Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to sign COVID-19 special session omnibus bill

XGR Special Session
Posted at 5:44 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 19:28:54-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he will sign the special session's omnibus bill that will change how the state responds to COVID-19.

The governor released the news Wednesday. He said after reviewing the bill he had some concerns. However, he still plans to sign the bill, making it law.

The law will have a major impact on the ability of schools, businesses and local health boards to mandate masks or vaccines. Leaders in the state legislature wanted to challenge potential federal government mandates.

Gov. Lee only voiced one concern. He wants the law to allow for hospital visits for COVID-19 patients in end-of-life care.

"There is an invitation to hospitalization visitation that we need to make a correction to and we're going to look at every provision and see if there are other things we need to look at," said Lee.

The governor also defended the decision to include businesses in the bill. A group sent a letter to the legislature asking them not to restrict how they deal with COVID-19. Also, Ford representatives reached out to state lawmakers urging them not to ban mask mandates. That communication caused lawmakers to make a last-minute change to the law.

Still, Gov. Lee said he generally supports the idea behind the legislation.

"I think that most businesses don't want the intervention that was delivered first by the federal government. We had a federal government who required businesses, against their will, to require employees, against their will to make a personal health decision which is egregious overreach by the federal government. That is what's created the need to push back against that federal mandate. I think business owners understand that," he said.

The governor has until Friday to sign most of the bills. He said his office is still reviewing the other seven bills passed by the legislature.