Airbnb bill defeated in House committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Legislation pushed by Airbnb to handcuff Nashville’s regulations on short-term rentals appears to have died Tuesday before a House committee, though lobbyists could try again as long as the legislature remains in session.

Facing some defeat in the House Local Government Committee, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Faison, abandoned his original effort and substituted a compromise amendment to make a technical correction to the state’s law regulating short-term rentals.

But pressed repeatedly, the East Tennessee Republican refused to promise that he would not renew his attack on the Nashville bylaws once the bill made it to the House floor.

Committee members defeated the bill on what appeared to be a resounding vote.

The defenders of the district were jubilant.

“A lot of people who have worked really hard to let lawmakers know what they’re really voting for told me they felt like we were there,” said Metro Council member Burkley Allen. “The discussion made me very nervous, so I was very happy and surprised with the result.”

This legislation had been the focus of NewsChannel 5’s “Revealed” investigation, providing an example of how Capitol Hill actually works in Tennessee.

In the months leading up to its legislative efforts, Airbnb gave its lobbying team $40,000 to allow it to make campaign contributions to lawmakers they were trying to influence.

Our investigation also revealed how the bill’s sponsors misled their colleagues about the bill’s true intentions.

Under current Nashville ordinances, short-term rentals are limited in some areas to “owner-occupied” residences where the owner is a permanent resident.

The Airbnb bill would have redefined Nashville law to say the owner didn’t have to live there, but just had to have a “specific intention” to return at some point.

It also would have made it harder for Nashville to revoke permits for repeat offenders.

Related stories:

Airbnb bill shows how Capitol Hill really works

Does truth matter on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill?

SPECIAL SECTION: Revealed

Do you have information for our investigation? Email us: [email protected]

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