Tennessee General Assembly Amends Bill to Maintain Health Commissioner, County Health Officers’ Emergency Rule, Quarantine and Closure Power

The General Assembly struck provisions removing exclusive health emergency-related powers from the health commissioner and county health officials. The bill originally proposed to create a commission to make decisions on whether or not to exercise those powers. The new commission would’ve included the governor, the speakers of the State House and Senate, each constitutional officer, and the commissioner of health – or, any designees selected by those officials.

Those provisions were dropped without explanation from either the House or Senate floor as to why. The Tennessee Star inquired with the sponsors what happened. The House sponsor, State Representative Glen Casada, (R-Franklin) divulged that the House Health Committee opposed it. He didn’t go into further detail in his statement to The Star.

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Tennessee Senate Pulls Back on Bill Removing Local Health Authority Powers, Rendering Them Advisory Bodies During Health Emergencies

A bill which proposed removing local health authorities’ powers during health emergencies was re-referred to the Senate Calendar Committee on Thursday. State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) requested this action without explanation during the bill’s third and final hearing.

If passed, the bill would specify that county mayors have the authority to establish and implement health policies during county-wide health emergencies – not local health officials or bodies. Instead, all county health directors, health officers, and boards of health could only serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor.

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