NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee General Assembly convened for its third extraordinary session of 2021 on Wednesday afternoon. But, this session is not like all the others, according to one local lawmaker.
“This is a very unusual special session,” Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) said. “I think we’ve probably met very few times at the call of the legislature. Usually it’s at the call of the governor.”
Representatives from across the Volunteer State are expected to discuss multiple topics, including the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate and its consequences, as calls from constituents to address the subject have grown.
“It became very clear to me that people were very anxious for us to get together in Nashville to see what could be done,” Crowe said.
“The paramount issue here is whether the business owner, the federal government, state government or the individual citizen decides who gets to put a needle in your body,” Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City) said.
“I believe that decision lies with the individual,” he continued. “I’m on the side of freedom and liberty.”
Crowe also shares a belief that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the federal government would be an overstep.
“I’ve said many times up here that I’m for less government overreach, for local control – as much local control as you can get – and parental authority when it comes to their children,” he said.
“The majority feel the decision whether or not to put something invasively in your body should be between you and your physician, parents and their children. Not school systems, not health departments, not the federal government.”
But, Crowe knows trying to balance healthcare and personal freedoms is never that simple.
“These are the kinds of pieces of legislation that no matter what you do, part of your constituency is not going to be happy and part is going to be really happy,” he said.
Campbell said there are more than 70 bills that will be brought to the floor for discussion over the next week, including one which he is co-sponsoring. The bill, as it stands, would prohibit any employer from firing or failing to hire an individual that refuses to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
“People in Tennessee tend to want freedom and liberty and we’re here to try to protect that,” Campbell said.
Crowe isn’t sure of the amount of progress that will be made during this special session.
“But we can darn sure send a message to Washington D.C. that this is Tennessee and not D.C.,” he said. “We want to make sure that people realize that if we can do something, we’re going to do it.”
The General Assembly is expected to meet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before breaking for the weekend. Lawmakers will likely return to conclude the session on Monday and Tuesday.