Special Session Bills Move Through Tennessee Senate and House Committees


Several bills addressing the issues outlined in Governor Bill Lee’s proclamation for an extraordinary session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly were taken up in Senate and House committee meetings Tuesday.

The call for the special session limited the legislation that could be taken up to COVID-related liability protection for persons and entities, electronic delivery of health-related services, protection of private and public property and personnel as well as the appropriations related to the legislation passed during the special session.

While the Senate used their existing standing committee format, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) established new committees for the extraordinary session including the COVID Related Liability Committee, Public Safety Committee, Electronic Delivery of Healthcare Committee, Finance, Ways and Means Committee, and Calendar and Rules Committee.

Below is an update as to the status of the legislation proposed for the extraordinary session.

SB 8001 / HB 8006 –  a governmental entity, defined as a governing body, board, commission, committee or department of a municipality, county or other political subdivision of the state, shall not intentionally prohibit or prevent law enforcement or fire and rescue services from accessing a specifically bounded area within the entity’s jurisdiction during a public demonstration, unless the services are replaced by like services of another governmental entity.

A governmental entity violating the provision may be held liable for the resulting damages, injury or death.

Update:  Passed the House Public Safety Committee of the Extraordinary Session, but was deferred in the Senate Judiciary Committee to Wednesday.

SB 8002 / HB 8001 – “Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act” requires that in any claims for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from COVID-19, the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that it was caused by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Update: Passed the House COVID Related Liability Committee of Extraordinary Session II and moves to the Calendar & Rules Committee for scheduling on the House floor.

Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be on the Regular Calendar for the Senate floor session Wednesday.

SB 8003 / HB 8002 – changes to telehealth services.

Update: Placed on Wednesday’s calendar of the House Electronic Delivery of Healthcare Committee of Extraordinary Session II.

Passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Tuesday and progresses to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

SB 8004 / HB 8003 – appropriations for the first year of funding for any act passed during the special session that has a cost associated with it.

SB 8005 / HB 8005 – revises criminal law to address protesting activities that go beyond being peaceful to damaging public property, assaulting a first responder, or camping in undesignated areas and authorizes the attorney general to investigate crimes when the victim is a state employee, state property was damaged, or the administration of state government was delayed as a result of the crime.

Update: A lengthy discussion took place in the House Public Safety Committee of Extraordinary Session II on the bill.

Just before the vote, sponsor Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) made a strong close on the bill by contrasting a stark choice of standing with law enforcement or standing with criminals.

After the vote, Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis), who requested to be recorded as a no vote, objected to Lamberth’s characterization of the vote, calling it offensive and insulting.  Miller, wagging his finger at Lamberth, said the insinuation that he doesn’t like the police officers and state troopers in his district is a lie.

Lamberth responded that he merely stated his opinion and asked Miller to respect it as he does Miller’s.

Passed the House Public Safety Committee of Extraordinary Session II, advancing to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, after hearing video testimony from four of the protestors who have been at the Capitol for as long as 60 days and objected to the legislation, including organizer Justin Jones, deferred action until Wednesday pending a clarifying amendment.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) said that the vast majority of protestors have been law-abiding and peaceful.

However, on Monday, at least one senator, Bell relayed, was detained as they driving on Charlotte Avenue with protestors blocking their vehicles and obscuring their vision with hand-held signs.

A House member told The Tennessee Star that they were similarly blocked as they were driving out of the Cordell Hull Building parking garage, with protestors blocking and banging on their vehicle for several minutes.

SB 8006 / HB 8007– creates a rebuttal presumption in a civil action that a defendant acted with gross negligence in certain circumstances related to the exposure or contraction of COVID-19.

Update:  Failed in Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 8007 / HB 8008–deals with how workers’ compensation addresses COVID-19 for essential and non-essential workers.

Update:  Failed in Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

SB 8008 / HB 8009 – prohibits state or local government, agency or department from infringing on the constitutional rights of a personal to peacefully assemble, demonstrate or both on government property.

The proposed legislation essentially repeats what is already enshrined in The Constitution of the State of Tennessee in Article I, Section 23, “That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address of remonstrance.”

Update:  Failed in Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 8009 / HB 8013 – Enacts “Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act.”

Update:  Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to Wednesday.

SB8010 / HB 8012 – changes to telehealth services.

Update:  Not addressed by House or Senate committees.

SB 8011 – requires that if a healthcare liability claim is based on a claim of exposure to or contraction of coronavirus, the person must provide the date and location which it allegedly occurred.

Update:  Action deferred in the Senate Judiciary Committee until Wednesday.

SB 8012 / HB 8010 – requires law enforcement officers to clearly identify themselves when arresting a person during a protest or demonstration.

Update:  Action deferred in the Senate Judiciary Committee until Wednesday.

The schedules and calendars of the Tennessee General Assembly can be viewed here.

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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Tennessee General Assembly” by tn.gov.








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One Thought to “Special Session Bills Move Through Tennessee Senate and House Committees”

  1. Wayne Forkum

    What a bunch of baboons we have in our state legislature. They absolutely never deliver what they promise.