Even if the state adopts a bill prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 students, it would only last two years. That is, according to the latest amendment to HB 1421. The amendment rendered the current status of the bill into a proposed sunset law during Tuesday’s House Health Committee hearing.
The committee member behind the amendment, State Representative Robin Smith (R-Hixon), asserted that it would give the FDA enough time to approve the vaccine for regular use – not just emergency use.
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved a bill to make county health boards as advisory bodies only, and to prohibit mandatory vaccine passports. The bill was introduced by State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), and also sponsored by State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma).
Currently, the components limiting county health boards’ powers and prohibiting vaccine passport mandates aren’t listed as part of the bill. They were introduced as an amendment in the House on Tuesday. Additionally, the bill would relegate local health authority to the state and limit county health officers’ quarantine-mandating powers – individuals and places that aren’t known to have contributed to the spread of a disease may not be quarantined.
The Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee recommended for passage an amendment to a bill allowing for religious or conscientious vaccine exemptions. As The Tennessee Star reported, this amendment was originally a bill killed in the House Health Subcommittee early last month.
Prior the committee hearing, Tennessee Stands gathered in a “We the People” rally to show community support for the amendment. Tennessee Stands Executive Director and founder Gary Humble led the event, with speeches from State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), and a prerecorded statement from the bill sponsor, State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma).