Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the line during the program’s second hour by Tennessee state Senator Kerry Roberts.
In the second hour, Roberts weighed in on the eight Republican County Chairmans’ letter to Governor Lee which stated state reps are also essential workers. He added that everybody is an essential worker and advocated that those people who feel vulnerable to the virus should stay home.
Leahy: State Senator Kerry Roberts, I guess these eight GOP Republican County Chairman is telling Governor Lee that state senators and state representatives are also essential workers.
Roberts: Everybody is an essential worker.
Leahy: A great answer by the way. A great answer.
Roberts: You know to their point in the letter, their letter is bringing up several things that I’m confident are going to be wrestled with. And that is what is the definition of an emergency? Is the bar high enough for these powers to be invoked? Telling one business to close and not another is that constitutional?
I thought it was very interesting to see General Crompt out of east Tennessee say that he’s not going to prosecute some of these orders because he believes them to be unconstitutional. Do you have a right to tell a church what to do? You saw in Knox County them telling churches how to have communion.
Leahy: I mean really. Knox County tried to tell churches how to have communion. Unbelievable!
Roberts: And not sing and not worship. (Leahy chuckles) Telling them how to worship. Telling them how to do communion. You know what was fascinating about that 33-page order before it was revised if somebody can find it and dig around and find it online.
It had three columns on the order. The left column was what the topic is. The middle column was the guidance. And the right column was the citation. When you look at all these citations they are the state of New York. Unbelievable. Why is Knox County citing the New York Department of Health?
Leahy: You mean the same New York Department of Health that said that if you are over 65 and you test positive for the coronavirus we’re going to put you in a nursing home. (Laughs) That state department of health?
Roberts: I guess they forgot they were in Tennessee. (Leahy laughs) I don’t really understand what was going on there. Limiting the duration of these orders and then finally creating a requirement that you have to consult with the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate.
Leahy: First, when the general assembly comes back into session and I suppose you are ready to come back into session I’m guessing?
Leahy: Are you going to introduce legislation to limit the powers of the governor and to specify exactly what an emergency should be and as you suggested require him to consult with the Speaker of the House?
Roberts: I think that’s a January thing because when we come back in June there is still the debate of our we going to just deal with the tremendous hit of the Tennessee budget. Revise the budget and then go home? Or are we going to stay for a while? I think I referenced last week that my sense was the House would like to stay for a bit.
I think the Senate would like to go in and deal with the budget then go home. And I’m speaking in general terms. I’m not necessarily saying what I think one way or the other. I think that any of these modifications to Title 58 probably a little bit of time and a little bit of distance would be a good thing.
Let’s research the issue carefully. Let’s make a good decision that will last us for years to come and not have an emotional or knee jerk reaction to the situation. A lot of fascinating information has been revealed over the past few weeks. There is the belief that the constitutionality of these types of orders. I’m not just referring just to Tennessee but I’m referring also across the nation.
Leahy: Yes. The US constitutionality.
Roberts: Yes. And when you look at the case that some of them are based upon because we look up a lot of precedences that may have been undermined by Supreme Court rulings later on. In other words, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of limiting some of these authorities. So there is a lot to talk about and there is a lot to dive into.
And I think all that’s going to come in due time. The immediate thing is how fast do we get open? And I think it’s really important to trust Tennesseans. And I think somebody feels like they’re vulnerable their option is to stay at home.
But if you have a county and there are not cases of COVID-19 and are very limited. We’re talking about barbers and salons. I’ve made this point before. A clerk at Walmart will ring up more people in one shift than probably a barber will see in a month.
Roberts: Think about that.
Leahy: And all within six feet.
Roberts: Hmm-hmm. We know from touch surfaces you can pass germs and whatever. You sneezed, touched your mouth and picked up a product and put it in your cart and put it on the conveyor belt and the clerk picks it up, scans it, and puts it in a bag.
We’ve got a lot of inconsistency. The medical department is not whether it’s Dr. Fauci nationally or whether its Dr. Pearcy in Tennessee, these people are non-elected. Their cell phone number isn’t over the internet with constituents calling and asking, why are you allowing this to happen?
And you know we have a representative government that has been thrown out the window because the policymakers right now are unelected. Medical or health experts are not being balanced with the representation of the people. And again, we go back to the same thing. Someone could be a listener right now and say we need to be shut down for another month. No, the answer is that if you feel at risk then at stay home.
Leahy: Exactly right.
Roberts: I’m not going to lose my business. If I’m a barber or a hairdresser or a colorist, stylist.
Leahy: Or a Davidson County restaurant owner.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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