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Horowitz: TN legislature bans vaccine passports and protects doctors who speak out against shots

Op-ed
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Well, it took 19 months, and it's only one state so far, but we finally have a red state that is living up to its reputation. Over the weekend, the Tennessee legislature passed an omnibus COVID freedom bill that places the state on a completely different path to dealing with this virus from the rest of the country – one rooted in science, compassion, liberty, and health care freedom.

The more the vaccines fail and other treatments rise, the more our federal government and most states continue to mandate the shots and clamp down on safe alternative treatments. The Tennessee legislature has passed a catch-all bill that will do just the opposite. While no bill is perfect, HB 9077/SB9014 will include many of the provisions we need to right the ship on COVID, and certainly much more than any other state has done so far. It is the first state to pass these provisions through a legislative body. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Bill Lee.

Here are the main provisions:

  • All governmental and private entities would be barred from requiring proof of having taken COVID shots. They also couldn't take adverse actions or deny employment based on vaccination status. In other words, Tennessee is applying existing anti-discrimination law that is rigorously enforced in every other realm to the issue and time where it is needed most. The only exceptions are those who are signed on as federal contractors and have already signed their lives away to the federal government.
  • Authorizes unemployment benefits for those who quit their jobs due to any requirement.
  • Provides a cause of action for anyone injured by the vaccine as a result of an employer asking the individual to receive it.
  • Except in a few circumstances, this bill completely bars any local governmental entity or schools from requiring someone to wear a mask or taking adverse action against people for not covering their faces. Anyone injured as a result of a mask mandate can sue in court. Masks can be required under "severe conditions," but just for 14 days, and medical exemptions must be accepted. The original House bill also banned even private entities from implanting a mandate, but the Senate took it out.
  • Removes any authority of a local health entity or official, mayor, governmental entity, or school to quarantine a person or private business due to COVID-19 for simple exposure to the virus.
  • Prohibits any health care provider from vaccinating a child without parental consent.
  • Prohibits all use of state funding to go toward implementation of any federal COVID countermeasure.
  • Allows any doctor to prescribe the monoclonal antibodies for any patient they believe needs it.
  • State medical boards are prohibited from taking any punitive action against a physician for the recommendations they make about coronavirus treatment, mitigation, or prevention — including vaccination.
  • All hospitals required to allow a loved one to see dying patients before they die.
  • As a separate provision from COVID policy, all school board members must now run on partisan ballot lines so that sneaky liberals can't win in red counties.

The conference report on the bill was adopted 58-22 by the House and 25-6 in the Senate. The Senate, which is full of liberal Republicans, watered down an even better series of bills from the House; however, one House conservative told me they plan to hit this issue even harder in about 60 days when they return for their regular 2022 session.

In other words, Tennessee is finally acting as red as California is blue – at least to a degree. Now, imagine the effect on the national landscape if half the country, especially all the other GOP supermajority states, followed suit. Freedom would reign supreme in America. This was one of the rare circumstances when leadership actually worked together with the rank-and-file conservatives rather than working together with the special interests to fight the majority of their constituents. House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (who is also the Senate leader) deserve credit for getting this done so swiftly after months of inaction from Governor Bill Lee.

Unfortunately, we can't have nice things. Contrast the Tennessee legislature to its counterpart in Florida. There they enjoy the presence of the nation's most effective governor, yet they won't even ride his coattails and stand up against Biden with him leading the way. The legislature has thus far rejected Gov. DeSantis' call for bill that bars vaccine mandates in the state.

State legislatures in red states are the last thing standing between us and becoming like Australia. The entirety of the grassroots focus needs to be on pressuring legislatures and governors to act. The federal government is not only a lost cause, but a malignant force against our life, liberty, and property. If the federal government can promulgate unconstitutional human rights abuses without even passing them through Congress, then you better believe we have the power, indeed the duty, to pass countermeasures out of the legislative bodies closest to the people.

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