- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on Friday has signed a remaining piece of legislation into law, while allowing four others to become part of the state statute without his signature.

Friday was Otter’s deadline to take action on bills. In total, Otter signed 370 bills in 2016 and allowed seven proposals to become law starting July 1 without his signature.

The last bill he signed was the funding mechanism for the attorney general’s office, pointing to mounting tensions between the two offices over recent legal decisions issued by the attorney general.

Otter has only vetoed two measures this year.

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 allowed both measures to become law without his signature, along with another measure that will allow people to carry concealed weapons without getting a permit.

“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.

Among the bills he signed, are two contentious abortion measures including one that will ban the donation or selling of fetal tissue in the state, even though no such practice exists in Idaho.

He also approved $5 million for public defense funding, and a 7.4 percent increase in education funding.

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.


Due to incorrect information provided to the Associated Press, a prior version erroneously reported Otter had nearly 30 bills left to sign.

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