Special Session underway in Nashville, what it means to East Tennessee lawmakers

On Wednesday a special session started in Nashville, addressing COVID-19 legislation and mandates.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:30 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An extraordinary session in Nashville focused on COVID-19 mandates across Tennessee started on Wednesday.

”There are so many different things that can be addressed and we’ll have to work those through the committee system tomorrow,” said District 14 State Representative Jason Zachary.

Zachary was one of the proponents of calling this special session. Hoping to address what he sees as governmental and judicial overreach across Tennessee, but especially in his home district.

“But we also have to be diligent in preserving our freedoms and liberties and, right now those are under attack,” said Zachary.

Of the 78 bills, the Republican lawmaker has penned three of them.

Of those three, one has to deal with not requiring vaccine passports, or proof of vaccination, and restricting the ability to mandate masks in schools.

Across the aisle, many Tennessee Democrats see this session as a waste of time.

”Do I think it’s a productive conversation? Absolutely not,” said District 15 State Representative Sam McKenzie.

McKenzie feels this legislation to be debated over the next several days will be passed, however, he argues its validity in the courts.

”I think the law is clear, whether you’re a conservative, liberal, or in the middle, the law is pretty clear on these things. So, yea, I think were going to pass some things, but I don’t think they’re going to hold water,” said McKenzie from the State Capitol steps.

For McKenzie, there’s hope that things stay on track, but the law-maker who hasn’t had skin in the game for more than a year, isn’t naïve to how special sessions can balloon out of control.

”When these things open up, I kind of think there can be a lot of ancillary pieces of legislation that can come up. I hope we stick to why we’re going to be here,” said McKenzie.

But for the other side of the aisle, this is all straight forward. It’s about protecting rights of Tennesseans that they said are under attack.

“We’ve got a mess. We’re 19 months into this, we know what we’re dealing with, were not taking COVID lightly and saying it isn’t anything serious to deal because it is,” said Zachary.

This is only the third time in history the General Assembly has met for an Extra Ordinary Session not called by the Governor.

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