Tennessee Republican lawmakers file bill to limit city councils to 20 voting members

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Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 09, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the Tennessee legislative session gets underway, Republican lawmakers have filed a bill that could limit the number of voting members for local city councils.

The bill, dubbed "the Small Government Efficiency Act" was filed on Monday by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, and Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson, R-Hixon.

According to the bill, any local governmental body with more than 20 voting members would be required to dissolve and reappropriate current districts with the latest Census data. In Metro Nashville, the council is made up of 35 district members and five at-large members. Tennessee's next two largest cities, Memphis and Knoxville, have below the 20-member limit that this bill could require.

"We don't need their help to tell us how many people should be in the council," said at-large councilman Bob Mendes.

Mendes says cutting the size of the council will actually make Nashville government less efficient, making it harder to get work done.

"Getting a hold of your council member for zoning, a pothole, garbage can, sidewalk, anything, it's just going to be twice as hard, thanks to the state," Mendes said. "That doesn't make any sense."

"I totally agree that government works best when it's closer to the people," Mendes said. "Right now we've got one council member for every 20,000 people in Nashville, and they're proposing to have it be one for every 40,000. That's having government farther from people, not closer to people."

The 113th Tennessee General Assembly officially convenes on Jan. 10.

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