Gov. Bill Lee calls special session to deal with Ford plant package, court rulings

bill lee
Posted at 3:50 PM, Sep 30, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lawmakers will gather back at the Capitol in October to vote on a economic package that could bring thousands of jobs to Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Lee called a special session on Thursday for Oct. 18. Ford announced this week its plans for a mega site that would build electronic vehicles and prompt millions in investment in West Tennessee and western Kentucky.

Read more: How Tennessee became the top electric car producer in the southeast

"To continue the important business of the Memphis Regional Megasite, I am calling a special session of the General Assembly," Lee announced. "Ford and SK Innovation’s investment will be transformational for West Tennessee."

However, the special session could also spin off on the topic of masks and Lee's opt-out initiative. Most recently, three different federal judges have said the governor doesn't have the authority to override school districts implementing mask policies, saying it goes against the best educational practices for disabled students. The Tennessee Attorney General said in a press release this week his office planned to challenge those judges' orders.

"While we have business to do in the legislature, we will continue to stand up for parents in court," Lee said. "I am renewing my mask opt out order and will work with the AG to challenge the federal rulings that inappropriately legislated from the bench. The special session on October 18 will stay focused on next steps for the Memphis Regional Megasite, and we’ll stand up for parents in court."

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has been at the forefront of the topic of special sessions, with lawmakers asking for him to come to terms with their desires to legislate masking, health departments and vaccine mandates.

He said he wanted to focus on the Ford deal overall during the special session and didn't mention a desire to legislate other topics.

“Lt. Governor McNally wholeheartedly supports a special session to appropriate the funds necessary for the Ford megasite project to go forward," McNally spokesperson Adam Kleinheider said. "Ford’s historic commitment to invest in West Tennessee is a game changer for the state and the region. It is vitally important the deal points Governor Lee and Commissioner Rolfe negotiated be approved deliberately and efficiently. The specific legislation will be proposed by the governor after the official call is made. Lt. Governor McNally understands the deal includes a wide array of incentives and investments as well as all-important clawback safeguards to protect our state’s treasury and Tennessee taxpayers.”