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Utah Lawmakers Call Veto Override Session, Continuing Tug-Of-War With Gov. Herbert

Austen Diamond

Legislative leaders say they have the votes needed to override two vetoes issued by Gov. Gary Herbert last month.

The two bills in question are part of an ongoing battle between lawmakers and the governor over the separation of powers between branches of government.

One bill Herbert rejected would have allowed the legislature to intervene in legal challenges to state law. The governor said he vetoed it because “defending these legal challenges is inherently part of the Executive’s role of executing the law.”

The other vetoed bill would force the attorney general to release legal opinions to the legislature.

Lawmakers need a two-thirds majority to overrule a governor’s veto. They plan to call an override session before the May 7 deadline.

The last time the Utah Legislature held a veto override session was in 2011. Lawmakers have only held five override sessions in the past two decades.

The power struggle between lawmakers and the governor was ignited last summer, when Herbert called a special election to replace outgoing Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Lawmakers wanted input on that election and were upset when the governor set it without consulting them.

During the 2018 legislative session they passed a number of bills to expand their power. In addition to the two vetoed bills now headed for an override, the legislature passed a resolution that could allow lawmakers to call themselves into a special session, which will go before voters in November.

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