Tennessee business groups want COVID overhaul changes in ’22 | National policy


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In the dark of the night, Republicans caved in and excluded private companies from strict mask restrictions. Still, the bill was unsavory enough that the chamber and the NFIB objected to its final form. Nine House Republicans voted no, two chose not to vote and others weren’t there for the final overnight.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has not said whether he would sign the measure, which lawmakers passed after calling into session because he refused to do so. Executives of the business groups said they had raised concerns with the governor, but were not currently pushing for a veto. Tennessee lawmakers can easily override vetoes, and Lee hasn’t vetoed anything in power.

Both business groups have expressed concerns about requirements imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration on workers at large employers to get COVID vaccinations by January 4 or face rigorous COVID-19 testing, which a federal appeals court has suspended for now amid legal challenges.

But the sweeping bill would put Tennessee law in conflict with federal policy, with companies stuck in the middle facing the prospect of lawsuits.

Ahead of the bill’s passage, NFIB Tennessee Director Jim Brown warned lawmakers that their votes could affect their scorecards with the group. Brown told the PA it was only a vote – albeit an important one – and “a lot of good friends of us in the Legislature felt that they had to vote for this and that they will always get a high score ”. However, the group also plans to consider sponsors of separate bills opposed by companies when discussing approvals and campaign contributions, Brown said.

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