AP NEWS

Wyoming legislative session ending with budget veto dispute

February 28, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The state Legislature neared adjournment for the year Wednesday amid a turf spat between lawmakers and the state’s new governor over an otherwise mundane budget bill.

Representatives overrode four of 14 areas Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed in the state’s supplemental budget bill and were set to address the remaining nine quickly. From there, the overrides were headed to the Senate.

House Speaker Steve Harshman hinted earlier in the day lawmakers might adjourn as planned but reconvene Monday to vote on overriding the vetoes.

But by Wednesday evening, representatives appeared disinclined to return next week. After the first four override votes, which occurred without debate, they recessed amid discussion over whether to bundle the remaining overrides into a single vote.

Each override vote needed a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate. The vetoed items by substantial margins in the House included one that, if approved by the Senate, could eliminate a position in the State Engineer’s office.

Gordon vetoed the budget items out of concern they violated separation of powers between the Legislature and executive branch. The measures should have been handled as stand-alone legislation, Gordon told Harshman in a veto message.

At the same time, Gordon praised the bill for fiscal restraint while the state continues to struggle with historically diminished revenue from the state’s fossil-fuel industries. Both Gordon and substantial majorities of the House and Senate are Republicans.

“I intend to have strong cooperation between our branches of government. That makes for good and transparent government,” wrote Gordon, who was elected last year.

The bill makes relatively minor adjustments to Wyoming’s biennial budget approved in 2018.

Wyoming budgets on a two-year cycle. Major budgeting occurs in even-numbered years, when the legislative session is devoted primarily to the state budget.

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