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TN Politics: Republican Lawmakers Examine All Angles of Keeping Pandemic in Motion

More than 16,000 Tennesseans have died of COVID-19, but stemming the pandemic was not why lawmakers returned to Nashville this week for a special session devoted to COVID issues.

The session was called so Republicans could enact new lawsrestricting governments, schools, local health departments and private businesses from taking measures to protect public health, such as mask and vaccination mandates.

Some of the laws passed will likely end up in federal court at Republicans assert that the State of Tennessee has a Constitutional right to craft its own medical policies that contradict the federal government, which political analyst Otis Sanford points out may violate the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Creating artificial, politically skewed religious exemptions for people to get out of vaccination mandates is another novel angle for Tennessee Republicans. So is taking a stand against private businesses that wish to protect employees and customers from infection.

Because several school districts statewide mandated mask wearing, Republicans have also proposed making school board elections partisan contests, with the idea being that in more conservative areas, Republicans will replace more liberal board members with people who will allow children and their parents to more easily spread COVID-19 in public schools.

Why do Tennessee Republicans wish to ensure the virus continues to spread in the state?

Sanford says: "[The legislators] will say we're doing this because we're getting so many people who want us to do this... because they don't like the federal government anyway. Especially the current makeup of the federal government with Joe Biden as president."