Tennessee lawmakers end session on tougher protest penalities, COVID liability


House members prepare to leave the chamber on the first day of a special session Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The special session was called by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to pass liability reforms to protect businesses from lawsuits prompted by reopening after the coronavirus quarantine. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers finished a special session in pandemic times Wednesday by passing a sweeping proposal that would significantly stiffen penalties against protesters demanding racial justice.

Under the proposal targeting protests, those who illegally camp on state property will now face a Class E felony.

Felony convictions in Tennessee result in the revocation of an individual’s right to vote.

Lawmakers were back at the Capitol for the second time since the outbreak sent them home early in March, and many of the Republicans still decided against wearing masks. T

hat’s despite the 11 legislative staffers or lawmakers who have tested positive for COVID-19 since May, according to Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration. 

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