Sunday, January 13, 2008

A couple of blog posts regarding amendatory vetos caught my eye

These two posts begs the question about whether or not the governor should have the power of an amendatory veto (AV). Should a governor attempt to circumvent the separation of powers and add something to the bill. In doing so sending a bill back to the legislature for their approval because said governor chose to use this bill to take control of the legislative process.

Now I would have confused this with a line-item veto. At least a line-item veto can be used to take away items the governor doesn't like. I don't think he should be allowed to add something to legislation.

If the governor has a proposal to make he should submit it to the legislative process instead of attaching it to a bill after it passes and resubmitting it. It shouldn't work that way and it could be used in abusive ways as I'm sure some look at what Blagojevich is doing to the mass transit bailout. Heh, the way things are going if Illinois voters are going to approve another constitutional convention it's not just going to be amended, but there might be a whole new constitution out of the deal!

Here are the two posts in question the first is from Progressive Advocacy...

There's nothing wrong in principle with the Governor using all the tools at his disposal. The problem here is that we have invested the Office of the Governor with a tool that is far too strong for a healthy legislative process.

That power is called the amendatory veto.

It essentially allows the Illinois Governor to rewrite a bill that has passed the General Assembly.

Here's the language from the Illinois Constitution.

"The Governor may return a bill together with specific recommendations for change to the house in which it originated. The bill shall be considered in the same manner as a vetoed bill but the specific recommendations may be accepted by a record vote of a majority of the members elected to each house. Such bill shall be presented again to the Governor and if he certifies that such acceptance conforms to his specific recommendations, the bill shall become law. If he does not so certify, he shall return it as a vetoed bill to the house in which it originated."
-Illinois Constitution, Article IV, Section 9, paragraph (e)

Very few other states give their governors that much power over the legislative process. I suspect that our Constitution invests more power in the Office of the Governor than any other state (though I'm not sure if that's true).

That's a problem we ought to solve, whether Rod Blagojevich happens to sit in the Governor's Chair or not. A Governor should have the same legislative powers as the President -- either sign or veto a bill as it stands. No line-item veto, no amendatory veto, no write-up-your-own-bill veto. Just accept it or reject it. And if a Governor doesn't like the way a bill is shaping up, then get involved with the legislative process.

Perhaps if the Office of the Governor didn't have such strong powers over the legislative process, our current Governor wouldn't feel quite so empowered to go it alone. It would be a healthy incentive to push governors (particularly the current one) to engage with legislators earlier to make policy.

The best opportunity to do that comes in nine months or so when every voter has the chance to vote to convene a Constitutional Convention. One of the prime topics of a Constitutional Convention would certainly be a structure that forces the Governor and the General Assembly to work more closely together. So.... vote yes!

Progessive Advocacy link to a post from Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's blog. Let's take a look at what he's talking about...
1. Senior citizens don't particularly need free rides. Sure, there are some people 65 and older who live in poverty, but not a greater percentage than among other demographic groups. (See the data here, here, here and here, for example; or consult the local Census data from which the accompanying chart comes). The notion that seniors as a group tend to live in Dickensian want is based on ancient stereotypes.

2. Other demographic groups need free rides more than seniors do. Students. People who are eligible for food stamps. The disabled. In the chart above, we see that local households headed by females are twice as likely to be in poverty than senior households) The list goes on. Why not all these people instead or also? Hmm, perhaps because they don't vote in the numbers that seniors vote.

3. It has not been vetted by the democratic process. We have this legislative system, see, in which ideas like this get a full airing by lawmakers who try to get a handle on such things as costs and unintended consequences before passing them along to the governor for his signature. But here, Blagojevich, again doing his best imitation of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez (hence my earlier headline on this item nicknaming him "Gov. Hugojevich"), decided to skirt the system. He thought of his idea back before Thanksgiving, as he said in this comically discursive statement to a reporter yesterday, yet didn't consult with transit officials or try to include what he called a 'lemonade' sweetener in the bail-out legislation.

Our story says that "RTA Chairman Jim Reilly hailed the governor's move as an act of 'political courage and statesmanship,'" when in fact it was an act of political cowardice and grandstanding.

The General Assembly should stand up to him and say no, if you want free rides for seniors, get someone to introduce a separate bill to that effect and we'll consider it. But we're not going to allow you to blackmail us with your inevitable chirping about how anyone opposed to your unilateral notions doesn't care about the group you're trying to help -- senior citizens, poor women with breast cancer and so on.

But they won't stand up to him. They'd rather allow another doomsday for democracy than see a doomsday for mass transit. So there will be shame enough to go around next week when they give this plan the OK.
Oh yeah I haven't forgotten about my post on cumulative voting. I may need to give myself a deadline to tighten that up and give you something to read.

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