NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A bill that would cut the size of the Nashville Metro Council in half advanced through a key House subcommittee Wednesday afternoon.
House Bill 48 moved through the Cities & Counties Subcommittee, where the sponsor, Rep. William Lamberth (R—Portland) answered questions from committee member Rep. Sam McKenzie (D—Knoxville).
Per their discussion, Lamberth said the bill’s genesis was an efficiency issue, stating that large councils like Metro’s routinely fail to get work done for having so many members. He compared the work of large councils to that of “pushing a boulder uphill through mud,” adding that smaller councils are more efficient at governing.
The bill is widely seen as retribution against Nashville for Metro Council’s decision not to support hosting the Republican National Convention in 2024. Nashville was one of two locations selected as finalists for the RNC, but ultimately, Milwaukee was named the host city. State leaders, including Gov. Bill Lee, were hopeful the RNC could be held in Music City.
Lamberth said a poll of 773 Nashville voters saw 55% of respondents say they favored a smaller Metro Council, but McKenzie countered that Lamberth’s poll was “extremely unscientific.” McKenzie also pointed out Lamberth kept speaking to the nature of city councils, whereas Metro Nashville’s council was representative of both the city of Nashville and all of Davidson County.
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McKenzie also questioned if a smaller council would be able to maintain minority representation as well as or better than the current 40-member group. Lamberth said it could, but that decision would ultimately be up to the redistricting process should the bill pass.
Lamberth also reiterated that Metro would not be required to adopt a full 20-member council; it could opt for an even smaller council if it wanted.
The bill passed the subcommittee with McKenzie recorded as a No vote. It now moves on to the House Local Government Committee. Per the General Assembly’s calendar, the bill will be considered in that committee next Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
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