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(The Center Square) – Metro Nashville filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court to block a Tennessee bill that would force it to reduce its council to 20 members.

The lawsuit was expected after the Tennessee Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Bill Lee signed it within hours Thursday.

The lawsuit argues the law violates the Home Rule Amendment to the Tennessee Constitution by having the state impose requirements on a metropolitan form of council and by setting a council term of office outside of the statutory four-year term.

The lawsuit argued the General Assembly can’t unilaterally alter the structure of local governments.

The law would require Metro Nashville to redraw its district lines before the Aug. 3 election.

“… the General Assembly undermines the purpose of local-government consolidation, ignores numerous other constitutional prohibitions on such a reduction, and creates confusion and chaos among citizens and candidates,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Metro Nashville Council serves both the city and Davidson County and the bill applies only to the several metropolitan governments, including Nashville, in the state. Nashville, however, is the only council with more than 20 members currently.

The lawsuit stated that year-end candidate financial disclosures show there were $522,000 in campaign receipts from July 1 to Jan. 15 and campaigns had a balance of $512,000 as of Jan. 15.

Those examples were given to show how the campaign has already begun and the process would be disrupted by redrawing lines before the May 18 qualifying deadline.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.