Difference between revisions of "Bill Haslam"

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Revision as of 10:48, 10 July 2013

Bill Haslam
Bill Haslam 2013.jpg
Governor of Tennessee
In office
January 15, 2011 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 4
PredecessorPhil Bredesen (D)
Base salary$178,356
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$18,048,763
Term limits2 consecutive terms
Prior offices
Mayor of Knoxville
December 20, 2003 – January 10, 2011
Bachelor'sEmory University
Date of birthAugust 23, 1958
Place of birthKnoxville, TN
Office website
William Edward "Bill" Haslam (b. August 23, 1958 in Knoxville, Tennessee), a Republican, is the current Governor of Tennessee. He was first elected governor in 2010 with 65 percent of the vote in what would be the largest victory of any non-incumbent gubernatorial candidate in state history.[1] He ran for re-election in 2014.[2]

Haslam first entered politics in 2003 when he was elected as Mayor of Knoxville. He was easily re-elected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote and served until taking office as governor in 2011.[1] As mayor he balanced six consecutive city budgets and led to the city's lowest property tax rate in over 50 years.[3]

Haslam lists his priorities as governor as Jobs & Economic Development, Education & Workforce Development, and Conservative Fiscal Leadership.[4] Known to take his time and research nearly every decision he makes, critics have called him indecisive and lacking backbone, while Haslam contends he takes the time necessary to think through the issue at hand.[5]

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Haslam as the 17th most conservative governor in the country.[6]


Haslam was born and raised in Knoxville, TN, were he attended school through high school. He attended Emory University as an undergraduate, where he joined Sigma Chi fraternity and Young Life ministry, and returned to Knoxville after college to join his family's petroleum business, Pilot Corporation.[1]

He eventually became President of the company before leaving to become Mayor of Knoxville. The city's municipal elections are technically nonpartisan, though Halsam was a Republican. As Mayor, much of his work focused on saving and restoring historic structures. Former President Geroge W. Bush named Haslam to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 2008 to a term lasting through 2012.[1]

Haslam is also a partial owner of the Tennessee Smokies, a minor league baseball affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.[1]


  • B.A., Emory University

Political career

Governor of Tennessee (2010-Present)

Haslam was first elected Governor of Tennessee in 2010. On November 9, 2010, Haslam tapped Tom Ingram, his campaign general consultant and a veteran of Tennessee politics and government, to direct his transition into office.[7]

Judicial appointments

As governor, Haslam is responsible for appointing judges to Tennessee state courts. In Tennessee, the governor makes a judicial appointment after candidates are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. After the governor appoints a judge, she or he must run for retention in the next general election. For an up-to-date list of all of Haslam's appointees, see Judgepedia's page on his appointments.

Medicaid Expansion

On March 27, 2013, Haslam announced that Tennessee would not expand its Medicaid coverage to include everyone up to 133% of the federal poverty line, a move that would have been fully funded by the federal government for the first three years and at least 90 percent federally funded after that. Instead, the governor said that he would focus on expanding TennCare, the state's Medicaid program, by using federal funds to allow eligible Tennesseans to purchase health insurance through the federal healthcare exchange. As in his previous decision to not establish a state health insurance exchange, Haslam cited a lack of detailed answers about the proposed expansion from the federal government and his disagreements with some of the conditions that would have come with the funding, particularly extra regulations which would have made it difficult for the state to use the Medicaid expansion funds to purchase private insurance for new members.[8] The pro-market Beacon Center supported Haslam's decision.[9] Since the Supreme Court's ruling on the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made the Medicaid expansion optional for states, Republican governors divided over the issue, with a number reversing their opposition to expansion.[10] Haslam's Medicaid decision was similar to that of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")

In December of 2012, despite the considerable research and development state officials put into formulating a state-based health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, Haslam ultimately chose to enter Tennessee into the federal exchange program. He explained that the Obama administration had not satisfactorily addressed various operational questions and concerns Tennessee officials had posed with respect to the state-based option. Along with Republican governors such as Chris Christie (NJ), Bob McDonnell (VA), and Tom Corbett (PA), Haslam's primary concern was with the potential cost of independent implementation, and whether the federal government would respect the autonomy state's ostensibly earn as an extension of that financial independence[11]. Although he has not officially ceded all other provisional options for states unwilling to participate in the federal health care exchange, which is an online marketplace for citizens to purchase health insurance, Haslam and state lawmakers were unable to agree on an alternative by the December 14, 2012 deadline. Thus, Tennessee will enter the federal program by default. Tennessee is one of thirty-two states to opt out of a state-based program.[12]

Inaugural address

Haslam called for and spoke about better education and job security for Tennessee in his inaugural address. He promised to be a "good listener" and a "continuous learner."

