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Bill Lee sworn in for second term as 50th governor of Tennessee

Republican Gov. Bill Lee takes the oath of office at War Memorial Plaza on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee takes the oath of office at War Memorial Plaza on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Gov. Bill Lee has officially begun his second term as the governor of Tennessee. The Williamson County-born Republican was sworn in for another four years at War Memorial Plaza in downtown Nashville.

Lee took the oath of office in chilly but sunny temperatures in front of dozens of state lawmakers and members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation. The Williamson County Republican won a commanding majority of the votes in last November’s election. A national guard band played and canons were fired to mark the occasion.

In his inaugural speech, Lee pledged to tackle issues that tend to have broad support.

“We need a transportation strategy and an energy strategy designed for one of the fastest-growing states in America,” said Lee.

He also wants to focus on the environmentand issues at the Department of Children’s services, like a shortage of staff and caretakers for vulnerable kids.

“We need to protect children in our custody across this state with a better foster care and a better adoption process,” Lee said.

Lee touted some of the accomplishments from his first term, like overhauling Tennessee’s school funding and bringing jobs from companies like Ford to the state.

“…Thanks to historic investments in vocational and technical and agricultural education, shaping Tennessee’s future workforce,” Lee said, “Tennessee has become proof that the state with the workers will win every single time.”

But the governor stayed away from culture war issues that the Tennessee GOP has promoted. In his first term he signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, anti-LGBTQ bills, and limited what students can learn about racism and privilege.

Going forward, Lee says he knows there will be critics, but he’s focusing on civility.

“We should never believe that differences are a platform for demonization or that one man has any greater value than another. Civility is not a weakness,” said Lee.

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