NASHVILLE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has refused to sign into law a controversial "truth in sentencing" bill championed by his fellow Republicans, House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senate Speaker Randy McNally, saying previous get-tough-on-crime approaches have proven both costly and ineffective.
Because Lee didn't veto the bill, the measure became law Friday anyway. It takes effect July 1.
Gubernatorial vetoes are rare in Tennessee. Lawmakers can override a veto with the same number of votes it takes to pass a bill in the first place: 50 votes in the 99-member House and 17 votes in the 33-member Senate. The House passed the bill on a 86-9 vote while senators approved it 20-7.
But Lee's refusal to sign the speakers' "truth in sentencing" bill and his implicit criticisms of the tough approach later drew criticisms from Sexton.