Topics addressed in his speech include:[13]

  • Jobs: “Our goal is simple: Top-tier education for our children. Re-training for those out of work and underemployed. A healthy lifestyle. All three will make Tennessee number one in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
  • Principals and teachers: “This is my commitment to you: We will improve our teaching, learning, retention and graduation. Every student deserves a great teacher, and every school needs a great principal. The tools will be in place – the rest is up to each of us to seize the opportunities.”
  • Education: “The expectations and standards of education excellence for every student in Tennessee are high. This is the time to continue significant education reform – and shame on us if we let this moment escape without meaningful action. The path for better jobs now and into the future requires more than the current 1 out of 5 Tennesseans over the age of 25 who have a college degree.”
  • Workforce development: “Government stands ready to assist, but government is not the solution. Offering hope through workforce development, technical training and work keys are building blocks on the road to job recovery and job security. But equally important is the individual determination and drive to invest the time and energy and hard work to be more.”
  • State budget: “As we slowly reverse the negative trends of the economic downturn that gripped our state and nation, we will be diligent in watching the weight of state government, going on a diet of efficiency and effectiveness. State government will live within its financial means, and a Top to Bottom review will set priorities and establish measurable goals.”
  • Efficient and effective government: “As we begin writing a new chapter in our state’s history, I ask you, the elected state senators and representatives, to join with me in rolling up our sleeves and going to work. Our measure of effective state government is whether our citizens are served well and at the lowest possible cost. The people of Tennessee are our customers and we will be all about excellent customer service.”


In early 2011, Gov. Haslam signed three executive orders regarding transparency and openness in state government. He then established a comprehensive ethics policy for the Executive Branch and detailed his position on diversity in state employment practices. “Government works better when people have input into the process, you are open to alternatives and examiner them, and then you explain why the decision was made,” Gov. Haslam said. “The rule should be the more you can be in the open, the better.”

  • Executive Order No. 2011-01 requires every employee of the Executive Branch to annually disclose the same information as the legislative branch. The Counsel to the Governor will serve as the chief ethics officer and will administer the policies and maintain all records related to the ethics policy.
  • Executive Order No. 2011-02 sets out the unwavering policy of the Executive Branch to facilitate the right of Tennesseans to know and have access to information with which to hold state government accountable. Extensive training is required for all members and employees of the Cabinet and Departments of the Executive Branch relating to open meetings, open records, ethics and disclosure requirements. The order also maintains the state’s open government website.
  • Executive Order No. 2011-03 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, color, national origin, religion, age, and political affiliation or against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities. The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development also is directed to inform and instruct all companies considering Tennessee as a business location that the prevailing policy of non-discrimination must be reflected in their employment practices and workforces in Tennessee.[14]

Tort reform

The Senate Judiciary Committee kept Gov. Haslam’s tort reform bill on track in late April in the 2011 session, passing the controversial bill 6-3 along party lines. The committee considered several amendments and adopted those that were considered friendly by the bill's sponsor, Sen. Mark Norris. Norris is carrying the bill for the administration as majority leader in the Senate. The amendments approved in late April 2011 did little to change the thrust of the bill, yet they dealt with issues such as proper venue in a case, allowing for ordinary alteration of records and clarifying other language in the bill. The committee moved to lump four acceptable amendments into one for the purpose of simplification.

The latest version of the bill provides for non-economic damages in civil cases to be capped at $750,000, with a $1 million cap applicable in catastrophic cases.[15]


Haslam announced that the state will move away from the emphasis on attracting huge business re-locations and concentrate on feeding the growth of existing businesses in the state. However, Haslam told the Haywood County megasite board that the efforts for a West Tennessee development plan were not to be diminished in his plan.

At this point, the West Tennessee site, near Stanton, north of exit 42 on Interstate 40, remains only a conceptual plan. The site was originally certified to meet the potential needs of an automotive manufacturer. There is no indication that an auto maker will move into the site, but state officials hope a business will locate there that can attract numerous suppliers, as an automotive manufacturer would.

“We’re not pinning all of our hopes for job development on the megasite. We have some prospects right now in this part of the state we’re working hard to hopefully bring here,” Haslam said. “But this is a great long-term project.”[16]

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Haslam was ranked number 4. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[17][18]

Local diversity ordinances

Gov. Haslam supported a piece of legislation that he signed into law on May 23, 2011 that overturned an anti-discrimination law passed by Nashville’s Metro Council. However, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry has reportedly backtracked on the bill. “I don’t really like the state government telling local governments what to do, but I don’t really feel like local governments should tell businesses what to do either,” Haslam said the day after he signed the law. “In this case, we were going beyond what the federal requirements were, and I don’t think many Tennesseans feel like we don’t have enough mandates on businesses from the federal government.”

Haslam signed the bill, HB600/SB632, which will prohibit local governments from imposing anti-discrimination practices that vary from laws already on the books.

The Metro Council in Davidson County passed an ordinance that said contractors with the city had to follow Metro policies against discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered people. “We are not in favor of discrimination. I want to be real clear about that,” Haslam said. “We are in favor of businesses deciding within federal laws what their policy should be. We just don’t think local governments should set HR policies for businesses.”[19]

Labor complaint

Gov. Bill Haslam was among 16 Republican governors to sign a letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The letter asked the board to dismiss the complaint it made in April 2011 against aircraft maker Boeing, which plans to operate a plant in South Carolina.

