Published October 27, 2021 | By Erik Schelzig
House members have submitted 78 bills this week’s session aimed at dialing back COVID-19 mandates (among other things). But the last eight dropped in the hopper before the filing deadline are the ones most worth paying attention to.
They all have one key thing in common: their sponsor is House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).
With the upper chamber’s filing deadline coming later, it will be most interesting to see whether Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) serves as cosponsor to Sexton’s package of bills.
Having spearheaded the effort to hold this special session, Sexton will be under enormous pressure to pass most or all of his agenda. It remains to be seen how far the Senate will be willing to go along — and how forcefully the business community will push back against efforts to interfere in their operations.
Here are the bills in question, in a rough order of controversy:
HB9078: Banning businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from customers or employees.
HB9077: Allowing employees fired for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to collect unemployment benefits.
HB9072: Requiring partisan school board elections for school boards.
HB9076: Granting the governor exclusive authority over orders and directives regarding county health departments during a pandemic and giving county mayors the power to decide over local health matters.
HB9074: Requiring the state Attorney General to seek fines of $10,000 for failing to enforce or execute emergency orders.
HB9071: Allowing the state attorney general to request a replacement for a local prosecutor who “peremptorily and categorically refuses” to bring criminal charges on certain laws.
HB9075: Limiting the duration of states of emergency issued by the governor from 60 to 45 days.
HB9073: Allowing banks to use cash as a form of eligible collateral for purposes of securing public deposits amid the massive influx of federal recovery funds.
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