Tennessee Government Relations Weekly Report – February 17, 2023
Legislative activity continued to increase this week, with longer committee calendars that included decent amounts of legislation sprinkled amongst budget hearings. Look for the overall level of legislative activity to increase even more next week.
Bills Targeting Nashville Continue to Gain Momentum
A bill aimed at repealing Nashville’s authority to impose extra sales taxes in a designated tourist zone to fund Nashville’s Music City Center is well on its way to a floor vote. Late Thursday, however, Republican legislative leadership signaled the possibility of slow-walking the legislation if Mayor John Cooper were to pursue hosting the 2028 Republican National Convention. Cooper has since indicated his willingness to engage in the dialogue with Republican leaders after weeks of increasing tension between Nashville Metro Council and the General Assembly’s Republican supermajority. The bill, if passed, raises some concerns about a similarly-funded proposal for a new $2.2 billion NFL stadium currently being considered by Metro Council, which will also rely upon state funding, including sales taxes.
Other bills aimed at overhauling Nashville’s governing bodies—the first, HB48, which cuts Metro Council’s 40 members down to 20, and the other two, HB1197 and HB1176, which create new sports and airport authority boards, continue to gain momentum as they make their way through the committee process.
House Subcommittee Advances Bill Providing Exception to Abortion Law
This week lawmakers in the House Population Subcommittee approved a bill that would legalize abortion in the case of a medical emergency. The bill, HB883, clarifies that termination of a pregnancy would not constitute a criminal abortion for the following reasons: medical emergencies, disposal of un-implanted fertilized eggs, removal of ectopic or molar pregnancies, medically futile pregnancies or lethal fetal anomalies. There is no explicit exception to the abortion ban under current law. The bill has broad bipartisan support and will next be heard in the House Health Committee.
Bill to Expand Private School Voucher Program Sails Through Senate
Governor Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account program — a voucher program that allows students to take public education funds and apply it to private school tuition — is on the verge of expanding. On Thursday, the Senate passed legislation, SB12/HB433, that adds Hamilton County to the voucher program. Currently the program is only available in Davidson and Shelby Counties. The House bill is scheduled for the K-12 Subcommittee next Tuesday, February 21.
State offices will be closed next Monday in observance of President’s Day, but the remainder of the week will bring about a full slate of legislative activity. Expect more of your tracked bills to be put on notice as committee calendars continue to increase each week. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. Enjoy the holiday weekend.