Saturday, May 06, 2017

(final update) What happened at the Council meeting of May 2nd: The home-sharing debate rages, Jackson Law on landfill bill passes.

At 5 hours and 47 minutes  long, this has got to be one of the longest Council meetings on record. The most time is devoted to the home sharing bills on public hearing.  I watched most of this meeting in double speed and just skipped parts of it so I may have missed something, so feel free to watch it for yourself if you are a glutton for punishment. If you are going to watch the meeting, you really need a copy of the agenda and the staff analysis are you want really understand what is under discussion. To access those documents as well as my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Following the prayer and pledge there are a couple presentations, one to recognize stroke awareness month and the other to recognize "Show your love for teachers" week. Following those is the confirmations of mayoral appointees to boards and commissions and all are approved without dissension as is the norm. The Public Hearings gets started at time stamp 19:49.  Those concerning home-sharing, also known as Short Tern Rental Properties (STRP) are moved to the heal of the public hearing agenda. None of those bill on Pubic Hearing except those concerning home-sharing are of particular interest.

Public Hearing on Home-sharing (STRP)
This segment starts at timestamp 51:54 in the video and does not end until 4:27:58. This is single public hearing on three pieces of legislation all addressing the same topic. There were six bills on this topic but three are withdrawn. These are the bills on the agenda that are subject of this public hearing;
  • BILL NO. BL2017-608 would be a radical change and would establish distinct land uses for “Short term rental property – Owner- Occupied” and “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied”, and establishing a phase out date in year 2021 for “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied.” If this passes in addition to ending short term rentals of homes not occupied by the owner, in order to offer home-sharing services, one would have to get their property rezoned. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-609  would establish a 12- month moratorium on the issuance of new Type 2 and Type 3 short term rental permits. These are the non-owner-occupied Short Term Rentals. It would not prohibit those with certificates already from renewing their certificate.  This one is withdrawn by the sponsor.
  • BILL NO. BL2017-610 is similar to 609, but it would impose a 36-month moratorium. The staff analysis says both of these are to be withdraw by the sponsor for further consideration. This bills is withdrawn by the sponsor.
  • BILL NO. BL2017-611 requires that an STRP application include a statement that “the applicant has confirmed that operating the proposed STRP would not violate any Home Owners Association agreement or bylaws, Condominium Agreement, Covenants, Codes and Restrictions or any other agreement governing and limiting the use of the proposed STRP property.” It would also require that the applicant notify codes if there was any such objection.  I oppose this bill.  Homeowners Association rules are private agreements.  Government has never taken on the responsibility for enforcing HOA rules. This bills is disapproved by the Planning Commission. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-653  this is a bill of minor importance which would add to the list of acceptable documents those documents that a owner may submit with their application for STRP that shows they do in fact occupy the property.  I support this bill. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-685 would make several changes to the current home-sharing regs. It would reduce the total number of STRP permits available, put new restrictions on the number of people who could occupy a STRP and impose restrictions and requirement on the "on-line marketplaces." The staff analysis does not address this, but I wonder if Nashville has the authority to compel an on-line marketplace such as AirBnB to provide them with reports.  They are not physically located in Nashville and they don't have to have a local business license. Could we require Amazon to tell us how many books are CD's are sold in Nashville? I don't know the answer but I wonder if this is even doable or legal. This bill is withdrawn by the sponsors.
Arguments against home-sharing are that there should be no commercial activity in residential neighborhoods and opponents consider home-sharing as commercial activity, renting housing for short term rental takes a house off the market that could be rental housing and thus drives up the cost of rental properties, and that short term rentals are party houses with drunken parties, lewd offensive behavior, noise, creating parking problems and that they generally distract from the quality of the neighborhood. The "antis" or those in favor of the proposed changes go first. Former Councilman and community activist John Summer is the first anti speaker.The "anti" home-sharing segment of the public hearing ends at timestamp 2:29:35.This is followed by those who favor home-sharing who oppose the pending bills.

