Tag Archives: veto

Petition urging veto of pregnant drug abuse bill gets 10,500 signature

A petition hand-delivered to Gov. Bill Haslam’s office Friday includes the names of 10,500 people asking him to veto legislation that would allow women to be criminally charged for drug use during pregnancy, reports The Tennessean.

Haslam has until Tuesday to act before the legislation becomes law. He hasn’t said what he will do, and a spokesman said he’s still collecting information. In four legislative sessions, Haslam has vetoed two bills and allowed one to become law without his signature.

The petition arrived amid a national wave of attention on state lawmakers’ approval of a criminal penalty against pregnant women — a move this session to bring back the kind of criminal charges they eliminated two years ago as the state shifted toward encouraging women to seek addiction treatment. (Note: previous post, citing a New York Times piece, HERE.)

The veto push is the latest in what has been a fierce debate the past three years about what to do to stem the rising number of babies born drug-dependent. Abuse of prescription painkillers has fueled a tenfold increase in such births in the past decade, sending state health officials into a scramble to study the effects on women and children, the role of doctors and treatment options.

The proposed law would allow prosecutors to charge women with assault if they believe they can prove that drug use during pregnancy harmed the newborns. Women could ward off prosecution by entering a treatment program.

Representatives of Planned Parenthood and Healthy and Free Tennessee delivered the petition to Haslam’s office. He also has heard from the ACLU of Tennessee, which asked him last week to veto Senate bill 1391 and House bill 1295.

Ramsey proposes veto override session; ‘nothing personal’ toward Haslam

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said Thursday the Legislature should consider holding a special veto override session this year for the first time since 2001.

“It’s nothing personal” toward Gov. Bill Haslam, Ramsey said, but something that “ought to be done” as a matter of “good government” routine for a General Assembly when a two-year session comes to an end.

Each legislative session runs for two years and the 108th General Assembly is in its final year. Legislative leaders are pushing to end the current session by mid-April at which time – unless special arrangements are made – the session will never meet again. The 109th General Assembly will be elected in November.

Thus, if Haslam vetoes a bill after adjournment, there will be no opportunity for legislators to consider an override. Bills that are passed late in the session often do not formally reach the governors desk for a week after they are passed. Once on the governor’s desk, he has 10 days to decide whether to sign the bill, let it become law without his signature or veto.

To schedule a veto override session, the Legislature would have to pass a resolution declaring the mid-April adjournment date only a recess with a scheduled return, perhaps in two or three weeks. Any vetoes that occur in the interim could then be overridden during the special session.

One prospect for a gubernatorial veto that could come into play is a bill that would void local ordinances that prohibit people holding handgun carry permits from taking their weapons into city or county parks. The bill has already passed the Senate, but was put “behind the budget” in the state House.

That means the bill will not be considered by the House Finance Subcommittee until after the state budget bill has passed, typically one of the last acts by the Legislature before adjournment. If it is approved, the bill would then not reach the governor’s desk until the session had adjourned for the year.

Haslam has repeatedly declared his opposition to the bill, though stopping short of a veto threat.

Ramsey said he had not discussed the proposal for a veto override session with the governor, but plans to do so.

“That’s the General Assembly’s perogative, and that’s the way the system is set up,” said David Smith, the governor’s press secretary, when asked Haslam’s position on the proposal.

UPDATE: Andrea Zelinski has comment from an undecided Harwell and and ambiguous Haslam:
I don’t know that I’ve made up my mind,” said Harwell who confirmed Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey brought the idea up to her. “This is not in any way a reflection that we have any disagreement with the governor. We don’t. We were just looking at what’s good government and the protection of the strength of the legislative body.”

…Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters it’s the legislature’s prerogative if they want to come back to overturn vetoes he may make.

“There’s always a lot of speculation at this point in time in a session about what’s the governor going to veto. At this point in time, as I’ve said before, we’re still really early in this book,” he said.

