Following last Friday’s media roundtable, Mayor O’Connell indicated he’ll consider a new transit initiative. We’ll find out whether he’ll pursue the idea by the end of the month. During the Q&A, the mayor laid out a few key factors he is weighing before making the final call. “The things you need to clear are legal and financial foremost,” O’Connell told those present. “Can we meet all of the conditions that would allow it to be on the [November 8th] ballot in the first place?” There’s also the question of whether NDOT and WeGo have the bandwidth to support the planning process.
As we’ve seen in the past, timing is everything when it comes to Nashvillians embracing transit initiatives on their dime. Though we've seen proposal after proposal aimed at making the city more walkable, bikeable, bus-able, you name it, a mayor has yet to crack the code when it comes to getting sweeping transit proposals approved. In 2018, for instance, former mayor Megan Barry’s “Let’s Move Nashville” plan flopped spectacularly.
At the end of the day, Nashville needs solutions tailored to its status as a commuter city with a growing suburban population. Barry’s referendum overestimated her constituents' feelings about footing the bill for a transit proposal that lacked continuity with surrounding counties. If O’Connell puts forward a new proposal, we’ll see if he has been taking notes and whether he’ll propose a solution with commuters— and skeptical Nashvillians— in mind.
BIG CHILL SETS TVA RECORD
Last night, the Tennessee Valley Authority pulled us through the deep freeze. While temperatures dropped to an average of 4 degrees, the peak power demand was 34,526 megawatts. According to the TVA, this set an all-time record. “The previous record was 33,482 MW in Aug. 2007,” they reported this morning. While the electric grid is stable, the authority is still asking Tennesseans to be mindful of energy consumption by following the recommendations we mentioned yesterday: be sure to shut your window blinds and curtains, set your thermostat to 68 degrees, and reduce your use of nonessential appliances and lights.
FIREARM LEGISLATION ROLLOVER
Last year, the 113th General Assembly came to a bit of a stalemate in the wake of the Covenant tragedy. Topics surrounding gun control had become highly politicized, leading to political standoffs, protests, and expulsions. Amid the firestorm, Senate Judiciary Chairman Todd Gardenhire decided to step back from the frenzy, closing off his committee from hearing any gun-related legislation for the remainder of the regular session.
“This committee is not gonna be turned into a circus by people with other agendas,” Gardenhire told the Lookout. “The agenda on the table now is respecting the privacy of the victims’ families that were gunned down and let that healing process start.”
Now, as the General Assembly kicks back into high gear, some of those bills could roll over into this year’s session. If a bill isn’t pulled by sponsors and is properly accompanied by a companion bill, both the restrictive firearm proposals and pro-2A legislation put on pause by Gardenhire’s actions could find their way back on the docket.
GUN LEGISLATION TO WATCH
One just-filed firearm bill we’re keeping our eye on is Rep. Todd Warner and Sen. Joey Hensley’s consumer protection bill, which would safeguard the privacy of gun owners by prohibiting banks and credit card companies from tracking firearm purchases. This issue originally surfaced back in September 2022 when General Skrmetti joined 24 other attorneys general in writing to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa regarding a Merchant Category Code created for gun stores to use when processing credit and debit card transactions:
As our respective States’ chief legal officers, we are tasked with protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens, defending our consumers from privacy intrusions and other abuses, and enforcing antitrust laws. Accordingly, we share our concerns and ask that you take immediate action to comport with our consumer protection laws and respect the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Warner and Hensley’s bill was introduced last week.