Gov. Bill Lee announced on Twitter Thursday that he was calling lawmakers to Nashville for a special session on Oct. 18.
He called the special session so that the Tennessee General Assembly can consider the $500 million in incentives the state has promised to lure Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation to the Memphis Regional Megasite, announced earlier this week.
Though some lawmakers have discussed a special session to consider cracking down on school systems that continue to require their students to wear masks due to COVID-19, Lee said the special session should remain focused on Ford. The governor can limit the legislature's purview when calling a special session, though that would not stop lawmakers from calling their own, which the House previously proposed despite opposition from Senate leaders.
“While we have business to do in the legislature, we will continue to stand up for parents in court,” he wrote. “I am renewing my mask opt out order and will work with the AG to challenge the federal rulings that inappropriately legislated from the bench. The special session on October 18 will stay focused on next steps for the Memphis Regional Megasite, and we’ll stand up for parents in court.”
Multiple federal judges have ruled that Lee’s order allowing parents to opt their kids out of school masking rules violates federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, and courts have put the order on hold for now.
Ford and SK Innovation announced that they plan to hire more than 5,000 workers at the West Tennessee campus, where Ford will assembly their new electric pickup trucks and their South Korean partner will build batteries for Ford’s electric vehicles. Lee also announced that the state hopes to build a new technical college at the site to train people on electric vehicle and battery manufacturing.