be private. Knoxnews has more from USA Today

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Bill Would Allow Open Carry without Permit

Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, has introduced legislation to eliminate the requirement that gun owners obtain a permit to openly carry handguns in Tennessee. Those wanting to carry a handgun in a concealed manner would still be required to obtain a permit, according to the legislation. Van Huss has introduced similar bills in the past but his colleagues have rejected those efforts, the Tennessean reports. Van Huss argues that 29 states, including Missouri, West Virginia and Louisiana, have some form of permitless carry.

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Lawyer Legislators to Head Key Panels, Return in 2 Weeks

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned its biannual organizational session today after speakers appointed committee chairs and members in their respective chambers. For the first time in 10 years, all three key committees dealing with legal issues will be chaired by lawyers. Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Collierville, returns as Senate Judiciary Committee chair. House Criminal Justice Committee Chair William Lambreth, R-Cottontown, will continue to head that panel. And Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, will take the helm of the House Civil Justice Committee. Humphrey on the Hill has more.

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