Tennessee lawmakers in the General Assembly introduced a bill Friday that would ensure that Tennesseans who quit their jobs over vaccine mandates receive unemployment benefits. Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) is sponsoring the bill while Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) signed on as a co-sponsor.
Currently, voluntarily quitting a job typically disqualifies someone from receiving unemployment. In some cases, the vaccine requirements, including from President Biden, include a weekly COVID-19 testing option.
However, the new proposed bill, “clarifies that a claimant who chooses to leave employment because the employer required its employees to receive immunization or vaccination is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits based on that choice; specifies that benefits will not be reduced or denied for separation from employment caused by refusal to receive an immunization or vaccination.”
On Tuesday, the bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 12-5. Voting for the bill included Representatives Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City), Michele Carringer (R-Knoxville), Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski)), Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), Dan Howell (R-Cleveland), Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville), Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin), John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Iris Rudder (R-Winchester), Robin Smith (R-Hixson), and Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro). Voting against the bill included Representatives Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis), Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga), G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), and Dwayne Thompson (D-Cordova).
HB 8003 amends Tennessee Code (TCA) Title 4, Chapter 29, Part 2; Title 10, Chapter 7, Part 5; Title 14; Title 50; Title 64; Title 67, Chapter 5, Part 5 and Title 68.
The bill was discussed this week during the special session called about giving Ford funding, buildout, and oversight of a site near Memphis. Governor Bill Lee called the special session, which began on October 18th, last month.
In all, lawmakers approved $884 million in spending.
“This is the largest single economic investment in rural Tennessee’s history,” Gov. Bill Lee said of the project.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]