East TN mayors pen letter to governor calling out federal ‘government overreach’

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs along with 54 other Tennessee county mayors signed a letter addressed to Gov. Bill Lee and other state officials condemning what they called the federal government’s overreach and encouraging the governor “to preserve the rights of the citizens in our counties” regarding health care issues and COVID-19.

Last month, the mayor stated in another letter that Knox County would not comply with the forthcoming OSHA rule for COVID-19 vaccine mandates that had been announced by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.

Jacobs tweeted the letter early Monday morning. The letter, according to the mayors, is meant to serve as a “critical notice of concern for structural governmental overreach.” It also identified issues with which they agreed in a different letter by the Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery.

Several Northeast Tennessee county mayors were among those who signed the letter, including Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby, Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, and Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy.

“As county mayors, we have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to reduce the risks of COVID-19 exposure, as have many employers throughout Tennessee,” the letter states. “While we have taken many proactive steps, including coordinating with various agencies for both COVIDE-19 testing and wide distribution of vaccines, we believe a vaccine mandate is at least counterproductive, and at most, statutorily and constitutionally improper.”

The letter also touches on possible staffing shortages “that may only be amplified in critical sectors of society — from health care to law enforcement and EMS, to supply chain delivery due to many employees in these sectors who have openly expressed their willingness to vacate these essential jobs due to this mandate.”

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