The Blanket Veto

September 29, 2008 · Filed Under Elections, Legislation, State Legislation · Comments Off 

With the fatigue of the budget saga slowly starting to fade (especially for those of us who took a few days off, which explains for the missing podcast last week), the annual process of bill signings and vetoes is also about to draw to a close.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a little more than 24 hours left to weigh in on bills sent to his desk by the Legislature. The weekend saw a flurry of signings and vetoes, too many to really keep track. In fact, one of the less talked about truths of this week is whether anyone truly can watch all of these bills. Certainly the shrinking Capitol press corps struggles more and more every year to do so.

Nonetheless, the intriguing side story to all of this is all of the vetoes that are being blamed on the budget impasse.

"Given the [budget] delay, I am only signing bills that are the highest priority for California," says Schwarzenegger in the boilerplate veto being attached to dozens and dozens of proposals.

Of course, determining "priority" is a subjective exercise and the supporters of some of these bills have questioned the governor's own standard. One poignant questioning of the standard came this morning from California's top elections official, Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Bowen was critical of the governor's blanket veto of several elections-related proposals, including new ways for vote-by-mail to learn if their ballots have been rejected, and why; a bill making it easier for voters to change their mind after signing an initiative petition; and two measures helping indepedent voters understand their rights in choosing party ballots in primary elections.

"I'm dismayed the governor doesn’t believe it is a high priority to let voters know about their polling-place rights or if their votes were counted," said Bowen in a written statement. "I understand the governor is not fond of the Legislature these days, but it's California voters who are being punished."

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