NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee businesses are beginning to line up, seeking exemptions from the vaccine mandate ban passed in the COVID special session.
Under the new law entities looking to maintain or put in place, a vaccine requirement must be granted permission from the comptroller’s office.
More than 10 businesses have been approved so far with possibly thousands more seeking the authorization.
So that means, vaccine mandates are not completely banned here in Tennessee.
“Through yesterday we’ve received notices of exemption from about 30 different entities those include businesses and public universities,” John Dunn, Director of Communications for the Comptroller’s office said.
With a special request made through Tennessee’s comptroller’s office, businesses can request to maintain vaccination mandates. “We’ve granted exemptions to 12 of those and the rest are under review,” Dunn said.
There’s no limit to how many businesses can apply, but they must meet certain qualifications.
“To qualify for an exemption you have to have a federal contract, be a federal subcontractor, or have a post-secondary grant,” Dunn added.
But with much to do with the GOP-led special session designed to ban mandates and push back against the federal government.
“Made all these promises and folded like a cheap deck of cards,” Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said.
Clemmons said the special session was a waste of time and money. “The only thing we accomplished during the special session was creating more instability for our public schools and for business owners across the state of Tennessee.”
Companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, the UT system, Vanderbilt, and Crockett County Ambulance services have been approved.
“There are two variables that he looks at but ultimately it’s going to be an arbitrary decision made by one unelected individual at the state level on the first floor of the capitol,” Clemmons said.
However, Clemmons worries that the law is poorly written and too vague and the comptroller isn’t the most appropriate decider.
“The comptroller’s office has a contract procurement team that’s very familiar with looking at contracts and the details within them so when the legislature was looking for a place to put this particular function they knew that we had this expertise,” Dunn said.
State leaders are estimating up to 7,000 businesses or entities could apply for the exemption. You can apply and view companies that are exempt on the Comptroller’s website.