Tennessee Gets 'Acquired Immunity' COVID Law; Gov Won't Sign

May 04, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declined to sign off on a new law requiring governments and businesses to treat immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection as equal to getting vaccinated in their policies.

The legislation became law Friday without the Republican's signature, taking effect immediately.

The bill requires a letter from a licensed physician or certain lab test results as proof of "acquired immunity."

Eric Mayo, a lobbyist on the governor's team, expressed concerns about the legislation to a Senate committee last month. Mayo told senators Lee was concerned about "businesses being put in the situation where they aren't able to make the decisions best for their business."

The bill is one of several that passed this year that block COVID-19 safety requirements.

Last year, lawmakers also passed and Lee signed a sprawling state law that largely bars governments and businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. In the immediate aftermath, some organizations switched their policies to require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Many of them have since removed requirements altogether.

With Republican supermajorities that can override him, Lee has not vetoed any bills while in office. He at times has returned bills without signing them to show his concerns.

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