NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee says he plans on signing the sweeping COVID legislation this week after a special session of state lawmakers passed the bill.
Among other things, the bill limits city governments and school districts from implementing mask mandates unless there are very widespread cases of COVID-19 — something no county would qualify right now.
It also bans many private businesses from requiring vaccines, something Lee said was a direct response from the Biden Administration requiring vaccines for bigger businesses.
But now reaction to the governor's stance is coming in.
State Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville) said the governor is prioritizing businesses over citizens as a whole.
"They're not thinking about the average Tennessean and how to make their lives better," he said. "What Governor Lee has done, he's put businesses over the health of our constituents, over the health of our children, because he's showed where his priority is, he's willing to bend for businesses, but he's not willing to put more money in education or health care for Tennesseans."
During the special session, a group of businesses belonging to the National Federation of Independent Businesses sent a letter to the legislature asking them not to restrict how they deal with COVID-19. In the final hours of the session, representatives from Ford reached out to lawmakers urging them not to ban mask mandates. That communication caused lawmakers to make a last-minute change to the law.
Under state law, Gov. Lee has until Friday to sign the bill into law. He says he'll get it done before then.