COVID-19 Liability Reform Measure Flounders in Tennessee

Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee looked like a sure bet to become the latest state to protect businesses and other organizations from lawsuits by people impacted by the coronavirus in the push to reopen the economy. Republican Gov. Bill Lee had talked up the change and touted his advocacy on tort reform as a businessman, and he had GOP lawmakers in supermajorities lined up to seal the deal.

That was before negotiations among lawmakers broke down so badly in the hectic waning hours of legislative work that the generally mild-mannered Senate Speaker Randy McNally accused two House leaders of working with “a cabal of Democrats and attorneys to defeat the legislation and place our entire economy in danger.”

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Gov. Lee Will End Use of Electronic Governmental Meetings After June 30

One hallmark for the pandemic scare in Tennessee has been the heavy governmental use of electronic meetings, facilitated by Gov. Bill Lee signing executive orders allowing them.

The meetings often were on Zoom or a similar format, and as the state began reopening, sometimes meetings would have participants both in person and participating electronically.

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Gov. Lee Considers Calling Special Session of Legislature to Pass Bill Giving Businesses Protection From COVID-19 Lawsuits

Gov. Bill Lee is thinking about calling the Legislature in for a special session to pass a bill to provide retroactive COVID-19 legal protection for businesses, the Chattanooga Times Free Press said.

The General Assembly ended their session on Friday without the House passing the Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act. It received 46 of 50 votes needed. House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) questioned whether the measure was legal under Tennessee’s Constitution regarding the impairment of contracts. (The Senate had approved the bill.)

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Gov. Lee Announces ‘Strong Mask Movement’ to Make Wearing Face Masks ‘Fun’

Gov. Bill Lee announced a new “TN Strong Mask Movement” Thursday with the goal of making face masks more “fun.”

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Economic Recovery Group developed the new program along with more than 30 “flagship brands” across the state, including Amazon, Bridgestone, Bristol Motor Speedway, Graceland, Jack Daniel’s, several professional sports teams and universities, and many others.

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Tennessee State Senate Hurriedly Approves Major Abortion Bill Just Before Legislature Adjourns, Gov. Lee Says He Will Sign into Law

Major pro-life legislation was approved by the Tennessee Legislature in Friday’s early morning hours just before legislators wrapped up their year.

Passage — and the end of the session — came as a surprise because Senate leaders had said they would not take the abortion measure up in this condensed year, according to a story by The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill. The publication also reported the Senate did this to persuade the House to back off of making changes to the budget proposal the Senate had approved.

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Gov. Lee Shares His ‘Child Wellbeing Plan’ With First Lady Melania Trump

Gov. Bill Lee spoke by phone Wednesday with First Lady Melania Trump on a new task force to address children’s mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House said Penny Schwinn, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, also participated.

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Nashville Health Department to Continue Sharing COVID-19 Patient Data with Law Enforcement

The Metro Public Health Department in Nashville will still provide COVID-19 patient information to first responders and law enforcement.

Metro Public Health Director Michael Caldwell said the practice is “temporary,” but that it’s working, WPLN reported Thursday.

“This is an emergency,” he says. “This is critical, timely, life-saving information that has reduced and contained the spread of this disease within our medical institutions and within our jails. I’m puzzled by why the state reversed course.”

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Tennessee Businesses Need Legislators Back in Nashville to Assist Them with COVID-19 Aftermath, Local GOP Leaders Say

Nearly 30 GOP officials from throughout Tennessee this week urged Gov. Bill Lee to end all COVID-19-related restrictions, and they also urged that the state’s General Assembly members return from their current recess.

They submitted an open letter this week requesting just that.

In their letter, they told Lee that while he is Tennessee’s chief executive “he is not the representative of the people.”

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Commentary: Minority Communities Stand to Lose the Most Because of Judge’s ESA Decision

Next time you hear progressives talk about how they are the ones who are sticking up for minority communities, ask them to square their opposition to educational freedom – or the ability for families to customize their child’s education.

Progressives cheered this week as Nashville Chancellor Anne C. Martin ruled that the state’s education savings account program is “unconstitutional” because of an obscure section in our constitution where it talks about “home rule.”

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Gov. Lee’s Advisor Who Provided COVID-19 Patient Information to Police, Promoted to COO

The woman behind Tennessee providing COVID-19 patient data to first responders has been promoted.

