- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A political scientist says that while veto overrides are rare in Arkansas, they could become more common if the margin between Democrats and Republicans at the statehouse remains narrow.

The Republican-led Legislature has overridden four vetos by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, including one this year that lets stand a tax exemption for sand used in oil and natural gas drilling.

In 1997, Democrats overrode 10 of Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 16 vetoes, including eight on one day. Many bills dealt with spending authority.

Huckabee was perceived as very combative initially and messing with (the Legislature’s) Democrats’ money,” said Art English, a political science professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


Republicans hold a narrow margin (51-48 with one Green Party member) in the state House and a 22-13 edge in the Senate. English said if the margins between Republicans and Democrats remain close, the number of veto-overrides could climb.

“I do think we’ll see more of this depending on the nature and the personality of the governor,” English told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1hUudaN) in a story published Monday.

Arkansas is among a handful of states where legislators need only a majority vote to override; others include Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Most other states require a two-thirds vote.

In 2005, Gov. Mike Huckabee responded to criticism that he should have vetoed a bill that expanded gambling in the state, saying that his veto wouldn’t have “meant anything” because it would have been easily overturned by the Legislature.

“I wish governors had the power some people think they have. That would be nice on some days. Arkansas has one of the worst veto laws for its governor than any state,” Huckabee said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com