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REVEALED: Airbnb bill suffers defeat in House committee after sponsor rejects compromise

Posted: 1:51 PM, Apr 12, 2022
Updated: 2022-06-15 15:30:45-04
Airbnb bill final vote.jpeg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Legislation pushed by Airbnb to handcuff Nashville's regulation of short-term rentals appeared to have died Tuesday in a House committee, although lobbyists could try again as long as the legislature remains in session.

Facing a certain defeat in the House Local Government Committee, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Faison, dropped his initial effort and substituted a compromise amendment to make a technical correction to the state law regulating short-term rentals.

But, pressed several times, the East Tennessee Republican refused to promise that he would not renew his attack on Nashville's regulations once the bill got to the House floor.

Committee members voted down the bill on what appeared to be a resounding voice vote.

Neighborhood advocates were jubilant.

"I had been told by a lot of people that worked really hard just to inform the legislators what they're really voting for that they felt like we were there," said Metro Council member Burkley Allen. "The discussion had me very nervous, so I was very pleased and surprised at the outcome."

That legislation had been the focus of NewsChannel 5's "Revealed" investigation, providing an example of how Tennessee's Capitol Hill really works.

In the months before its legislative efforts, Airbnb gave its lobbying team $40,000 to enable it to make campaign contributions to the lawmakers they were trying to influence.

Our investigation also revealed how the bill's sponsors were misleading their colleagues about the bill's true intentions.

Under Nashville's current ordinances, short-term rentals are limited in certain areas to "owner-occupied" residences where the owner is a permanent resident.

The Airbnb bill would have redefined Nashville's law to say that the owner did not actually have to live there, but just had to have a "definite intention" to return at some point.

It also would have made it more difficult for Nashville to yank the permits of repeat offenders.

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