Calls For Haslam To Issue Vetoes Ramp Up, But History Suggests They're Unlikely To Succeed

May 11, 2017

Now that the Tennessee legislature's session has ended, attention is turning to whether Governor Bill Haslam will veto any of the measures passed this year.

Haslam has rejected only four pieces of legislation since taking office in 2011, and it seems doubtful he'll add to that total this year.

Activists have already started pushing Haslam to veto a plan to restrict abortions after 20 weeks.

The governor rarely says whether he intends to veto a measure before doing so, and he wouldn't indicate on this one.

"I think it literally got to my desk today," Haslam said at a post-session press conference held Wednesday. "We'll do what we said. We'll have the conversations, make sure we properly review it."

Nonetheless, Haslam did offer a defense of the measure. He noted that, while it restricts abortions after 20 weeks, it doesn't ban them outright until 24 weeks. Courts have generally held 24-week bans to be OK, so Haslam's explanation suggests he sees a legal basis for it.

The governor had less to say about two other measures: A bill that would make it easier for gun owners and groups like the National Rifle Association to sue cities, and a plan to give immigrants who commit crimes while in the country illegally extra time behind bars.

But Haslam doesn't have a history of going against the legislature on law-and-order or immigration issues.