Reps. J.T. Wilcox and Andrew Barkis release statements on the Legislature’s win in Superior Court over the governor’s misuse of veto power

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2020
CONTACT: John Handy, Communications Director | 360-786-5758

Statement from House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm:
“Governor Inslee overstepped his constitutional authority by vetoing single lines of the transportation budget last year. We are pleased that the court agreed with the Legislature’s understanding of the governor’s veto power and position on this important separation of powers issue. It is helpful for the Legislature to have this legal certainty as it confronts state budget challenges in the weeks and months ahead.”

Statement from Rep. Andrew Barkis, ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, R-Olympia:
“The governor exceeded his constitutional role and the court ultimately agreed with the Legislature’s legal arguments. Beyond the separation of powers issue, I thought the governor’s vetoes were problematic on a policy level. The language allowed for smaller, rural transit agencies to compete for grants and funding and not be constrained by having fuel type as a requirement. This is important for these agencies as they look to deliver critical transit services for their riders.”

Background:

  • The Legislature passed the state’s two-year transportation budget, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1160, on April 28, 2019. Six single-sentence provisions relating to public transportation grants in Section 220 of the bill were stricken by veto from Gov. Jay Inslee on May 21, 2019. The sentence read: “Fuel type may not be a factor in the grant selection process.”
  • The House Executive Rules Committee and the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against Gov. Jay Inslee claiming he exceeded his constitutional authority by vetoing less than an entire section or appropriation item. The Complaint for Declaratory Judgment was filed on August 30, 2019.
  • A Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled that Gov. Jay Inslee’s vetoes of the sentences were invalid because those sentences were not appropriation items subject to individual veto. The judge also ruled that the sentences do not constitute prohibited substantive law in the budget, nor do they directly conflict with the codified statutes regarding those particular transportation grants.

More information:

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov