Posted By P & L Blog


Proposed amendment number one reads:


"English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law."

The proposed charter amendment is...

Bad for business
Nashville boasts 76 companies with some level of foreign investment. Those companies employ 7,660 Nashvillians and generated more than $19.6 billion in sales last year. At a time when Nashville is enjoying tremendous success recruiting international companies, the English-only effort sends a negative and inaccurate message to the world.

Japanese investment alone in Tennessee exceeded $9.4 billion in 2004, creating 40,000 jobs. Business recruiting efforts for Japanese companies and others often require our economic development officers to communicate in a different language. That would become illegal.

Bad for Nashville's tourism industry
Tourism is a $4 billion industry in Nashville. The hospitality industry ranks second behind healthcare in terms of size and contribution to Nashville's economy. Every visitor to Nashville not only spends money here, but they pay taxes. In fact, last year, sales tax revenue from visitor spending contributed $78 million to Nashville's tax coffers.

Tourism is important to Nashville, and international visitors comprise one of the fastest growing tourist segments. Last year, Nashville hosted more than 300,000 visitors from foreign countries, who averaged three days in Nashville and spent more than $150/day. As a result, those visitors contributed more than $135 million to Nashville's economy, providing jobs for our citizens and contributing taxes to Metro's revenue stream that otherwise would have to come from our property and sales taxes.

A waste of taxpayer dollars
If passed, this amendment will apply to a handful of actual services, but will require thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend it against challenges that it is unconstitutional. 

Iit would be illegal for the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development to communicate in German to representatives of Volkswagen.

English is already the "official and legal language" of Tennessee, and Nashville. Our city does not need to change its own constitution for that to be true.

Immigrants know better than anyone the importance of learning English. They also know that the faster they learn English, the faster they can assimilate into the society. If the concern is that immigrants are not learning English quickly enough, we should create more opportunities for them to learn.

Inconsistent with our values as a city
Nashville has been named the "Friendliest City in America" because we extend ourselves to our guests. This amendment does not reflect who we are.

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