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Tennessee House Speaker Asks Governor For Special Session To Roll Back Local COVID Rules

Sergio Martinez-Beltran (file)

In a letter to Tennessee’s governor requesting a special session, House Speaker Cameron Sexton says, “there is a need to curtail the overreach by independent health boards and officials” and “protect all Tennesseans from misdirected mandates.”

He specifically notes he wants to “confirm a parent’s right” to make decisions about their children’s health. His letter also says the legislature needs to “evaluate the ongoing discrimination” against people prevented from entering buildings because they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sexton had threatened a special session earlier this month as schools debated mask mandates, though Senate Speaker Randy McNally dismissed the idea. And in a statement Wednesday afternoon, McNally does not endorse a special session but says if one occurs he would want to keep it focused on keeping kids in classrooms, healthy and safe.

“Amid all the controversy regarding masks, vaccine passports and the like, we appear to have lost sight of the one thing that truly matters: keeping children in the classroom so they can learn,” McNally writes.

Now that schools in Davidson, Hancock, Henry, Shelby and Williamson counties have required masks, Sexton is asking for the legislature to reconvene, and sooner rather than later. The letter (read it here) is signed by all House Republicans.

Gov. Bill Lee’s office says he is currently reviewing the request and that it could take several days before he responds.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Arkansas, the Republican governor has called a special session in order to overturn a ban on mask mandates in schools, saying it was a mistake. On Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, issued a statewide mask mandate for schools.

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