Tennessee Equality Project welcomes recent action in the House Subcommittee on Commerce on Wednesday, March 23. The “Special Access to Discriminate” Act (HB0598) was taken off notice for lack of support among members of the subcommittee.
For the moment, this withdrawal means that state government will not be intruding in the contractual affairs of local government in Tennessee. Cities, counties and school boards rightfully remain free to define what is best for their communities in expanding workplace equality, living wages and other employee benefits without BIG government interference from the state.
TEP applauds the coordinated efforts of equality, labor, and municipal government advocates who helped bring about this bill’s retreat. However, we are not out of the woods yet. Bill sponsor Glen Casada told The Tennessean that:
he plans to put the bill back on notice in about two weeks and will use the interim to lobby opponents (he named Cordova lawmakers Steve McManus and Dennis Roach, specifically) to vote for the bill.
While the withdrawal of HB0598 is a joyous event, we must be vigilant in making sure that this bill or others like it do not return while the 107th General Assembly is in session. Supporters of the “Special Access to Discriminate” Act have threatened to introduce another version of the legislation: HB0600 specifically targets lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees for discrimination.
House Representative Steve McManus of Cordova was among those who opposed the SAD Act in the House Subcommittee on Commerce. The Memphis Tea Party and Family Action Council of Tennessee have decided that they can pressure him into voting for HB0600 in the House Subcommittee on Commerce. Both organizations are currently marshaling their supporters to pressure Rep. McManus into abandoning the principles of small government. He needs to hear from equality and labor advocates and proponents of small government alike that we support his firm stand against HB0598 and HB0600.
If you live in Shelby County, Tennessee, send a message to House Representative Steve McManus thanking him for supporting community standards and local government control over the contracting process. Then forward this message to your friends and neighbors in your community via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Private businesses are completely free to enter into contracts with local governments. Businesses that voluntarily enter into contracts with local governments routinely comply with community standards. Proponents of HB0598 and HB0600 are asking the House Subcommittee on Commerce to set a bad precedent for interfering in local community affairs. These bills are solutions in search of problems that don’t exist.
Thank you for standing firmly against BIG government interference in local government contracts. I stand with you in opposition to the HB0598 and HB0600.