Casada Returns with Focused Bill to Override Local Anti-Bias Ordinances

Less than 24 hours after the Metro Council passed a measure to prevent discrimination of gay and lesbian workers by city contractors, a state lawmaker kick-started a new bill to wipe out such ordinances.

Representative Glen Casada of Williamson County failed last month to get approval of a bill to overturn broad anti-discrimination ordinances by cities and counties. But that legislation also overturned any “minimum wage” requirements,” a point several Republicans wouldn’t go for.

So Casada now has a more limited bill. His ally, David Fowler, a former state senator, says it’s simplified.

“This one dealt just with the question of whether cities, and counties, should be able to expand the definition of what is “discriminatory practices” beyond how it’s defined in state law.”

Fowler is head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee.

Joe Sweat is a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Tennessee branch. He believes the Casada proposal overriding local non-discrimination ordinances is unconstitutional.

The bill easily cleared the House Commerce Subcommittee. It will be taken up by the full committee next Tuesday.

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The new bill is HB 600 Casada/SB 632 Ketron, a bill that simply applies to municipal anti-discrimination ordinances. A previous bill with the same title (the “Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act”) was broader in scope and challenged cities’ ability to set minimum wages on city contracts.

This bill summary by legislative staff confirms that the new bill only addresses discrimination legislation – that cities and counties couldn’t extend more discrimination protection than the state allows.

The Nashville Metro Council Tuesday night passed a city ordinance to require city contractors not to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgendered people. The measure passed 21-17. It needed 21 votes in the 40-member council to pass.

The summary of Casada’s new bill says:
Under this bill, any such anti-discrimination practice, standard, definition, or provision imposed on any such person by a local government prior to the effective date of this bill would be null and void.

Our previous stories on the issue focused on House Bill 598 by Casada.

That bill stalled in the same subcommittee on March 2.
Attempt to Block Metro Non-Discrimination Measure Fails

Fowler, who has lobbied the bill heavily, says:

“The broader bill created a lot of confusion as to what all it was doing. And anytime you have a bill with three or four different moving pieces and parts, It becomes harder for some people to understand what each of the parts does… And it gives people a reason to say, “Well I like that part, but I don’t like this part.” So we narrowed it down to the one issue.”

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