A statewide network of faith, community, and labor organizations on Monday morning issued an open letter calling on Governor Bill Lee to use the emergency powers outlined in Tennessee Code Ann. § 58-2-107 to suspend "overly restrictive state laws and delegate authority to local elected officials to take necessary actions to meet the needs of their communities."
From the letter:
“While the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 requires bold action from leaders at the state and national level, local governments have a critical role in addressing the unique impacts of the pandemic on their communities. Local governments need to have every tool in the toolbox available in this critical time. Over the last decade, more and more state laws have been passed that restrict the freedom of local governments on a range of issues. These laws are now limiting the ability of local governments to address the ever changing needs of their communities in this state of emergency.”
The full letter is available here.
In the letter, our organizations request the suspension of specific state laws, including laws that limit the ability of local governments to ensure employees have access to paid sick time, expand eligibility for property tax freezes, and ensure immigrants feel safe interacting with local health departments.
Signatories on the letter include:
Stand Up Nashville
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
The Equity Alliance
Memphis For All
Tennessee Justice Center
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205
A Better Balance
Chattanooga Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Central Labor Council of Memphis and West TN, AFL-CIO
Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle TN, AFL-CIO
Chattanooga in Action for Love, Equality and Benevolence (CALEB)
Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH): Economic Equity Task Force
Southeast Laborers’ District Council (LiUNA)
Workers Interfaith Network
Knoxville City Council Movement
"We are calling on local elected officials, individuals, and organizations across Tennessee to urge Governor Lee to grant local leaders the freedom to help working families with holistic solutions to this public health and economic crisis," said Austin Sauerbrei.