legislators

Tracy resigns, triggering special election in Senate District 14

News release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s office

NASHVILLE — Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) today announced he has resigned as Senator of the 14th District and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate effective immediately. President Donald Trump appointed Tracy to the position of Tennessee State Director for Rural Development late Friday. Tracy has accepted the appointment and under the Tennessee Constitution is required to relinquish his Senate seat.

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Fines imposed on former Rep. Durham now total $505,000

The Registry of Election Finance board voted Tuesday to impose another $10,000 civil penalty against former state Rep. Jeremy Durham, reports WTVF. That pushes total financial penalties assessed against Durham to $505,000.

The new fine was levied for wrongly reporting contributions and expenditures by Durham PAC, the political action committee set up by the Franklin County Republican. The Registry previously voted to impose a state record $465,000 in penalties against Durham for multiple violations in his regular campaign account. (Previous post HERE.)

And the Tennessee Ethics Commission has voted to impose $30,000 in penalties against Durham for problems with his filings of conflict-of-interest disclosures. (Previous post HERE.)

Norris questioned on gay marriage at hearing on confirmation as U.S. judge; no vote taken

Tennessee state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, nominated for a federal judgeship in West Tennessee, told U.S. senators Wednesday he considers the legality of same-sex marriage to be a settled issue and that he would follow it as a precedent if confirmed to the bench, reports Michael Collins.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took no vote Wednesday on whether to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Norris, R-Colliervile, leaving that to another meeting.  Norris has supported state legislation that critics argue would undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2015.

He also was one of the leading sponsors of a state resolution calling for a federal Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. (Note: The apparent reference is to SJR27 back in 2003, which had then-Sen.  David Fowler, now head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a staunch opponent of gay marriage, as prime sponsor and Norris as a co-sponsor.)

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Sen. Massey retires from regular job, expands legislative work with new disabilities committee

While some of her colleagues are planning to leave their state Senate seats, Knoxville Republican Sen. Becky Duncan Massey says she plans to devote more time to legislative duties with retirement from her regular job, reports  Georgiana Vines. She retiring as executive director of the Sertoma Center, which serves individuals with disabilities and where she has worked for 24 years.

A major focus for new legislative duties will be co-chairing with Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, a new joint ad hoc committee on disability services appointed by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell, to examine state services for the disabled, with a goal of making recommendations on how to streamline the services and improve their quality, access and affordability. The recommendations are for the next governor elected in 2018, she said.

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TBI agents, investigating former Rep. Jeremy Durham, ask legislators about bribery

TBI agents recently interviewed at least two state legislators – House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden — in conjunction with a criminal investigation into former Rep. Jerry Durham, reports The Tennessean. The agents specifically asked about bribery, but Casada and Holt said they were unaware of any such activity.

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Rep. Charles Sargent won’t seek reelection

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) today announced that he will not seek re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2018.

Instead, Sargent has chosen to focus on his health. The Chairman of the House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee has dealt with skin cancer in prior years and was recently diagnosed with a related condition that requires additional treatment.

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Ethics Commission imposes $30K fine on former Rep. Jeremy Durham

The Tennessee Ethics Commission Tuesday voted to impose a $30,000 fine on former state Rep. Jeremy Durham, who already faces $465,000 in penalties imposed by the Registry of Election Finance, reports the Tennessean.

The registry fines were for violation of campaign finance laws. The Ethics Commission penalty is for Durham’s failure to include all sources of income in his conflict-of-interest disclosure filed while he was a legislator.

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U.S. Senate panel votes to confirm Overbey as U.S. attorney for East TN

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted to confirm President Trump’s nomination of state Sen. Doug Overbey as U.S. attorney for East Tennessee. The nomination still awaits a Senate floor vote.

Statement from Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“I’ve known Doug for a long time – and I know that Tennessee will be well-served by a man of such good character,” he said. “Doug is a lifelong East Tennessean and has dedicated his life to service — practicing law for more than 37 years in East Tennessee and currently serving in the Tennessee General Assembly. I am glad the Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination today, and I look forward to his confirmation.”

Once confirmed, Overbey plans to step down from his Senate District 2 seat.

Senate Democratic Leader running for Shelby County mayor

State Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris is running for Shelby County mayor and will not seek re-election to the Senate District 29 seat, reports the Memphis Daily News.

“On the campaign trail, I plan to force a real conversation about creating more meaningful opportunities for our students and reducing poverty,” Harris said Wednesday, Oct. 4, in a written statement announcing his candidacy. “It’ll be one of the first times that this has happened in this community.”

Harris, who is also a former Memphis City Council member, was elected to the state Senate in 2014 from the council seat.

He joins former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism in the May (Democratic) primary…  And in the process has started a scramble for his state Senate seat which is on the ballot in the August state and federal primaries.

The Republican primary for mayor, so far, is a contest among Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos and Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

Contenders in the 2018 county elections cannot begin pulling qualifying petitions for the ballot until Nov. 17.

“I’m not in this for layups,” Harris told The Daily News. “I’m in this for real serious challenges.”

Veteran Rep. Steve McDaniel won’t seek reelection

New release from Rep. Steve McDaniel

PARKER’S CROSSROADS, Tenn. – House Deputy Speaker Steve McDaniel (R-Parker’s Crossroads) announced today that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2018. McDaniel made the announcement during his annual community meetings tour in Henderson, Chester and Perry Counties.

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