NASHVILLE - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam today said he is issuing his first veto on a bill that seeks to make Vanderbilt University drop an anti-discrimination policy that has had some campus religious groups and conservative legislators in an uproar.
Meanwhile, Haslam said he has concerns about the constitutionality of another bill seeking to restrict the hiring of foreign nationals at public charter schools. He said he doesn't think the bill is mandatory and will let the bill become law without his signature.
Haslam said in a statement that "I don't agree with Vanderbilt's 'all-comers' policy. It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization."
He said the original bill, which applied to public colleges and universities, was "appropriate" because it dealt with policy at public institutions.
"The amended legislation that the General Assembly ultimately passed, however, also applies to private universities. Although I disagree with Vanderbilt's policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution. Therefore, I will veto HB 3576/SB 3597 in its current form."
The legislation came after Vanderbilt officials this year adopted a policy that requires on-campus students groups to stick to the university's non-discrimination policy and let any interested student join and run for office in an organization.