Tennessee legislators call for special session to block local COVID-19 mandates

Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has called for a special session of the General Assembly. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has called for a special session of the General Assembly. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has called for a special session of the General Assembly. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

In a letter to Gov. Bill Lee issued Aug. 11, Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, has called for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene a special session to address decisions related to COVD-19 made by local boards and governmental entities.

Signed by numerous elected officials—including Williamson County state representatives Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Sam Whitson, R-Franklin—the letter calls to address "misdirected and mandated" calls from municipalities.

"We believe there is a need to curtail the overreach by independent health boards and officials, confirm a parent's right to make decisions that impact the mental and physical health of their children, provide support and direction to schools to ensure educators are properly compensated for COVID-19 leave, and protect all Tennesseans from misdirected mandates designed to limit their ability to make their own decisions," the letter states.

The call comes just one day after the Williamson County Schools Board fo Education voted to require masks for elementary school students and staff through Sept. 21.

In a press conference with Lee and Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Sexton said should local school boards move to close schools or make similar decisions related to COVID-19, he would move to call the special session.


Any legislation resulting from the special session would not apply to the six major counties in Tennessee that control their own health departments, including Davidson, Shelby and Knox counties, according to the letter.

Lee's office has not announced whether the special session has been approved.

See the full letter from legislators below.

By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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