Idaho governor faces deadline to sign, veto remaining bills

    Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter speaks to reporters about the upcoming 2016 legislative session at the State Capitol building on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 in Boise, Idaho. The new session begins Monday, Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

    Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has until the end of Friday to approve or kill any remaining bills 29 passed by Idaho's Republican-controlled Statehouse this year. As of Friday morning, the third-term governor had vetoed two pieces of legislation and signed a total of 346 bills into law.

    In 2012 and 2010 Otter declined to veto any bills sent to him by the Legislative branch, while in 2014 he partially rejected a single bill with a line-item veto. With the exception of 2006, when Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne declined to veto any of the Legislature's proposed laws, the last year a governor refused to veto a single bill was in 1919.

    Jim Weatherby, political science professor emeritus at Boise State University, says Otter is reluctant to use the veto even when he disagrees with the legislation because the Legislature is "veto proof," meaning many of the bills are passing with such wide margins, the Legislature could reconvene and override the veto.

    "I think it does tell you something about the power of the Legislature and the preference of this governor to work behind the scenes," Weatherby said.

    This year, Otter criticized measures taken to pre-emptively restrict local municipalities from implementing a plastic bag ban and raising the minimum wage. He also criticized the literacy intervention measure, arguing $9.1 million in funding wasn't enough.

    "He delivered a veto message, but didn't deliver a veto," Weatherby said.

    Last year, Otter was hit with a lawsuit after attempting to veto legislation banning lucrative gaming machines known as instant horse racing. The Idaho Supreme Court later ruled that Otter failed to veto the bill on time.

    In total, he vetoed four pieces of legislation following last year's 48-day session.

    Earlier this week, Otter vetoed a bill that would have explicitly allowed the Bible to be used public schools, arguing the legislation was illegal and would result in costly litigation.

    He also vetoed a proposal that would have provided community health clinics with $5.4 million to study 78,000 Idahoans who don't qualify for medical insurance.

    The 2016 session has been highly productive, with the Legislature passing 379 bills of the 557 measures introduced in legislative committees. The 75-day session also produced 52 resolutions and memorials.

    Here is the full listing of signed, vetoed and laws without signatureswith dates from the 2016 Legislature. (The list may change and continue to update.)

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