Bill Haslam

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Bill Haslam
August 23, 1958
Bill Haslam.jpg
49th Governor of Tennessee
Assumed office
January 15, 2011
80th Mayor of the City Knoxville
In office
December 20, 2003 – January 10, 2011
Preceded byPhil Bredesen
Succeeded byTBD
Political partyRepublican
ProfessionPolitician, Business Executive
WebsiteOffice of the Governor of Tennessee
William Edward "Bill" Haslam (b. August 23, 1958), a Republican, is the current Governor of Tennessee. He served as the Knoxville mayor from his election in 2003 to his election as Governor 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.[1]


Haslam was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, 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.

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, a term Haslam will serve through 2012.

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

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


  • B.A., Emory University



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.[2]

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:[3]

  • 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.”

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.[4]


Gov. Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman conduct “education roundtables” throughout the state. In mid-May 2011, the team conducted one at Krisle Elementary School in Robertson County.

The governor didn’t announce Huffman’s appointment until March 2011, two months after the governor took office. He then didn’t swear in Huffman until April 2011.

The education roundtables are a contrast to discussions between lawmakers and educators on Capitol Hill.

When Haslam goes out to meet with teachers — except for an occasional soft reference to current political events, like a teacher saying, “It’s hard to be a teacher right now,” — the tone of conversation is noticeably diplomatic.

“Everybody in the room may not agree politically. We may not agree on everything about schools,” said Suzan Brown, principal at Krisle Elementary, to open the discussion in Springfield. “But we do have the same philosophy that all children can learn and that all children deserve the very best.”

That was about as far as it went in terms of politics. Not a hint of animosity in the room. And so the conversation went from there.

Haslam tends to ask questions at the events. Huffman tends to take notes. Both give answers to any question thrown their way.[5]


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.”[6]

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.”[7]

Labor complaint

Gov. Bill Haslam is among 16 Republican governors to sign a letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The letter asks 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 claims Boeing established an assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C., in retaliation for past labor problems the company has experienced in the state of Washington.

South Carolina's Republican governor Nikki Haley has written 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 is among the signers.[8]



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

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

Haslam faced Mike McWherter (D), Howard Switzer (G) and 13 independent candidates in the general election on November 2, 2010, defeating them.[9]

See also

External links