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Senate bills surface for Tennessee's COVID special session

Tennessee state capitol - 022420
This Jan. 8, 2020, photo shows the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Mark Humphrey/AP

Senate bills surface for Tennessee’s COVID special session

October 27, 03:01 PM October 27, 03:01 PM

Proposed legislation continues to emerge in advance of the Tennessee Legislature’s COVID-19 special session, including six Senate bills that were filed Tuesday.

The special session starts at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Senate Bill 9001, sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, is a companion bill to House Bill 1643. It bill prevents private employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for an individual who already has had COVID-19, and it makes the private employer liable for damages if the vaccination causes the employee injury.

Senate Bill 9002, also sponsored by Niceley, is a companion to House Bill 9003, which prohibits public employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine and puts liability on private employers who require a vaccine if health issues arise.

Senate Bill 9003, sponsored by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, is a companion of House Bill 9002, which allows local school board elections to be partisan.

Senate Bill 9004, sponsored by Hensley as a companion to House Bill 9001, places liability on an employer or private institution of higher learning for side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine if the vaccine is required.

Senate Bill 9005, sponsored by Hensley, prevents school districts, public higher education and public charter schools from having COVID-19 contact tracing procedures while allowing those procedures to be created for other communicable diseases.

Senate Bill 9006, sponsored by Sen. Paul Rose, R-Tipton, puts a county mayor or top city official in charge of establishing and implementing health policies that affect an area during a health emergency. The county health director, health officer and board of health then would be charged with advising the mayor or highest-ranking city official. House Bill 9014 from Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, is the companion bill.

House Bill 9009, from Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, prevents any state funds from being “appropriated or dispersed” to a public or private entity that has a COVID-19 vaccination or mask-wearing requirement for entry. It also allows the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration to recoup state funds previously sent to an entity that begins a vaccine or mask requirement.

House Bill 9010, also from Doggett, prevents a K-12 school that receives state funds from having a COVID-19 vaccine requirement or from separating students based on vaccination status.

House Bill 9011, from Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, creates a human rights private cause of action for anyone who suffers an adverse action by another because of a religious objection to the COVID-19 vaccine.

House Bill 9012, also from Ogles, requires any entity that requires a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a vaccination to allow for a religious exemption for those whose religion or sect is conscientiously opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.

House Bill 9013, sponsored by Ogles, prevents a health care provider from giving a minor the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent.

House Bill 9015, from Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, establishes uniform mask requirements for local school districts that implement mask-wearing rules.

House Bill 9016, also from Lamar, allows private employers to adopt a dress code that requires a mask for anyone on the business premises and provides immunity to those employers.

House Bill 9017, from Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, prevents the state from entering into a state contract or providing incentives to an employer that requires the COVID-19 vaccine.

House Bill 9018, from Rudd, allows for a replacement for a district attorney will be appointed in cases where a sitting district attorney says he or she will not prosecute a certain offense.

Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, filed four bills Tuesday. House Bill 9019 enacts the “Tennessee Religious Objection to COVID-19 Treatment Act,” and House Bill 9020 enacts the “Tennessee COVID-19 Treatment Freedom Act,” which prevents the board of medical examiners and board of osteopathic examination from disciplining a licensed physician related to the physician’s prescription, recommendation, use or opinion relative to COVID-19 treatment.

House Bill 9021 prevents discrimination based upon COVID-19 vaccination status. House Bill 9022 allows those who leave a job to avoid a COVID-19 vaccination mandate or are put on unpaid leave based on refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination to be eligible for unemployment payments.

Eight House bills were filed Monday.

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