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Opinion | To Gov. Bill Lee: Not rocking the boat is the exact opposite of leadership | Otis Sanford

Political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shared his point of view on Tennessee lawmakers and the COVID-19 bills coming our way.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It should be clear by now who really has the political power in Tennessee. It is the Republican-controlled legislature – not our Republican governor Bill Lee.

Case in point is the recent special legislative session to pass a bunch of draconian bills aimed at limiting what public and private entities can and cannot do to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Lee never wanted the session to occur, but legislative leaders could not care less.

So they ignored the governor and pushed through bills preventing public schools and local governments from imposing mask mandates – except under extreme circumstances. They also banned government entities, schools, and private businesses from issuing vaccine mandates, with some exceptions. Plus, they passed a bill allowing people who quit their jobs over vaccine requirements to collect unemployment benefits.

And since they were already in session, lawmakers allowed partisan political campaigns for local school board races.

Once the session was over, the question became would Governor Lee sign the bills into law, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature. But there was really no question at all. Lee is signing the bills because he is not about to go against the legislature.

It’s likely that the courts will decide at least the issue of mask mandates in schools. But Lee knows his political future depends on not rocking the extreme conservative boat. Which in my mind is the exact opposite of leadership.

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