Apr 14, 2022 - Politics

Gov. Bill Lee returns residency bill

Photo illustration of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

A bill that would create residency requirements for congressional primaries in Tennessee will become law without Gov. Bill Lee's support.

  • Lee returned it to the General Assembly on Wednesday without his signature. It still becomes law, but its effective date will blunt its impact.

Why it matters: The legislation requires candidates to live in Tennessee for three years before an election to qualify for a party primary.

  • Lawmakers pushed for the law to take effect immediately, which would have blocked District 5 candidate Morgan Ortagus from the Republican ballot.
  • But because Lee returned it after the April 7 filing deadline for the race, it will not apply to candidates already qualified for this year's ballot, according to a spokesperson for the Tennessee secretary of state.

What they're saying: Lee spokesperson Casey Black tells Axios, "We feel the voters are best able to determine who should represent them in Congress."

The intrigue: A lawsuit has already been filed in an attempt to block the law from taking effect.

  • The suit states the legislation violates the U.S. Constitution, which includes less stringent requirements for Congress.

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