NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The state is now going after the Nashville Airport Authority and Metropolitan Sports Authority. It’s the latest in a battle that began with the potential shrinkage of Nashville’s Metro Council.
“I know everyone wants to make this about 14 other things,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said. “But it is simply a policy discussion about how large a city council or metro council should be.”
Republican lawmakers filed bills to ‘vacate and reconstitute’ the board of each authority. Currently, the Metro-Nashville mayor appoints members to each board.
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These bills would make it so the majority of each is decided by state leadership.
“It is truly a large regional airport which the city puts zero dollars into, but the mayor appoints all the board,” Lamberth said. “That doesn’t seem right to me.”
Both bills only affect counties that have a population of over 500,000 and a metropolitan government. Only one Tennessee county falls under that criteria.
“It appears to be specifically targeting Nashville,” Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) said.
“Members of this legislative body who do not represent Nashville want to take over control of our city,” Sen. Charlane Oliver (D-Nashville) said, separately.
The moves have Democrats accusing Republican leadership of abusing its power.
“Let our metropolitan government be a model, not a martyr, for collaboration, compromise and setting aside our differences,” Oliver said.
Rumors have swirled that all of these bills are retaliation for Nashville denying the RNC – Republican leadership admitted there was retaliation coming at the end of last year.
But now, leadership argues it isn’t about that. They pointed to the airport as an example.
“That’s to make sure every Tennesseans’ whose tax dollars actually do go into that airport have a say, so that our speakers, potentially our governor, would have appointments on the board that is a regional airport board,” Lamberth said. “That’s not punishing Nashville, that’s recognizing the investment of Tennesseans.”