Gov. Bill Haslam

Haslam Now Country's Richest Elected Official

Jan 22, 2015

Forbes Magazine says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is now the country's richest elected official, citing a rush to the pumps at the family-owned Pilot Flying J truck stop chain due to tumbling fuel prices.

According to Forbes, Haslam's net worth has more than doubled since August from $980 million to $2 billion.

Haslam has steadfastly refused to publicly disclose his earnings from Pilot, arguing that it would divulge the income of family members who aren't in public office. But the wealth of the Haslam family was illustrated when the governor's brother, Jimmy, bought the NFL's Cleveland Browns for $1 billion in 2012.

Gov. Haslam said Wednesday that he has no idea where Forbes gets its information. He said he has made a practice of not commenting on personal financial information.

Haslam's Inauguration Theme is "Together for Tennessee"

Jan 7, 2015

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's plans for his inauguration to a second term include an outdoor ceremony, a dinner and ball and tours of the state Capitol and governor's mansion.

The Jan. 17 swearing-in ceremony will be held on the plaza across the street from the state Capitol in Nashville. State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee is scheduled to administer the oath.

The theme of the inaugural events is "Together for Tennessee." Haslam in November won 70 percent of the vote against nominal Democratic opposition to carry all 95 counties of the state. He says goals for his second term include job creation, education and more efficiency in state government.

The inaugural events are free except for a $250 dinner and dance called the First Couple's Celebration and the $50 ball.

Gov. Haslam Reaches Medicaid Deal in Tennessee

Dec 15, 2014

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that he has reached a deal with federal officials to expand Medicaid in Tennessee after months of discussions.

The Republican's administration is touting it as an alternative deal with federal officials. The program, dubbed Insure Tennessee, would provide coverage for the state's uninsured without creating new taxes for Tennesseans.

Haslam announced at a news conference at the state Capitol that the state would offer a voucher to purchase insurance in the private market, according to statement from the governor's office and a news conference.

Health care advocates had heavily criticized the Republican governor for refusing last year to agree to $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover about 180,000 uninsured Tennesseans under the terms the money was offered.

Poll: Tennesseans Approve of Haslam, Legislature

Dec 3, 2014

Tennesseans approve of their elected officials but want them to work with members of the other party, even if it means compromising on some of their values and priorities, according to a new poll from Vanderbilt University.

The survey of about 950 registered Tennessee voters was taken just after the November election. Seventy percent of respondents said they approved of Gov. Bill Haslam and 55 percent approved of the Tennessee Legislature.

But voters' priorities for the Legislature differed somewhat from those that lawmakers have put forward.

Forty percent of respondents said the economy should be the top priority, followed by education and health care. Only 2 percent said guns were the top priority.

   A full 77 percent said they wanted their legislators to compromise with members of the other party.

Tennessee Supreme Court

A group supporting the retention of three incumbent Tennessee Supreme Court justices says it has raised $600,000.

The campaign called Keep Tennessee Courts Fair is supporting Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade, who face yes-no votes on the ballot in August.

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville has been spearheading efforts to persuade voters to reject the justices, each of whom was appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has named two new justices to the high court bench, but they won't be appearing in retention votes this year.

Haslam has said he won't become involved in the campaign against the incumbents. If even one of them loses, it would shift the balance of the court that will name the next state attorney general.

It's not unusual for a governor to hold a ceremonial bill signing on a different day than when he actually puts his signature on a piece of legislation.

But Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is holding seven ceremonies this week for the same bill.

The Republican governor is making a series of stops around the state this week to celebrate the enactment of his Tennessee Promise law, which will cover the full tuition for community college for high school graduates.

Haslam starts the bill-signing spree in Cookeville on Tuesday, followed by encore signings in Jackson and Covington on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Haslam will do the same in Blountville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, and the finale is scheduled for Overton High School in Nashville on Friday.

Gov. Bill Haslam says lawmakers still have a "ways to go" in reaching a consensus on his school voucher legislation.

But the Republican governor told reporters on Thursday after speaking at a higher education event organized by the Tennessee Business Roundtable that he's optimistic a measured approach to his proposal will prevail.

Haslam originally sought to limit the vouchers to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed a version that would expand eligibility to low-income students in districts that have a school in the bottom 5 percent if the initial slots aren't filled.

The House version, which has stalled, would expand eligibility to the bottom 10 percent of failing schools if slots are left. Haslam acknowledged Thursday there's still work to be done in the House.

Gov. Haslam Says Citizenship Required for Tuition Plan

Feb 26, 2014

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says legislative efforts to make children of people living in the country illegally eligible for in-state tuition "have some merit," but that he has no plans to change his own free tuition proposal to include those same students.

Haslam wants to create the country's first free community college program for all high school graduates by using state lottery reserves to cover the difference between tuition costs and all available aid.

The governor's proposal would require students to exhaust all possible support by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which requires a Social Security number.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that removing the requirement to fill out that federal form would cause the cost of the tuition plan to become too high for the state.