By Chris Cannon
Tennessee House of Representative member Glen Casada from Williamson County plans to introduce legislation this session that will limit a local government’s involvement in a private companies human resource issues.
The proposed state legislation is in response to an ordinance Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin will introduce next Tuesday. It would require contractors to agree not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Our procurement code says if you’re a contractor for Metro you have to sign an affidavit that says you won’t discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex or handicap," Hollin explained.
The councilman’s ordinance would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes on that procurement code.
"Otherwise, it’s not a policy of the Metropolitan Government, it’s simply a philosophy," Hollin added.
"I have grave concern about cities having this piecemeal approach and dictating to businesses how they will conduct their enterprise in each given city in the state," said Representative Casada, a Republican lawmaker from Williamson County.
Casada spoke at a meeting of conservative businessmen in Nashville Wednesday morning. It is reported those in attendance are worried what affect the so-called homosexual agenda will have on the business atmosphere in Nashville.
"We have the City of Nashville dictating moral policy. In other words, you will do X, to our local business community," Casada explained.
Casada said the legislation he will bring to the House of Representative will streamline what local governments can demand of privately owned businesses.
It is a proposal Councilman Hollin is worried will not pass constitutional muster.
"I’d say on the surface it’s suspect. Can the state be in the business of telling the local government what to do in this type of matter?" the Councilman asked.
Hollin’s ordinance has its first reading at Metro City Council on January 18th. He feels the fact that meeting was held Wednesday morning with several business leaders illustrates what his proposal is up against.
"Based on the meeting this morning, without even the language of the bill to look at, being conducted here in downtown Nashville by various business leaders, clearly it’s going to be a fight," Hollin said.
Hollin has already heard when the bill comes up for first reading, it will be pulled from other bills on first reading, and a council member will ask for a separate vote. That would break typical council protocol which has all bills on first reading passing during one vote.
Representative Casada told NewsChannel 5 he plans to sit down with an attorney this week and draft his legislation. He will then submit it to a Commerce subcommittee so the bill can start its move toward the house floor.