Utah Legislature Set to Override Some of Governor's Vetoes

Utah Legislature Set to Override Some of Governor's Vetoes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah legislators meeting next Wednesday at the Capitol appear to have enough votes to override Gov. Olene Walker's veto of bills changing election law and updating a law against unfair business practices.

But the House of Representatives appears short on votes needed to override Walker's veto of a higher-profile bill that was to give parents a state subsidy to send disabled children to private schools.

"That bill was very hotly debated and contested during the session and people are firm in their position one way or another on it," said House Majority Leader Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, who had little hope of resurrecting the Carson Smith Special Needs scholarship bill.

The Smith bill didn't pass either chamber with a veto-proof majority "and there's no support from Democrats on that at all," he said.

Republicans control both chambers of the Utah Legislature but often need Democratic support to muster the two-thirds votes to overcome a governor's veto.

Legislators will gather at the Utah Capitol for a dozen committee meetings on Wednesday, when Walker is calling the Senate to confirm a string of her nominations to state boards and a commission.

The 75-member House plans to use the opportunity Wednesday to overturn Walker's veto of the election-law and business-practices bills, Curtis said.

The election bill requires that special bond elections be held on primary or general election days when voter turnout is greater than other days. It passed the House in a 47-21 vote -- three votes shy of a veto-proof majority, but Curtis said he thinks he can muster 50 votes with Democrats' help for an override.

Senate Bill 239, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, prohibits business practices that diminish the value of intellectual property, including "cyber-terrorism" or computer hacking that disrupts a business or reveals proprietary software code.

That bill "could significantly increase state court workload," legislative fiscal analysts wrote in a warning attached to the bill, "but there is no reliable estimate of those costs."

Undeterred, the House approved it 54-16.

The 29-member Senate passed both bills with veto-proof majorities.

Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, said the reasons Walker offered him for vetoing the election bond bill "simply were not accurate."

Bramble said Walker cited opposition from the Utah Association of Counties. The group supports the bill, director Brent Gardner told The Associated Press Thursday.

The bill was opposed by others including Wells Fargo Bank, which issues municipal bonds and said the legislation would make it harder for school boards to build more public schools by limiting bond votes to only two days of the year.

"It is generally perceived that Utah will remain a growth state for the next 20 or 30 years," Wells Fargo vice president Dale Okerlund said in a letter to Walker encouraging the veto. "This growth will bring with it a need to finance public infrastructure on the most cost effective basis possible."

Senators and representatives are due at the Capitol Wednesday when nine legislative committees will meet to hear reports and consider bills for next year.

Using that opportunity, Walker called the Senate into a special session to confirm her appointments to the Soil Conservation Commission, the Board of State History, the Radiation Control Board, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Board, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool Board and the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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