NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The first half of the legislative session is winding down, with lawmakers set to conclude their business for the year Friday. But one of their final acts before recessing until next year was passing a series of bills that would have a direct impact on Metro Nashville.
The relationship between the general assembly and the local government has been tested significantly this year, as the legislature introduced bills that would severely restrict Metro’s ability to govern itself and its assets.
The first bill that passed was the bill that would force the Metro Council to reduce its size by at least half. Metro currently has a 40-member council, and the law states no metropolitan government would be allowed to have more than 20 members of its governing body. Nashville sued, saying it violated the Tennessee Constitution and Metro’s sovereignty. The case is currently tied up in Davidson County Chancery Court.
Thursday saw the legislature take further steps to exert more control over the capitol city when it passed three more pieces of legislation: bills to abolish community oversight boards, reconstitute the Metro Nashville Airport Authority and to add restrictions on excess tax revenues from convention centers.
These three bills passed the final legislative hurdle and will now be sent to the governor’s desk:
SB 1326/HB 1176
Proposed by Rep. Johnny Garrett (R—Goodlettsville) and Sen. Paul Bailey (R—Sparta), this bill vacates the current Metro Nashville Airport Authority and reconstitutes it with all new appointments from mostly state lawmakers. Currently, the authority is appointed by the mayor of Metro Nashville.
According to the text of the bill, the new authority board would be made up of eight commissioners with appointments coming from the governor, the Speaker of the House, Speaker of the Senate and Metro Mayor. Each leader would be able to appoint two commissioners, and at least one of those appointments would be required to reside in Davidson County.
Other requirements for the new board are to ensure at least one commissioner is female, another is of “a racial minority.” and that the commissioners are experienced in either engineering, law, industry or commerce or finance.
The new board should be in place by July 1, according to the bill.
SB 591/HB 764
Brought by Sen. Mark Pody (R—Lebanon) and Rep. Elaine Davis (R—Knoxville), this bill abolishes all currently formed Community Oversight Boards and replaces them with new “police advisory and review committees.”
Currently, community oversight boards can be formed by local governments to investigate or oversee investigation into possible law enforcement misconduct or the operations of law enforcement agencies.
The bill instead authorizes municipalities to set up police advisory and review committees by ordinance, requiring a two-thirds vote at two separate meetings. The committees would be made up of seven members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the governing body.
The committees would not be allowed to investigate any incidents that occurred prior to Jan. 1, 2023; they would also not be permitted to direct the chief of police to alter or impose disciplinary action against any police officers.
The bill gives local governments 120 days after July 1 to comply with the law.
SB 648/HB 1279
This bill was brought by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R—Franklin) and Davis and prohibits Metro Nashville Davidson County from levying up to a 2% hotel occupancy tax and redirects any current occupancy taxes collected to only be used for “direct promotion of tourism, tourist-related activities, and deposit into the general fund.” It also removes authorization for Davidson County to levy a $2.50 per-night hotel and short-term rental room tax and a $2 per-trip airport transit tax, as both of those tax funds are deposited into the convention center fund.
The bill will take effect upon gaining Gov. Bill Lee’s signature.
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.
What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.