Before last November’s election, lawmakers who came to power in the Tennessee General Assembly promised us smaller government. But radical lawmakers are trying to impose BIG government solutions on local communities.
Currently, municipal and county governments in Tennessee are free to enter into voluntary contracts with expectations for workplace equality, living wages and other benefits for workers. Such contract provisions demonstrate that local communities value equality, inclusion and fair wages. Local governments that embrace these virtues make their communities more attractive to workers, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to live and work in these communities.
On March 1, the Senate State & Local Government Committee will hear legislation that will take away the right of local communities to improve the lives of their citizens and give contractors special rights to discriminate against their workers. As introduced, the “Special Access to Discriminate Act” (SB 0630) will prohibit local governments from enacting non-discrimination provisions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of government contractors. SB 0630 will also prohibit local governments from enacting fair wage laws for employees of government contractors.
The radically anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-business Family Action Council and the Tennessee Tea Party are promoting this legislation based on a narrow religious agenda. They claim they want to bring small government to Tennessee. But they are pushing BIG government interference on local communities to further their radical social agenda when it suits them.
The bill sets a bad precedent of interfering in the contracting processes of local governments. Local governments need the ability to set conditions for the use of taxpayer funds based on their needs and values. This bill undercuts that process.
The bill would also overturn local living wage legislation that has been on the books for more than 4 years.
The State of Colorado enacted legislation similar to SB 0630 in 1992 that prohibited local governments from enacting non-discrimination ordinances. The state drew criticism from potential tourists and businesses looking to move to the state when it embraced intolerance and bigotry. Colorado suffered billions of dollars in lost tourism, jobs and tax revenues over a five year period until the legislation was overturned after costly court challenges. Tennessee cannot afford such long term fiscal consequences during a recession.
A state law allowing workplace discrimination and poverty wages in our local communities will make all of Tennessee less attractive to the best workers, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to live and work in our communities.
Tell the Senate State & Local Government Committee to vote no on SB 0630!
If you live in the district of a Senator serving on this State & Local Government Committee, telephone him or her today and encourage them to vote no on SB 0630 (Click the Senate members on the link in this sentence for phone numbers). Then send the following message to the entire committee encouraging them to do the same.
The House version of this bill (HB0598) will be heard in subcommittee the the following day on March 2. Be sure to participate in both campaign petitions.