Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sanctuary city bill will not be put to a vote July 6th

The Tennessean reports that the lead sponsors of the Nashville sanctuary city bill (BL2017-739) will not bring the bill to a vote on July 6th.  I am not surprised.  After the bill passed second reading on June 20th, I assumed it would most likely pass on third reading on July 6th, however, since then several things have happened that make me think the bill is now likely dead.  The most important thing is that the Metro Attorney issued a legal opinion that said if passed, it would not be enforceable.  His opinion said the Council had no authority to direct the sheriff how to operate the County jail. (link)

Other factors leading to the lessened likelihood of passage is the Mayor stating her opposition to the bill. While the mayor did not make a strong statement in opposition or threaten to veto the bill, she said that due to the content of the Metro legal opinion, "the Metro Council should give serious consideration to these factors and reconsider whether this legislation is appropriate or necessary at this time."

Also, several State legislators expressed anger that Nashville was going to defy the will of the State and made it clear that when the legislature reconvenes they would nullify Metro's action should the bill pass. Also, several candidates for Governor blasted Metro's move to become a sanctuary city.   Also, the Sheriff took a strong position against the bill and said he would ignore it if passed. In addition, there has been vocal pubic opposition to the bill on talk radio and social media and among the public.  I assume councilmen have been hearing from their constituents.

The sponsors do not say if they will withdraw the bill or defer it.  I suspect they will defer it indefinitely and just let it die. Deferring a bill and letting it die is a face-saving way to kill a bill without admitting defeat.  The sponsors could defer the bill to a specific future meeting, such as the next meeting, or defer it indefinitely. Since the momentum is going against passage, I would not assume they would simply defer one meeting and instead would expect an indefinite deferral. An indefinitely deferred bill can be brought back up at a later date and be placed back on the agenda on third reading.  If deferred, opponents need to stay vigilant.

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