Gov. Dirk Kempthorne just slammed his big, red VETO stamp down on eight House bills – that’s eight – and declared, “Every House bill that comes down here is veto fodder.”
The governor’s angry that a House committee sidetracked his $1.6 billion statewide highway construction proposal yesterday, and he’s flexing his veto muscle to make sure the plan gets back on track. Legislators won’t be finishing their session until they work with Kempthorne on the road bill, he warned. “I’m willing to stay as long as it takes,” he said. “So I’m going to take care of some of these House bills.”
That said, he slammed the VETO stamp onto each of the eight bills with a loud bang, one after another. “And I’ve got a whole lot of other bills I can take care of,” Kempthorne warned, pointing to a stack of 47 other House bills that are awaiting his signature. “It is time for us to have cooperation.”
The vetoed bills dealt with everything from agriculture to parks to child protection to income taxes. “Some of ‘em have merit,” Kempthorne said.
The road plan, which would utilize GARVEE bonds to borrow against future federal highway allocations, is a centerpiece of Kempthorne’s legislative agenda this year. It includes major upgrades to U.S. Highway 95, the accident-plagued road that’s the state’s only north-south highway. “That is legislation … that provides for the safety and well-being of our citizens when they travel the highways,” the governor said. “I’m determined that we are going to connect Idaho.”
Not in the governor’s possible-veto stack are four bills implementing a multimillion-dollar water settlement. They’re House bills, but they’re waiting right now on the Senate calendar, and haven’t been voted on yet there. “The indication I’ve gotten from the Senate leadership is that they may not take up the water bills so that they can protect them,” Kempthorne said. “That’s probably a good idea.”