A resolution supporting the Constitutional Amendment permitting an increase of fines for ordinance violations.

WHEREAS, Tennessee’s cities and towns fulfill a vital role in protecting public health and safety, promoting livable communities, and preserving community heritage; and

WHEREAS, Tennessee’s cities and towns enact and enforce ordinances that protect, promote, and preserve community health, safety, quality of life, and community heritage; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that fines of more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for municipal ordinance violations are permissible if the purpose of such fines is to punish a violator; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruling was based on the Court’s interpretation of the original Tennessee Constitution of 1796, which provides in Article 6, Section 14, that “No fine shall be laid on any citizen of this State that shall exceed fifty dollars ($50.00), unless it shall be assessed by a jury of his peers”; and

WHEREAS, cities are not authorized to hold jury trials; and

WHEREAS, in 1796, a potential fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) was a meaningful sanction with a considerable deterrent effect; and

WHEREAS, today, a potential fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) is not always a meaningful deterrent, leaving cities with little ability to deter illegal activity that threatens the health and safety of our families, our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our communities; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee General Assembly approved a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the proposed amendment will appear as Question 2 on the ballot for the General Election of November 5, 2002; and

WHEREAS, the amendment would require the General Assembly to set limits on fines assessed without a jury; and

WHEREAS, passage of the amendment would allow for meaningful enforcement of public health and safety ordinances.


SECTION 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as requesting as supporting the passage of the proposed amendment to Article 6, Section 14 of the State Constitution, also known as Question 2.

SECTION 2. Further, that the Metropolitan Council urges its citizens to vote “YES” on Question 2 to promote and protect public health and safety.

SECTION 3. This resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Chris Ferrell, Ronnie Greer


Referred to: Rules & Confirmations Committee
Introduced: October 1 , 2002
Adopted: October 1 , 2002
Returned Unsigned by Mayor: October 3, 2002