Perry’s 2009 Vetoes

Governor Perry continued his tradition of offering up a few surprises in his vetoes. In particular, two of the 35 bills Perry vetoed his year shocked bill supporters.

SB 488 would have protected “vulnerable road users” from vehicles passing them too closely (passenger cars pass no closer than 3 feet, trucks no closer than six feet) and rules about turning  too closely to them. According to a Houston Chronicles story, cycling groups considered this bill their highest priority and are frustrated because they never heard any objections from the Governor before the veto. The Governor’s justification for the veto is that similar issues are already addressed by law. It’s not clear why Perry prefers the current law over the language of SB 488. Give Perry credit, he signed the veto with an arm injured in a cycling accident.

Perry’s veto of a bill which would have kept former Harris County employees from lobbying or benefiting from contract they worked on for two years. The idea was to stop the revolving door. Perry’s objection to SB 2468 was that the bill was unconstitutional because it created criminalized activity on a local, rather than state-wide, level. Unfortunately, Perry did not discover this until very, very late in the process.

There was one especially interesting non-action. Perry let HB 770 to pass into law without his signature despite controversy about Rep. Wayne Christian’s role in amending the bill and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson’s strong objections. (In fact, Patterson’s response was: “My option is just to say, ‘Screw you, Wayne Christian,’ because the Legislature didn’t pass this, one guy passed this.”) Perry’s argument is that there is need for further discussion of the issues of property rights and redevelopment. The issue of property rights is complicated on the shoreline when the beach moves significantly with every major storm. Unfortunately, Perry didn’t make time for this kind of discussion during the session. It also seems that more discussion would have occurred had he vetoed the bill. At the same time, he could have erased any claims of unethical activity.

Perry used his line-item veto power to removed $97.2 million from general revenue spending. This amounted to about .12% of the $80.7 billion in general revenue spending for the next biennium (or .005% of total spending). Most of the money cut was spending for bills that did not pass the Legislature.

Update: The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram seem to have the same questions about Perry’s veto strategy.

Also, Perry seems also to have surprised retired teachers who believed that Perry has promised to support a bill that would add an additional retired teacher on the board of the Teachers Retirement System. Perry’s argument for vetoing HB 2656 was that the board  “financial expertise” should not be diluted. Clearly, being told that you’re dumber than today’s financial experts stung the state’s teachers.

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