Attempts to overturn Governor’s vetoes fall short

Bob Mercer


The South Dakota Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in each of the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass into state law a piece of legislation that the governor has vetoed. On Monday, Gov. Dennis Daugaard proved how difficult overturning a veto can be.

The Republican governor prevailed each time, as lawmakers spent the final day of the 2012 legislative session unable to muster the votes necessary to override any of the three full vetoes he issued last week.

Daugaard used his veto power to stop legislation that would have repealed most of South Dakota’s permit requirements for carrying a concealed pistol.

He also used his veto to block tax breaks to wind power projects costing more than $50 million and for environmental upgrades required at the Big Stone power plant.

And he waded into the fight over Rapid City’s regulation of digital billboards, vetoing legislation that attempted to overturn a municipal ordinance adopted by Rapid City voters.

The concealed-pistol measure, House Bill 1248, received just 27 yes votes and 40 no votes from House members Monday after the prime sponsor, Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, asked them to override the governor’s veto. It originally was approved 50-18 by the House on Feb. 13.

Olson’s bill would have eliminated the requirement that a person have a concealed-weapon permit. Instead the proposed requirements were being at least age 18 and having a South Dakota driver license.

The tax breaks legislation, House Bill 1228, was an attempt to encourage wind-power development and to provide some relief to the utility companies who jointly own the Big Stone plant and those companies’ customers.

But a 2011 law that seeks to provide grants as rewards to large development projects awaits a statewide vote in November, and the governor said it was inappropriate to single out some projects ahead of that referendum.

Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown, sought the veto override in the House. The vote was 44-23, three supporters short of the 47 needed. The bill previously passed in the house 52-16 on March 1.

The billboard legislation, Senate Bill 157, made it halfway Monday. The Senate, where Republican leader Russ Olson of Wentworth was its prime sponsor, voted 26-7 to override the veto. Through Olson’s advocacy the measure actually picked up support. The Senate had voted 24-9 on Feb. 29 to approve it.

The House was a hurdle too high, however. House members voted for it 43-24 Monday, four supporters short of an override. That wasn’t surprising, because the House had voted to approve it 42-27 on March 1, a signal that a two-thirds majority would be difficult.

Legislators agreed Monday with technical changes that the governor sought on two other bills, giving Daugaard a 5-for-5 day. On full vetoes he finished 3-for-4 in the 2012 session and he was 5-for-6 overall including a line-item veto and a style and form veto.