Ford concerns about COVID-19 bill referred to lawmakers

The Memphis Regional Megasite.

Ford Motor Co., which just last week received the glowing praise of a vast majority of state lawmakers when they approved an $884 million incentive package for the automaker to build a new plant at the Memphis Regional Megasite, apparently isn’t so thrilled about efforts to outlaw mask and vaccine mandates by private employers.

Word spread around the legislature that Ford had called Gov. Bill Lee to register its complaints. But the governor has famously declined to get involved in the special session, perhaps fearing the very situation that lawmakers now seem to be putting the state in.

Officially, the governor’s office isn’t saying much.

“We have heard from a number of businesses and groups regarding proposals, and we have told them to reach out directly to legislators with their concerns,” said Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold, adding that other automakers in Tennessee have also raised concerns.

UPDATE: The Tennessee Lookout reports a Ford official sent a text message to senators saying the company worries about being barred from requiring its employees from wearing masks.

Sen. Page Walley, R-Bolivar, alluded to Ford’s concerns in a committee meeting Friday.

“I’m very concerned we don’t adversely impact that with this legislation and what Ford is attempting to achieve and what they say has been critical for them to be able to manage their operations and stay open in other parts of the state with their ability to utilize masking requirements,” the Lookout quoted Walley as saying.

“I’m not going to be comfortable unless we have a plan on how we’re going to address this.”