Clock ticks down to sine die and governor’s actions on bills

Clock ticks down to sine die and governor’s actions on bills

By Lee Ann Schutz, House Session Daily

It’s not only the Legislature that feels the pressure of May 19, the constitutionally-mandated last day of session. Members are working to confer and pass bills they would like to get to the governor’s desk before that date. The governor is under the pressure of the clock to act as well.

Once a bill passes the House and Senate in identical form, and sent to the governor for consideration, he has several options:

•        sign the bill and it will become law;

•        veto the bill;

•        line-item veto individual items within an appropriations bill; or

•        do nothing, which can have two different effects.

The timing of these actions is as important as the actions themselves.

When a bill is passed by the Legislature and presented to the governor before the final three days of the session, it will become law unless the governor vetoes it by returning it to the Legislature within three days. (Sundays are not counted in the three-day time limit, but holidays are.)

The governor normally signs the bills and files them with the secretary of state, but the signature is not required. If a bill is passed during the last three days of session the governor has a longer time to act. It must be signed and deposited with the secretary of state within 14 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.

If the governor does not sign a bill within this time frame, it will not become law — an action known as a pocket veto. The governor is not required to provide a reason for the veto.

Only on appropriations bills can the governor exercise the line-item veto authority. This allows the governor to eliminate the appropriation items to which he or she objects. With the exception of pocket vetoes, the governor must include a statement listing the reasons for the veto with the returned bill. Here, too, the timetable is three days after the governor receives the bill.

Policy items contained in appropriations bill may not be line-item vetoed. In order to veto such an item, the governor is required to veto the entire bill.

A two-thirds vote of the members in each house is needed to override a veto. But because only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature, anything vetoed after the Legislature adjourns is history — at least until next session, when the process begins again with bill introductions.

The governor’s veto authority is outlined in the Minnesota constitution (Article IV, Section 23).

Here is a list of the bills acted on by the governor so far this 2014 session. Later this summer, a review of all new laws and vetoes from the 2014 session will be available here.

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