Subcommittee votes down bill barring cities from enacting self-governing policies

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 1:20pm

In the surprising opening round of a state legislative battle, Tennessee’s largest cities beat back an attempt to bar municipalities from enacting their own policies on discrimination, minimum wages, health care and family leave.

The conservative Christian-backed bill was filed in response to a proposed Metro Council ordinance that would extend protections against workplace discrimination to gays, lesbians and transgender people working at businesses contracting with the city government.

A House Commerce subcommittee voted 7-6 Wednesday against an amendment to the bill. Two Republicans joined Democrats and the legislature’s one independent, Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, in defeating the amendment. The sponsor, Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, then postponed his bill for two weeks.

“The bill’s not dead,” Casada insisted afterward. “I’ll just circle back with members to see what’s palatable to them. The winds are blowing coldly. That’s true. But the bill is still alive. I’ll sit down with those seven who voted no and see if we can come up with something that they’re comfortable with.”

Conservative Christian leader David Fowler immediately vowed to try to punish lawmakers who opposed the bill. He said his group, the Family Action Council of Tennessee, would send an email blast to their constituents.

“We’ll have to make their constituents understand how their legislators have voted,” Fowler said.

He blamed the defeat on heavy lobbying by the state’s four largest cities — Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville.

“The big four cities that want to expand their powers beyond that of state and federal government have been lobbying against the bill in recent days. That’s exactly it,” Fowler said.

Rep. Williams criticized the measure for “stepping on the toes of local municipalities.”

Filed under: City News

11 Comments on this post:

By: treehugger7 on 3/2/11 at 12:27

Terrific news! Thank you for doing the right thing! I especially thank the two republicans with guts!

By: revo-lou on 3/2/11 at 12:53

Finally some sensible action from our state legislators.

By: delltechkid on 3/2/11 at 2:56

Local government has the authority to set their own procurement rules. This bill was absurd from the beginning, trying to remove power from a local government that is rightfully theirs.

If someone doesn't want this language in Metro's procurement policies, then they should help elect a different set of Metro Council members that support their views.

By: Antisocialite on 3/2/11 at 3:01

I feel like they would have run smack into the Tennessee Constitution had this passed.

Title XI Section 9, concerning municipal home-rule. Look it up.

By: govskeptic on 3/3/11 at 6:50

Surprising that the Independent Kent Williams was only one
listed in the story and not the two Republicans that voted for
the defeat!

By: morpheus120 on 3/3/11 at 7:51

A victory for liberty as Herr Casada and the Republicans' big government power grab is thwarted by legislators with common sense and a respect for local governments.

By: Nitzche on 3/3/11 at 7:57

Big Government power grab has nothing to do with democrats? Obama care? Local Governments- police, fire, pot holes---stay out of the GLBT agenda. Does that kool aid ever get bitter?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/3/11 at 8:10

This is good news. The far right short sighted and on this issue they short reaching.

By: gdiafante on 3/3/11 at 8:19

I think both parties prefer big government. Take you blinders off.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/3/11 at 8:26

It is good to know that there are some sensible people in the House and the bill that would take away a City right to govern was defeated. I admire the two Republicans that saw this as over reaching and over imposing too much restriction on municipality. Cities have enough to worry about without farther constraint on how to deal with the daily of running a city business.

By: localboy on 3/3/11 at 11:48

Hey - that's my representative up on the tv!