Home » Nashville sues state over mandate to reduce size of council, which has 25% Black members

Nashville sues state over mandate to reduce size of council, which has 25% Black members

by The Grio

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville officials on Monday sued over a new Tennessee law that will cut the Democratic-leaning city’s metro council in half, a move that follows the council’s rejection of efforts to host the 2024 Republican National Convention in Music City.

The law reduces Nashville’s combined council from 40 members to 20. Though it applies broadly to city or city-county governments, Nashville is the only one that is affected.

The lawsuit says the reduction violates requirements in the state Constitution about councilmember term lengths and local control. Additionally, the lawsuit argues that it’s too close to this year’s council elections in August to make the overhaul. Officials say more than 40 candidates are already running.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the proposal Thursday, shortly after the Senate cast the final vote needed. Lee’s spokesperson declined to comment on pending litigation. Elizabeth Lane, spokesperson for state Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, said the office “stands ready to defend the law.”

“In imposing these Council-reduction requirements on Metro Nashville just before a local election, the General Assembly undermines the purpose of local-government consolidation, ignores numerous other constitutional prohibitions on such a reduction, and creates confusion and chaos among citizens and candidates,” the lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court states.

Republican lawmakers who spurred the change argue that they’re acting within their legal authority to reduce an oversized government.

“Local government bodies need to be a size that allows them to function efficiently and effectively without compromising their duty to represent the people,” Sen. Bo Watson, the bill’s sponsor, said last month.

Critics in Nashville have decried efforts to reconfigure its elected government while the city continues to grow and pull in more…

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