Twenty council members have signed a nonbinding resolution to express opposition to state bills that would nullify the city’s nondiscrimination efforts regarding city contractors and remove decision-making authority from city government on other matters, such as the minimum wage.
The council is set to vote on third and final reading March 15 on a bill that would require companies that do business with the city to adopt employment nondiscrimination policies that protect gay, lesbian and transgender people. The council gave preliminary approval of the bill last month by a 21-16 vote.
But lingering in the background is state legislation put forth by Williamson County Republican Rep. Glen Casada that would restrict local governments from adopting nondiscrimination polices that go beyond race, creed, color, religion, sex age and national origin. If approved, local governments would also be outlawed from setting minimum wages on businesses, mandating health insurance benefits and ensuring family leave requirements.
“We cannot have a hodgepodge of laws that will hurt commerce and hurt the expansion of business,” Casada has told The City Paper in the past.
Council attorney Jon Cooper has said the bill, which entered the General Assembly’s committee system this week, would nullify the intent of the council bill if it becomes law.
A resolution introduced by at-large council members Megan Barry, Jerry Maynard and Ronnie Steine would put the council on record as opposing the Casada bills, which it says would “preempt local governments from enacting their own procurement nondiscrimination policies.”
The council will consider the memorializing resolution March 15. If approved, it wouldn’t have any practical effect on policy but would simply express the council’s position.
“While this is a nonbinding resolution, I think it strongly shows that the Metro Council believes that the state needs to focus on the state, and we need to have the ability to focus on local issues,” Barry said.