Senate Passes Bill To Reverse Metro’s Anti-Discrimination Law
By Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A state law that would do away with Nashville's anti-discrimination mandate for contractors is about to head to the Governor's desk.
The bill's passing has Nashville lawmakers speaking out and they are not happy.
A vote Thursday afternoon in the Senate all but cemented the passing of state's Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act. Senators voted 21 to 8 on the proposal that would prohibit local governments from creating anti-discrimination laws that are stricter than the state's has passed the Senate.
"It had nothing to do with intrastate; it had nothing to do with jobs. It had to do with some people that folks didn't like. And they twisted it up, dressed it up in bows to make it look different," said State Sen. Thelma Harper of Nashville.
The move by state legislators will repeal Metro Nashville's ordinance barring contractors from doing business with the city if they don't ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
"At least for a little while we've got on record saying that everybody's welcome in the City of Nashville," said Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin.
Councilman Hollin feels state lawmakers are meddling in city business.
"Make no mistake, it's been driven by a few, through fear tactics, and it just so happens to be one of Metro's contractors," said Hollin.
Representative Glen Casada explained the reasoning behind his bill to house members last month.
"If I have a business in Franklin, Tennessee and to do business in Nashville I must do what Nashville's telling me, all of the sudden Nashville is dictating to the rest of the state what business can and cannot do," said Rep. Casada.
It's an explanation Senator Harper has heard before, but still doesn't buy into.
"They are discriminating against a certain segment of society," added Sen. Harper.
Senator Mae Beavers tacked on a technical amendment to this bill, so it will have to go back to the house one more time before it goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.
An amendment to remove Nashville from the state proposal failed.