A bill scheduled to be heard in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday would make it a felony for a member of a local governmental body to vote in conflict with state or federal laws on immigration or historical memorials.
House Bill 2552 sponsored by Representative Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) creates a Class E felony when an ordinance or resolution that expressly conflicts with state or federal law relative to immigration or historical memorials is knowingly voted on by a member of a city or county legislative body. The crime would be punishable by fine only.
However, as with all felony convictions by a public official, the violator would be subject to removal from office.
If passed, this bill would directly combat the issue of rogue local governments that seek to create sanctuary cities or removing historical monuments as has been seen in the cities of Nashville and Memphis over the past year.
Regarding the bill, Rep. White told The Tennessee Star, “The simple fact is, in America, no one should be able to openly disregard our laws without consequences.” Elaborating on recent events within the state of Tennessee, Rep. White continued,
If a local official violates our laws against sanctuary cities and illegal immigration, or if a local official violates our laws designed to protect historical monuments, then that official should be held liable and removed from office. We need to hold liberal politicians and cities like Nashville and Memphis accountable when they fail to uphold our laws.
As reported by The Star, two Metro Councilmen filed two ordinances drafted with the assistance of TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) that would have made Davidson County and Metro Nashville the most liberal sanctuary city in the U.S.
The Tennessee House quickly reacted with 63 members publicly objecting to passage of Nashville’s proposed sanctuary city ordinance, joined shortly thereafter by nine members of the State Senate, committing to act, in an unspecified manner, if the ordinances passed.
More recently, the Memphis City Council and Mayor Jim Strickland orchestrated the sale of two public parks to a non-profit, which overnight removed the historical statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. The sale of the parks was a blatant circumvention of the Tennessee Historical Commission’s denial of the city’s request for waiver to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act to allow removal of the statues.
House Republican Caucus leaders Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) reacted quickly by calling for an investigation.
About a month later, a Davidson County Chancellor ordered that the nonprofit who bought the statues in the transaction for the parks maintain and preserve the statues until a hearing which is yet to be held with the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Last week, Rep. Dawn White’s HB 2554, sponsored by Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) in the Senate as SB 2279, which “prohibits a public entity from selling, donating, or transferring a historical memorial for purposes of circumventing the waiver requirements or a commission action under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act,” passed the House State Government Subcommittee and is scheduled to be heard in the full committee on Tuesday.
The actions of the two liberal city governmental bodies, while contradictory to the beliefs of most Tennesseans and the Tennessee General Assembly, leaves the state legislature with no clear direction for action.
Rep. White’s proposed bill will hold each and every member of the local governmental bodies personally responsible for their vote when the member’s vote is in direct violation of existing state or federal law.
The bill is scheduled to be heard Tuesday in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) with Republican committee members Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) and Democrat members Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) and Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), who said of the removal of the Memphis statues, “When I heard the news, I was like I want to be a part of this.”
The companion Senate Bill 2578, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not yet been assigned to the committee’s calendar.