Haslam signs ‘natural and ordinary meaning’ bill

Despite a campaign by LGBT advocacy groups urging him to veto the “natural and ordinary meaning” bill, Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the measure into law.

Here’s the press release:

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today released the following statement regarding HB 1111/SB 1085 sponsored by Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) and Rep. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville):

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 1111/SB 1085 and assessed the legislation’s potential impact and concerns. The language of this bill is for a general definitions section of the Tennessee code, which defines “road” and “sheriff,” among other common terms. For at least 150 years, courts including the Tennessee Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court have looked to a word’s natural and ordinary meaning when deciding cases.

“In reviewing this bill, I do not believe the legislation accomplishes anything that isn’t already relied upon by the courts, even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015. And if a potential conflict did arise, the Tennessee Attorney General has opined that a court could resolve it through other statutory interpretation rules.

“This legislation passed three-to-one in the House and nearly four-to-one in the Senate. Using a word’s ordinary meaning is a well-established principle of statutory construction.  While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation. Because of that I have signed HB 1111/SB 1085 into law.”

3 Responses to Haslam signs ‘natural and ordinary meaning’ bill

  • Michael Lottman says:

    Haslam’s statement is a disconnected jumble of fragments regarding statutory interpretation that makes no sense and has no bearing on whether or not this bill should have been vetoed. What does an outgoing governor with a near-100% popularity rating (deserved or not) have to fear from rejecting a law that will encourage discrimination and cause confusion in applying all Tennessee law for decades to come?

  • Becky Jackson says:

    I guess I missed the explanation for the need of this law. What is the exact problem solved by this legislation?

  • Sharleen Wilkens says:

    What does he mean by road and sheriff. And what now happens with this exactly.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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