Senator Joey Hensley, MD: Tennessee 28th District Capitol Hill Week in Review
November 4, 2021
General Assembly meets to consider legislation regarding vaccine and mask mandates and other matters related to COVID-19
State lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill this past week for the Third Extraordinary Session of the 112th General Assembly to consider legislation regarding vaccines and mask mandates, and other matters relative to COVID-19.
As you may remember, the First Extraordinary Session held in January addressed COVID-19 learning losses by focusing on intensive education interventions which will boost student achievement and improve reading skills. The second, which concluded October 20, was called to cement the major jobs investment by Ford Motor Company at the Megasite in Tennessee.
The current and Third Extraordinary Session of 2021 is almost unique among a total of 64 extraordinary sessions which have been called since we became a state. This is only the third time in Tennessee history that the legislature, rather than the Governor, has called itself into an extraordinary session.
The General Assembly is working to ensure no stone is left unturned to protect the rights of Tennesseans against President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccines mandates. Negative effects of the mandates have been seen nationwide. For example, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel who have served faithfully throughout the pandemic are now losing their jobs in some localities if they do not comply with this mandate. No consideration is being provided to workers who have immunities after contracting the virus, with some of them being infected while on the job. We should not stand for it in Tennessee and must explore every avenue, both in the legislature and through the courts, to fight back against this excessive federal overreach.
I look forward to updating you on the progress of our actions next week after the General Assembly has completed their business. I also invite you to view this legislative action live or through the recorded meetings of this historic session of the General Assembly. You can visit capitol.tn.gov to access all Senate actions and view the legislation.
In other news, the state’s latest revenue report indicates Tennessee is in the best financial condition in recent history. Revenues in September, which is the second month of the current 2021-2022 fiscal year, exceeded budgeted estimates by $610 million. Tennessee has approximately $1.2 billion in excess revenues from the previous fiscal year. So, when the legislature returns in January for our 2022 session, we will be looking at options to invest these dollars in a way that will benefit many Tennesseans. I hope to see some of these monies returned to taxpayers in the form of tax relief.
We must, however, continue to be very thoughtful and prudent in the way we spend taxpayer dollars. Tennessee is among the best managed states in the nation due to the fiscally conservative practices observed by our legislature over the past few decades. As we face unprecedented inflation due to the reckless actions now being taken at the federal level, we must plan carefully for a possible downturn in the economy.
This week’s news also included a report from the Tennessee Department of Labor that our unemployment rate has decreased from 4.6 percent in August 2021 to 4.4 percent in September 2021. We will continue to look for ways to bring new and better paying job opportunities to the people of Tennessee as we work to keep our state’s economy growing.
Finally, as we move into November, let’s remember our veterans as we approach Veteran’s Day. The very freedoms we are working to protect in this Extraordinary Session come from the sacrifices of those who have served this nation in our armed forces. May God bless them and their families.