By Tennessee Representative Tim Rudd (R-Murfressboro)
A special session of the Tennessee General Assembly needs to be called. Joe Biden drew a line in the sand and has challenged us to cross it. Tennessee’s leaders and elected officials have a choice to make. We are either on Joe Biden’s side or on the side of Tennesseans. We must address Biden’s executive order, vaccine and mask mandates, parental rights, excessive quarantining, stronger vaccine passports, and protections against harassment and coercion.
President Joe Biden’s executive order will attempt to have the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) force businesses with more than 100 employees to threaten or coerce workers be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. Biden ordered OSHA to introduce an Emergency Temporary Standard for the vaccine requirement. It calls on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing to enter. Businesses that ignore the policy, once it’s in place, could trigger penalties of up to $14,000 per violation. This radical policy could devastate Tennessee’s entertainment industry and drive away tourists, fans and customers. Either you are on Biden’s side or the side of Tennesseans.
Biden’s policy will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses, 50,000 healthcare providers and cover a majority of health care workers across the country. The plan includes requirements that teachers and staff at Head Start and Early Head Start schools get vaccinated. The Biden Administration is calling on all schools to set up regular testing in their schools for students, teachers, and staff. It also provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the resources to support a review of vaccines for children under 12.
With respect to the new mandate for federal workers, the new vaccine requirement will apply not just to the roughly 2.1 million federal employees but also to the millions of contractors that do business with the government. This changes an earlier executive order and will no longer allow regular testing to serve as a substitute for vaccination for federal workers.
In his speech on 9/09/2021, President Joe Biden threatened governors and other state elected officials with retribution and removal from office if they stood in his way. I say bring it on. I took an oath to protect the rights of Tennesseans and that is what I will do. It is obvious Joe Biden has exceeded his executive powers. It amazes me that Biden is willing to embrace and work with terrorists in Afghanistan while at the same time violate the constitutional rights of Americans at home. The same President that abandoned American citizens to a hostile power.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in Title VII and the ADA require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance do not want to be vaccinated. That right to seek the best option for each individual and one’s family is critical to defend. No government entity or business should ever have the right to force any person to put a liquid substance into their body against their will.
No Tennessean, no American should ever be forced or coerced into accepting any medical treatment, procedure, or vaccine. Any policy that would terminate Tennesseans’ employment if they refuse a medical procedure is a violation of the intended framework permitting conditions of employment in our state reflected in the Right to Work and the At-Will provisions under Tennessee Law.
All 73 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives have called for a special session. I respectfully ask Governor Lee and the State Senate leadership to join the State House in calling for a special session. Enough is enough. We need a General Assembly Special Session to protect the rights of Tennesseans. Tennessee is a great place to live, work and own a business. Let’s keep it that way.