Nashville-only ‘Airbnb bill’ passes House; then dies in Senate committee

The House on Monday evening approved a controversial, much-lobbied and much-revised bill imposing state regulations on short-term house rentals – the final House version targeting only Nashville for key restrictions. But the companion Senate bill died today in the Senate Finance Committee, postponed until next year.

Commonly known as the “Airbnb bill,” HB1020 was approved by the House 53-35 on Monday after more than an hour of debate including action or inaction on eight amendments. Earlier versions – and a competing bill, eventually withdrawn — applied statewide and, in various forms, would have strongly restricted local governments or allowed considerable latitude.

On the House floor, there was an amendment to limit application to the “Big Four” cities – Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga – but that was ultimately changed to only impact Nashville, where the city council is considering a ban on short-term rentals unless the home is owned by someone who lives there, not just a person or corporation holding it for rental purposes. The major remaining provision applying statewide just required that short-term renters collect hotel-motel taxes.

But the Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. John Stevens of Huntington, told the Senate Finance Committee that “pushing a rock up a hill is a very difficult thing to do…. Unfortunately, I do not see the will of this body to move forward on this.”

He seconded the motion by Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, to postpone any further action until next year. Dickerson made a speech declaring that local governments, including Nashville, should take an “even handed, subtle approach” to regulating short-term rentals and echoing Stevens’ comments that the Legislature would be watching with an eye toward action next year.

UPDATE/NOTE: The Tennessean’s report is HERE.

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