“Is there any chance the vetoes can be overridden?” asked a reader in response to yesterday’s commentary on Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of two pieces of common-sense legislation.
It’s a good question, because the bill reforming civil asset forfeiture and the bill easing regulations that block employment in cosmetology both passed by wide margins. Unfortunately, the answer is NO.
According to the Gem State’s constitution, the governor has ten days after legislation reaches his desk or, at the session’s end, ten days after the legislature adjourns to decide whether to sign or veto a bill. If he vetoes after adjournment, it cannot be overridden — unless the legislature comes back into session.*
Only the governor can call legislators back into session, which is exceedingly unlikely if a new session would entail a veto override.
It turns out that Idaho is one of only six states where legislators are unable after adjournment to override a veto. Still, the problem’s simple enough to solve: legislators could propose a constitutional amendment changing the process.
Senator Steve Vick did just that, in 2014 and again in 2016. But though his amendment garnered the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate, the House never took it up. He plans to reintroduce it next year.
There’s another constitutional change needed: term limits for the governor. A 2015 poll found a whopping 84 percent of Idahoans favor such limits. Yet, legislators may be squeamish, knowing that those same voters (by that same margin) also want legislators term-limited.
“Sometimes it is amazing,” Idaho Politics Weekly’s Bob Bernick explained, “how elected officials can just ignore the will of voters.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* Gov. Otter also vetoed the legislature’s repeal of the state sales tax on groceries, the timing of which legislators are challenging in court.