- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke says better clarification surrounding when and how legislation is vetoed is needed to avoid the high-profile lawsuit that shut down lucrative betting machines across the state.

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s attempt to veto legislation banning historical horse race betting machines was invalid because he didn’t complete the veto in time. That meant the legislation could go into effect, forcing horse racing parks to unplug more than 200 of the instant horse racing terminals.

Bedke, a lawmaker from Oakley, presented a draft bill to legislative leaders on Friday that would have clarified when and how a bill is returned. The legislation, which Bedke stressed was just a discussion point and not official legislation, would require the governor’s signature to become law if passed by the Idaho Legislature.

“In my opinion, we need to address it some way,” Bedke said.

However, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis of Idaho Falls objected to the proposal. He argued that the governor should not have control over how the Idaho Legislature conducts its business because it would blur the divisions in the branches of government. Instead, Davis said if a change was needed then lawmakers could do so through amend its own legislative rules, which do not require the governor’s approval.

Friday’s discussion focused particularly on record-keeping. While typically innocuous, the House and Senate journals are key documents in tracking the passage or failures of bills moving through a legislative session. It was the Senate journal - which noted lawmakers had not received the governor’s veto on time - that led to the high court ruling in the instant horse racing case.

“The journal is not an executive branch function, it’s ours,” Davis said. “So just from a philosophy of preserving our independent, separate right to decide our own rules, why would I write a bill and let the governor decide what our rules should be? This is a proposed statute and that means the governor gets to decide what my Senate rules are.”

State Sen. Grant Burgoyne, a Democrat from Boise, added that the Supreme Court didn’t find fault in the laws or rules surrounding the veto process.

“They stood up. These statutes as written stood up and because they stood up, I would be very reluctant to change them,” Davis said. “Who knows what we’ll get into if we change them … I just kind of take a conservative view of messing with what’s worked.”

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