Brandon O. Gibson, a senior advisor to Gov. Bill Lee, was promoted to the state’s chief operating officer (COO), the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

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Knoxville Opts Out of Controversial Practice of Sharing Personal Data of COVID-19 Patients with Police

The City of Knoxville said Tuesday it will opt-out of sharing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients with law enforcement following a statewide controversy over the practice.

Mayor Indya Kincannon and Police Chief Eve Thomas said that the Knoxville Police Department will leave a state program that allows law-enforcement officers across Tennessee to access a database of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Black Lawmakers Want State to Stop Giving Names, Addresses of COVID-19 Patients to Police

The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators wants the state to quit giving names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to police.

The caucus made the request to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Health, WATE reported, citing a press release from Democratic Caucus Chairman Ken Jobe. Lee sent letters to Tennessee police offering to provide personal information to their departments once they’ve entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the state.

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Judge Rules Tennessee Must Allow ‘Constitutional Right’ of Abortions

  A panel of federal judges ruled 2-1 that Tennessee must allow the “Constitutional right” to abortion during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic. The decision came Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, available online here. Ruling in favor of abortion were Judges Karen Nelson…

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Tennessee Says Unemployment Filings Went Down in Second Week of March, But That Was Before the Lockdown

In a “what the heck” moment, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development on Thursday said unemployment filings for two-thirds of counties went down for the second week of March.

The filings were for March 8-14, just before the Chinese coronavirus took a toll.

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Once Tennessee Economy Reopens, Will State Quarantine Patients, Trace Contacts?

With Tennessee possibly moving toward an economic reopening in May, one looming question is what, if anything, will the state do with people who continue to test positive for COVID-19, especially ensuring that they are staying quarantined.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday he will extend the state’s stay-at-home order through April 30, but he also said government and private-sector officials are working to reopen the state’s economy in May, The Tennessee Star reported.

Lee said this at a televised press conference, adding “we are not out of the woods yet, and it could be some time [before we are].”

“Until a vaccine or a therapy is widely available to Tennesseans, this virus will be a present reality to us to manage and consider whenever we are making decisions,” Lee said.

Lee said that last month he started working with leaders of industry to understand how this pandemic would impact the state’s businesses.

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Gov. Lee Says His ‘Expectation’ Is That Abortion Clinics Would Cancel Procedures During Pandemic

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Wednesday that it is his “hope and expectation” that abortion clinics would cancel elective procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lee issued an executive order Monday that requires all hospitals and surgical outpatient facilities to cancel or postpone all “non-essential procedures” through April 13. The intent of the order is to free up personal protective equipment for health care professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

His executive order asks “non-hospital health care providers,” such as abortion facilities, to deliver any personal protective equipment in their possession to the nearest Tennessee National Guard Armory.

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Tennessee Government Relents to Pressure, Reveals County-By-County Location of State’s Seven Coronavirus Cases

The Tennessee Department of Health has backed down from its secret government stance — by a little — and released the county-by-county location of the state’s seven confirmed coronavirus cases.

The TDH and Gov. Bill Lee for two days had refused to say which counties had coronavirus COVID-19 cases. Late Tuesday evening, TDH acknowledged intense public criticism when it issued this statement:

The Tennessee Department of Health has announced updated case management protocol regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a continued effort to keep communities informed while also maintaining patient privacy.

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Nashville, Memphis Report Tennessee’s Second, Third Cases of Coronavirus

Nashville Mayor John Cooper confirmed a case of coronavirus on Sunday, making it the third in Tennessee, coming the same day Shelby County announced a case.

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Sen. Blackburn Tours Tornado-Damaged Communities, Advances Bill to Allow Faster Repairs of Telecom Infrastructure

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has been busy checking in on the state’s response to the deadly tornadoes that hit Middle Tennessee this week.

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Williamson County Coronavirus Patient Flew Home Recently From Boston, Has Child Attending Battle Ground Academy

New reports on the Williamson County man diagnosed with the coronavirus indicate he flew home from Boston, and has a son attending Battle Ground Academy.

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State Rep. Gant Introduces Bill to Address Refugee Resettlement Issue

The Tennessee House of Representatives is considering a new bill aimed at stopping Gov. Bill Lee from allowing an influx of refugees without legislative approval.

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Judson Phillips Commentary: The Left’s Next Target

Judson Phillips

You can reflexively oppose anything the left supports and almost never to worry about being wrong.  Unfortunately, many conservatives have fallen for the shiny object that is being dangled in front of them by the left called, “criminal justice reform.”

The American criminal justice system is not perfect and like any other system, there are always improvements and corrections that can be made.  Unfortunately, most of the reforms the left is suggesting make things worse, not better.

