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.

Task Force Suggests 6 Initial Juvenile Reforms

The state Juvenile Justice Task Force has come up with six initial and tentative recommendations to help rehabilitate juvenile offenders, Fox Chattanooga reports. The list, provided by Senate Majority Leader and task force Chair Mark Norris, calls for (1) reviewing the structure of the current juvenile justice system; (2) ordering treatment instead of jail time for some offenders; (3) collecting data on juvenile crime to determine trends; (4) creating a special group to review juvenile crime data; (5) exploring how probation works; and (6) encouraging partnerships between juvenile courts and schools.

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Trump to Tap Tennessee Fast Food CEO for Labor Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate restaurant chain executive Andy Puzder to be Labor Secretary, the Tennessean reports. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns fast food restaurants Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, worked as a Trump campaign adviser and is a major critic of what he calls unnecessary federal regulations. A second story highlights five things to know about Puzder, who worked as a corporate lawyer before making his name as a turnaround specialist. Puzder recently relocated to the Nashville area and is in the process of moving the company’s headquarters to Williamson County.

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Stand for Children, Candidates Cleared of Wrongdoing

Stand for Children and four pro-charter school candidates have been cleared of all alleged campaign finance violations, the Tennessean reports. Tennessee Registry of Election Finance board members said yesterday they did not see enough evidence to show there was illegal coordination between Stand for Children and the Nashville-area candidates, voting unanimously to dismiss the case. The complaint had alleged illegal coordination between the organization and the candidates – Miranda Christy, Thom Druffel, Jane Grimes Meneely and Jackson Miller.

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New Information Delays Durham Probe

Investigators will not reveal the findings of a probe into former state representative Jeremy Durham’s campaign finances until February, because “new information” is requiring additional investigation. Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Registry of Election Finance, said Wednesday the agency has collected all the materials it needs pertaining to Durham’s finances, but it will take more time than expected to conclude the inquiry. Tom Lawless, chairman of the registry, characterized the new information as troublesome. Durham has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The Tennessean has more.

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California Set to Get its 1st Latino AG

California Gov. Jerry Brown has picked U.S. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, to be the state’s next attorney general, the Los Angeles Times reports. If confirmed by both houses of the state legislature, Becerra would be the state’s first Latino attorney general and would succeed Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate. Becerra, 58, has served 12 terms in Congress. He previously worked in the civil division of the state attorney general’s office.

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Former Tennessee Politician Dies in Georgia

Lloyd Hal Blevins Sr. died last Friday (Dec. 2) after a brief illness. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, seeing service in Japan, the Philippines, South Vietnam and Taiwan, Blevins earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Following graduation, he took over as owner and operator of the Jonesboro Nursing Home, raised cattle and became active in East Tennessee politics, running as the Democratic nominee for the First Congressional District in 1974 and 1976. Blevins moved to Atlanta in 1976 and later to Houston, before returning to Georgia in retirement.

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Criminal Justice Reform Group Hosts Event

The Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice will host “Stopping the Revolving Door: A Conversation on Safety, Savings and Our Criminal Justice System” on Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in West Knoxville. Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, will moderate the discussion, which will focus on problems with the current criminal justice system and strategies for change. Panelists will include Lindsay M. Boyd, director of policy for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, and Thomas H. Castelli, legal director for the ACLU of Tennessee. The event is free and open to the public.

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Juvenile Justice Task Force Working Toward Report

The state Juvenile Justice Task Force is working toward a final report and is expected to make a number of recommendations to lawmakers on how juveniles should be treated in the legal system. That makes it likely that the legislature will consider some form of juvenile justice reform in the next session, the Tennessean reports. The task force, chaired by state Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, is focused on a number of issues, including the youth probation system, inconsistent court practices across the state and use of valid court orders, which put the weight of the court behind directives for school attendance and curfews.

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Trump Advisor: Corker is Finalist for Secretary of State

Sen. Bob Corker is one of four finalists to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, one of Trump’s senior advisers said Friday, the Tennessean reports. Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s presidential campaign, confirmed the Tennessee Republican is on short list. “We publicly have said there are probably four people right now that have been the narrowed down choices,” Conway said. “That includes Gen. [David] Petraeus and Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are also still in the mix, according to Conway. 

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Senators Planning Bill to Give ‘DREAMers’ Legal Status

Two U.S. senators are working to give young undocumented immigrants legal status, possibly before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Roll Call reports. Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, reportedly are drafting legislation to protect the so-called “DREAMERs” – undocumented immigrants who came to the states as children and meet the requirements of federal law. The pair decided to act after President Barack Obama said he would not pardon the young people.

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