Proponents of home-sharing, who oppose the proposed changes, are mostly those who are home-sharing host. They argue that they maintain the homes, that they have had no problems, that they communicate with their neighbors and address any problems and do not tolerate disruptive guest, that home-sharing helps make visitation to Nashville possible for those who cannot afford an expensive hotel, that the income they get from hosting home-sharing is essential to their ability to live where they do, and that short-term rental provides an economic advantage to Nashville. Some argue that it is essentially a property right issue and that if short-term rental is a business so is long-term rentals. Others argue that they invested in their property based on what the rules were at the time and it is simply not fair to change the rules. They argue that short-term rentals are better maintained than many long-term rentals. One mother holding her baby argues that being a short-term rental host allows her to be a stay at home mom. One argues that banning home-sharing will simply drive it underground and that banning has not worked in other cities. One person offers the stats that show that codes complaints and police complaints regarding short-term rental are actually minuscule. The public hearing ends at timestamp 4:55:17.

Bill 653 which is basically a housekeeping bill passes. Bill 608 is deferred one meeting. Bill 611 is approved on a voice vote.  This bill will, however,  have to have 27 votes to pass third reading. To read The Tennessean's account of the public hearing follow this link. To read other blog post that address the issue of short term rental property, follow this link.

BILL NO. BL2016-484, The Jackson Law.
Following the public hearing on short term rentals, BILL NO. BL2016-484, the Jackson Law bill, on Third Reading is taken out of order. This bill would give Metro more control over the approval of landfills, solid waste disposal facilities and solid waste processing facilities prior to the construction of such facilities and prior to the issuance of a permit by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) or the Commissioner.  This is essentially replacing Metro's current procedure with a State approved plan known as the "Jackson law."

While this bill, on the one hand, gives Metro more control it also in some ways takes away some Metro authority. It increases the notification requirements, requires a bill with three reading rather than approving a landfill by resolution which is only one reading and it does some other good things. On the other hand, Metro would lose some authority in that an unhappy applicant for a landfill could appeal to Chancery Court. On balance, I think this is a good bill, but it is not simply.  The bill  passed on Second Reading last council meeting by a vote of 28 to 8 with 3 abstentions.and was re-referred to Public Works Committee. Council members have had lots of meetings on this issue. The bill is amendable on Third Reading. To see the  discussion that occurred when the bill was on on Second Reading follow this link and see timestamp 47:30 - 1:17:52.  For those who want to know more about the issue , you can watch the Council work study session on the Jackson law at this link. To see Council discussion see timestamp 4:59:12 to 5:20:13.  The bill passes with a vote of 31 to 5.

Other Council Action
All bills on First Reading pass as a single vote, as is the norm.  None of the resolutions generate debate. Here are the resolutions I found significant:
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-663 is a routine annual action calling the Metro Board of Equalization into session and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-664 is a resolution appointing hearing officers to hear appeals. These are typical actions, but I thought some council members might take to the floor to discuss and explain the recent property reappraisals and maybe pander a little and get some TV face time. They did not. With the hour being so late, any grandstanding would likely have been resented, and that may be why no one spoke on these resolutions. These pass on consent.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-666  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-667 are payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deals between MDHA and developers to develop or rehabilitate affordable housing.  This is the third and fourth such deal for this purpose.  In the past, PILOT was used to entice employers to locate in Nashville.  Bill 667 passes on consent. Councilman Hastings, the sponsor, defers Bill 667.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-678  request the Metropolitan Transit Authority to provide at least ten percent (10%) of its advertising space to other Metropolitan departments, boards and commissions to provide public service advertisements regarding local government services. I do not see the wisdom of this.  This would be a loss of revenue for MTA. The sponsor deferred the resolution one meeting.
The only bill on Second Reading, that I find of interest is BILL NO. BL2017-687 which establishes a process and procedure for naming public buildings, structures and spaces of the Metropolitan Government.  This is deferred two meetings.

The only bill on Third Reading that I find of interest other than the Jackson Bill, previously considered, is  BILL NO. BL2016-498  which would require approval by the Metropolitan Council for obstructions or excavations which close or occupy any portion of the public right of way for a period in excess of one  year. This is deferred two meetings.

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Friday, May 05, 2017

Mark Green withdraws as Trump’s Army secretary nominee, citing ‘false and misleading attacks’

As reported in the Washington Post, Mark Green withdraws as Trump’s Army secretary nominee, citing ‘false and misleading attacks’. 

From Senator Mark Green's Facebook page: 

 This is a shame.  Senator Green is a good man.