The Gov Gave Carrie Underwood an ‘Ag Gag’ Call

By Chris Talbott, AP Music Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carrie Underwood has found her voice on Twitter.
The country music star and former “American Idol” champion admitted 3½ years ago she was afraid to join Twitter, but since deciding to take the leap in 2011 she’s embraced the social media tool in ways that go beyond fan engagement. Recently she used Twitter to oppose the “Ag Gag” bill in Tennessee, reaching out directly to Gov. Bill Haslam with a boldly worded message saying if he signed it “he needs to expect me at his front door.”
(Note: Previous post HERE)
It was the first time she’s taken a political stand so publicly, and it seemed to have an impact. Haslam contacted Underwood to discuss the issue and went on to veto the bill that opponents claimed would have stopped investigation into animal abuse on farms.
“He really just wanted to hear everybody’s point of view, which I really respected,” Underwood said in a recent interview. “So it’s kind of neat that (tweet) led to that, which was really cool.”
Dave Smith, spokesman for Tennessee’s Republican governor, said Haslam spoke to people on both sides and that Underwood’s was the only celebrity counsel he sought.
Underwood also recently declared “Hug a soldier day,” and puts her support behind movements like the “End It” anti-slavery campaign and animals rights. She has 2 million followers.
“Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a thinker and I’m a planner and I would never weigh in on anything unless I know the full story on it,” Underwood said. “So I do my research. I don’t think I’m a bandwagon kind of person. People are always retweeting sort of weird stuff. I do my own research. I’m not a political person at all. I doubt anyone can tell you what party I mostly affiliate myself with. But that was just something that was in my backyard.”
As you might expect, there was pushback. Rather than shrink from it, she responded with some grit.
“I realize it’s not necessarily so scary,” she said. “Most of the comments I get back on anything are positive. There’s the occasional negative one, but I enjoy blocking that person.”

ACLU, Animal Protection Groups Hail Haslam’s ‘Ag Gag’ Veto

The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Civil Liberties Union promptly issued news releases to hail Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill requiring anyone making a photo or video of livestock abuse to turn it over to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours.
Here they are:
News release from Humane Society of the United States:
(May 13, 2013) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after hearing from thousands of Tennesseans urging the veto and a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect by the Tennessee Attorney General.
Animal protection groups, First Amendment advocates and newspaper editorial boards across Tennessee opposed the bill, which would criminalize undercover investigations at agribusiness operations and stables. More than 300 Tennessee clergy also spoke out against the bill, as did several Tennessee celebrities, including Priscilla Presley, singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris, and Miss Tennessee USA 2013. The bill also received national criticism from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on her show to discuss the issue.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “We thank Gov. Haslam for listening to his constituents and honoring the Constitution by vetoing this recklessly irresponsible legislation that would criminalize the important work of cruelty whistleblowers. By vetoing this bill, the governor is supporting transparency in horse stables and our food system.”

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ACLU, Animal Protection Groups, Press Hail Haslam’s ‘Ag Gag’ Veto

Here’s a collection of statements to media from various groups on Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill requiring anyone making a photo or video of livestock abuse to turn it over to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours.
News release from Humane Society of the United States:
(May 13, 2013) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after hearing from thousands of Tennesseans urging the veto and a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect by the Tennessee Attorney General.
Animal protection groups, First Amendment advocates and newspaper editorial boards across Tennessee opposed the bill, which would criminalize undercover investigations at agribusiness operations and stables. More than 300 Tennessee clergy also spoke out against the bill, as did several Tennessee celebrities, including Priscilla Presley, singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris, and Miss Tennessee USA 2013. The bill also received national criticism from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on her show to discuss the issue.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “We thank Gov. Haslam for listening to his constituents and honoring the Constitution by vetoing this recklessly irresponsible legislation that would criminalize the important work of cruelty whistleblowers. By vetoing this bill, the governor is supporting transparency in horse stables and our food system.”

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Haslam Vetoes ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed a bill that would require images documenting animal abuse to be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours.
State Attorney General Bob Cooper last week said in a legal opinion that the measure would be “constitutionally suspect” because it could violate Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination and for placing burdens on news collection.
Haslam said Monday that the opinion is one of the reasons he’s vetoing the bill.
Animal protection groups say the measure they have dubbed the “ag gag” bill is designed to prevent whistleblowers from collecting evidence of ongoing patterns of abuse.
The veto is Haslam’s second since he took office in 2010.

Note: Here’s Haslam’s statement on the bill, as provided by his office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam released the following statement regarding HB 1191/SB 1248:
“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Tennessee. Farmers play a vital role in our state’s economy, heritage and history. I understand their concerns about large scale attacks on their livelihoods. I also appreciate that the types of recordings this bill targets may be obtained at times under false pretenses, which I think is wrong,” Haslam said.
“Our office has spent a great deal of time considering this legislation. We’ve had a lot of input from people on all sides of the issue. After careful consideration, I am going to veto the legislation. Some vetoes are made solely on policy grounds. Other vetoes may be the result of wanting the General Assembly to reconsider the legislation for a number of reasons. My veto here is more along the lines of the latter. I have a number of concerns.
“First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect. Second, it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee’s Shield Law without saying so. If that is the case, it should say so. Third, there are concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases, which would be an unintended consequence.
“For these reasons, I am vetoing HB1191/SB1248, and I respectfully encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this issue.”

