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Tennessee House GOP urges Gov. Lee to call special session to push back against local COVID rules

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All 73 members of Tennessee's House Republican caucus signed on to a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee requesting that he call a special session of the state legislature so lawmakers can push back against local coronavirus-related rules.

"We write today to request that you call an extraordinary session of the General Assembly in order for the legislature to convene and address misdirected and mandated responses to COVID-19 by local entities and officials," the letter declares. "It is of the utmost urgency to move quickly due to the potential of significant harm to Tennesseans.

"We believe there is a need to curtail the overreach by independent health boards and officials, confirm a parent's right to make decisions that impact the mental and physical health of their children, provide support and direction to schools to ensure educators are properly compensated for COVID-19 leave, and protect all Tennesseans from misdirected mandates designed to limit their ability to make their own decisions," the letter says.

The Tennessean noted that even if the Republican governor declines to call a special session, the state legislature could still call one if two-thirds of both chambers backed the move.

"We are reviewing the request," Lee spokesperson Casey Black noted in a statement Wednesday, according to the outlet.

Schools in some parts of the state are subject to some sort of mask mandate, according to The Tennessean.

For instance, the Williamson County Schools Board of Education voted on Tuesday to mandate masks indoors and on buses at the elementary school level.

School masking requirements have proven to be highly polarizing throughout the U.S.

"We believe there is much debate needed and action around the appropriate balance of parents' right to make healthcare decisions for their children and the government's ability to mandate healthcare decisions upon them. Finally, in addition to the debate needed around continued COVID-19 mandates, the General Assembly needs to evaluate the ongoing discrimination of Tennesseans by prohibiting their access to buildings due only to their vaccination status."

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