Mar 21, 2023 - Politics

Metro Council faces new state law cutting it in half

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Metro Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to determine how to respond to the new state law that slashes it in half.

Why it matters: The city is in uncharted waters as it fights an effort targeting its legislative body while also preparing for the possibility that it will have to implement the law regardless of the objections.

Driving the news: Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston filed legislation directing the Metro Planning Department staff to take the necessary steps to comply with the law.

Details: Johnston's proposal calls on staffers to draw a map with 17 district council members and three at-large members. District members represent smaller areas of town, and at-large members represent all of Davidson County.

  • Competing amendments request maps with 15 districts and five at-large members, 16 districts and four at-large members and 20 districts with zero at-large members.
  • Metro Councilmember Kyonztè Toombs' amendment asks for the Planning Department to submit maps with all the options so that council members can choose among them.

State of play: The city sued the state to block the law from taking effect. City lawyers argued the 2023 election is well underway and there isn't enough time to pull off a redistricting process, which normally takes many months.

  • A court date is set for April 4.

What she's saying: Johnston tells Axios she doesn't support being forced to implement the law before May. She doesn't think the reduced council should take effect before 2027.

  • But, the law says that if the council does not pass new maps on or before May 1, then the incumbent members' terms are extended one year.
  • "This is the position we were put in," she says. "We have to act as if the lawsuit will fail because if it does, no one wants their terms extended one year."

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