The Republicans ruling the state Legislature don’t like cities very much, opines columnist Frank Cagle, and city officials haven’t been doing much to fight legislative efforts such as de-annexation.
Thanks to the state Legislature, our cities are now frozen in place. And next year they may start to get even smaller.
In olden days the Legislature was run by a coalition of urban Democrats and rural West Tennessee Democrats, so urban interests were looked after. The majority Republican Legislature is composed, by and large, of rural, small-town and suburban legislators. Groups not predisposed to like cities to begin with, and they are opposed to regulation. The state’s major cities are governed by Democrats, and cities are all about regulation.
So the Legislature has been restricting red light cameras, repealing local requirements for sprinklers in townhouses, allowing guns in parks and, most significantly, prohibiting annexation except by referendum.
…Cities have a bigger worry coming down the pike. There are bills coming next session that allow for de-annexation. I don’t know what the final form will be, but the general outline is that areas annexed over the last 15 years can hold referendums and take themselves out of the city. A referendum can be instigated by a petition by the residents in the area asking to be de-annexed.
…The Tennessee Municipal League lobbies for cities. They are fine folks and they work hard. I’m sure they are working on these issues. But they can’t contribute to legislators’ campaigns or get involved in the rough-and-tumble of political campaigns. It takes political clout to supplement effective lobbying.
Have you seen any mayors or council members having press conferences on guns in parks, sprinklers, red light cameras or annexation? Seen any complaints about a state takeover? Any campaigns on behalf of city interests?
I try to keep up, but perhaps I’ve just not been paying attention to the city push-back. Or maybe the city governments have been asleep at the switch.