Published February 24, 2021
Nashville, TN – Due to an astonishing number of phone calls and emails from grassroots conservatives to subcommittee members, House Bill 10 appears to be advancing with only a minor amendment.
Previous moves to keep outdated and unused 1905 criminalization verbiage in the law vs. removing it or requiring vaccination as a condition of employment in certain circumstances as suggested by subcommittee member Rep. Robin Smith appears to be off the table. Smith’s social media feed erupted with local constituents expressing their concerns about mandated vaccination in any situation, regardless of religious concerns.
The bill was supposed to be reviewed in the Health Subcommittee yesterday, Feb. 23. The bill we be tabled until the next meeting.
However, many state departments have issues with the bill including the Department of Labor, the Department of Corrections and several others.
The portion of the Amendment that is causing concern among these departments is the following:
“We require that the state cannot create a rule that requires a medical examination, medical treatment or immunization against someone’s religious beliefs.”
The term “medical examination” is in question in the bill and needs clarification according to law makers.
The concern expressed is that people could refuse to get a routine physical, physical abilities test or a drug test which are the standard evaluations that are required for police officers, corrections officers, social workers, counselors, etc.
Language will be added to the bill so that employers can still require basic physical abilities testing, mental evaluations, and standard drug testing in compliance with the Equal Opportunities Commission.
However, vaccination cannot be a condition of employment.
For the full update, view this video update from Gary Humble of Tennessee Stands:
The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Representatives Robin Smith and Bryan Terry for comment.
While the Caucus press secretary issued the following statements on behalf of Smith and Terry, neither statement specifically addresses the removal of the outdated code from 1905 giving the TN Dept of Health the right to force individuals to have a vaccine under penalty of law (Class C Misdemeanor). Nor have they addressed vaccinations as a prerequisite for employment in certain applications.
Some argue that the old codes are of no consequence and that they would never be used.
However, the responses to COVID, in the form of orders from state and local level government officials and independent health departments, were all based on old codes that no one ever thought would be used, until an emergency arose.
“My position has never changed. The religious freedoms of Tennesseans must be protected and is the reason that I support HB 13, another bill that prevents forced vaccinations. The liberties of not just those evoking a religious exemption, but the public at large must be protected. There has never been a time that criminalizing a patient, a business or a provider has been supported. That is materially false. Individuals must have their liberties protected as workers, business owners, consumers, students, patients to have a thriving community.
“Currently, Tennessee law provides for the protections of workers and the public through certain provisions and conditions of employment. These are necessary for the protection of children in childcare, cancer treatment patients and others who are immunocompromised, and in the public in the area of food service and restaurants, just to name a few. House Bill 10 has a provision that far exceeds the scope of COVID vaccines or other vaccines and would remove protections of the public to individuals who are known to be ill or in need of medical treatment of a disease that may be contagious, infectious and/or transmittable. One’s personal liberties do not include infringing upon another’s. The only focus of HB 10 has been related to vaccines. The bill is far-reaching beyond vaccines and is now being amended by its sponsor.”
“Chairman Terry, a long-time advocate of individual liberty, has always been supportive of exemptions when it comes to immunizations. However, he had concerns with the impact of ambiguous language in the bill, and his concerns were acknowledged by legal services and those associated with the bill. Contrary to what the article suggests, Chairman Terry has never supported criminalizing those who exercise their right to refuse a vaccine. To suggest otherwise is materially false. It is Chairman Terry’s understanding that those associated with the bill are now collaborating to make improvements that will shore up the bill in a way that will accomplish the goal of providing better protections for the liberties of all Tennesseans and to prioritize public health.”