Gov. Lee sends back residency requirements bill without signing it

Gov. Bill Lee news conference.jpeg
Posted at 10:19 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 23:29:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The fight for Nashville's newly formed 5th Congressional District is one of the most crowded primary battles shaping up in this year's elections.

But who will appear on the ballot and who won't?

That answer got a little clearer this week after Gov. Bill Lee returned a residency requirement bill back to state lawmakers without his signature.

The new law requires a candidate for the U.S. Congress to live in Tennessee for three years before an election in order to qualify for a state primary.

At least one Republican candidate in the race for the 5th Congressional district, Moran Ortagus, does not meet that requirement.

But even though the law is in effect, the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office said the law will not impact any candidates in this year’s primary.

After both houses of the legislature passed the bill by March 28 and on April 1, they handed it over to the governor. After that, the governor had until April 13 to take action on the bill.

On Wednesday, the governor didn’t veto the bill, but he returned it to the legislature without signing it, meaning it becomes law anyway.

But six days earlier, April 7, was the filing deadline for candidates in the state primary. The Secretary of State’s office said since the bill didn’t become law until Wednesday, candidates who met the earlier filing deadline aren’t subject to the new requirements.

"We feel the voters are best able to determine who should represent them in Congress," said Casey Black, spokesperson for Gov. Lee.