Ten state bills, all Republican-backed, have drawn resistance from the Metro Council, which went on record Tuesday opposing state legislation that would “remove or inhibit local government powers of self-governance.”
By a voice vote, the council approved a Councilman Anthony Davis-sponsored non-binding memorializing resolution (which can be viewed here) that rejects state measures that would “negatively impact the ability of local elected officials to make decisions they deem to be in the best interest of their constituents.”
Davis, a rookie East Nashville councilman elected last fall, said his resolution –– which carries no policy effect –– encourages the state legislature to not “infringe” on local municipalities.
The resolution takes aim at a range of state proposals: One hinders a local government’s ability to regulate the sale of fireworks (HB 3494). Another prohibits fire-sprinkler requirements in local building codes for one- and two-family dwellings (HB 2639). A third requires the written consent of all affected property owners to authorize future zoning measures (HB 1345).
Metro’s statement hits on a growing theme during the ongoing legislative session –– the debate over state supremacy versus local autonomy. The city of Franklin approved a similar resolution last week that cited 14 state bills. Davis pointed to the Franklin measure as he explained the rationale behind his resolution to the council on Tuesday.
The lone council member to express hesitation about the resolution was conservative Councilman Robert Duvall, who is weighing a run as a Republican for the District 59 state House seat.
“I do want to clarify one thing,” Duvall said. “This council derives all its authority and power from the state. If they snap their finger and pass an ordinance that we all go away, guess what, we’re no longer sitting council members anymore.
“So, basically saying the state’s infringing on Metro government is not correct,” Duvall said. “That’s really not the right way to state it.”
Metro’s resolution targets three development measures introduced by state Rep. Jim Gotto, a former Metro councilman, that critics fear would “gut” Metro’s ability to enforce zoning and planning laws: HB 3694, HB 3696 and HB 3698. All three bills Wednesday were “taken off notice” from the legislature’s calendar. The council had already indicated its opposition to these bills in a letter sent to state Republican leadership. Mayor Karl Dean also opposes Gotto’s measures.
In approving the resolution, the council also opposes a state resolution (HB 3571) that “recognizes the destructive and insidious nature” of the United Nations’ nonbinding Agenda 21 plan, adopted in 1992 to outline environmental and development concerns.
Agenda 21 has become a source of contention among Tea Parry supporters and conservatives across the nation, including in Tennessee. The state resolution at issue easily cleared the state House last week by an overwhelming 72-23 vote.