State Rep. Mark Pody responded Friday to complaints from Wilson County commissioners regarding a private act by signed recently by Gov. Bill Haslam.
The act in question requested a referendum to increase the number of school board members in Wilson County from five to seven. Commissioners expressed disappointment at a meeting Monday the act prohibits them from appointing two new school board members provided for in the law.
An amendment made to the act by Rep. Matthew Hill of District 7 prior to its passage in the legislature “specifies that this bill will apply beginning with the August 2016 election, and that members will be elected, not appointed.”
The commission requested an opinion from state Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr., asking whether they were within their rights to appoint two members if the public voted to increase the number on the board. Cooper said in the opinion commissioners could appoint the two members to serve until the next election, which would be in 2016, if a referendum is passed by voters in August.
“The last day of the committee was closing down before the attorney general’s opinion came in,” Pody said. “[The committee members] felt it’d be best to just let the voters decide instead of appointing.
“If it would have been more day, I could have called the county commission and asked them about it; it was literally the very last moment we could do it.”
He said he understands commissioners’ point of view that they wished to appoint the new members, “but I’m not going to say that letting the voters decide is a bad way to go.”
Haslam signed the measure into law May 14.