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

What TNGOP and others are saying about the passage of AHCA in the US House

 TNGOP Statement on Passage of AHCA in US House

Nashville, Tenn. – May 4, 2017 – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden released the following statement on the passage of the American Health Care Act in the U.S. House of Representatives:
Today, Republicans delivered on their unified promise to address America's failing healthcare system. The passage of the AHCA in the House is the first legislative step to fix the broken system Democrats created with Obamacare. Tennesseans have seen an increase in premiums and costs all while seeing a decrease in choice and coverage. Currently, 73 of Tennessee's 95 counties have only one option in the Obamacare exchange and in 2018, 16 Tennessee counties could be faced with no options at all. I congratulate the members of Tennessee's congressional delegation that voted for a better healthcare system for the American people, and applaud President Trump and Vice-President Pence on today's victory.

From Heritage  for America
Today, the House voted to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHCA) 217 to 213.
This bill is NOT a full repeal of Obamacare, but it is a step towards dismantling the most harmful parts of Obamacare and moving authority from federal bureaucrats to the states.
Conservative leaders in Congress put a lot on the line over this fight. They were courageous in fighting for the American people and moving the debate towards a real repeal of Obamacare.
The bill that just passed the House includes the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment, which would allow states to opt out of some of the most harmful parts of Obamacare, such as essential health benefits and parts of the community rating scheme.
The next step will be the Senate, which will have the opportunity to debate and address additional parts of the regulatory structure of Obamacare. Senate conservatives are eager to engage, and moving this admittedly flawed bill out of the House will provide them that opportunity.
It’s because of your continued pressure that Congress is finally taking steps toward repealing and dismantling Obamacare. The next step is to ensure your Senators know that you expect them to continue pushing for more of Obamacare’s Title I regulations to be rolled back.
Thank you for keeping the pressure on repealing Obamacare.

Michael A. Needham
Chief Executive Officer

My Comment:  Heritage Action is the political action arm of the Heritage Foundation.They have an army of conservative activist.  Heritage Action contributed to the defeat of the first effort at Obamacare repeal. 

Today, 217 House members jammed through a cruel bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
My Comment: I read OFA so you don't have too. They are an effective liberal advocacy group than can generate lots of outrage and phone calls to Congress and raise money.  



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What happened at the May 2nd Council meeting?

I don't know. The video of that meeting is not yet available and The Tennessee reported nothing on the meeting and I could not find any report of Council actions from any other media. To view my commentary on the Council agenda and link to the agenda and the council staff analysis, follow this link. Check back. When the video of the meeting is available, I will post it and provide a summary and call attention to the more interesting portions of the meeting..

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Rep. Diane Black to Receive Pro-life Achievement Award

SBA List to Celebrate Rep. Black’s Heroic Pro-life Leadership at Gala Keynoted by Vice President Mike Pence

Image result for diane blackWashington, D.C – This evening the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) will present Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) with the Marilyn Musgrave Defender of Life Award at the group’s tenth annual Campaign for Life Gala at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Vice President Mike Pence will keynote the event, which will be emceed by U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana.
The event will be livestreamed at:
SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser praised Rep. Black for her outstanding service in defense of life:
“Diane Black is an unwavering champion of unborn children and their mothers who has been at the center of every single pro-life battle in Congress. Her tireless efforts to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s #1 abortion business, and redirect their taxpayer dollars to real, comprehensive health care for women have been nothing short of heroic. We’re proud to present her with the Defender of Life Award in recognition of her courageous leadership.”
Black is a former clinical care nurse currently serving Tennessee’s sixth congressional district in Congress. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2010 and is a member of both the House Pro-life Caucus and the Pro-life Women’s Caucus. She is the chief sponsor of legislation passed by the U.S. House that defunds Planned Parenthood, and also authored the pro-life Conscience Protection Act.  She served on the Select Investigative Panel for Infant Lives, tasked with investigating the abortion industry and their participation in the selling of baby body parts.

Susan B. Anthony List and its partnered super PAC, Women Speak Out spent more than $18 million in the 2016 election cycle, knocking on more than 1.1 million doors in battleground states to defeat Hillary Clinton and maintain a pro-life Senate. SBA List is dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates who will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, the SBA List emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization, and election of pro-life women.  The SBA List is a network of more than 465,000 pro-life Americans nationwide.

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Major pro-life bill passes the General Assembly restricting post-viability abortions

From Tennessee Right to Life - Despite strong opposition from Planned Parenthood, ACOG and other pro-abortion activists, pro-life legislators have strengthened Tennessee's protective public policies and overwhelmingly passed the Tennessee Infant Protection Act (HB 1189 / SB 1180).  Led by prime sponsor state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), the state House voted early Wednesday to pass House Bill 1189 by a vote of 69-18. On Monday, the state Senate passed the bill, sponsored by state Senator Joey Hensley, M.D. (R-Hohenwald) by a vote of 27-3.  The bill now goes to Pro-Life Governor Haslam who is unlikely to veto the protective legislation.

