Lee signs omnibus, other bills from special legislative session

Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee took the following actions on legislation passed during the October 30 extraordinary legislative session:

Signed Legislation

·         SB 9014: COVID omnibus bill

·         SB 9007: special session appropriations bill

·         SB 9008: regarding district attorneys pro tem

·         HB 9072: regarding partisan school boards

·         HB 9073: regarding Treasurer bill on banking collateral

·         HB 9075: regarding state of emergency length from 60 to 45 days

Unsigned Legislation

·         HB 9076: regarding health boards

“I have spoken with Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Sexton and am not signing this bill as it requires significant updates to account for the non-pandemic functions of public health departments,” said Gov. Lee. “We are committed to working together to address these changes during the regular session.”

Lee’s full letter regarding HB9076 can be viewed here.

Additionally, Lee signed Executive Order 92, which suspends a previous order that gave parents a choice to opt their children out of mask requirements in public schools.

The new order comes alongside the passage of SB 9014, which statutorily prevents government entities and public schools from requiring masks except under severe conditions.

State lawmakers passed the bill near the end of the COVID-19 special session in the middle of the night.

The bill prohibits any state or local government entity, including schools and school districts, as well as some private businesses from making anyone show proof of COVID-19 vaccination but allows entertainment venues to continue letting people show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. 

Government entities, including public schools, will only be allowed to require masks when a county has registered at least 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks, a benchmark that the state has not hit at any point during the pandemic. The metric would have to be met every two weeks to continue renewing a mask mandate.  However, schools that institute a mask mandate must provide N95-equivalent masks for students and staff, and would be banned from using state money to provide masks or otherwise enforce a mask requirement.  Religious and medical exemptions must be offered. 

Other exemptions from mask and vaccine limitations would include entities such as airports, paramedics, hospitals and other health care providers, and industries that require masks regardless of COVID-19.

Exemptions to the limitations on mask requirements alone would include private businesses and correctional facilities

People who are fired because they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine would be assured they are eligible for unemployment benefits.

For more, follow this link.

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