On October 7, 2015, I wrote about the potential death knell for Nashville’s local hiring law. At the time, Herbert Slatery, Tennessee Attorney General, issued a formal opinion in which he found the charter amendment violated Tennessee contractor licensing laws. Additionally, Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) filed a bill seeking to invalidate the measure. Based on these developments, I anticipated the local hiring law would eventually be overturned.
On January 28, 2016, however, Mayor Barry announced a new set of requirements to implement the August charter amendment, as described more fully in the Tennessean. In particular, the new requirements, as part of the revised procurement regulations, contain a progressive system that accounts for a contractor’s “good faith efforts to comply,” before Metro chooses appropriate discipline from a range of potential penalties. The rules also contain a route for a contractor to obtain a waiver, if the contractor can show Davidson County lacks sufficient numbers of skilled workers. The rules do not apply to projects overseen by the Nashville Electric Service, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Metro Transit Authority, Metro Development and Housing Authority or the airport, sports, hospital or convention authorities. Additionally, the local hire law and its low-income requirements do not apply in emergency situations. Accordingly, the true impact of the local hire law, should it remain in effect, do not appear to be as far reaching as anticipated by either labor or industry groups.
Nevertheless, Senator Johnson’s bill continues to progress through the legislature, which the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved in a 9-0 vote. As stated by Senator Johnson, the continued push for the bill protects the thousands of construction workers that reside outside of Davidson County, but who work for contractors seeking public work in Nashville. In Senator Johnson’s eyes, as well as some of those in the construction industry, without the passage of Johnson’s bill, the validity of Nashville charter amendment will inevitably be determined through litigation.
Tennessee Construction Lawyers will continue to monitor developments on Nashville’s local hire law.