Bill to Exempt Houses of Worship from Emergency Closures Delayed

Final voting on a bill addressing government control over worship services during public emergencies, already heavily altered, will be delayed by one week for further potential changes. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), indicated Monday that he would review the bill further to consider the concerns of Democratic State Representatives London Lamar (D-Memphis) and Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville). Lamar and Love raised concerns that governments couldn’t do enough to curb church activity during pandemics under the bill; Lamar argued that religious institutions would be fine if they were ordered to meet virtually.

The adopted amendment has already altered the bill entirely. The original provisions prohibited closures and limitations of churches or religious organizations, including their religious services or activities. In the amended version, the bill would only prohibit state and local governments and agencies from closing churches or religious organizations. It wouldn’t protect houses of worship from any governmental restrictions or limitations.

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Dave Ramsey Endorses Medical Non-Discrimination Business & Consumer Act

Famed financial guru Dave Ramsey endorsed a bill that would prohibit discrimination against consumers for not having masks or the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill covers more – it also would shield customers from discrimination based on the use of a medical device or having received any sort of medical treatment. 

Tennessee Stands, a local grassroots nonprofit social advocacy organization, produced the legislation. The organization has also produced the Religious Exemption Protection Act, which died in subcommittee on Tuesday, and a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment addressing emergencies.

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Bill Proposes Protections for Private Businesses Against Repercussions for Violating Executive Orders

A new bill would prohibit governors or mayors from using law enforcement to force closure of private businesses under executive orders. Additionally, the bill would bar these government officials from using law enforcement to restrict the right to peaceably assemble or freely travel.

The legislation noted that curfews issued by executive order would still be enforceable, as well as the ability for state and local agencies and departments to maintain their health inspection standards.

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Virginia House Public Safety Subcommittee Killing Bills Limiting Executive Order Power

  Delegate Kirk Cox’s House bill limiting the length of executive orders will likely die in committee after a Public Safety subcommittee recommended tabling the bill. HB 2087, if passed, would limit the length of Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders to just 45 days unless the General Assembly passes an…

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Knox County Commission Votes to Strip Its Board of Health’s Powers Over Policy

Knox County Commission voted to strip the county’s board of health of its powers to issue mandates on Tuesday. Instead of having the power to impose regulations, the Knox County Board of Health will be limited to serving as an advisory group. After a heated, divided exchange lasting eight hours, the commission voted 6-4 in favor of diminishing the board’s authority, with one commissioner abstaining their vote.

The decision followed the board’s latest regulations limiting social gatherings and in-person dining. At the beginning of this month, the board imposed a social gathering limit of 10 people within 360 square feet, with limited exceptions including nursing homes.  Two weeks later, the board elected to limit restaurants and bars to 50 percent capacity, and impose a curfew limiting in-person services lasting from 10 pm to 5 am.

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Citizens Groups Hold Rallies in Franklin, Knoxville to Declare ‘We Will Not Comply’ With Mask Mandates

Grassroots movements combating Tennessee’s never-ending mask mandates are gaining steam.

Tennessee Stands held a “Mask Free Tennessee Rally” Saturday on the Public Square in Franklin. A similar rally was held Sunday in Knoxville by No Mandates Tennessee.

Tennessee Stands organizers on Saturday evening posted on their Facebook page, “So thankful to all of the patriots that showed up today for the Mask Free Tennessee Rally today in Franklin! Our voices are louder together. We will not give in to the mob. We will not relinquish our liberty. We. Will. Not. Comply.”

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Governor Walz Sets First-Ever Standards for ‘Really Good Chance’ of Lifting Emergency Executive Orders

In an interview with The Star Tribune, Governor Tim Walz set the first standards for possibly lifting Minnesota’s emergency executive orders. His statement didn’t promise total relinquishment of his executive powers.
According to Walz, under 20 percent community spread and 4 percent test positivity rate would give Minnesota “a really good chance of doing most things.” The governor balked when questioned whether some of the restrictions were too harsh. Walz stated that his state has endured COVID-19 better than many states.

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Gov Walz’s Sixth Extension of COVID Peacetime Emergency Follows Legislation’s Heated, Divided Vote

Governor Tim Walz extended Minnesota’s COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency for the sixth time after a heated, divided vote in the special legislative session. 
Walz stated in a press release that the coronavirus is still a danger to Minnesotans.

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Ohio Senate Discusses Limiting Pandemic Executive Powers, Passes COVID Liability Limits and Federal Relief Funds

The Ohio Senate passed two bills and discussed a third this week that would “check and balance” state executive orders. The two passed bills would limit essential workers’ liability for COVID-19 transmissions and grant $650 million of federal relief funds statewide, respectively.

Senate Bill (SB) 311 aims to install a balance of powers between Congress and Ohio’s Department of Health (DOH) during this and any future pandemics. In an interview with The Ohio Star, Senator Andrew Brenner (R-OH-19) explained the historical rationale behind the bill.

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