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Judson Phillips Commentary: Bill Lee Strikes Out Again

In October, something that has been very underreported happened.  It is something that Tennesseans should know about and be very worried about.

One of Governor Bill Lee’s pet objectives is criminal justice reform.  In October, while speaking to the GOP Senate Republican Caucus, Lee said, “We can empty our jails in the same way that some other states have done. I know we can do that.”

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Gov. Bill Lee Silent on Report His Decision Allows Federal Government to Send Middle East Refugees to Tennessee That Australia Has Refused

Gov. Bill Lee’s decision on December 18 to say yes to more refugees in Tennessee allows the federal government to resettle refugees from any country it wants into the state, including an estimated 300 to 720  refugees from Middle East countries that the government of Australia has refused to accept.

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Gov. Lee Has Not Made Decision on Whether to Refuse Refugees

Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday he hasn’t decided if he’ll accept President Donald Trump’s offer to let states refuse to accept refugees, U.S. News reported. The governor added he has not spoken to his team about how he will respond to this executive order.

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Gov. Lee Names Nine Members of Public Charter School Commission

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s education agenda continues to take shape with the recent appointments of nine members of a Public Charter School Commission.

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Gov. Lee to Provide Grants to Schools That Teach American History, Civic Values

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the launch of the Governor’s Civics Seal and mini-grant program to provide support and recognize schools and districts that prioritize teaching the nation’s history and civic values.

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Lawyer Activist Group Files Federal Court Injunction to Block Tennessee’s New Law Seeking to Stop Illegal, Incompetent Voter Registration Drives

A lawyer activist organization in Washington, D.C., is trying to block Tennessee’s efforts to secure its elections from fraud and incompetence by filing an injunction in federal court, but one political observer isn’t buying it, saying the law combats illegal registration efforts.

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State Reps. Ryan Williams, Cameron Sexton Join Race to Succeed Glen Casada as House Speaker

  The pieces are falling into place for the Tennessee GOP House Caucus to select the new speaker, with a couple of new faces entering the race this week. The caucus will meet July 24 to pick a nominee to replace disgraced outgoing Speaker and Rep. Glen Casada (R-TN-63) of…

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Franklin Lands Mitsubishi Motors Headquarters With 200 Jobs Moving Here Beginning in August

  Mitsubishi is saying “buh bye” to California’s high taxes and moving its headquarters to Franklin, multiple media outlets report. Mitsubishi was one of two final Japanese car manufacturers to have its headquarters in California, CNET said. Honda will be the lone Japanese holdout. Moving to Franklin will allow the…

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State Rep. Matthew Hill Seeks House Speaker Position

  State Rep. Matthew Hill (R-TN-07) said he will seek the Republican nomination for Speaker of the Tennessee House. The Jonesborough Republican, who is the Deputy House Speaker, made the announcement Wednesday at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, WJHL said. State Rep. Mike Carter…

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Gov. Lee Promises to Call Special Session if House Speaker Casada Does Not Resign

  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee promised to call a special session to remove House Speaker Glen Casada if he does not resign, following a no-confidence vote by House Republicans. Lee on Monday night tweeted, “Today House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if…

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House Speaker Casada’s Former Chief of Staff Accused of Bugging Legislative Committee Rooms, The Tennessean Says

  A newspaper claims that House Speaker Glen Casada’s former chief of staff once bragged to a reporter that he had bugged legislative committee meeting rooms and now a Democratic leader is calling for an investigation. Joel Ebert of The Tennessean reported last week that the ex-chief of staff, Cade…

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Tennessee House Speaker Casada Pledges Cooperation with District Attorney General’s Conference Investigation

  Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada is moving to handle the continued fallout over revelations that include allegedly inappropriate text messages involving him and former chief of staff Cade Cothren. Casada said he directed the Speaker’s office to cooperate with a District Attorney General’s Conference investigation of an email from…

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Gov. Lee Plans to Allow Online Sports Gambling Bill to Become Law Without Signing It

  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to let an online sports gambling bill become law without signing it, multiple news outlets are reporting. The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill reported: “The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion is best, but he recognizes that many in the…

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Bill Strengthening Protections Against Female Genital Mutilation Awaits Gov. Lee’s Signature

  A bill that strengthens Tennessee’s protections against female genital mutilation (FGM) is headed to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature after the Legislature approved the measure. The national EndFGMToday campaign issued a press release congratulating Tennessee lawmakers. The advocacy organization said the bill will provide additional protections for women…

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