Statement from Gov. Haslam on HB 1111/SB 1085

Friday, May 05, 2017 | 11:17am

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.”