Nine of the 351 bills passed by the 1991 Legislature have been vetoed by Gov. Norm Bangerter, including a measure that would have prevented drinking while driving a golf cart.
Going through the pile of bills lawmakers left for his signature when the session ended on Feb. 27, the governor finished on Tuesday, well ahead of his midnight deadline.Besides vetoing nine bills, Bangerter also exercised his line-item veto authority on portions of three appropriations bills and allowed seven other bills to go into law without his signature.
Among the bills the governor allowed to go into law without his signature was HB94, the controversial Lobbyist Disclosure and Regulation Act, because he said it was too broad in scope.
"Although I favor stronger lobbyist disclosure regulations than exist in present Utah law, HB94 contains some unclear language that, if strictly interpreted, would require almost anyone doing business with the state . . . to register as a lobbyist and file the necessary reports," Bangerter said in a letter to legislative leaders explaining his action.
The governor, who wanted lawmakers to set a lower reporting limit than the $100 specified in the bill, called in his letter for an immediate review of "the areas of deficiency."
But he said during a press conference Tuesday that the issue likely wouldn't be taken up during a special session tentatively set for April to consider a bonding bill that lawmakers failed to pass.
"I do not want to see the special session in April or May escalate into more than a one-day session," Bangerter said. "I'll make every effort to keep that list from growing."
One of the vetoed bills was SB60, which was intended to expand the ban on open containers of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles, removing the words "on any highway" in the current open-container law.
State Alcoholic Beverage Control Department officials have said the legislation could be applied to riding lawn mowers as well as golf carts. Bill drafters claim that was never their intent.
The governor, an avid golfer himself, said he agreed with the effort to expand the open-container law to private property but that the bill went too far.
"It's basically a reasonable thing to do, except it got into private property being a golf course and motor vehicles being golf carts," the governor said.
Another veto was SB122, intended to protect employees from discrimination because of what they do on their own time.
The bill had attracted attention from the tobacco industry, which resulted in it being labeled "smokers' rights" legislation even though it did not specifically refer to smoking.
Bangerter said he rejected the bill because he has seen no evidence Utahns are being discriminated against in the workplace because of their personal habits.
The governor also criticized the unsuccessful campaign to get him to sign the bill. His office has received hundreds of telephone calls on the bill, including some as the result of what Bangerter termed "mischar-acteri-zations."
"I was somewhat offended at the efforts of the tobacco industry," the governor said. "I disagree not only with the bill but with the tactics they used."
Others bills were vetoed primarily because the state Attorney General's office found that they were legally flawed. For example, HB145 would prohibit transporting youth against their will to participate in wilderness therapy programs. However, as written, the bill does not apply to other types of programs aimed at troubled youth.
Most of the line-item vetoes were intended to fix mix-ups, such as deleting appropriations for programs not approved by the Legislature or eliminating funding duplications.
The governor did veto a contingent appropriation allowing up to $5 million for capital improvements if surplus funds are available on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Bangerter said the appropriation would violate the state spending limitation as well as jeopardize funding for other projects, such as the Salt Palace and West Valley Highway.
He also rejected spending nearly $600,000 for building-project planning, saying it is not prudent to plan now for some $73 million in construction since there are at least two years' worth of buildings already on the drawing board.
Vetoed or not signed
Among Gov. Norm Bangerter's vetoes:
- Ban on open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles, even when on private property. This would have included golf carts and riding lawn mowers.
- Bill protecting employers from discrimination because of off-the-job activities, such as smoking.
- Appropriation of $600,000 to plan building projects. The governor said planning already is completed for two years' worth of construction.
See a complete list on Page B2.
Not signed, not vetoed by the governor, so it becomes law:
- Stricter disclosure requirements for lobbyists, with requirement to report expenditures of more than $100.
HB9 - Continuity of Government Act
HB101 - Declaratory Judgment Act Amendments
HB145 - Youth Transport Services
HB319 - Parental Notification of Commitment and Admission of Minors to
SB33 - Exemptions from Execution Retirement Income Tax
SB60 - Prohibition on Alcoholic Beverages in a Motor Vehicle
SB122 - Anti-discrimination in Employees' Use of Lawful Products
SB155 - Adoptability of Children
SB204 - Prohibiting Wrongful LiensSB206 - Supplemental Appropriations Act
SB210 - Appropriations Act HB75 - Alternative Dispute Resolution Providers
HB94 - Lobbyist Disclosure and Regulation Act
HB168 - Optometry Amendments
HB282 - Legislative Reauthorization of Administrative Rules
HB349 - State Land Law Amendments
SB183 - Mentally Retarded Offenders