“Proposed ADA accommodation in the bill is a violation of the ADA and will put us at risk of losing federal funding,” aide Liz Alvey warned as a flurry of last-minute changes were being debated and added.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s office warned lawmakers that their sprawling bill limiting COVID-19 restrictions would violate federal law that protects people with disabilities and put the state at risk of losing federal funds, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The Republican-controlled Legislature ignored the advice and passed the bill anyway. Less than two weeks later, the Republican governor signed it into law.

Lee, who is up for reelection next year, has since said there are still “some issues we need to work through.” He has publicly mentioned concerns about how the law changes hospital visitation rules and what it may mean for the state’s ability to control its own workplace regulation going forward. But the governor has expressed no concern publicly about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Privately, his legislative counsel warned lawmakers explicitly on the night the bill was passed that they were running afoul of federal law. The warning came in an email from Legislative Counsel Liz Alvey at 12:44 a.m. on Oct. 30 to Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s chief of staff, Rick Nicholson, and Luke Gustafson in Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s office. The email referenced an earlier effort by the governor’s office to flag the same issue.

“Proposed ADA accommodation in the bill is a violation of the ADA and will put us at risk of losing federal funding,” Alvey warned as a flurry of last-minute changes were being debated and added.

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