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Proposed State Legislation Prevents 'Vaccine Passports'

Bill would have local boards of health act only in advisory role to elected county mayors regarding COVID-19 restrictions

From 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved legislation to help ensure COVID-19 vaccines remain voluntary, and that medical information reflecting the status of a person’s vaccination cannot be required by any state entities.

Senate Bill 858 prohibits a state or local governmental official, entity, department or agency from mandating a private business to require “vaccine passports” as a condition for entering their premises or utilizing their services.

The legislation has received support from Governor Bill Lee.

“The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement,” Lee said.

“I support legislation to prohibit any government mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennessean’s health information and to ensure that this vaccine remains a voluntary personal decision.”

The legislation also removes authority from county boards of health to enforce and adopt rules and regulations regarding COVID-19, preserving their role as an advisory body to the elected county mayor.

Hamilton, Shelby, Knox, Madison, Sullivan and Davidson counties have independent county health boards to make final decisions on health-related restrictions during an epidemic.

County mayors already have the authority to make these decisions in the state’s other 89 counties where health departments get their direction from the Tennessee Department of Health.

In addition, the legislation defines quarantine as limiting a person's freedom of movement, isolation, or preventing or restricting access to premises upon which the person, cause or source of a disease may be found to confirm or establish a diagnosis, determine the cause or source of a disease or prevent its spread. The proposal now moves to the Senate for final consideration.

Strengthening fiscal integrity-- The Senate State and Local Government Committee passed legislation to strengthen election integrity and increase accountability for out-of-state donations to state and local election officials.

Senate Bill 1534 prohibits the State Election Commission, the Secretary of State or Coordinator of Elections from accepting donations from a private person, political party, corporation or other organization unless the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate approve of the donations.

Additionally, it makes the same prohibition for county election commissioners or election administrators, unless approved by the Secretary of State or designee.

The problem occurs when an out-of-state organization pays money outside the regulated structure directly to an election office which may lack accountability and fairness.

The bill continues to allow out-of-state donations to be made to these entities’ Political Action Committees (PACs) because there is accountability with a database, record of the donations and parameters around the use of the money.

Tennessee Lawsuit Biden Administration Tax Policy -- Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III joined Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in filing a lawsuit challenging a mandate from the Biden Administration in the American Rescue Plan Act.

The lawsuit argues that the tax mandate unconstitutionally usurps the authority of each state’s legislature to enact beneficial tax policies.

Of the nearly $2 trillion in the Act, approximately $200 billion will assist state governments with COVID relief. But, to receive the COVID aid, states are required to comply with a tax mandate that prevents lowering taxes for its citizens for four years.

The Attorneys General allege in the lawsuit that requiring states to acquiesce to a sweeping tax mandate “is an unprecedented power grab by the federal government at a time when elected officials should be singularly focused on helping their constituents overcome the devastating effects of the pandemic."

Hensley, R-Hohenwald, represents Giles and five other counties in the State Senate. Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, Tenn., 37243. He may be reached at 615-741-3100 or toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His home address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, Tenn., 38462.

His home telephone number is 931-796-2018, his home cell telephone number is 931-212-8823, and his E-Mail is sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov




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