Solicitor General Bill

TN Senate Bill 1240 / TN House Bill 690

BILL SUMMARY

Also known as the Solicitor General Bill, this bill creates the office of solicitor general to be appointed by the Legislature and transfers all the current duties of the attorney general (except the reporting of Supreme Court cases) to the office of solicitor general. The solicitor general can be removed by a vote of 2/3 of the members of the General Assembly.

BILL ANALYSIS

In Tennessee, the attorney general is not elected. He is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court, whose members are also unelected. As a result, the attorney general is essentially unaccountable to the people or their representatives.

This bill provides accountability within the state’s legal department for the defense of the Constitution, separation of powers, and federalism by allowing the policy-making body, the General Assembly, to appoint and remove the solicitor general on 2/3 vote.

BILL SPONSORS

Norris in the Senate, Goins in the House

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BILL STATUS

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TN Senate Bill 436 / TN House Bill 558

BILL SUMMARY

Also, known as the Legislator Standing Bill, this bill allows the Legislature, either by the majority of both chambers or by approval by both Speakers, to do the following:

  • Initiate lawsuits against local governments to challenge local ordinances that violate state law or compel compliance with state law
  • Initiate lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality or application of federal laws
  • Intervene in lawsuits in which the constitutionality or interpretation of a state or federal law is at issue.

Any action taken under this bill will be indemnified by the state.

BILL ANALYSIS

Currently, the Legislature has no voice in the courtroom if the attorney general:

  • Refuses to take legal action to enforce a state law or challenge a federal law or,
  •  In a pending action in which private parties are seeking to have current law held unconstitutional or reinterpreted, takes a position inconsistent with or contrary to the will and intent of the Legislature.

This bill will help the Legislature defend and enforce its laws and protect itself from unconstitutional mandates under federal law or require the federal government to comply with its mandates.

BILL SPONSORS

Watson in the Senate, Carter in the House

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TN Senate Bill 449 / TN House Bill 566

BILL SUMMARY

Requires all boards and commissions that currently implement an ethics code developed by a private professional or business association to submit any changes to those codes by those private associations for approval by the House and Senate Committee on Government Operations.

BILL ANALYSIS

This bill addresses a loophole in Tennessee law. Ethics codes and regulations on a profession can have the effect of law if they are violated. Right now, some state-created governing boards permanently adopt, in toto, ethics codes developed by private organizations, meaning that if the private organization changes its code, then state law automatically changes in Tennessee law even though the change in law was never voted on or approved by Tennessee voters or their elected representatives.

This bill restores the democratic principle that the power to create state law cannot be delegated to or exercised by outside, private organizations unaccountable to the people or their elected representatives.

BILL SPONSORS

Bell in the Senate, Howell in the House

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BILL STATUS

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