Gov. Lee Says Implementing COVID-19 Liability Protections Should Be Done Via Legislation

Jun 24, 2020


Credit Sergio Martínez-Beltrán / WPLN News (File)

Gov. Bill Lee has not yet decided whether he should call for a special session.

But, the Republican told reporters Tuesday it might be needed in order for lawmakers to pass a measure that would protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits.

“As we all know, a special session is a tool that’s reserved for extraordinary circumstances,” Lee said. “But, protecting Tennessee’s small businesses and organizations and churches and schools is certainly an extraordinary circumstance and we’ll be looking to consider that decision.”

Last week, Republican leadership in the state’s Senate and House were at odds on whether the protections should be retroactive to March. House Republicans said that would be unconstitutional.

The chambers couldn’t reach a deal before adjourning for the year, and the measure failed.

On Friday, the speakers went on Twitter to trade jabs and blame each other over the issue.

“The failure of the Tennessee House of Representatives to pass legislation protecting our state’s businesses has created an opportunity for trial lawyers seeking a payday to disrupt our economy and put people out of work,” Senate Speaker Randy McNally tweeted.

He said House Majority Leader William Lamberth and the House sponsor Michael Curcio “cobbled together a cabal of Democrats and attorneys to defeat the legislation and place our entire economy in danger.”

House Speaker Cameron Sexton responded on Twitter that “fingerpointing” was not a “productive way” to find a solution

“Even after the inability of the Senate proposal to gain 50 votes in the House, the Senate turned down multiple opportunities to negotiate (Thursday),” Sexton tweeted.

The governor said he won’t call for a special session until the speakers come to an agreement on liability protection.

This story was reported by WPLN