Gov. Bill Lee on Monday called the House and Senate back to Nashville for a special session — the second time he has done so in his less than two years in office.
The House and Senate are expected to consider coronavirus-related liability protections, telemedicine and enhanced penalties for property damage related to protests, with the session set to begin next week.
“As COVID-19 continues to present unique challenges, we feel it is in the best interest of the state to convene a special session to address liability protections and telehealth,” Lee said in a release. “I thank Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Sexton for their continued partnership as we work towards an efficient, productive assembly.”
The two chambers — both led by Republicans — failed to pass a liability bill when they returned to Nashville in June. The Senate sought protections for businesses and other institutions dating back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic while the House, citing the constitutional provision forbidding retroactive laws, sought a version that granted the liability protections moving forward.
The dispute led to a public spat between Senate and House leaders in which Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said House leaders “cobbled together a cabal of Democrats and attorneys to defeat the legislation and place our entire economy in danger.”
Some lawmakers will hope to keep the special session short, as the few who face competitive re-election battles will be kept away from their districts and prohibited from raising campaign money while in session.
The Tennessee General Assembly last held a special session, also called by Lee, in August of last year for the purpose of replacing GOP House Speaker Glen Casada.