Tennessee Businesses Need Legislators Back in Nashville to Assist Them with COVID-19 Aftermath, Local GOP Leaders Say

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Nearly 30 GOP officials from throughout Tennessee this week urged Gov. Bill Lee to end all COVID-19-related restrictions, and they also urged that the state’s General Assembly members return from their current recess.

They submitted an open letter this week requesting just that.

In their letter, they told Lee that while he is Tennessee’s chief executive “he is not the representative of the people.”

“Throughout this process, the People have not had the benefit of their representatives in Nashville. The Governor has been left to act without formal input, debate, or discussion from those who might challenge him or, conversely, might support him. And whether one agrees or disagrees with the decisions made by Governor Lee, no one can refute the conclusion that during the pendency of this pandemic the People’s voice has been silent, muffled, and altogether absent,” the GOP officials wrote.

“The General Assembly has been in recess since mid-March, 2020 – despite the fact that this period of time has likely been the most difficult crisis seen by our sovereign state since Reconstruction. At the same time, other governing bodies have continued their business, meeting as needed. Of all times, why be absent now? When viewed in this light, the recess of the General Assembly seems inexplicable.”

But to Tennessee’s top Republican legislators, the GOP officials who signed the letter warned:

You might not realize what detriment your absence is likely causing. Frankly, a full description of the impact is probably unknowable at this time. But, as an example, it is certainly at the forefront of the minds of many restaurateurs and other businesses that a breakout of COVID-19 linked to their patrons could result in lawsuits. Therefore, businesses that otherwise might open, have not.

Those who have, are overly cautious. The otherwise robust economy is arguably smothered. Protection from such lawsuits might be an answer – but businesses are simply left to hope – and wonder. From their standpoint, at the present, there is no Legislature. But our purpose is not to necessarily advocate for tort reform, but rather to emphasize the need to have that discussion – and a discussion on a host of other unprecedented topics. As it stands, there can be no dialog as you are not in business yourselves.

GOP chairman and chairwomen in Maury, Giles, Coffee, Wayne, Anderson, Lawrence, and Lincoln counties, among several others, signed the letter.

“It is likely that there will be those among you who will say it’s simply too late, and that an ending of recess or a Special Session will make no appreciable difference given the expected return from recess on June 1. We beg to differ on this point as well. Much of this has to do with optics,” the GOP officials wrote.

“The People need to see that the General Assembly cares. A move to bring the People’s representatives back as soon as possible will instill a sense of hope. An attempt to fill the gaping hole caused by the Legislature’s absence will no doubt provide a substantial measure of relief to a citizenry which has largely stood silent through uncertainty, hardship, and the suspension of their fundamental rights. Your effort alone in making this happen, even one day early, will send that good and needed message.”

Read the full letter:

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]





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3 Thoughts to “Tennessee Businesses Need Legislators Back in Nashville to Assist Them with COVID-19 Aftermath, Local GOP Leaders Say”

  1. Edward Smith

    The Governor and Legislators need to start thinking more about people needs iin Tennessee and less about what it might do to their political position. Pay attention to what was outlined in the Open Letter to you- Govenor Lee and the Republican Legislators. Come back to work and do the job you are paid to do. Our President is on the job and trying to get this country back to normal and he needs your help. Doctor’s, Nurses, Emergency Personnel and Hospitals are open for business so why do you you sit at home and do nothing. Go back to work and help Governor Lee get Tennesseeeans back to work.

  2. 83ragtop50

    Been after my rep to do this for over a month. I realize that the governor has consulted with many legislators but it has all been in private. Not what I deserve from Assembly.

  3. Cannoneer2

    Now businesses are going to run to the Legislature to whine about the possibility of being sued when they reopen. Figures…