The VETO just got stronger

One thing in politics that never seems to change is the constant struggle for “power”.

I know what you’re thinking. Is that really what goes on? Shouldn’t the struggle be to improve the quality of life for our people? Well, yes it should…but the reality is that many politicians want to be “in charge”. It’s been that way since I was first elected and I’m sure it’s been that way long before I ever became a public servant.

Whether it’s at the local (city/county) level, state level or federal level….or between legislative/executive branches of government….or President/Congress….or oftentimes inside political parties or bodies….there’s always a battle going on somewhere. Seems everyone wants to be the “top dog”.

Lost in the shuffle last week was a House ruling based on a recent finding in the SC courts that actually shifted some “power” to the state’s executive branch. House Speaker Bobby Harrell shared with us in the chamber that going forward, the required minimum overriding votes on a veto that will be required to override that veto will be 43. (Difficult to write but I hope it made sense). To many, that might not seem like a change. To those that follow South Carolina politics, it is a big change.

Most constituents that read my website know that, oftentimes, elected officials (House/Senate) write “local legislation” that pertains only to their constituents/county or counties. The custom (since I’ve been there and I’m sure long before) is that other colleagues (House and Senate) would not even vote on such matters as it was (and still is) perceived that those local officials should know best how to represent their district(s).

As those bills passed (easily) in the House and Senate (oftentimes with fewer than 10 members voting), they would go to the Governor’s desk to be signed, pass without signature or be returned with a veto.

Prior to last week, those bills would become law one way or another. Why? Because even if the Governor would veto the bills, those same officials (again, 10 or less usually)would override the veto and – again – the rest of their colleagues “stood on the sideline”.

After last week, the House will now require a minimum of 43 members to override a veto. In my opinion that gave much more “power” to a Governor’s veto message. Particularly on local legislation.

Left to be seen though is the impact on budget vetos which historically are easily overturned year after year. Also, will members now help/hurt other colleagues on local legislation that gets vetoed? Instead of sitting out, will colleagues work the floor to muster up the 43 votes needed to have that bill become law?

In any event, if you ask a lot of officials, last week the House just made a gubernatorial veto much stronger than ever before.