Northeast Tennessee lawmakers discuss COVID-19 issues ahead of special session

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) – In Wednesday’s special session, lawmakers plan to tackle issues regarding vaccines, masks, executive power and federal mandates.

“My phone and my e-mail have been blown up with people tired of not being able to make their own decisions about their healthcare and being shoved around,” Rep. Bud Hulsey (R) said.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Cameron Sexton issued the call. Local lawmakers said special sessions aren’t frequent, but these are issues that they feel need to be dealt with now.

“These are things that are frankly, it’s October, we need to resolve some of these issues before January,” Sen. Jon Lundberg (R) said. “Before the legislature goes back into its regular session.”

Ahead of the meeting, local lawmakers are reflecting on what they want to accomplish in session. Rep. Scotty Campbell (R) said he’s hoping to address vaccine mandates.

“It should not be a requirement of a condition of employment,” Campbell said. “I believe that’s employers being too heavy handed. We enjoy something called freedom and liberty, and we have to maintain that for individuals throughout Tennessee.”

Also to be discussed in the session– the authority of the six independent health departments, including Sullivan County.

“Should they be unilaterally allowed to mandate masks in businesses or schools?” Lundberg said. “I think the majority of us would say, ‘No, they shouldn’t.’”

“I hope at the end of the day, we will honor in the House and the Senate what we swore to Tennessee people that we would do and that is that we will always protect and defend our inalienable rights,” Hulsey said.

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