In late June, Governor Bill Lee announced that he will call a special legislative session to take up a legislative measure to protect Tennessee businesses and schools from lawsuits associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. On the last day of session, the General Assembly failed to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 immunity bill, with the effort stalling in the House, after the chambers sparred over a retroactivity provision in the competing versions of the bill. Despite the appointment of a conference committee to resolve the differences between the versions, the chambers were unable to agree on a compromise, with House leadership voicing a number of concerns about the retroactivity aspect of the Senate bill, a component that many in the House believed could render the bill unconstitutional.
There are also rumblings of other potential topics for the special legislative session including a telemedicine bill, consideration of the scope of Governor’s emergency powers, and issues relating to statues and monuments, however, as of now, the scope and timeline and the special session remain unclear. As of late July, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the legislature among lawmakers and staffs remains at 10, and this total, combined with statewide numbers, will play into the timeline and feasibility of calling the special legislative session, and whether there is agreement amongst the chambers on the COVID-19 liability bill. If it occurs, observers anticipate a date in August after the upcoming primary elections on August 6th.
This month, Governor Lee also issued Executive Order No. 55, which incorporates recently issued federal waivers regarding commercial driver licenses in Tennessee. We will keep you updated on further developments. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if we can further serve you in any way.