It's About the Money

There was a good deal of talk during this legislative session about having a veto override meeting in case Republican Gov. Bill Haslam killed any of his fellow Republicans' favorite bills. Then word got around the plaza that a veto session meant no fund-raising for another three weeks. The ardor for the override session cooled considerably.

Tennessee's ethics law forbids legislators from raising money for their campaigns when the Legislature is in session. In order to come back for a veto session, the Legislature could not adjourn—they would technically still be in session. The fund-raising ban is lifted on May 15, even if the Legislature is still in session, but that would still have been three weeks without being able to raise money, while opponents are getting all they can. Some legislators had fund-raisers scheduled already.

Look for a bill early next session to "fix" this problem and allow for contributions while awaiting an override session.

Haslam didn't really need to worry about vetoes. Most of the stuff he didn't want didn't pass. No Hall income tax cut, no open-carry guns, no override of local governments' ability to ban guns in parks. So he told legislators not to worry about a veto. The only item he might have considered was the bill that delays Common Core for a year and puts the testing program up for bids. But Haslam agreed to the compromise rather than see Common Core banned altogether.