Bill Haslam

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is calling on Donald Trump to step down as the party's presidential nominee for his recently released comments about women.

Haslam issued a statement Sunday calling on Trump to remove himself and clear the way for Trump running mate Mike Pence to face Democrat Hillary Clinton next month.

Trump has said he has no plans to quit. Haslam says if that's the case, he plans to use a write-in vote for president from the Republican Party.

Haslam says "character in our leaders does matter" and decisions made by any president "have too many consequences to ignore the behavior we have seen" from Trump.

Haslam says his concerns with Trump's policy positions and statements made during the campaign that have kept the governor from endorsing him.

The sponsor of a resolution to require Tennessee to sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program is unhappy with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for refusing the sign the measure.

Haslam last week allowed the resolution to go into effect without his signature, saying that he had concerns about one branch of government telling another one what to do. The governor also asked the state attorney general for a legal opinion on whether the Legislature has the power to hire its own attorney to sue over the matter.

Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville in a letter to Haslam on Tuesday said the governor had mischaracterized the resolution and that the federal government has not provided enough information to determine whether refugees could be linked to terrorism.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is questioning the need for a special legislative session related to the bathroom use of transgender public school students.

Some Republican state lawmakers have called for a special session after a directive issued by President Barack Obama's administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that it's unclear what the strategy or purpose of a special session would be. GOP lawmakers have engaged in a letter-writing campaign since the Obama directive was issued, demanding that the state join lawsuits challenging their implementation.

A Tennessee  bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates was withdrawn in the waning days of the legislative session last month.

Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation that allows mental health counselors and therapists to refuse to treat patients based on religious objections or personal beliefs.

Critics of the law say it could result in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As Nashville Public Radio reported earlier this month:

"A group representing gay and lesbian Tennesseans [asked Haslam] to veto the legislation. ...

"The Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT advocacy group, says the measure will make it harder for gays and lesbians to find counseling — particularly in rural parts of the state where religiously conservative therapists are common."

Haslam, however, said in a statement that he decided to sign the bill because it addressed two of his concerns. He said:

Hargett Not Running for Tennessee Governor in '18

Nov 24, 2014
State of Tennessee

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett does not plan to run for governor in 2018.

Hargett was among several Republicans included in early speculation after the Nov. 4 election about potential candidates to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam, who can't run for a third consecutive term.

Hargett recently issued a statement saying he's focusing on his current job as secretary of state.

The former House Republican leader from Bartlett raised some eyebrows before the general election when his office issued new "I Voted" stickers emblazoned with Hargett's name and looking a lot like campaign bumper stickers.

Tennessee Governor Appeals Same-Sex Marriage Order

Mar 18, 2014

Tennessee's governor is asking a federal judge to put her ruling requiring the state to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples on hold while a higher court weighs in on the case.

Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Robert Cooper on Tuesday filed a motion saying overturning the law without an appeals court reviewing the case "frustrates the will of the people of Tennessee." Haslam and Cooper say leaving the status quo in place pending an appeals court decision would not harm the three couples who sued for recognition.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Friday ordered the state to recognize the unions of the couples, who were married in other states.

Trauger made clear that her order is temporary and applies only to the three couples.

Pretty soon, going to community college in Tennessee may become absolutely free. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled the proposal in his annual State of the State address this week.

Haslam is trying to lift Tennessee's ranking as one of the least-educated states. Less than a third of residents have even a two-year degree. But a community college free-for-all has been tried elsewhere, though not sustained, and there's always a nagging question.

"So I know you're wondering," Haslam said. "How do we pay for this?"

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he was as surprised as anyone that FBI and IRS agents locked down the headquarters of his family’s company Monday. He says all he knows is that they were looking for “certain records.” 

The governor remains a primary shareholder in Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J, though he has never disclosed the level of his investment. He stepped down as company president in 1998. Brother Jimmy has returned as CEO after leaving his post briefly last year when he bought the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

Gov. Haslam was asked by reporters Tuesday if he was worried about any appearance of impropriety.

“Well sure. To say you didn’t would not exactly be honest. That’s a business that my family is involved in, people I care a lot about. So to say that it doesn’t feel like a big deal is wrong," said the governor.

Tennessee is not exactly saying “yes” to expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare. But it’s not saying “no” either.

Governor Bill Haslam made the announcement this morning to a joint assembly of the legislature, telling lawmakers he’s been working toward a “third option.”

“To leverage the federal dollars available to our state to transform health care in Tennessee without expanding our TennCare rolls," said the Republican Governor.

Haslam says he’d like to use the federal money to buy private health insurance for Tennesseans who have no other way to get it.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says Republican losses at the polls last fall were mostly due to poor messaging and problems with mobilization on the ground. He also believes comprehensive immigration reform would be a big boost to the nation's economy.

Speaking at the winter meeting of the Republican Governor's Association in Washington, D.C., Haslam told Politico Republicans lost the argument with President Obama over whether wealthier Americans should pay more in taxes, and the impact that would have on the overall U.S. economy.

The Tennessee Republican says his party needs to do a better job of convincing the American public of the problems created by the country's debt.

“The one message we haven’t gotten by is, we’re not doing any favors by continuing to pass the debt on down, and we have not done a good job for whatever reason of explaining it,” Haslam told Politico.

Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

For the first three years, the federal government would pay the entire cost of insuring thousands of new TennCare recipients.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott said he could not “in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says having such a conservative leading the way could provide “cover” to lawmakers. But Governor Haslam would still have to sell an expansion, Ramsey says.

The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has resigned amid scrutiny of how her agency was handling cases of children who died after investigations of abuse and neglect.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced in a news release Tuesday that Kate O’Day had decided to resign because of concerns that she had become the focus of attention rather than the children the agency is meant to serve.

Haslam last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.

DCS had been sued by The Tennessean, The Associated Press and 10 other news organizations to obtain case records of 150 children who died after the state launched abuse or neglect investigations.

Governor Bill Haslam has presented to lawmakers the spending plan that includes a staffing shakeup at the troubled Department of Children's Services, a heavy investment into construction projects around the state and a large deposit into the state's cash savings fund.

The Governor also formally introduced his proposal to create a limited school voucher program in Tennessee to allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools. According to legislation filed in the Senate on Monday, the program would be limited to 5,000 students in the school year that begins in August, and grow to 20,000 students by 2016.

Haslam acknowledged the proposal will be "hotly debated" and Democrats issued a statement before the speech to criticize the plan.

Tennessee Given New Higher Education Goal, Adviser

Jan 16, 2013

Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to set Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

Haslam has appointed Randy Boyd, chairman of wireless pet fence maker Radio Systems Corp., to help further that goal as his top higher education adviser.

Haslam said Boyd will join a working group tasked with finding ways to tackle what the governor called the "iron triangle" of affordability, access and quality issues for public colleges and universities in Tennessee.

The panel is made up the governor and the heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems.

Boyd will work full time but won't be paid.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.

Turner sent the request for the joint government operations committee to Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, all Republicans.

The Tennessean newspaper and a group of Tennessee news organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked a judge to open records from the department.