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Tennessee Supreme Court Rejects Petition to Change Disciplinary Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court this week rejected without comment a petition from the Tennessee Bar Association and the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility to amend the Court’s rule governing professional conduct of attorneys. The proposed amendment added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of things about which a lawyer could not comment, whether in his or her professional capacity as an attorney or in his or her private life, without risk of disciplinary action.

More than 400 pages of comments were received from attorneys and other interested individuals and organizations concerning the proposed change. Among the concerns raised were that it expanded the groups deemed as “protected classes” beyond that currently set out in both Tennessee and federal law, as well as concern that “discrimination” was not adequately defined.

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shape of Tennessee on striped background with words Tennessee news

Tennessee Legislature Adjourns

This week the Tennessee General Assembly adjourned the second year of its two-year cycle, with about 30 of the 132 legislators now voluntarily leaving office for the final time.

Unlike past years when Democrats did not challenge a number of Republicans, this year all but seven Republicans will have a Democratic challenger. A number of Republicans will have primary challenges.

Given the unwillingness of a number of returning incumbents to address the advances of the sexual revolution infiltrating our public schools and destroying the structure of the family, voter education will be important. At TNVoterGuide.org, you will soon be able to find transcripts and videos of a number of the gubernatorial candidates answering important questions related to marriage, family, life, and religious liberty. Information about legislative candidates will be available in July.

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TN Supreme Court Restrains Itself in Election Decision

The special election for Mayor of Nashville to replace Megan Barry will be held on May 24 instead of August 2, according to Tuesday’s ruling of the Tennessee Supreme Court overturning the decision of the Davidson County Election Commission and a subsequent Chancery Court ruling. What is positive about the ruling is that the Supreme Court affirmed that it could not look at the “consequences” of certain interpretations of the applicable law and “declined” Metro’s “invitation” to “judicially amend” the law!

As a result of the ruling, the filing deadline was reopened until noon on April 12 and the new withdrawal deadline is now noon on April 19.

At this time, the candidates include Acting Mayor David Briley, At-Large Metro Council member Erica Gilmore, state Rep. Harold Love Jr., Ludye Wallace, former talk radio host Ralph Bristol, former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, and several more.

Whoever wins the special mayoral election will serve only until the August 2019 general metropolitan election.

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Gov. Haslam Signs Bill That Defunds Planned Parenthood in Tennessee

Gov. Haslam signed into law two bills this week designed to make sure no state tax dollars or certain federal funds administered by the state go to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform elective abortions.

The first of the two, HB 2251 by Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) and SB 2248 by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), directs the state to request a waiver from the federal Medicaid office to allow the state to exclude entities that provide elective abortions as providers in TennCare. The second bill, HB 2262 by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and SB 2494 by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), codified a process utilized by the Haslam administration to prioritize who may receive Title X family planning funds, with local health departments receiving top priority. The process effectively eliminates entities such as Planned Parenthood.

However, the Senate and House overwhelmingly approved, and Gov. Haslam signed into law SB 883/HB 1320 that allows federal funds administered by the state to be used to provide “assistance” to “health clinics that the commissioner of health finds are qualified and willing to perform comprehensive family planning services” so that they can provide “intrauterine devices and birth control implants.”

Hopefully, no commissioner of health will ever consider Planned Parenthood a “qualified and willing” provider of these services, but that remains to be seen.

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TN Rep Kills Own Bill Protecting Conservative Business Owners

An unusual thing happened Tuesday in the Tennessee Legislature when the sponsor of a bill failed to show up to present his bill to the committee to which it had been assigned. Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) had sponsored House Bill 54, which would have protected all businesses from discrimination by city governments in the bidding process for contracts, in regard to access to and the use of city facilities, and in regard to participation of city programs based on whether they did or did not extend special rights to employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity or provide coverage of abortion under employee group health insurance policies.

Even though proponents of the bill had updated Rep. Zachary on the bill’s status and the potential vote count among the committee’s members not less than thirty minutes before the committee convened, he came down to the committee room after it adjourned for the year, which means the bill is dead. Rep. Zachary’s reasons for his disappearance were murky.

Rep. Zachary cancelled a meeting this Wednesday with proponents of the bill desirous of finding out what happened, but it was rescheduled yesterday for next Tuesday.

The bill had passed the state Senate last year 25-5. In the Senate, it was sponsored by Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville).

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