An aide to the governor of Tennessee warns that the new COVID law is illegal


According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the office of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee warned lawmakers that their huge bill to restrict COVID-19 would violate federal laws protecting people with disabilities and put the state at risk of losing federal funds.

The Republican-controlled legislature ignored the proposal and passed the bill. Less than two weeks later, the Republican governor signed it into law.

Li, who will run for re-election next year, has since stated that there are still “some problems we need to solve.” He expressed concern about how the law changes hospital visitation rules and what this might mean for the state’s ability to control its own workplace supervision. But the governor did not publicly express concerns about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Privately, his legislative advisers explicitly warned legislators on the night the bill was passed that they had violated federal laws. The warning came from an email sent by legislative adviser Liz Alvey to Senate President Randy McNally’s Chief of Staff Rick Nicholson and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s office at 12:44 AM on October 30th. The email mentioned earlier efforts by the governor’s office to flag the same issue.

“The ADA accommodation proposed in the bill violates the ADA and will expose us to the risk of losing federal funds,” Alvi warned, as it was being debated and added a series of last-minute changes.

About an hour later that morning, the final bill was approved.

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It is unclear when or if she provided legal advice to the governor, who will receive more legal guidance from his team before deciding whether to sign the legislation. Li’s office did not directly address this issue in the comments.

“The governor pointed out that there are some issues that need to be resolved at the upcoming meeting, and we will work with legislators,” Lee’s spokesperson Kathy Black responded in an email when the Associated Press asked Lee why the legislation was enacted. Quoting the lawyer he mentioned in the email had warned that this would violate federal law. “In general, the bill is a response to excessive intervention by the federal government.”

The law was challenged in federal court almost immediately. Families of young students with disabilities argued that the school does not allow masks to be worn when people gather indoors. Their children are at risk of serious injury and the chance of infection indoors is greater. many.

U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw (Waverly D. Crenshaw) is responsible for overseeing the lawsuit, and has since stopped implementing the ban on school masks, and specifically instructed the state’s lawyers to explain how the new law complies with the ADA.

The office of State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, which represents Lee and his Commissioner of Education, is now tasked with defending how the law accommodates students with disabilities. Raise the stakes, just before Crenshaw started hearing evidence in the case on Friday, the governor announced that he would let the Tennessee COVID-19 emergency expire. As of midnight on Friday, without a judge’s ban, schools will not be able to force masks to be worn indoors, even if they reach the number of severe rolling cases set by the new law.

Republican legislative leaders convened a three-day sprint meeting on the COVID-19 mission after the governor refused. Despite opposition from prominent business interests, school leaders, and others, they still appreciated the final product.

The Office of the President of the Senate expressed no concern about how the law will take care of the disabled and downplayed the legal issues raised by the Office of the Governor.

McNally “disagreed with this particular objection and supported the law signed by the governor,” said his spokesperson, Adam Kleinheider.

According to the law, families can apply for accommodation for their disabled children in order to “provide a face-to-face educational environment where others can place themselves or otherwise place themselves within six feet (6′) of the person receiving reasonable accommodation for more than six feet (6′). Put on the mask provided by the school for fifteen (15) minutes.”

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yabro told The Associated Press: “The legislature is obviously just ignoring whether the laws they pass will actually pass legal review.” “I’m shocked that the governor will sign this bill into law. Because he fully knew that a large part of it was illegal.”

When the state promulgated the new law, the court had ordered the governor to prevent the governor from relaxing the policy of wearing masks in schools. When three federal judges ruled that students in three counties were prevented from choosing the option of not wearing masks for their parents, the executive order was overturned in support of children with disabilities prosecuted under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Lee allowed the opt-out order to expire when he signed the new law.

Crenshaw’s ruling on the new law’s restrictions on school masks drew praise from public health advocates, but aroused strong condemnation from some Republicans who called for blocking state regulations restricting school masks to be “judicial ultra vires.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson said in a statement on the Crenshaw ruling: “The legislation provides that parents can choose whether their children should wear masks and take care of people with special needs.”

The new Tennessee law largely prohibits governments and businesses from requesting proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and allows schools and other public entities to only be in rare, terrible public health situations, and only in a state of emergency in Tennessee Only when you need to wear a mask. If groups can prove that they will lose federal funds for complying with state laws, exemptions are also allowed, which conflicts with the policies implemented by President Joe Biden’s administration.

Public health experts say that masks are an important virus prevention tool and are most effective when worn by a large number of people. The CDC again recommends them for use in closed public places, including schools, saying that they do not pose a health risk to children over toddlers.

Before Lee made Alvey his chief legal counsel, she worked in the Tennessee Senate since 1999, where she was a senior policy adviser to the former majority leader and held leadership positions in the Southern Legislative Assembly and state government committees.



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