Some of the most vocal House Democrats and Republicans trying to kill this session’s anti-sanctuary city bill sponsored by State Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) had, in 2009, voted “yes” to pass a bill that prohibited establishing sanctuary cities in Tennessee. The 2009 bill passed the House with a 80 yes votes.
Among the most aggressive efforts to sideline Reedy’s bill this year that closes a loophole in the 2009 law, has come from State Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) who voted yes on the 2009 bill. Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) appointed Sargent to serve as chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, a position he has held throughout Harwell’s tenure as Speaker.
Even though Sargent added his name as a co-sponsor on Reedy’s bill, he used his position as chairman to try and kill Reedy’s bill in the House Finance Committee. Sargent voted yes on a motion to send the bill to a study by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) which he then gaveled through on a voice vote despite loud and overwhelming opposition from the no votes.
Sargent again voted against a motion to reconsider the bill which passed the committee followed by a majority vote to move the bill toward a vote by the full House.
It should be noted that Reedy’s bill had no fiscal note and no explanation has been forthcoming as to why the bill was sent to the Finance Committee in the first place after being passed out of the House State Government Committee.
State Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parker Crossroads), another Finance Committee member siding with Sargent and the Democrats on all votes to sideline the bill, also voted yes on the 2009 bill.
Not to be outdone by Republicans Sargent and McDaniel who now favor shielding criminal aliens who have committed crimes under Tennessee law in addition to violating federal immigration laws, are Democrats who also voted in favor of the 2009 bill but now oppose Reedy’s bill.
Democrat gubernatorial candidate and Finance Committee member State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) voted yes in 2009, but argued against Reedy’s bill and moved to have it sent to a summer study even after the motion to send it to a TACIR study failed.
Also voting in line with Fitzhugh were Finance Committee Democrats State Reps. John DeBerry and Larry Miller who both voted yes in 2009 to prohibit sanctuary cities but have now flipped to support protecting criminal aliens.
Finance Committee member State Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) voted against Reedy’s bill despite voting yes in 2009. Prior to being elected as a Democrat to represent Davidson County’s 54th district in the Tennessee General Assembly, Gilmore served on the Metro Council of Nashville and Davidson County from 1999-2007.
During her last year serving on the Metro Council, Gilmore sponsored Resolution No.RS2007-1753, opposing illegal immigration. Her resolution noted specifically the “increasing number” of criminal aliens in her county:
“WHEREAS, due to its abundance of construction-related jobs, the Nashville area has become a magnet for illegal immigrants in recent years; and
WHEREAS, the rising cost of providing government services to illegal immigrants is having a tremendous negative impact on our state and local government; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the increasing number of criminal offenders arrested in Nashville that are undocumented aliens, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall recently gained approval from the federal government for Nashville’s participation in the 287(g) program, which will provide enhanced communication and cooperation between federal immigration authorities and local law enforcement to help identify and initiate deportation proceedings on criminal illegal immigrants; and
WHEREAS, recent polls have documented the public’s frustration with the federal government’s lack of enforcement of immigration laws and the public’s desire for serious immigration reform; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the United States Congress and the Tennessee General Assembly take whatever action is necessary to control the problem of illegal immigration.”
The Resolution was adopted by all Metro Council members present without any no votes being recorded.
Gilmore’s daughter, Metro Council member-at-large Erica Gilmore and candidate for Nashville mayor, voted last year to support a proposed ordinance that if passed, would have made Nashville the most liberal sanctuary city in the U.S.