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On letting bills become law without the governor’s signature…

Gov. Butch Otter speaks at a press conference on Thursday, March 29, 2018; at right are House Majority Leader Mike Moyle and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder. (The Spokesman-Review / Betsy Z. Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter speaks at a press conference on Thursday, March 29, 2018; at right are House Majority Leader Mike Moyle and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder. (The Spokesman-Review / Betsy Z. Russell)

Among the questions that Gov. Butch Otter fielded from reporters at his press conference today was one about allowing bills to become law without his signature; he took that approach on 11 bills this year, despite pointing to problems in them ranging from constitutional and separation of powers issues to public safety. Asked why those weren’t reasons to veto those measures, Otter said, “You have to weigh the bills in totality.”

“I’ve seen in the past bills that I did let become law without my signature, and sent that message, that the next year some corrections were made relative to the message that I sent,” he said.

Otter’s transmittal letter this year on SB 1313, the “stand your ground” law, drew particular attention because it said the bill appears to make it legal to shoot mischievous Idaho kids to death. The bill as written, he wrote, “will exonerate killings that otherwise would be considered unreasonable.”

“I have to go … with the total weight of the bill, and if the bill has more merit than it has potential problems,” the governor said today. “I’m not at all concerned that I’m not fulfilling my constitutional responsibility as governor. It doesn’t say I have to veto a bill. It commands me to assess that bill and how good a public policy it is. And some of those bills I could’ve vetoed, and they’d have overrode the veto, if you looked at the vote count. Beating my head against the wall is no good either. Yeah, it would’ve sent a message, and what good would it have done?”



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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