executive orders

Governor’s ban on nonessential businesses met with confusion

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order to shut down nonessential businesses around the state to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus carried a 2,250-word attachment outlining which commercial activities would be exempted from coverage.

That has led to a chorus of questions about which commercial activities exactly are covered by the ban, and whether looser state guidelines would supercede stricter local rules. The second question is the easier one to answer. According to Lee’s executive order: “Nothing herein repeals, preempts, or otherwise limits the authority, if any, of a locality to issue further orders or measures on these same subjects.”

As for the which companies are covered by the blanket ban, Lee’s previous orders have specifically targeted restaurants (except for takeout and delivery) and gyms. The governor also issued a separate executive order Monday listing more businesses as having to close (in addition to the ones earlier ordered).

Businesses to be shuttered include those performing close-contact personal services, such as:

  • Barber shops.
  • Hair salons.
  • Waxing salons.
  • Threading salons.
  • Nail salons or spas.
  • Spas providing body treatments.
  • Body-art facilities or tattoo services.
  • Tanning salons.
  • Massage-therapy establishments or massage services.

Also closed are entertainment and recreational gathering venues, such as:

  • Night clubs.
  • Bowling alleys.
  • Arcades.
  • Concert venues.
  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, or similar facilities.
  • Racetracks.
  • Indoor children’s play areas.
  • Adult entertainment venues.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Roller or ice skating rinks.

So what’s essential? A look at Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the details about which businesses are exempted by Gov. Bill Lee’s order for non-essential operations to shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a long list, ranging from marinas to dry cleaners. It also includes “any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten or fewer persons accessing the premises.”

Here’s the full breakdown:

For purposes of Executive Order No. 22, Essential Services include:

1. Personnel identified on pages 5-15 of the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security

2. Health Care and Public Health Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: hospitals; clinics; medical practices and services; mental health and substance abuse services; dental offices; pharmacies; public health entities, including those that compile, model, analyze, and communicate public health information; pharmaceutical, pharmacy, medical device and equipment, and biotechnology companies (including operations, research and development, manufacture, and supply chain components); organizations collecting blood, platelets, plasma, and other necessary materials; obstetricians and gynecologists; eye care centers, including those that sell glasses and contact lenses; home health care services providers; mental health and substance use providers; other health care facilities and suppliers; providers of any related and/or ancillary health care services; entities that transport and dispose of medical materials and remains; manufacturers, technicians, logistics, and warehouse operators, and distributors of medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical gases, pharmaceuticals, blood, platelets, and plasma products, vaccines, testing materials, laboratory supplies, cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilization supplies, and tissue and paper towel products; veterinary care and all health care services provided to animals. This also includes any medical or administrative personnel necessary to operate those functions in this paragraph. Health Care and Public Health Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of health care, broadly defined. Health Care and Public Health Operations does not include any procedures that would violate Executive Order No. 18, which remains in effect;

3. Human Services Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: government or government-funded human services to the public through state-operated, institutional, or community-based settings; long-term care facilities; day care centers, day care homes, or group day care homes; residential settings and shelters for adults, seniors, children, or people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, or mental illness; transitional facilities; home-based settings to provide services to individuals with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, seniors, adults, or children; field offices that provide and help to determine eligibility for basic needs including food, cash assistance, medical coverage, child care, vocational services, rehabilitation services; developmental centers; adoption agencies; businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities, or individuals otherwise in need. Human Services 7 Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of human services, broadly defined;

4. Essential Infrastructure Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: food production, distribution, and sale; construction-related services, including, but not limited to, construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, construction related to Essential Activity or Essential Services, and housing construction; building management and maintenance; landscape management; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, and gas; electrical services, including power generation, distribution, and production of raw materials; distribution centers; oil and biofuel refining; services related to roads, highways, railroads, ports, and public transportation; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection, removal, and processing; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems and services, including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services. Essential Infrastructure Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to essential infrastructure, broadly defined;

5. Essential Government Functions. This includes, but is not limited to: first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, and those supporting 911 and emergency services; legislators and legislative branch officials and employees, as determined by the Legislative Branch; judges, judicial branch employees, court personnel, jurors, and grand jurors, as determined by the Judicial Branch; law enforcement personnel; corrections and community supervision personnel; hazardous materials responders; election officials and operations; child protection and child welfare personnel; housing and shelter personnel; park personnel that provide admission, maintenance, and operation of park facilities that provide outdoor recreation; military; and other governmental employees working for or to support Essential Activity or Essential Services. Essential Government Functions also means all services provided by the State, the political subdivisions of the State, and boards, commissions, or agencies of government needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for or support the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Essential Government Functions also includes contractors performing or supporting such functions. Each branch of government and government entity shall determine its Essential Government Functions and ensure a plan is in place for the performance of these functions. This paragraph does not apply to the United States government; provided, however, that any employee, official, or contractor of the United States government shall not be restricted from performing their functions under law;

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Lee orders nonessential businesses to close statewide

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at the state Capitol on Sept. 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has ordered nonessential businesses to close their doors around the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic in Tennessee.

Lee had resisted calling for business closures around the state even while urban areas like Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and others had already taken those steps.

The move comes after 100 people at a Gallatin nursing home were hospitalized and two died amid a COVID-19 outbreak there. Sumner County’s confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 179.

The governor’s previous executive orders required restaurants to limit themselves to takeout and delivery, shut down gyms, and banned gatherings of more than 10 people.

