Both Democrat and Republican legislators are outraged over Governor Jay Inslee’s latest overstepping of his executive authority.
This time it is his line-item veto of language which linked the implementation of his costly and inefficient climate bills to the future passage of a transportation funding package before the end of the 2022 legislative session.
During his nine years in office, Governor Inslee rarely gets involved in legislative matters and usually spends the session visiting elementary schools around the state and making partisan statements about national events which have no relevance to his job as Washington State governor. When the legislature is done, his staff makes big productions of him signing bills, as if he did all the heavy lifting in getting them passed.
Occasionally, some liberal special interest group will convince the governor’s staff that he needs to line-item veto some legislation and when he does so, he sometimes does it incorrectly which causes the members of the legislature to sue him in court. This occurred in 2019 when the governor struck a line from the Transportation budget resulting in a bi-partisan lawsuit for misuse of his veto authority (oral arguments before the Washington State Supreme Court are scheduled for this case in June).
This week legislative leaders from both parties immediately announced plans to file yet another lawsuit against the governor, this time over his veto of language linking the implementation of the two climate bills (Low Carbon Fuel Standard HB 1091 and Cap-and-Trade – SB 5126) to the passage of a future transportation funding bill. This linkage was necessary in order to obtain votes for the climate bills in the Washington State Senate.
The reasons for the linkage language was well known by all who follow the legislature, but Inslee’s veto showed he is either disrespectful of the legislative process or he is blissfully ignorant (like he was when liberal activists forced the closure of a Seattle’s East Precinct and the creation of the CHAZ/CHOP, and when he showed he was completely unaware of the Antifa’s violent actions which had made national news).
Here are just some legislative leaders’ reactions to the governor’s latest misuse of executive veto powers:
House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (Democrat) “The governor’s partial veto today of E3SHB 1091, the clean fuel standard bill, reaches beyond his constitutional powers and we will ask the Washington courts to again rule on the balance of legislative and executive branch powers.”
House Minority Leader JT Wilcox (Republican) “It is good to see that Democratic legislative leaders are again threatening to go to court and hold the governor accountable. We should all join together to send a strong message about the governor’s emergency powers, too.”
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (Democrat) “This veto is an overstep of executive power. The governor has attempted to create a power for his office that simply does not exist. The constitution is clear that the governor is permitted only to veto a full section of a bill. In this case he has vetoed a subsection.”
Senate Minority Leader John Braun (Republican) “The Constitution is clear – the governor may not veto anything less than an entire section of a bill. Maybe he’s emboldened by the sweeping authority he continues to have because majority Democrats refused to address emergency-power reform. Maybe he thinks the Supreme Court will overturn the lower court’s ruling. Whatever the reason, his subsection veto today is illegal.”
It is good to see the Democrats finally start to assert that Governor Inslee has overstepped his veto authority. Yet Democrat legislators must realize that they helped to create this power-hungry monster by failing to join their Republican colleagues in bringing legislative oversight to his emergency orders (which still continue with no end in sight after more than 440 days).