The bill criminalizes abortions after viability of an unborn child has been established except in the rare instances of threat to the life of the mother. The bill also requires a viability assessment be performed beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy (LMP) in order to carefully test whether or not the child is able to live outside the womb with or without medical support.

The bill establishes a state presumption of viability at 24-weeks gestational development (LMP.)

Legislators voting pro-abortion: Representatives Akbari, Camper, Clemmons, Cooper, Favors, Fitzhugh, Gilmore, Hardaway, Jernigan, Jones, Love, Miller, Mitchell, Pitts, Powell, Staples, Stewart, &; Turner.

Present and Not Voting were Republicans: Gravitt, Hazlewood, & McCormick.
Not Voting were Representatives: Carter, Parkinson, Smith, & Towns.
Absent were Representatives: Alexander, BeckBrooks, Kevin & Windle.

Nashville Representative Sherry Jones was a major opponent of the bill. Some question the constitutionality of the bill and it is not a certainty that Gov. Haslam will sign it according to reporting by the Nashville Post. To read the Nashville Post coverage of this story follow this link.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Nashville councilman pushing landfill bill has tie to landfill owner

Nashville councilman pushing landfill bill has tie to landfill owner,  reports The Tennessean. Councilman Nick Leonardo who is the sponsor of the pending landfill bill says he has no conflict of interest and that he has been upfront about his previous legal work for landfill owner Odell Binkley. He says he does not stand to profit from the landfill legislation.

The bill which is on third and final reading tonight, May 3rd, would change the way landfills are permitted from the current method to a method approved by the State known as the "Jackson Law."  In some ways the Jackson law provides more protection for the public in that it requires more notification and it requires new landfills be approved  by an ordinance which requires three reading rather than the current process of simply approving by a one-reading resolution.  On the other hand, the Jackson Law gives a rejected applicant for a landfill a greater opportunity for getting a denial overturned in Chancery Court.

For those who really want to understand this issue, you can watch the Council work study session on the Jackson law at this link

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Nashville May Day demonstration nearly turns violent

by Ariana Maia Sawyer , USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee - Two groups demonstrating for International Workers' Day nearly came to blows in front of City Hall on Monday in the culmination of a fight that began on the internet.

On one side, a man in a hockey helmet pawed the ground on all fours while over 40 others with homemade shields, hockey sticks, flag poles or gas masks shouted.

Across the lawn, a smaller, black-clad group chanted, clanking their Louisville Slugger baseball bats together. They began to move toward each other, but before they met, Metro Police swept in to create a barrier of bicycles. (read more and view a video)

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Kathleen Starnes, RIP

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Kathleen Starnes on Sunday.  She had been battling cancer for the last two years.

Kathleen was one of the nicest people I have ever known.  She had a zest for life,  a warm personality, a ready smile, a quick wit, and an easy laugh. She lit up a room. It always made me feel good just to be around her.

She was tireless in promoting the local Republican Party, Republican candidates, and Republican ideas. She was a motivator and made people excited about getting involved.

Kathleen served as chairman of the  Davidson County Republican Party from 2009 to  2013. She became Chairman at a time of new energy in the Party and greater citizen involvement.  She became Chairman about the same time as the birth of the tea party and the ascendancy of libertarian Republicans. Along with the new energy and greater involvement there were conflicts and disagreements and challenges.  Kathleen handled some difficult challenges with grace and wisdom. 

She grew the Party. Her activities and accomplishment included establishment of a successful Chairman’s Circle where members paid $1000 per couple and she raised funds to keep the DCRP in the black.  She established Republican breakfast groups across the county.  Kathleen encouraged candidates to run for office and helped numerous candidates with fundraising and organizing. Kathleen was a Romney delegate to National Republican Convention in 2012.

Her funeral is tomorrow, Wednesday May 3rd.  To see her obituary and funeral arrangements, follow this link. Her Facebook page is full of tributes and remembrances and pictures. To view her Facebook page follow this link.  To read my blog post over the years which concerned  Kathleen, follow this link.

I pray for comfort for her family. Kathleen was a blessing to all who knew her. Rest in peace. 

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