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Nashville Withdraws Ordinance



The Nashville Metro Council held its first meeting of August and Council Member Kathleen Murphy's ordinance banning the performance Tennessee Walking Horse from participating in any event in Davidson County was on the agenda for the council to vote on after the bill was deferred at the last meeting in July. At the meeting, in a move that came after midnight, Murphy changed course and withdrew her bill amidst concern among several of her other council members that Nashville didn't need to be legislating something that is already covered under federal law.

The withdrawal of the bill is a major win for the Tennessee Walking Show Horse. The World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse will still be able to exhibit at the Tennessee State Fair in September, something that would have been prohibited if the bill had passed. The bill passed first and second readings unanimously and was only stopped when the industry was made aware of the damaging bill and became engaged at third reading. Given the status of the bill at that time, a withdrawal of the bill at this point would have seemed nearly impossible just three weeks ago.

In a move to appease Murphy and solidify her withdrawal of the bill Council Member Nancy VanReece introduced a non-binding resolution that stated Nashville's intent to promote animal welfare and stand against any form of animal cruelty, including the soring of any horse. Murphy amended the resolution to include an endorsement of the PAST Act, which industry officials strongly objected to, however VanReece accepted the amendment and moved forward to simply get the issue out of the Council and Murphy's bill withdrawn.

VanReece commented on Twitter, "With the passage of my non-binding Amended Resolution 2019-1868, the Ordinance 2019-1706 was withdrawn by CM Murphy. It was my compromise that all parties had heartburn over, including me, however, a non-binding resolution was the best way forward."

The heartburn VanReece commented on was evident in the committee meetings held prior to the Council's regular meeting. Murphy addressed the committee VanReece sat on and was equipped with many of the same talking points the Humane Society of the United States uses to falsely accuse the industry. Both Tennessee state director of HSUS Eric Swafford and Keith Dane were present with Murphy, who received an award from HSUS as their legislator of the year in 2018.  In the committee meeting, representatives from the industry corrected many of Murphy's statements and it was clearly evident that most on the committee were uneasy with the ordinance and did not feel Nashville should be in the business of regulating the Tennessee Walking Horse business. One committee member even commented, "Are you trying to guilt me into supporting your bill?"

Click here to read the resolution that passed.

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