Tennessee Lawmakers' 3-Day Covid Special Session Cost $136K

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A three-day special session of the state legislature that placed limits on what governments and businesses can do to address the COVID-19 pandemic cost the state $136,643, The Tennessean reported.

The amount includes the per diem payments and mileage reimbursement for the lawmakers in attendance, said Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley.

Tennessee lawmakers convened the session on Oct. 27. In addition to a law limiting masks and vaccine mandates, they also voted to allow school board elections to be partisan and to change how the directors of the state’s six local health departments are selected.

Gov. Bill Lee on Friday signed the bill limiting COVID-19 restrictions, while expressing concerns with some provisions. The Republican governor declined to sign the bill making directors of local health departments appointees of the state health commissioner and county mayors, allowing it to become law without his signature.

For the session, lawmakers in attendance received $0.47 per mile in mileage reimbursement, Ridley said. Legislators who have to travel more than 50 miles to Nashville received $313 per-diem payments, and those with shorter trips received $79 per day, according to rules made by the Federal General Services Administration.

That adds up to $32,973 in the Senate and $103,670 in the House.

A week earlier, lawmakers convened for three days to approve $884 million in spending to secure a $5.6 billion investment from Ford Motor Co. That session cost taxpayers $108,415, Ridley said.