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      Here’s an update on what happened at the Capitol last week and what action items are coming up this week.

      (CAF) Attorney’s Fees

      HB1254/SB1361 changes attorney’s fees reimbursement on civil forfeiture cases from a $3k cap to a $10k cap. Jerry Sexton’s (R-Bean Station) House bill got through the Civil Justice Committee on 4/14 and is ready for a floor vote on 4/26.

      Chairman Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) Senate bill passed subcommittee on 4/20 9-0 and we are waiting to hear when it will be heard on the Senate floor. This bill has met zero resistance from the Department of Safety, and it appears this bill is on track for passage.

      (CAF) Bond Removal

      HB59/SB260 removes the bond associated with reclaiming property seized through civil forfeiture. Both versions of this bill have passed their subcommittees and Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) house version has passed through Ways and Means subcommittee, while the Senate bill is still waiting to be heard by Ways and Means. 

      This bill is currently “behind the budget,” and carries a $384,110 fiscal note (projected loss of state revenue). What this means is that the bill is not part of the items already accounted for in the projected budget items for next year. Items unaccounted for in next year’s budget will compete with other pieces of legislation for funding out of approximately $18.5M in miscellaneous funds. Senate sponsor Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) is still making efforts to get the bill added to the budget, but currently, it remains “behind the budget,” making passage less certain than it would be otherwise. 

      No-Knock Raids

      HB1406/SB1380 ends the practice of no-knock raids, requires officers to intervene in and report on situations of excessive force, restricts the use of chokeholds, requires de-escalation training, and limits the ability of LEO’s to fire weapons in traffic. 

      Chairman Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) Senate bill passed the full Senate on 4/19 by a vote of 32-0! We hoped this would create momentum for the house version and it appears it did. Michael Curcio’s (R-Dickson) House bill passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee almost unanimously and is set to be heard in the full Criminal Justice Committee on 4/26. Please consider reaching out to the members of the House Criminal Justice Committee.

      Essential vs Nonessential

      HB37/SB1573 restricts executive officials from labeling businesses as essential or nonessential in the event of an emergency. Originally this bill applied to executives at the state, county, and city level. Unfortunately, the Governor’s office opposed the legislation until the bill was amended so that it did not apply at the state level. Obviously, that weakened the bill, but it still applies to cities and counties, and that is a big step in the right direction. 

      Paul Bailey’s (R-Sparta) Senate bill passed the full Senate on 4/12 by a vote of 27 to 3! Brandon Ogle’s (R-Franklin) house version has passed committee and is ready for a floor vote in the House, but has been on hold due to medical reasons related to Mr. Ogles and his family that have prevented him from attending.

      Justin Cornett

      Chairman of the Board