The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office this week suspended all exemptions that allowed businesses, governmental agencies, schools and other employers to impose COVID-19 vaccination as a condition to receive federal funds.
The decision, which Comptroller Jason E. Mumpower announced Wednesday, came after federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana issued preliminary injunctions on Tuesday. It also follows a sweeping bill signed by Gov. Bill Lee on Nov. 12 that says government entities cannot require private businesses to instate COVID-19 mandates.
A district judge from the Eastern District of Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that bars the federal government from enforcing a vaccine mandate for federal contractors in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Under this ruling, the Comptroller said it can “no longer find that compliance with Public Chapter 6 would result in a loss of federal funding.”
On the same day, a district judge from the Western District of Louisiana issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that restrains the federal government from implementing a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers. The Comptroller’s Office said Wednesday that it had granted exemptions to Medicare & Medicaid providers, and those exemptions are now suspended.
Since the governor’s bill went into effect Nov. 12, the office reported it had issued 69 exemptions, according to a news release.
“It is important to note that these exemptions may be reinstated if the injunctions are lifted, and it is legally permissible,” the Mumpower wrote in a news release. “The Comptroller’s Office will continue to accept and process notices for exemption during this time; however, no exemptions will be granted unless it is legally permissible.”
Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton praised the Comptroller’s decision on Twitter Wednesday.
“Thank you [Comptroller’s Office] for protecting Tennesseans’ rights by suspending all the federal exemptions based on yesterday’s federal court rulings,” the speaker said.