At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, we were asked to stay home for two weeks in order to flatten the curve. Nineteen months later, Americans are being denied their right to make health decisions for themselves. Our economy and the livelihood of millions of American workers stands at risk thanks to President Joe Biden’s alleged mandate forcing private businesses to require proof of vaccination of their employees.
Government’s responsibility is to maintain a framework of ordered liberty. That responsibility does not change in the face of a public health crisis. Unwisely, the Biden administration has taken the full leap toward authoritarianism.
Tennesseans will not stand for Biden’s unconstitutional orders. That is why in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, Tennessee became one of the first states in the nation to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 protection bill pushing back against federal overreach and human rights abuses by the Biden administration.
The Tennessee Republican supermajority passed legislation banning government and private businesses from requiring proof of COVID vaccination for any reason. This includes an employer taking any adverse action against an employee, which includes but is not limited to a loss of employment, promotions, privileges, or rights. We exempted federal contractors who have binding agreements with the federal government.
Tennessee parents have voiced serious concerns over the “mature minor” doctrine, which currently permits health care providers to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to unemancipated minors without parental consent. We have ensured health care providers must get written consent from a legal guardian before vaccinating a child. We prohibited governmental entities and public schools from requiring masks, except for in severe conditions.
We also removed the authority to contact trace and quarantine from our local governments and place the sole authority for establishing statewide guidance in the Tennessee Commissioner of Health, with legislative approval. This will streamline oversight.
The General Assembly preserved a medical doctor’s right to prescribe what is best for his or her patient in the treatment of COVID-19 and now all hospitals in Tennessee are required to allow a loved one to visit a patient dying from COVID-19.
We have protected workers by providing a cause of action for anyone who experiences adverse results from taking the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, even though this bill prohibits an employer from requiring proof of vaccination. And if a citizen of Tennessee is terminated or leaves his job because of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, he will now be eligible for unemployment benefits.
No legislation is perfect, and many other issues related to COVID-19 will need to be addressed when we are back in session in January. Still, this legislation provides significant protection to Tennesseans.
Our state will be much further along in the fight for liberty and freedom when our governor signs this legislation. States are the protectors of our republic, and red states in particular are the firewall between the federal government and the people.
We join every state waiting for the next executive order or rule from the federal government that looks to trample on our basic rights as Americans. The Volunteer State stands ready to take every measure possible on behalf of Tennesseans.
Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” The GOP-led Tennessee General Assembly asks our fellow red states to join us in taking every measure available in the preservation of our individual states and our republic.