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.

Legislative Panel Meets Thursday on Internet Sales Tax

A Tennessee lawmaker says it is unclear what action a legislative panel will take this week on Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed rule to require out-of-state retailers with no physical presence in the state to collect state and local sales taxes on Internet purchases. “What happens Thursday is anybody’s guess right now,” Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, told the Times Free Press. The Department of Revenue’s proposed rule would apply to out-of-state Internet retailers and catalog sellers with sales exceeding $500,000 annually. 

read more »

Democrats Re-elect Harris, Yarbro to Senate Posts

State Sens. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, were re-elected to leadership positions in the 110th General Assembly, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Harris was re-elected Senate minority leader, while Yarbro was re-elected Democratic Caucus chair. The pair say their party will be more active in "getting the word out” on issues such as health care, outsourcing and public transit issues during the next legislative session.

read more »

ABA Revises ‘Model Business Corporation Act’ Book

The American Bar Association (ABA) Business Law Section has published the 2016 version of the “Model Business Corporation Act,” offering the first complete revision of the book since 1984. The model act is a free-standing business corporation statute that can be enacted in its entirety by a state legislature. It is the basis for business corporation statutes in 32 states and Washington, D.C., and the source for many provisions in the general corporation statutes of other states, according to the section.

read more »

Durham Documents ‘Irretrievable’ after Devices Reset

Tennessee legislative staff have destroyed “files, documents, photographs, emails and other information” that were on computers and tablets used by Jeremy Durham while he was a member of the House of Representatives, the Tennessean reports. The paper learned of the move after it requested information related to Durham’s activities. Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration told the paper that Durham’s electronic devices have been set back “to factory default settings” and all documents are “irretrievable."

read more »

Winton to Lead BlueCross Government Relations

Dakasha Winton has been promoted by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to the newly created position of chief government relations officer, Chattanoogan.com reports. In this position, Winton will be responsible for leading all government relations efforts in Nashville and Washington, D.C. Prior to the promotion, Winton served as director of state government relations and associate general counsel. 

read more »

Harwell Plans More Changes Following Durham Saga

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, plans two policy changes directly related to the downfall of lawmaker Jeremy Durham, the Tennessean reports. In a statement Friday, Harwell said she will propose that the House Ethics Committee hear allegations of sexual harassment and then recommend action to the full chamber. Under current rules, the committee may not hear these cases. Harwell also said she would push for changes in the rules to allow the reporting of raw numbers of violations or complaints filed under the House’s discrimination and harassment policy.

read more »

Report: Medical Marijuana Returning to Legislature

A pair of Republican lawmakers will be making another go at legalizing medical marijuana this coming legislative session, Nashville Public Radio reports. Sen. Steve Dickerson, a Nashville doctor, and Rep. Jeremy Faison of East Tennessee plan to unveil details of the legislation this week. The two have argued for several years that marijuana can help people with chronic and terminal conditions manage pain. This past fall, Rep. Faison travelled to Colorado to meet with Tennesseans with chronic pain now living there.

read more »

Sessions Confirmation Hearing Set for January

The U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, will run for two days starting Jan. 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday. Committee Democrats had asked for four days to dig into the background of their colleague, Roll Call reports. Committee Chair Charles E. Grassley cited hearings for previous nominees that lasted one or two days with three to nine outside witnesses each day. Grassley also said that Sessions had completed the committee’s questionnaire and that the 33-page document is available on the committee’s website.

read more »

Congress Renews Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Review

As one of its last acts on Saturday before adjourning the current legislative session, Congress approved and sent to President Barack Obama legislation that would continue reviews of racially motivated killings from the civil rights era that are now considered cold cases. The legislation, passed by voice vote, extends indefinitely a 2007 law that calls for a full accounting of race-based deaths, many of which have been closed for decades. It also extends the cut-off date to include any cases occurring before Dec. 31, 1979. The Associated Press reports that more than 100 cases from the 1960s and earlier have been reviewed so far, with one resulting conviction.

read more »

Nathan Ridley is NBA's New President

Nathan Ridley was elected president of the Nashville Bar Association (NBA) Thursday during the group's annual meeting and banquet at the Music City Center. Erin Palmer Polly is the new president-elect; Robb Bigelow is first vice president; Marnie Huff is second vice president; Stephen Young is treasurer; and Lela Hollabaugh is general counsel. Jocelyn Stevenson, who served as president in the previous bar year, is now immediate past president. Lauren Paxton Roberts is the Young Lawyers Division president. The NBA previously announced the results of contested board elections.

Awards also were presented. The YLD Enterprise Award went to Mollie Gass and Peter Malnchuk. The YLD President's Award was given to Kelly Donley and Lauren Spahn. The Nashville Bar Journal Award was presented to Jim Thomas, Kimberly Faye and Caroline Hudson; the CLE Excellence Award was given to Judges Philip Smith and Phillip Robinson. Pro Bono Awards were given to James A. Beaks and Waller LLP. And the John C. Tune Public Service Award went to Bill Harbison and Abby Rubenfeld.

read more »