Stop the Power Grab! Tennessee State Senator Kelsey is Overreaching

Stop the Power Grab! Tennessee State Senator Kelsey is Overreaching

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Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis started this petition to Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey

August 2020, the Memphis City Council voted to continue requiring police officers charged with serving and protecting Memphians to live in the community they serve. Memphis Mayor Strickland disagreed with the Council’s decision and vetoed or rejected it. The City Council overrode the Mayor’s veto. In short, the City Council had the final decision, and Memphis police officers must live in the community they serve.

The story should end there, but it does not.  January 2021, State Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown filed Senate Bill 29 (SB 29) banning residency requirements for first responders – police and fire - in Tennessee. If this bill passes, Mayor Strickland gets what he wants, Memphis police officers will no longer be required to live in the community they serve.  State Representative Jerome Moon of Maryville is sponsoring the same bill in the House of Representatives, House Bill 105.

Memphis operates under a “home rule” charter, allowing city elected officials to govern aspects of the city, including requiring its police officers to live in the community. Home Rule allows democracy to flourish. Home Rule has a loophole, and the state government can avoid honoring home rule by imposing a rule on all cities. State Senator Kelsey’s bill uses this loophole to deny Memphis the right to govern itself.

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