CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says therapists should be treated the same as lawyers and doctors.
He says if they aren’t comfortable with a patient’s goals or behavior, they should be able to refer them to someone else.
Haslam gave the keynote address at the Better Business Bureau’s annual meeting in Chattanooga.
Afterwards, he talked about signing a bill into law involving counselors and therapists.
It allows them to refuse to treat patients based on religious or personal beliefs.
“If they’ll read this bill, it provides that a therapist can not turn away someone who is in a life threatening situation, and they have to refer them to another appropriate therapist or counselor, so I do think this provides that protection for the client, as well as respecting the therapist as a professional.”
The Secretary of State in Washington State says no one from her office will attend a national conference in Tennessee this summer because the Governor signed that bill.
But Haslam thinks some people are missing the point.
“There is a perceived issue that this is about discriminating against someone, which is not at all the reason I signed it. It is for that, I think therapists, like I said, like other professionals, should have the ability to decide whether or not they’ the appropriate person to serve a client.”
While the Governor signed the therapist bill, he vetoed a bill to make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.
“But I think there were some Constitutional issues in terms of the establishment of religion with that bill. There are also, but to me maybe even more important, I thought the effort trivialized the Bible, to be put on the same level as the state bird, and the state insect, and the state song, et cetera.”
Haslam also spoke about the TNReady tests not being ready for all students.
The Tennessee Department of Education suspended testing for grades 3rd through 8th throughout the whole state.
The Governor says he doesn’t know all the details about why the company Measurement, Inc. was not able to deliver the tests on time.
The company also was not able to have a paper and pencil back up test.
But Haslam is confident the state will have a vendor in place next year to produce the tests on time.