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Locke Wields Veto Pen, But Not Like Last Year Governor’s Also Signed 231 Bills So Far, With Saturday Deadline For Action On Legislation

Associated Press

Gov. Gary Locke, who made state history last year with the use of his veto pen, on Tuesday wiped out seven bills, including a “water-spreading” measure sought by irrigators.

The governor also vetoed bills dealing with growth management, school district book loans to private schools, pawnbrokers’ fees, transportation reports, management of aquatic lands and disclosure of collective bargaining records.

Locke aides said the governor doesn’t expect to come close to last year’s total, when he vetoed all or parts of 125 bills - or roughly a quarter of all bills the Republican Legislature approved.

Locke’s vetoes Tuesday brought his total so far to 25 partial or complete vetoes. The governor has until Saturday to complete work on bills passed during the recent 60-day session. He has signed 231 bills so far.

A quick rundown of the vetoes: Irrigation: Locke rejected a “water-spreading” plan, SB5527, that would have allowed farmers to take irrigation water they save through conservation and use it on new parcels of land or sell or lease it to others, including the state.

Locke said he will ask natural resource agencies to come up with a counterproposal for next session that will “provide an equitable way to allocate conserved water between off-stream and in-stream uses,” while still providing incentives for farmers to conserve water.

Growth management: Locke vetoed legislation he said would have substantially weakened the power of the three regional growth management hearings boards. The bill, SB5185, would have prohibited boards from ruling on the validity of city or county comprehensive plans or development rules, he said.

Books for private schools: Locke axed SB6574, which would have required public schools to make a “good-faith effort” to loan textbooks to private schools that ask. Locke said that could conflict with the constitutional ban on giving state tax money to religious schools.

Pawnbrokers: The governor vetoed HB2357, which would have boosted maximum interest rates that pawnbrokers may charge.

Transportation reports: Locke vetoed HB1786, requiring the Transportation Improvement Board to submit its prioritized list of projects to the Legislature for review before final budget decisions are made. Locke said this bill “threatened the integrity of the process” by injecting politics.

Aquatic lands: He rejected HB1692, which would have allowed cities and ports to manage some state-owned aquatic lands, without lease payments to the state.

Public records: Locke vetoed HB1504, which would have required release of public agency records dealing with strategies in collective bargaining negotiations, grievances and mediation.

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