Tennessee Bar Association Legislative Updates
During the legislative session, the Tennessee Bar Association provides a weekly round-up of bills impacting the legal community. Those who wish to receive notifications of important legislative developments can subscribe to TBAImpact.
January 25, 2019 - A Weekly Legislative Update
The Tennessee House of Representatives met this week to begin the process of referring the few bills that have been introduced to the appropriate committees, while the Senate took this week off to finalize all office and staff moves. Both the Senate and House will be back next week for the official, first week of session. Committees will primarily hold organizational meetings in both chambers and may consider a few bills. The deadline for filing all legislation is Feb. 6, so there will be a flood of bills introduced over the next two weeks. The TBA Governmental Affairs Team will be reviewing all bills and begin the process of forwarding the legislation affecting the practice of law to the appropriate Section Executive Councils for review and feedback.
February 1, 2019 -TBAToday Legislative Update
This week the House and Senate were both in session, and legislators were primarily focused on preparing bills to be filed before the Feb. 6 bill filing deadline next week. Committee meetings this week were mostly organizational, but next week they will start to consider legislation. The TBA is in the process of having the TBA legislative initiatives introduced. This year’s TBA legislation was drafted by the Adoption Law Section, the Creditors’ Practice Section, the Probate Study Group, and the Construction Law Section. We are also working closely with the Juvenile Court judges and the trial judges on a bill clarifying subject matter jurisdiction on family law matters before the trial courts. And finally we are working with the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to help introduce legislation drafted by Tennessee high school students participating in the YLD Civic Achievement Through Activism in the Legislature by Young Students in Tennessee (CATALYST) program.
TBA Legislative Agenda – Service of Process
Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, and Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, introduced a bill yesterday, drafted by the TBA’s Creditors Practice Section, and supported by the TBA. SB 456/HB 393 allows for process to be valid if a private process server does not include a mailing or physical address on the service return. The TBA Governmental Affairs team will work with legislators to pass this bill and have it signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.
February 8, 2019
Legislative Update: More Caption Bills Among 1,500 Filed
There was a dramatic spike in the number of bill filings this week as lawmakers rushed to introduce legislation in advance of the House and Senate filing deadlines on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. While House rules limit most members to filing no more than 15 bills, many legislators filed their full allotment, and by the close of business on Thursday approximately 1,500 bills were filed for the year. Interestingly, there was a huge increase in "caption bills," which carry a caption broad enough to cover any number of legislative topics, and certainly more or different topics than what the bill seems to address on its face. These bills can be amended at the last moment to cover any topic allowed by the caption of the bill, and are frequently used to give legislators or lobbyists a way to comply with bill filing deadlines while not revealing the true purpose of the bill. The TBA Government Affairs team will keep an eye on these bills to see whether they are amended or begin to move. Next week the committees will step up their activity and have heavier agendas. Many committee chairs are encouraging members to go ahead and place their bills on notice, with the goal of completing as much work as possible before budget presentations begin in March.
February 15, 2019
Committee Action Heats Up; 2 TBA Adoption Bills Advance
Activity on Capitol Hill has picked up now that all bills have all been introduced and referred to their respective committees. The TBA has circulated legislation affecting attorneys to the TBA Sections’ Executive Councils for review and feedback and are busy communicating positions on legislation to bill sponsors and committee chairs. The TBA’s two adoption bills (HB287/SB208, Adoption Corrections, and HB288/SB207, Post-adoption Contact Agreements) were recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Children and Families Subcommittee. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 20.
February 22, 2019
TBA Bills Advance in Judiciary Committee
Despite having a somewhat compressed schedule due to the President’s day holiday, the legislature picked up steam this week in anticipation of Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address, which will occur in less than two weeks. The TBA's adoption bills, SB208/HB287 and SB207/HB288 both passed the House Judiciary Committee this week, with SB208 also passing in the Senate. The CATALYST bill (SB837/HB1002), which requires every person applying for a driver license or photo identification card to be automatically registered to vote upon the applicant's 18th birthday, will go before the Senate State and Local Government Committee next week. SB719/HB854, which allows a trial court to exercise domestic relations jurisdiction regardless of the nature of the allegations unless and until a pleading is filed or relief is otherwise sought in a juvenile court invoking its exclusive original jurisdiction, will be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee next week.
March 1, 2019
General Assembly Ramping Up for Busy March
It was a busy week at the legislature, as committees continued to ramp up to speed and more bills were placed on notice. Some lawmakers opted to run their bills early in session to avoid the inevitable rush that takes place in April, and other committees dedicated their entire calendars to bills addressing certain topics. Several house subcommittees also announced last calendars for the week of March 11, as leadership continues to press things along on a schedule to allow the legislature to adjourn sometime in early May. On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee will address a joint convention of the legislature to deliver his first State of the State address. Lee’s speech will highlight his key initiatives and priorities, and will likely include issues such as increased funding for school safety, greater resources for mental illness treatment, and an increased focus on having students ready for the workforce out of high school.
March 8, 2019
TBA Legislative Update: State of the State
Before the House chamber on Monday, Gov. Bill Lee 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.