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Nashville, TN: Haslam opposed to anti-living wage bill
The Tennessean
Chas Sisk

December 12, 2011
View the Original Article

Gov. Bill Haslam says he won’t support a bill barring cities from imposing a living wage requirement on contractors, even though he signed a similar bill earlier this year that barred cities from requiring them to follow local nondiscrimination rules.

“My basic principle is that local governments should be able to make their own decisions,” he told reporters this afternoon. “While I’m not a fan of the living wage … governments should be able to decide for themselves whether to do that.”

State Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, has introduced legislation that would prohibit local governments from imposing requirements on businesses for health insurance coverage, minimum wage levels or family leave allowances beyond what state law requires.

The bill will be taken up by the legislature when it reconvenes in January. It comes on the heels of legislation passed this year — also sponsored by Casada — that barred local governments from imposing nondiscrimination rules on contractors that go beyond state law. Casada’s legislation came as the Metro Council debated and passed an ordinance requiring contractors to follow Nashville’s nondiscrimination rules, which address sexual orientation and gender identification.

Casada initially wanted to address both living wage and nondiscrimination ordinances, but he dropped the living wage portion upon encountering resistance from lawmakers from Memphis. That city requires contractors to follow living wage rules.

(Metro’s living wage of $10.77, passed in 2010, applies only to itself, not contractors.)

Casada has argued that both kinds of ordinances are burdensome to businesses. But Haslam tried to draw a distinction between nondiscrimination and living wage ordinances, arguing that cities are equipped to debate the latter and that businesses are hurt by the former.

“In this case it’s governments implementing something on themselves. In that case, it’s government implementing something on businesses. … Little different implications.”