Re SB 1556 — allowing professional counselors to withhold services: "There are two key provisions of this legislation that addressed concerns I had about clients not receiving care. First, the bill clearly states that it 'shall not apply to a counselor or therapist when an individual seeking or undergoing counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.' Secondly, the bill requires that any counselor or therapist who feels they cannot serve a client due to the counselor's sincerely held principles must coordinate a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy.
"The substance of this bill doesn't address a group, issue, or belief system. Rather, it allows counselors — just as we allow other professionals like doctors and lawyers — to refer a client to another counselor when the goals or behaviors would violate a sincerely held principle. I believe it is reasonable to allow these professionals to determine if and when an individual would be better served by another counselor better suited to meet his or her needs." — Governor Bill Haslam, April 27, 2016
Re SB 2376 — allowing employees of colleges and universities to carry concealed weapons on campus: "I am letting SB 2376 become law without my signature. I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year. Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns.
"Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations, it provides protection from liability for the institutions, and it requires notification of law enforcement before carrying on campus. I hope that as a state we will monitor the impact of this new law and listen to the feedback of higher education leaders responsible for operationalizing it." — Governor Bill Haslam, May 2, 2016
Re SB 812 — providing an alternate means for alleviating hunger: "I am letting SB 812, the so-called 'Johnathan Swift' bill, become law without my signature. No idea for resolving the all-too-prevalent problem of hunger in the state's low-income communities can be dismissed out of hand, and particularly not when the proposed solution also addresses such collateral issues as over-population and ever-proliferating child-care costs. Granted, the bill's provisions for a requisitioning of dependable supplies of infants for consumption would seem to call for a fiscal note, but this would seem to be minimal, given the mechanisms also prescribed in the bill for out-sourcing responsibility to private vendors for procurement and all necessary food-preparation procedures.
"The idea of converting excess child flesh into edible commodities for the relief of hunger will clash with the moral sensibilities of some of our citizenry, and for this reason, I am withholding my signature. We cannot ignore either that the motivating idea behind this bill originated from a certified man of genius three centuries ago within the cultural umbrella of a kindred English-speaking nation. It is time to give this idea the fair test without which its efficacy cannot be judged." — Governor Bill Haslam, May 1, 2017