Two at-large Metro Council members are pushing back at the state Legislature for pending legislation they say is inappropriate for Nashville and ought to be left to Council to decide.
Metro Council passed a memorializing resolution expressing its opposition to state legislation that would take away the ability for city and county legislative bodies to pass living wage laws.
The legislation was sponsored by at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry, who said the issue should be decided by Council and not the Legislature. The state legislation opposed by Council did not advance past subcommittee on Tuesday, effectively killing it for this session of the General Assembly.
Barry said she plans to file Metro legislation to address a living wage after the budget cycle is completed this summer. A study by a Vanderbilt University professor last year stated the living wage for a full-time worker in Nashville is $10.35.
The federal mandated living wage is $6.55, which the study stated is $8,000 below the poverty level for a family of four.
“At the very least, we at Metro should not be paying workers a wage that keeps them working in poverty,” Barry said, pointing out some Metro workers do not earn a living wage.
Barry isn’t the only Council member standing up to the state legislators.
With the Tennessee House of Representatives advancing a bill to allow permit holders to carry a handgun in public parks, at-large Councilman Jerry Maynard said he intends to file a resolution in opposition.
“We have not had a final piece of legislation that’s been passed by the state, so we don’t know whether we would need to re-affirm or clarify Metro’s laws regarding guns in the parks,” he said. “But I stand ready tomorrow to file… an ordinance to reaffirm Metro government’s stance that we will not have guns in our local parks.”
Maynard and Barry said Metro ought to handle issues without being pre-empted by the state. Maynard added that he thought the House had its priorities in the wrong place.
“I’m very disappointed with the state Legislature,” Maynard said. “With unemployment, health care costs soaring, 20 percent cuts in budgets, if you look at education, all those major issues, and this Legislature wants to deal with guns in parks and guns in bars. It baffles the mind that they’re up there with 19 bills dealing with guns. And I hope Nashvillians will stand with us to say this is ridiculous.”
Barry’s resolution opposing the state living wage legislation passed with a vote of 25-0 and nine abstentions.