AG Says ‘Ag Gag’ Bill is ‘Constitutionally Suspect’

State Attorney General Bob Cooper said Thursday that a so-called “ag gag” bill is “constitutionally suspect,” an opinion that may figure into Gov. Bill Haslam’s pending decision on whether to veto the bill.
The bill (HB1191) requires anyone “intentionally” recording evidence of livestock abuse to turn over all photographs and videos to “law enforcement authorities” promptly – within 48 hours unless the evidence is collected on a weekend. Violations would be a misdemeanor crime subject to a $500 fine.
Haslam said earlier this week that he wanted to see the opinion, requested by state Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, before deciding whether to sign the bill into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature.
“The governor is reviewing the opinion. He has said he anticipates having a decision by early next week,” said David Smith, spokesman for Haslam.

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Haslam Awaits AG Opinion on ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’ll decide by Monday whether or not to veto the so-called “ag-gag” bill, reports WPLN. Thousands of people have called and emailed Haslam’s office, and some celebrities are urging him to stop it from becoming law.
The proposal would require people who document animal abuse to hand their recordings over to police within 48 hours. Opponents say it would actually make it harder to prove patterns of animal cruelty. The argument has put a spotlight on Haslam’s next move.
“While we’re always interested in peoples’ opinions – I’ve had a whole lot of entertainers and movie stars weigh in – at the end of the day it should be about, ‘Is the bill constitutional? Does it encourage the healthy treatment of animals? And is it good public policy that’s well-written for the state?'”
Haslam says he’s expecting to hear either today or tomorrow whether Tennessee’s Attorney General thinks the bill is constitutional. After that he’ll decide no later than the beginning of next week if he’ll veto the bill, sign it into law, or let it become law without his signature.
One of the latest groups pressing for a veto is the American Civil Liberties Union, with a petition it says more than 33 thousands people have signed, including 350 Tennesseans. The ACLU argues such a law would unconstitutionally hurt the right to free speech for people trying to expose animal cruelty.

Clergy for Justice: Ag Gag Bill ‘Is Evil and Against God’s Will’

News release from Clergy for Justice:
Clergy for Justice Tennessee, a grassroots organization of religious leaders across Tennessee committed to seeking justice in public policy, hand-delivered a letter from its members and supporters to Governor Haslam’s office, urging the Governor to veto a bill designed to prevent the exposure of animal abuse in horse stables and agriculture facilities.
Over 300 clergy members and people of faith have added their voices to the chorus of groups across the state, urging Governor Bill Haslam to veto Tennessee’s notorious “ag gag” bill. Senate Bill 1248, which would criminalize the investigation of animal cruelty and other illegal or unethical activity at agriculture operations while shielding animal agribusiness from public scrutiny, narrowly passed the Legislature. It is now on its way to Governor Bill Haslam’s office to be vetoed or signed into law.
“Genesis 1 tells us that everything on the earth has been created by God, and that God has commanded humans to care for the animals,” said Kathy Chambers, Director of Clergy for Justice Tennessee. “Far too often they are subject to abuse which causes unthinkable suffering, clearly violating that mandate. As people of faith, we are called to speak out against injustice and cruelty in whatever forms they might take. Thus, we urge Governor Haslam to stand with people of faith across the state and veto this bill.”
In 2011, an undercover investigation into renowned Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s stable in Collierville, Tennessee revealed egregious cruelty to horses. A whistleblower documented horses being whipped, kicked, shocked, and subjected to painful soring using caustic chemicals on their legs.

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Undecided Haslam Still Pondering ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s been learning from both sides about a so-called “ag gag bill” since it was passed by the Legislature two weeks ago, but it hasn’t reached his desk yet and he hasn’t decided whether or not a veto is in order.
The bill has generated thousands of emails, telephone calls and letters to the governor’s office – more than on any legislation that has come up during Haslam’s term as governor – and most have been calling for a veto, a gubernatorial spokesman says.
The Humane Society of the United States has organized a campaign against the bill, including TV ads urging people to contact Haslam and urge a veto. Celebrities including TV host Ellen DeGeneres and country music singer Carrie Underwood have also pushed a veto.
Haslam said he would not simply “tally results” before making his decision.
“Obviously, we value everyone’s opinion. But we’re trying to go beyond that and find the argument,” he said.

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