Local

Lawmakers and Advocates Push Back on Tennessee's Ban of Sanctuary Cities

Tennessee lawmakers and refugee rights proponents intend to advance legislation that will protect local governments over a state law prohibiting sanctuary cities, The Tennessean reports. Existing measures require local law enforcement officials conform to U.S. immigration policy or lose state economic development funds because of noncompliance. Bills introduced this year — SB507/HB558 and SB931/HB1110 — take aim at the law, requiring the state to reimburse localities for incurred expenses regarding compliance, and allow local police departments to take statements from victims and witnesses of crimes without asking their immigration status respectively.

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Why All Apartment Buildings in America Look the Same

Wood-framed balloon structures have become a ubiquitous part of our cityscapes, seemingly popping up overnight and changing the face of urban and suburban areas across America. No matter where you are, the buildings are ostensibly homogenous — blocky, colorful and three to seven stories tall. Bloomberg News examines the rise and controversy surrounding these ’stick framed’ structures, including why some municipalities seek to curb construction of the buildings in densely populated areas altogether.

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Nashville Mayor's Order Recognizes LGBT-Owned Businesses

Nashville Mayor David Briley recently signed an executive order that recognizes LGBT-owned businesses as a category for Metro procurement and contracting, The Nashville Business Journal reports. Briley’s order aligns with recent changes announced by the Nashville Metro Council, which intends to address complaints that minority-owned businesses are not equally benefitting from the city’s economic growth. “It’s my job as mayor to make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has equal access to economic opportunities,” said Briley. “Today, we’ve taken an important step towards better equity for LGBT-owned businesses in Nashville.” Nashville will be the first city in the South to instill such a policy.
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U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case Involving Tennessee Liquor Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, considering whether states can pass laws with resident restrictions regarding the issuance of liquor licenses, Forbes reports. The dispute involves a family that owns a mom-and-pop liquor store, who moved to Tennessee from Utah and attempted to bring their business with them. Current Tennessee law requires license applicants to live in the state for at least two years. Additionally, the license expires in one year, and renewal requires residency of 10 consecutive years, effectively barring new Tennesseans from opening these types of businesses, which detractors claim stifles new business in favor of existing competitors. The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission recommended approving the license and declined to enforce the rule, leading the association to sue. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision sometime this spring.

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Local Government Section to Host Reception at Tennessee State Museum

The TBA Local Government Section will host a reception at the newly opened Tennessee State Museum following its annual forum on April 11. Attendees of the reception will meet with museum curators and receive a staff-guided tour of the brand-new facility. This event is open to all Local Government Section members and those interested in learning more about the section; forum attendance is not required. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn Tennessee history while engaging with TBA leadership. You can RSVP for this event here.
 
When: Thursday, March 28, 5 p.m., CST
Where: Tennessee State Museum, 1000 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
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General Assembly Re-elects Comptroller Wilson, Treasurer Lillard Jr.

The Tennessee General Assembly on Wednesday re-elected Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson, and Tennessee State Treasurer David Lillard Jr., who will continue to serve in those positions for at least two more years, The Commercial Appeal reports. The legislature will resume today to elect members of the fiscal review committee, then the House will recess until Jan. 23, and the Senate until Jan. 28.

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UT Studies How Municipalities Address Changing Street Names that Honor Controversial Figures

Two University of Tennessee researchers are studying how local governments treat requests involving name changes for streets termed after controversial historical figures, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Geography professor Derek Alderman and geography Ph.D. candidate Jordan Brasher, using Tulsa, Okla., as a study model, found that cities "don't want to inconvenience or disrupt business," which could delay the renaming process, and contend that "cities tend to put economic development and convenience and practicality over really repairing the wounds and really trying to do justice." Alderman said he feels that more public participation when selecting street names could help alleviate some of these issues. 

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Unicoi County Man Threatens to Sue Municipality Over Ambulance Contract

A Unicoi County resident said that he will take legal action to halt the county’s contract proposal with MedicOne Medical Response regarding its bid for ambulance services in the county, the Johnson City Press reports. Johnny Day contends that although the county’s solicitation through a newspaper ad technically meets the legal requirement for bids of this nature, the advertisement was limited to just one day of publication and that several other companies were not given a fair shake in consideration. Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely told Day, along with other concerned residents, that they can present their concerns to the county’s Ambulance Committee at its next meeting, which is Thursday at 4 p.m., EST in the Unicoi County Mayor's Conference Room — Unicoi County Courthouse.

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Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley on Saturday

Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley, who passed away last week from cancer, are set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at the First Baptist Church Sevierville, with a visitation on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Atchley’s Funeral Home, WBIR reports. Atchley, who had served as mayor since 1995, was instrumental in the growth of Sevierville, building a new City Hall and police station, Smokies Stadium, convention center, expanding the greenway system, even bringing a double-A minor league baseball team to the city. “Mayor Atchley was Sevierville to the core,” said Sevierville City Administrator Russell Treadway. “From coaching youth baseball to being Mayor, and everything in between, he exemplified public service and proved there are hundreds of ways to serve one’s community.” Vice Mayor Robbie Fox will serve as Mayor until the next election in May 2019.

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Governor Haslam, Governor-elect Lee Oppose Closed Primaries

Governor Bill Haslam and Governor-elect Bill Lee both have voiced opposition to a closed primary resolution put forth by the GOP's state executive committee earlier this month, the Tennessean reports. The resolution asks the General Assembly to "address the issue of 'cross-over' voting in Tennessee’s primary elections," to prevent concerns of an opposing party influencing the other’s election. Gov. Haslam when speaking to the crowd at a Nashville Rotary meeting said “I am strongly opposed to that … If you're a Republican, I think it's a silly proposal." Lee made similar comments, saying “I would be willing to look at whatever the legislature says, but on the surface, I don’t see a reason to make a change.” Closed primaries have been a contentious issue in the state for decades and a similar resolution was voted down by the executive committee in 2015.

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