House anti-vax bill dead on arrival

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The House appears to be amusing itself with a bill seeking to stop businesses from imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But what they won’t say is that the bill is already dead. At least for this special session.

Sponsored by Rep. Rusty Grills, HB8003 is going through the motions in a special House committee with a self-congratulatory amendment by Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville). But no companion bill has been filed in the Senate. Bills need to be read on three separate legislative days to become law, and the special session is supposed to end as soon as Wednesday. And even if a bill had been filed in time in the upper chamber, it wouldn’t be deemed to meet Gov. Bill Lee’s call.

“Lt. Governor McNally believes the call for the current special session clearly limits the session to issues surrounding the Megasite. No companion bill to HB8003 – or any other bill outside the call – has been filed in the Senate during this session,” said McNally spokesman Adam Kleinheider.

Similar measures could and probably will be introduced in a subsequent special session if both chambers gather enough signatures. But until such time, there’s no reason to pay the House moves much heed.