No Wiggle Room for Montana Governor on Nearly 100 Bills

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Now that the legislative session is over, Gov. Brian Schweitzer will be prevented from recommending changes to nearly 100 bills yet to be transferred to his office.

The Legislature adjourned Thursday night, leaving the Democratic governor without his power of amendatory veto, in which he can recommend line-item changes to bills that must then be ratified by lawmakers.

Now, Schweitzer has the choice of vetoing the bills, signing them into law or letting them become law without his signature.

Republican leaders had previously suggested they would delay transmitting a business-backed bill granting eminent domain powers to utilities to prevent the governor from adding his suggested two-year expiration date to the measure.

Now eminent domain and a bevy of bills dealing with other high-profile issues like state spending, abortion, and environmental law reform are going to go to the governor’s desk for an up or down vote.

Some bills have been piling up in Senate President Jim Peterson’s office for weeks. Peterson, R-Buffalo, said he wasn’t happy with the governor’s theatrics over measures that are sent to his desk, such earlier this month when Schweitzer used a branding iron with the word “VETO” to set a handful of bills ablaze outside the Capitol

“Frankly I’m not impressed with the branding parties,” Peterson said.

Sen. David Wanzenried, D-Missoula, said GOP leaders holding onto the bills doesn’t follow the spirit of the Legislature’s rules for passage of bills.

“It shouldn’t be left up to the leaders because they don’t like a branding party or don’t like a bill,” Wanzenried said.

Bills must be delivered to the governor’s desk within 10 days of the end of the session. After the governor receives the proposals he has 10 days to act on them.

Other proposals yet to be sent to the governor include several appropriation bills that give money to cultural and natural resource projects as well as a number of gun and wildlife bills.

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