Herbert Finishes Legislative Business by Vetoing Five Bills

Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed five bills on Wednesday, the final day he has to act on legislation passed in the recently-completed 2015 Legislature.

He also vetoed three budget line items in SB3, the Bill of Bills, because the legislation that required those three funding items didn’t pass the final night of the session, March 12.

He allowed three bills to become law without his signature. He didn’t name those bills. The governor usually allows such bills to become law if he doesn’t like them, but they don’t meet his standard for a veto.

As is always the case, the Senate president and the House speaker will now poll their individual membership to see if there are two-thirds majorities that want to come back into a veto override session and vote on any of the vetoed legislation.

It would take 50 votes to override in the House, 20 votes in the Senate.

An immediate reaction Wednesday evening from some Capitol Hill insiders that UtahPolicy spoke with briefly was that there wouldn’t be the two-thirds needed for an override session – the vetoed measures just weren’t that important.

Herbert historically doesn’t veto many bills, and he didn’t this time, either. And he has rarely been overridden in his veto choices.

The governor usually says, in his veto press release, why he vetoed individual bills. He didn’t do that this time, but by law he does, at some point, have to send his reasons to legislative leaders.

Look for the specific reasons later for his vetoes on his official website, here.

The vetoed bills are:

SB197, by Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, which would have allowed the State School Board to allow public schools, specifically charter schools, to hire a specially qualified person to be an administrator, like a principal.

The bill did not receive two-thirds votes when it originally passed, and so likely wouldn’t see two-thirds favor of an override. It passed 16-12 in the Senate; 42-22 in the House.

HB385, by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, would have named several miles of I-15 in Utah County after the late-Speaker Becky Lockhart. Lockhart died suddenly in January from a rare brain disease.

I-15 in Utah County, the full length of it, had already been designated a veterans’ memorial highway, and in what some saw as a petty move, some veteran organizations protested against SB385 after it passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Herbert said that Lockhart’s husband, Stan, called him on Wednesday and asked that he veto the bill, not wanting to have controversy over the Lockhart naming.

Herbert said he obliged Stan Lockhart and said he and lawmakers will work at a later date to find an appropriate way to honor the late speaker.

SB94, by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. This is a technical bill dealing with the credit or overpayment of the corporate franchise tax. It passed 27-0 in the Senate and 73-0 in the House.

SB249, by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. The bill said if a driver stops at a railroad crossing, lights are flashing, but the gates doesn’t come down, if there is no train approaching and it appears safe, the driver can go through the lights.

It passed 67-7 in the House and 26-0 in the Senate.

SB278, by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. It would have increased the motion picture incentive allowed per picture from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

Utah has provided some financial incentives for years if a motion picture company qualifies and makes their picture in the state.

It passed the Senate 21-0 and the House 62-8.

Just after Herbert announced his vetoes, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, issued this statement:

“Tonight, I will send a ballot to Utah’s 29 state senators, asking them to cast a vote for or against an override session. 

“The speaker of the House will poll his members as well. 

“If two-thirds of each chamber vote to convene an override session, we will call the Legislature back to the Capitol for that purpose.  If (legislators) choose not to override, we’ll move directly into our interim work.

 "We plan to announce the results of the veto override poll on Thursday, April 16th."

Greg Hartley, House chief of staff, told UtahPolicy that Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, had no immediate reaction to the veto list, but that members would be polled soon whether they wanted to come back into a veto override session or not.

The state Constitution allows the Legislature to call itself back into session for an override proceeding.

Otherwise, only the governor can call lawmakers into a special session after the general session ends.

Herbert has already said he plans on calling legislators back into a special session this summer, after a special six-member super committee, made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, and legislative leaders, reaches a compromise on Medicaid expansion.