Othni J. Lathram Director, Legislative Services Agency.
It Passed–Now What are the governor’s options?
Few sections of our 1901 constitution are more confusing or difficult to parse out than section 125 that sets out the framework for what happens to legislation once it is transmitted from the legislative to executive branches of our government. every year I read it several times each session and second-guess myself regarding what I thought I knew and having to re-work the various options and time frames. I have created charts, graphs, diagrams, decision trees, sketches, and memos, and yet I am still never confident about how it all works until I go back to the text itself and work back through it in a way that reminds me of fourth-grade sentence-diagraming exercises. This year, as I write this in the break between our penultimate and final legislative days, it is no different.
Section 125 in all its glory has never been amended. It lays out how a bill can become a law without the governor’s signature or with it, how a veto can be exercised, how the governor can propose an executive amendment, what the legislature’s options are when an executive amendment is offered, and how and when the pocket veto comes into play. The “line-item veto” is established by section 126, and we will come back to that later. section 125 provides: Every bill which shall have passed both houses of the legislature, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall be presented to the governor; if he approves, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated, which shall enter the objections at large upon the journal and proceed to reconsider it. If the governor’s message proposes no amendment which would remove his objections to the bill, the house in which t he bill originated may proceed to reconsider it, and if a majority of the whole number elected to that house vote for the passage of the bill, it shall be sent to the other house, which shall in like manner reconsider, and if a majority of the whole number elected to that house vote for the passage of the bill, the same shall become a law, notwithstanding the governor’s veto. If the governor’s message proposes amendment, which would remove his objections, the house to which it is sent may so amend the bill and send...