Bill Lee Office Not Saying How Media Rapidly Obtained Email from Within His Office Warning Against New Tennessee COVID-19 Law


A new Tennessee law prohibits COVID-19 mask mandates in schools, but Governor Bill Lee’s legislative counsel warned in a recent and now heavily publicized email that the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Legislative Counsel Liz Alvey sent the email October 30. The AP obtained Alvey’s email through a public records request.

The Tennessee Star on Wednesday asked Lee’s communications director, Laine Arnold, if she or other members of Lee’s team knew how The AP knew to look for this email. We also asked how The AP obtained the email so quickly. Government agencies who receive open records requests are notoriously slow to respond.

Arnold did not respond to our request for comment before Tuesday’s stated deadline.

The Star also contacted Alvey via email. Alvey, in an automated response, said she was not at work and was on Thanksgiving vacation.

Alvey, according to the Nashville-based FOX 17 News, told Senate Republican leaders that the new law runs afoul of the ADA.

“Proposed ADA accommodation in the bill is a violation of the ADA and will put us at risk of losing federal funding,” Alvey wrote.

Attorneys representing children with disabilities reportedly said “the email ‘conflicts with, and impeaches, the official position of the state.’ They’re asking to enter it as evidence in their case.”

A federal judge recently halted the law and said it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — but the language of the law shows otherwise.

That judge, Waverly Crenshaw, presides over the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The language of the new state law, available for the public to read on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, shows state lawmakers did take the ADA into account when they wrote it and later enacted it. The law says a school must provide reasonable ADA accommodations to people who request them in writing.

“If the principal or president denies the request, then the grounds for denial must be provided in the principal’s or president’s written decision,” according to the new Tennessee law.

“If the principal or president approves the request, then the school must place the person in an in-person educational setting in which other persons who may place or otherwise locate themselves within six feet of the person receiving the reasonable accommodation for longer than 15 minutes are wearing a face covering provided by the school that meets the above-described standards.”

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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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7 Thoughts to “Bill Lee Office Not Saying How Media Rapidly Obtained Email from Within His Office Warning Against New Tennessee COVID-19 Law”

  1. Faithy

    Let us not kid ourselves here. Billy wanted the email to leak so he can destroy the defense of it because deep down he is a liberal. He does not like this law and the only reason why he’s trying to give up some control but ending the emergency is because he knows that he has a real chance of getting voted out of office. McNally and his entire leadership team must be voted out. That spirit that they have must be rooted out!

    Bill is trying to hold his cards to his chest until after April 22nd so he can see who will be his primary opponent. If the primary goes his way, right before the legislation session ends, that’s what he go try to remove the already weak sauce protections that’s in there. If he gets voted in again, the work of his hands will be cursed.

    He is trying to play Both Sides. They know that no matter what happens l, the federal appeals court is going to overturn the Sham of Crenshaw’s ruling in addition to the other appeals that’s already been filed, when they get turned around it will moot out the cases that have now.

  2. 83ragtop50

    It sounds to me like the legislature needs to fire the counselor.

  3. We’ve given this guy enough rope to hang himself. Patience has run out. Lee must be primaried. There is no alternative.

  4. J W Brewer

    It doesn’t take much to figure out who sent the email. That said, it will be the 6th Circuit who will determine whether or not it violates ADA. I suspect their interpretation will differ from that of Liz. Not sure why the obsession to keep kids masked, but I think it has more to do with teaching them to be good little subjects of the State than about their health.

  5. DocFerri

    someone from his staff who is a mask freak leaked the email. How else did it get out there, um?

  6. Steve Allen

    So the weasel donks have infiltrated the Governor’s office. Who’s surprised. I guess that shouldn’t come as a shock as they have overtaken Nashville like maggots on a carcass.

  7. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Mask do not work at preventing the spread of cold or flu virus. There’s even a disclaimer on the box, for legal purposes. 2020 was a TOTAL FAIL for both the Legal and Medical Communities. But then again I have always said that ‘the Court House, the County Jail and the ER should share the same parking lot.’