Thursday, June 25, 2009

Overriding late Gov. veto fails--Gov. VETOES ban on toll advertising

Constitutional amendment to let the legislature return to override a Governor's veto fails

One of the things that didn’t make it through this last session was a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the legislature to come back after the regular session to override gubernatorial vetoes of bills that had been passed by both houses. As it is now, if a bill is passed toward the end of the session, time runs out before the legislature can try to override the governor’s veto, even if the votes are there to override.

The override amendment was introduced in both the House and the Senate. HJR 29 by Representative Elkins was voted out of the House State Affairs Committee, but didn’t pass the House. SJR 14 by Sen. Wentworth was voted out of the Senate State Affairs Committee, but was not allowed to be considered by the full Senate by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. There is an informative explanation of this in the Statesman:

Governor vetoes the ban on promoting toll roads

A prime example of why we need the constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to come back to override a veto is the fate of HB 2142.

During the last few years, TxDOT spent millions in taxpayer money for advertising and lobbying to actively promote toll roads, including the Trans-Texas Corridor. The TURF organization sued TxDOT to stop this practice. While the lawsuit was pending, Representative McClendon introduced HB 2142 this session, which would have banned the use of our money in this way.

HB 2142 easily passed both houses and was on its way to protect us from having our own money used against us, when Gov. 39% vetoed it. As Sen. Kirk Watson said, “This shows so much chutzpah that I still can’t believe it, the Governor vetoed a bill prohibiting TxDOT from actively advertising their toll roads. The bill passed unanimously at nearly every step (it passed 132-1 on the House floor). And all it says is TxDOT can’t spend taxpayer money influencing public opinion about toll roads.”

TURF’s Terri Hall said that a judge had been on the verge of dismissing TURF’s lawsuit against TxDOT because it looked like HB 2142 had put this protection of taxpayer funds into statute. However, with Perry’s veto, TURF’s lawsuit now may have a better chance of proceeding.

Perry's vetoes show need for veto override

Perry’s veto of eminent domain protection in the 2007 session, and now his veto of the ban on using our money to promote toll roads, including the Corridor, are both reasons why legislators should be able to come back to consider overriding vetoes of bills that are overwhelmingly desired by the people and their representatives.

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