Lawmakers will gather on Wednesday afternoon for Utah’s first veto override session since 2011.
At least 2/3rds of the House and Senate voted to attempt an override of three bills and several line-items that Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed following the 2018 session.
Of particular interest to lawmakers are HB198 and SB171. Both passed with veto-proof majorities during the session, but Gov. Herbert vetoed both because he felt they violated the separation of powers between the executive branch and legislature.
HB198 requires the Attorney General’s office to give a legal opinion to the legislature if they ask for it. The bill comes from the spat between lawmakers and Herbert over last year’s special congressional election in CD3, won by John Curtis. State law only says the governor shall call the election when there’s a vacancy in Congress, but does not specify the rules for the election. Herbert refused requests from lawmakers to call a special session so they could set the parameters of the session. Instead, Herbert used existing election law, with the dual path to the ballot for candidates.
Lawmakers asked the AG’s office to give them an opinion on whether Herbert’s move was legal. He blocked the release of that memo, citing attorney-client privilege.
SB171 allows lawmakers to hire their own attorneys and get involved in lawsuits over actions of the legislature. Herbert argued the bill would sow confusion because there would be two sets of lawyers claiming to represent the state in legal matters.
It will take a 2/3 vote of both houses to override Herbert’s vetoes.
Lawmakers also passed HJR18, which allows the legislature to call itself into special session in certain circumstances. That proposed constitutional amendment will be on November’s ballot. Right now, only the governor has that ability.