Monday, December 29, 2008

Legislature '09: Who Will Be The Decider? Plot Thickens On Whose Pen Will Be In Play When Key Laws Are Sent To Governor 

We pointed out recently that it will be Diane Denish who will likely have the veto power over major legislation coming out of the next legislative session. The Light Guv is set to succeed Big Bill if he is confirmed as US Commerce Secretary by the Senate. However, one of the Roundhouse wall-leaners points out Bill could have a big say on key issues of the 60 day session--depending on the timing

Any assumption that the veto authority is exercised only at the end of the session could lead to misimpressions. Expect a different scenario for this coming session, and the spending bills to move early so the Governor can act on them.

Under the Constitution, legislation passed in all but the final three days must be acted upon by the Governor, who must sign or veto the legislation within three days. Otherwise, the legislation becomes law with or without the Governor’s action. For legislation passed in the final three days, the Governor has 20 days to act including any vetoes. This distinction is an important part of the inside game, and explains a great deal of the ill will between the two chambers.

Well said. House Speaker Lujan has indicated he wants to get a measure addressing the state's $453 million budget shortfall (perhaps more) before the Governor in the first days of the session--while Big Bill is still likely to be Governor. Of course, let's see how fast the Senate acts. Speaker Lujan is a key ally of the Guv. He might have more certainty over this critical measure with Bill wielding the signing pen and not Diane.


Insiders say Richardson has in the past worked with the Speaker to assure that he did not receive the budget and capital outlay legislation any earlier than the final three days of the session. This allowed him 20 days to veto spending by line item veto, and punish legislators who may not have voted as directed. Critics say this effectively amounted to the House giving away a great deal of the entire Legislature’s power, including the Senate’s power. The Governor would veto spending long after legislators had gone home and long after there would be any attempt to override vetoes. This is often cited as a chief reason for ill will between the Senators and the Speaker. You can bet if there's a tax increase proposal Bill will do what he can to make sure it is Di who has to give it the thumbs up or thumbs down.

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