NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Senate and House have passed Governor Lee’s Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act during the special session Wednesday afternoon. It will now head to the governor’s desk for final approval.
The bill aims to provide COVID-19 liability protection to health care providers, businesses, schools and non-profits.
The protection will not act retroactively. Lawsuits filed after the bill’s signing will be blocked.
“This is a tremendous win for Tennessee’s economy as businesses strive to put people back to work and save families from greater economic hardship,” said Bradley Jackson, President & CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry in a press release…So many businesses have been devastated by this pandemic. Research shows that two-thirds (67%) of small businesses are worried about coronavirus-related lawsuits. Liability protections are one of the most crucial things that can be done for businesses right now,” according to Jackson. “Swift economic recovery cannot occur unless unfair legal exposure is mitigated and businesses have certainty that their efforts to safeguard their employees and customers is acknowledged by the General Assembly and the courts.”
It was slightly controversial during the regular session with groups like the AARP of Tennessee and the Tennessee Citizen Action questioning its legality. The original Senate version of the bill was written to be retroactive, meaning businesses could not be sued for anything as early as March – the beginning of the pandemic.
Last month Gov. Lee granted those protections in an executive order, but the order ended July 31. It was one of the few reasons the governor called for a special session, hoping to get it passed.
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*Editor’s note: a previous version of this story said the bill had retroactive powers. It has since been corrected.