The Latest: Judge rules for Bullock in veto dispute
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a dispute over a vetoed Montana bill (all times local):
A Helena judge says Montana’s secretary of state does not have the authority to unilaterally override Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto of a bison bill.
District Judge Mike McMahon on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Secretary of State Corey Stapleton from beginning the process of publishing the vetoed bill in state law.
Attorney Austin James argued Stapleton was not overriding a veto, but acting according to his duties because the governor did not return the vetoed bill within 10 days.
Bullock vetoed the bill on April 29, but did not turn the bill in to Stapleton’s office until May 22.
McMahon says there is no such deadline for vetoed bills and that Stapleton was improperly inserting one part of state law into another in making that argument.
James says an appeal to the state Supreme Court will be considered.
The Democratic governor of Montana who is running for president and the Republican secretary of state who wants his job are locked in a constitutional dispute over a measure that could hamper future efforts to allow bison to roam freely in the state.
Opponents of the measure says the bill targets a conservation group that is acquiring land in central Montana with the aim of creating the nation’s largest private wildlife reserve that could one day be home to 10,000 bison.
Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed the Republican-favored plan to change the definition of wild bison to one never in captivity, never owned by a person and never subject to the state’s per capita livestock fee.
Secretary of State Corey Stapleton contends Bullock’s veto missed a deadline, so the bill becomes law. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.