KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday that will request state lawmakers to reject a proposed bill that would change the way voters elect their representatives.
The resolution was in response to the TN HB0817/SB0526 bill proposed by Rep. Elaine Davis (R-Knoxville).
According to the General Assembly, the state bill “prohibits a member of any elected board or commission of a county or municipality to be elected through an election procedure requiring candidates to be nominated from a district and elected at-large.”
This means voters would choose candidates from their district during the primary elections. However, during the city general elections, voters can choose candidates in every city, including others districts outside their own.
The city council members agreed to the resolution that would encourage the lawmakers to “acknowledge and support local control over city elections as reserved for the people of the City of Knoxville.”
Tennessee is a “Home Rule” state, which means the legislature is not allowed to pass private acts that apply to the city. However, Knoxville has a “private act charter,” which is one of the charters in Tennessee.
According to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, “The governing body of a private act city can play a major role in determining the municipal government’s form and structure. Its members can influence the legislature to make private act amendments, which may then be approved by a two-thirds vote of the governing body or by referendum.”
According to the City of Knoxville, the voters were electing representatives for five decades.
The resolution was requested by Vice-Mayor Andrew Roberto and Council Members Tom Smith, Seema Singh, Lauren Rider, Charles Thomas, Gwen McKenzie, Lynn Fugate and Janet Testerman.
On March 9, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed the HB0817 bill.
The bill is sponsored by Representatives Davis, Tim Rudd, Michele Carringer, Dave Wright, Kevin Raper, Justin Lafferty, Clay Doggett, Dale Carr, Chris Todd, Susan Lynn, Rick Eldridge, Jason Zachary, Johnny Shaw, Esther Helton-Haynes and Dan Howell.
Editor’s Note: Story has been updated.