Former legislator says mayors will accomplish little on consolidation in Nashville - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Former legislator says mayors will accomplish little on consolidation in Nashville

As the Mid-South's top two leaders prepared to head to Nashville later in the week, a local legislator said Monday the pair would face a tough fight in the state capitol.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton are scheduled to meet with Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen later this week to ask him to support a change in consolidation laws.

Former legislator Alvin King, a Tennessee State Representative for 22 years and former chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, said the trip would accomplish little.

"They don't have to go to Nashville to say, 'Governor help us out.'  The governor isn't going to get in this fight," King said Monday.

According to King, current legislators say consolidation is a "no go."

"They say this consolidation proposal is D.O.A.," he said. "Dead on arrival."
Current laws say government consolidation can only happen if the majority of residents in both the city and county vote separately to support it. Herenton wants to combine the vote, which would give the city more power.

"The city, their numbers alone could do it without the county, and that's not going to happen," King said.
The only power the governor will have is to sign the law, if it makes its way through the Legislature, and most importantly, the Shelby County Delegation.  King said they might not take too kindly to someone attempting to go over their heads.

"It seems like somebody really doesn't know their way around Nashville," he said, adding members of the Shelby County Delegation are not in agreement on consolidation.

Traditionally, lawmakers have the first three weeks of session to lobby to put their bills into play.  With legislators leaving Nashville the day the mayors arrive, they have just two weeks left to make their case.

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