What’s on tap for latest special session?

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Lawmakers are back for yet another special session later this week, the third one this year. This time, Republicans are hoping to demonstrate to constituents they are doing something — anything — against what they see as federal overreach on COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Press has taken a deep dive into the legislative proposals that could be taken up. They 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.

“The call is broad enough where we can discuss what all the states have done and figure out if there’s a direction we want to go,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) told reporters last week. “We’ll see what direction that we want to come out on to protect individuals from who want to have their personal decision in what’s happening to them.

The petition to return into special session also includes an item that appears to have little to do with the pandemic. It would allow lawmakers to “address a district attorney general peremptorily refusing to prosecute all instances of a criminal offense without regard to facts or circumstances.”

The language appears to be in response to Nashville prosecutor Glenn Funk’s announcements that he won’t pursue criminal charges for the possession of small amounts of marijuana or those who violate a new state law requiring businesses to post warnings about policies allowing transgender people to use bathrooms of their own choosing.


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