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Bills Filed To Combat Executive Branch Overreach In Response To Gov. Lee’s Use Of Emergency Powers

Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook &

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Last week Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon-District 17) filed a bill to effectively restrain the governor from renewing or extending a state of emergency without the General Assembly’s approval.  

Senate Bill 1642 (SB1642) as introduced, “prohibits the governor from renewing or extending beyond 45 days an executive order, proclamation, or Tennessee emergency management plan (TEMP) issued pursuant to the governor’s emergency management powers and that applies to more than 48 counties.”

According to the bill summary, the governor would have to receive approval by joint resolution of the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives before he/she could renew or extend a state of emergency order. 

This joint resolution could be passed in either a regular legislative session or an extraordinary session if necessary.

If an emergency order expires and the legislature has not granted the governor permission to renew or extend that order, SB1642 would also prohibit the governor “from declaring a new state of emergency for the same disaster or occurrence as the expired emergency within one year following the expiration of the state of emergency.”

Another bill on emergency orders that has been filed for this session is House Bill 1615 (HB1615), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Richey (R-Maryville-District 20).

HB1615 as introduced, “provides that the violation of an executive order, proclamation, or rule issued by the governor cannot be enforced as a Class A misdemeanor” unless that order “specifies that such violation is a Class A misdemeanor” and the order is approved by a majority vote of both houses of the state legislature.

“In 2020 […] when the governor issued a lockdown order and allowed county mayors to issue mask mandates…In the technical sense of the law, had you been cited for violating those orders you could have been criminally charged with a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Tennessee,” Gary Humble with Tennessee Stands said in a recent conversation with Brandon Lewis. “Most people don’t realize that.”

Currently, Class A misdemeanors in Tennessee carry up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine.

Sen. Pody and Rep. Richey’s bills are likely in response to the government overreach that occurred in relation to Covid-19 on the part of Gov. Bill Lee.

This included the mandating of masks despite their inefficacy, the pushing of Covid-19 vaccines despite their inefficacy, contact tracing, and restrictions which led to small businesses shutting down across the state while large corporations were allowed to remain open.

“We’ve never received an apology and we’ve never seen the legislature make a move to make sure that never happens again,” said Brandon Lewis.

These new bills could end up being the legislature’s “move” on the issue but it is entirely possible that the legislation meets the same fate as a similar bill brought by Sen. Pody and Rep. Richey last year.

SB0590/HB0422 also would have required the governor to receive approval by the state legislature in order to renew or extend an emergency executive order, but it ultimately failed in a House Subcommittee during the 2023 legislative session.

The upcoming session of the General Assembly begins Tuesday, January 9th, 2024.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. 

You can reach Adelia at

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