Special Sessions Galore

Lawmakers will return for (another) special session later this week, the third one this year. This time, the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate are dedicated to fighting what they see as federal overreach on COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

They will return this week after concluding a special session called by Gov. Bill Lee to approve the Blue Oval City joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation last week. There was also a special session called by the Governor in January dedicated to education, literacy and learning loss.

This week’s special session will mark for just the third time in state history Tennessee lawmakers have called themselves into special session. The official call can be found here and an article detailing some of the legislative proposals that could be taken up is here.

Some of the most common initiatives discussed so far include:

— Banning private companies from requiring employees or customers to be vaccinated.

— Ending the right of minors to decide whether to get vaccinated without the parents’ consent.

— Curbing the authority of the state’s six independent county health boards.

— Making workers who suffer side effects from required vaccinations eligible to sue their employers or file for workers’ compensation benefits.

— Writing into law Gov. Bill Lee’s executive orders allowing parent to opt their children out of school mask mandates.

— Converting school board elections into partisan contests.

Businesses, school districts and medical facilities are especially concerned with the prospect of losing their ability to make decisions on an individual basis that they feel best suits their needs.

One thing we know is that emotions will be running high at Capitol Hill this week and we will be working to ensure that our members’ interests are represented as legislators contemplate these serious issues.

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