Tennessee Senate Education Committee Recommends Passage of Legislation Enabling Governor to Override School Closures

If local officials decide on emergency school closures in the future, Tennessee’s governor may have the power to override them. This, according to a bill recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. Its companion bill in the House was passed on first consideration on Monday, gaining a little progress since its filing last month.

The bill would also grant all local education authorities (LEAs) with the sole power to open or close schools during an emergency as defined by the Tennessee Code. However, if the governor, local health board, or public health official were to issue orders to the contrary, then the LEA’s decision would be nullified. The bill also noted that the governor’s authority would supersede the authority of local health boards and public health officials. 

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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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