This story was updated at 10:36 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020, with more information.
NASHVILLE — Citing the latest COVID-19 guidance from both federal and state health officials, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton announced Monday they are taking the "unprecedented action" to "limit all remaining legislative business" to passing the state's budget and associated actions, with lawmakers then recessing.
"Over the last week, we have remained in close contact with the state's health leaders, and we have continued to carefully monitor the complex and aggressive COVID-19 virus in Tennessee," the state's top three officials said in a joint statement issued Monday afternoon. "The latest guidance from both the CDC and Department of Health requires us to take unprecedented action."
As a result, Lee, McNally and Sexton said, "in the best interests of public health, we have jointly decided to limit all remaining legislative business to fulfilling our constitutional requirement of passing a balanced budget, and any associated actions that will ensure Tennessee can keep its doors open.
"This is a serious time for our state and country, and we all must make adjustments in response to this threat. Our approach will take into account the unique public health challenges this complex virus presents, as well as the economic disruption likely to occur as a result of its spread."
The officials said that "passing an amended budget now and recessing will allow the General Assembly to focus on an immediate plan of action, while still determining needs down the road. This pathway forward should only be reserved for extraordinary circumstances. We will continue operating out of an abundance of caution and take additional action if it becomes necessary."
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.