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Lawmakers Prepare to Target Nashville Next Week

Alyssa Hansen
17 Feb, 2023
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At the beginning of each new General Assembly, business typically gets off to a fairly slow start as lawmakers settle into their offices, freshmen learn the ropes, and legislation is tweaked and perfected as much as possible before it's heard in committee.

That hasn't been the case this year.

While almost all of the labor-related bills that we're tracking (including the ones that we tend to see filed every session and especially those that would have a negative impact on our members) haven't been calendared just yet, plenty of headline-grabbing bills are moving at lightening speed.

Lawmakers in both chambers have sent a very clear message about what's on their agendas for next week: targeting Metro Nashville. We spent time in the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee earlier this week and live-tweeted as city and community leaders made the case for why it's unnecessary to reduce Nashville's Metro Council by half. You can see our play-by-play by clicking here.

In addition to HB 48/SB 87, two other pieces of legislation will be heard in the House that seek to change who makes appointments to the city's Sports Authority and Airport Authority, ultimately giving more power to the supermajority.

However, rumor has it that at least some of the bills targeting Tennessee's capital city could go away if a deal is reached to host a future Republican National Convention.

While all of this remains to be seen, it's once again continued proof that very few legislators are actually concerned with helping their constituents address the very real and serious problems facing our state, like a lack of good-paying jobs, affordable childcare options, and much more.

Even though next week's agenda is somewhat light on labor issues (that will be changing very soon), we'll be watching a few dozen bills closely, including one that would effectively authorize closed primaries in Tennessee. For more details on that piece of legislation and a brief summary of what else we'll be tracking, please read through the following list of bills.

Stay tuned for calls to action when important labor legislation takes the spotlight and don't hesitate to let us know if you have questions about a particular bill.

A Brief Look at Some of the Additional Legislation That We're Watching Next Week

-HB 48/SB 87: One of the earliest headline-grabbing pieces of legislation this year, this is targeted directly at Nashville's Metro Council and would cap the number of members on the governing body of a metropolitan government at 20.This bill is a petty, vindictive retaliation by the supermajority for the Council blocking the 2024 Republican National Convention.
Note: This will be heard in both the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee and the Senate State & Local Government Committee next week.

-HB 1197/SB 1335: Another attempt by the legislature to exert more control over Nashville, this piece of legislation would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority; the mayor would be allowed to appoint three directors, while all other appointments would come from the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate.

-HB 1176/SB 1326: Similar to the first two bills, this would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Airport Authority; the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate would be allowed to appoint all members, while the mayor would serve as a voting ex officio commissioner.

-HB 405/SB 452: An election-related bill that would limit Tennesseans' choices and potentially discourage voting, this would require voters to declare a party affiliation before casting their ballot in a primary election. In short, this would allow closed primaries. A similar piece of legislation (HB 1045), which would require voters to disclose their political party affiliation (or lack thereof) on their voter registration, will also be heard next week.
Note: This will be heard in both the House Local Government Committee and the Senate State & Local Government Committee next week.

-HB 302/SB 286: In an effort to increase transparency at the Tennessee General Assembly, this piece of legislation would require lobbyists to wear a badge at all times while at the Capitol that shows their name and employer. This is sponsored by two of our endorsed candidates from this past election cycle: Representative Justin Jones and Senator Charlane Oliver.

-HB 396/SB 97: This bill would increase the death benefit in workers' compensation claims to 75% of a person's average weekly wage and makes several other changes to death benefits.

-HB 433/SB 12: Continuing to have a negative impact on public education across the state, this piece of legislation would expand Tennessee's school voucher program to include Hamilton County schools.

-HB 708/SB 1002: A good bill, this would create a supplemental pay incentive program for county correction officers who complete at least 40 hours of in-service training each year.

-HJR 13: Another piece of legislation that has already made headlines, this would authorize moving county elections from August to November, potentially confusing voters and giving the supermajority an additional opportunity to add to its power.

-HB 948/SB 1329: This piece of legislation designates the second Monday in April as "Tennessee Lineworker Appreciation Day."