Montana Legislature Overrides Governor’s First Veto

Senate unanimously voted to override the veto and the House voted 89-11 to do the same

By Associated Press
A legislator walks towards the governor's office in 2017. Beacon File Photo

HELENA — Montana lawmakers have nearly unanimously overridden Gov. Greg Gianforte’s first veto of a bill both sides say involves the balance of power between the executive and legislative branch.

Gianforte, a Republican, vetoed a bill last week that would have allowed the legislature to repeal new or amended rules made by state agencies while the legislature is not in session, without the approval of the governor.

The bill would allow the rules to be rejected via a joint resolution, which does not require the governor’s signature to take effect, rather than a bill.

Supporters said it would help even out the balance of power between the governor and the legislature.

Gianforte vetoed the bill on April 8, saying it attempts to remove from the governor the final authority over rulemaking activities. He said it also unlawfully exceeds the permitted scope of a joint resolution.

Republican Rep. Bill Mercer said Monday the resolution would allow lawmakers to look at administrative rules to see if they followed the intent of the legislature.

The Senate unanimously voted to override the veto on Friday and the House voted 89-11 Monday to do the same.

The House and Senate have passed a bill this session to overturn an administrative rule created by the Department of Public Health and Human Services in December 2017. It will be forwarded to Gianforte for his signature.

The health department amended a rule to allow a person to correct the gender designation on their birth certificate by providing an affidavit along with a form certifying the person has undergone gender transition or has an intersex condition; or a government-issued identification displaying the correct gender designation; or a certified copy of a court order indicating the gender of an individual born in Montana had been changed.

The Legislature voted to revoke the amended rule and instead require that a person has to have a court order indicating their sex has been changed by surgical procedure in order to change their sex on their birth certificate.