Lee was joined by House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) at the announcement. Here’s a statement from McNally:

From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Lee has been deliberate and careful in his approach. This threat changes from day-to-day, hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute. I appreciate Governor Lee’s ability to remain data-focused and flexible. Today’s order is a big step but a needed one at this time. Most population centers in our state are already operating under these conditions. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. The most important part of this order is that it sends the message the governor has been sending for many days now in no uncertain terms: stay home and stay apart.

Lee signs order moving disability services for young children out of Education Department

Gov. Bill Lee welcomes delegates to a summit on economically distressed counties in Linden on Aug. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order to move development services for young children with disabilities out of the state Education Department. They will now be housed within the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Here’s the release from the Lee administration:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order transferring the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) from the Tennessee Department of Education to the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to better align services for children with disabilities.

TEIS is a voluntary educational program for infants and toddlers with disabilities that supports families through child development resources. The program encourages optimal development through community and family activities.

“This program is vital to the growth and development of children with disabilities,” said Gov. Lee. “We look forward to better serving TEIS families and ensuring Tennessee is a place where people of all abilities thrive.”

Since taking office in January, this is the 10th executive order signed by Gov. Lee.

Lee signs executive order in response to February flooding

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order in response to widespread flooding, beginning the process for seeking a federal disaster declaration in the affected counties.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE — Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order enabling further recovery efforts and beginning the process for declaring a federal disaster after record rains in February caused statewide damage.

“As waters recede and we are now able to fully review the extent of flooding damage across our state, I signed an executive order as a key step in working with the federal government for further recovery efforts,” said Lee. “We thank the first responders who are working diligently to keep citizens safe and deliver services.”

Currently, 83 counties have reported damage. The Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) have been coordinating with local authorities to collect the necessary data for further recovery efforts.

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Now with twice the freeze: Lee issues 90-day moratorium on new regulations

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee in his fifth executive order issued Friday declared a 90-day halt on new regulations. That’s double the length of a freeze imposed by his predecessor, Bill Haslam, when he took office in 2011.

Here’s the release from Lee administration:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order to halt new regulations for the next 90 days across all state executive branch departments

“As part of our efforts to limit the size of state government, we are taking a close look at the regulations we are imposing on citizens and businesses in Tennessee,” said Lee. “Our goal is to make Tennessee the most job-friendly state in the country and we are working to promote job creation and a commonsense regulatory approach.” 

Executive Order 5 outlines a 90-day freeze in which no executive branch department will file a new rule or regulation with the Secretary of State. During the freeze, the executive branch will develop a framework to better assess the costs and benefits of imposing a new regulation.

The order also underscores creating a regulatory environment that encourages “self-improvement, entrepreneurship and investment.” Departments may receive an exception from the governor in the event a proposed rule benefits the health, safety or welfare of Tennesseans. Regulations approved by the previous administration that have not yet taken effect will be excluded from the executive order.

“I’ve encouraged each department to think about their respective roles in making our state the best place to live, work and play,” said Lee. “A more thoughtful approach to regulation is a key step in getting government out of the way and putting the citizens of Tennessee first.”   

More executive orders from Gov. Lee on ethics, transparency, and non-discrimination

Bill Lee is inaugurated as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Jan. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has issued three more executive orders. Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued three executive orders to underscore and improve state government’s approach to ethics, transparency and non-discrimination practices.

“Earlier this week, I signed my first executive order to address issues facing our rural communities, and the three orders I signed today reflect firm expectations for how state government conducts business,” said Lee. “I believe in limited and accountable government, which is why I have emphasized my administration’s approach to ethics, transparency and non-discrimination in hiring.”

Executive Order 2 fortifies the ethics policy applied to the governor, members of the governor’s staff, members of the governor’s cabinet and other executive branch employees. It expands the scope of employees required to file ethical disclosures and is designed to ensure that senior members of all departments and all employees regularly interacting with the General Assembly must file such disclosures.

Executive Order 3 mandates openness, transparency and accountability within the executive branch. Employees will be required to attend training within the next 120 days to ensure legal requirements relating to the following are met: open meetings, open records, and applicable ethics and disclosure rules. This order requires that training to happen on a specific timetable (within 120 days), while also mandating additional, recurring training.

Executive Order 4 directs the Commissioner of Human Resources to review all hiring and employment practices to ensure there is no discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, or any other category protected by state and federal law. The Department of Human Resources, in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is directed to conduct training within 120 days to ensure the executive branch complies with this policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity in hiring, firing, promoting and other management practices.

 

Lee’s first executive order seeks to focus attention on distressed counties

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee in his first executive order aims to focus state agencies on improving services for Tennessee’s 15 economically distressed counties.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued his first executive order, requiring all state executive departments to issue a statement of rural impact and provide recommendations for better serving rural Tennessee.

“My administration will place a high emphasis on the development and success of our rural areas,” said Lee. “Our first executive order sends a clear message that rural areas will be prioritized across all departments as we work to improve coordination in our efforts.”

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Haslam suspends health care, insurance, contracting laws in fire & storm areas

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued Executive Order No. 61 suspending certain state laws in order to ensure wildfire and severe weather disaster survivors have access to important health care services, consumer rights protections, and availability of state services as they recover.

“The citizens affected by the wildfires and severe storms have already been through so much, we want to make it easier for them to receive the care and services they need as they begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives,” Haslam said. “The state is doing and will continue to do everything we can to support the victims and survivors of these devastating disasters.”

The executive order includes the following provisions:

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