Both Tennessee and South Carolina are right-to-work states and the NLRB claimed Boeing established an assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C., in retaliation for past labor problems the company had experienced in the state of Washington. South Carolina's Republican governor Nikki Haley wrote to Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel of the NLRB, taking issue with the agency’s action. The letter was dated June 16, 2011 and Haslam was among the signers.[20]

Vetos 'Ag-Gag' Bill

In his second veto since taking office in 2011, Haslam killed a bill that would have required images documenting animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours. Known as the 'Ag-Gag' bill, sponsors said it would ensure animal cruelty was investigated quickly, but opponents, including the Humane Society of the United States, said its actual purpose was to target animal activists and prevent them from exposing cruelty.[21]

In vetoing the bill, Haslam stated, "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."[22]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Bill Haslam endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [23]



See also: Tennessee gubernatorial election, 2014

Haslam ran for re-election as Governor of Tennessee in 2014. The general election took place November 4, 2014.[2]


See also: Tennessee gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Haslam defeated four opponents in the August 5 primary. He won with 47.5% of the vote.

He faced Mike McWherter (D), Howard Switzer (G) and 13 independent candidates in the general election on November 2, 2010, defeating them.[24][25]

2010 Tennessee gubernatorial general election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Mike McWherter 33.09%
     Republican Party Approveda Bill Haslam 65.03%
     Green Party Howard Switzer 0.08%
     Independent June Griffin 0.16%
     Independent Brandon Dodds 0.30%
     Independent Samuel David Duck 0.11%
     Independent Carl Twofeathers Whitaker 0.41%
     Independent Boyce T. McCall 0.05%
     Independent Toni K. Hall 0.06%
     Independent Donald Ray McFolin 0.04%
     Independent James Reesor 0.05%
     Independent Bayron Binkley 0.29%
     Independent Mike Knois 0.04%
     Independent Thomas Smith, II 0.08%
     Independent David Gatchell 0.05%
     Independent Linda Kay Perry 0.13%
Total Votes 1,601,660

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Haslam is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Haslam raised a total of $18,048,763 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 10, 2013.[26]

Bill Haslam's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Tennessee Not up for election $124,385
2010 Governor of Tennessee Won $17,924,378
Grand Total Raised $18,048,763


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Bill Haslam's donors each year.[27] Click [show] for more information.


He met his wife, Crissy, at college and they have been married since 1981. They have two daughters and one son.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Governor of Tennessee, "About Bill Haslam," accessed June 15, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 WBIR, "Gov. Bill Haslam announces re-election campaign," December 17, 2012
  3. National Governor's Association, "Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam," accessed June 15, 2013
  4. Office of the Governor of Tennessee, "Bill's Priorities," accessed June 15, 2013
  5. Nashville City Paper, "Flying high halfway through term, Haslam stays above fray, political land mines," June 7, 2013
  6. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  7. "Ingram To Lead Haslam’s Transition Team," Tennessee Report, November 9, 2010
  8. Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News, "Haslam’s Medicaid Option Fuels Debate," March 29, 2013
  9. Beacon Center of Tennessee, "Gov. Haslam rejects Medicaid expansion," March 27, 2013
  10. Greg Janetka, Ballotpedia, "The Executive Summary: Republican governors reverse position on Medicaid expansion," March 7, 2013
  11. The Associated Press, "New Jersey Gov. Christie vetoes state-run health exchange bill," December 6, 2012
  12. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  13. "Haslam Promises Better Education, Job Security for Tennessee in Inaugural Address," Tennessee Report, January 15, 2011
  14. "Haslam Signs First Exec. Orders: Transparency, Ethics & Non-Discrimination the Focus," Tennessee Report, January 16, 2011
  15. "Haslam’s Tort Reform Plan Advances," Tennessee Report, April 27, 2011
  16. "Political Movement on Megasite," Tennessee Report, by Mike Morrow on May 24, 2011
  17. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  18. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  19. "Haslam Defends Decision to Sign Bill Preempting Local Diversity Ordinances," Tennessee Report, by Mike Morrow, May 25, 2011
  20. "Labor Complaint Against Boeing Opposed by Haslam," by Mike Morrow, Tennessee Report, June 19, 2011
  21. Tennessean, "Gov. Haslam vetoes 'ag gag' measure over constitutional issues," May 14, 2013
  22. Marshall County Tribune, "Gov. Haslam vetos 'Ag-Gag' bill," May 15, 2013
  23. The Republic, "Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announces endorsement of Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam," January 11, 2012
  24. "Gov-elect Haslam meets with Bredesen at Capitol," Associated Press, November 3, 2010
  25. Tennessee Department of State, "Unofficial Election Results November 2, 2010", accessed November 15, 2010 and December 23, 2010
  26. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for Bill Haslam," accessed May 10, 2013
  27. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Phil Bredesen (D)
Governor of Tennessee
Succeeded by