In an act which has startled and confused pundits and watchdogs, Governor Bill Haslam chose to exercise exceptional Gubernatorial privilege when he vetoed his dinner bill at an area O’Charley’s restaurant Monday.
“This action was completely in line with the Governor’s beliefs on personal responsibility and self-determination” read a statement released by Haslam’s office early Tuesday morning. “Having brought a party of nine to the establishment, O’Charley’s mandated a 16% gratuity. While Governor Haslam feels that tipping is an appropriate practice, he equally feels that the amount and even whether-or-not to tip should be left up to the individual and not mandated at a higher level. With no line-item-veto option in place, the Governor felt he had no other recourse but to veto the bill in its entirety.”
This event follows the Governor’s veto earlier in the month, the first during his administration, of the controversial law which would have repealed Vanderbilt University’s “all comers” policy. With that veto, Haslam took a surprising adversarial stance to a measure heavily favored within his own party, citing that he disagreed personally with the all-comers policy, but also “as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution.”
The exercise of a second veto so shortly after his first could be signaling a change in the former Knoxville mayor’s attitude toward exercising this particular gubernatorial power, one which has been seldom used by his predecessors or his contemporaries. Local Republicans seem divided on how to respond to the “dinner veto”. Sen. Colby Mathers lauded Haslam for “defending a person’s right to choose, as long as it pertains to money and not abortion”. Inversely, Rep. Shannon Hornberger chastised the Governor, saying “We need to be practicing fiscal responsibility! If the Governor doesn’t pay for his dinner, then the restaurant has to absorb the cost of that loss, which is then passed on to other consumers. Essentially, other taxpayers are now paying for that dinner, and that means we’re no better than socialists!” O’Charley’s representatives could not be reached for comments, though Joey who works at The Rhinestone’s mailroom confirmed that “their Prime Rib is excellent.”
Picture of Gov. Haslam found at http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120503/NEWS0201/305020149/Gov-Bill-Haslam-uses-first-veto-Vanderbilt-s-all-comers-bill