Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) announced on Thursday that he is extending an executive order that allows parents to opt their children out of mask mandates in schools.
The decision by Lee follows rulings by multiple judges that blocked the implementation of the order in Knox, Shelby, and Williamson counties.
“I’ve been incredibly disappointed by the rulings from federal judges who’ve chosen to legislate from the bench,” Lee told reporters on Thursday. “Parents should be the ones who decide. Parents know what is best for their children and should have the last word on health and welfare for their children.”
The new executive action by Lee will extend the opt-out measure until November 5th. The original order was scheduled to expire on October 5th.
In an effort to defend the order by Lee, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced on Monday that he will appeal and immediately seek a stay of two recent federal district court decisions, which prevented the opt-out in both Shelby and Knox counties.
“These orders have impeded the Governor’s executive authority during an emergency to direct the State’s public health response, which is why this Office will be appealing those decisions,” said General Slatery.
Lee and some members of the state legislature have been reluctant to call a special legislative session with the goal of codifying the anti-mandate provision, as other lawmakers have suggested.
Instead, Lee called a special session to advance work for the new Ford electric vehicle and battery production plant at the Memphis Regional Megasite.
“While we have business to do in the legislature, we will continue to stand up for parents in court. I am renewing my mask opt out order & will work with the AG to challenge the federal rulings that inappropriately legislated from the bench,” Lee said on Twitter.
The special session on October 18 will stay focused on next steps for the Memphis Regional Megasite, and we’ll stand up for parents in court.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) September 30, 2021
“The special session on October 18 will stay focused on next steps for the Memphis Regional Megasite, and we’ll stand up for parents in court.”
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