Wrapup: Record Number of Vetoes

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed a record number
of bills from the 2009 Nevada Legislature and was hit with a record
number of veto overrides, in what some see as his lack of
involvement and lawmakers' decision to largely ignore him.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns says the 41 vetoes and 25 veto
overrides by the time the session ended early Tuesday "show the
system works" and that the Republican governor "stood up for what
he believed in, every step of the way, especially when he vetoed
those tax hikes." Burns also said more vetoes are likely.

But David Damore, a political science professor at the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Wednesday that Gibbons
"missed an opportunity to be involved in policymaking" and "did
nothing to proactively try to shape that legislation" he vetoed.

Burns said the vetoes don't indicate that Gibbons, who served
three two-year terms in the state Assembly, was disconnected from
the Legislature or was singling out certain bills because he didn't
like the authors of the measures.

But Damore said the lawmakers' overrides indicate many
legislators - both Democrats and Gibbons' fellow Republicans -
"really don't see him as being someone they want to tie their
horse to."

The veto overrides required separate Senate and Assembly votes.
In the 21-member Senate, with 12 Democrats and nine Republicans,
there were nine unanimous override votes and five others in which
only one or two senators backed him.

There were only two close override votes in the Senate, notably
the 14-7 vote for the domestic partners bill that Gibbons vetoed. A
two-thirds vote was needed, and 14 was the bare minimum.

In the 42-seat Assembly, where Gibbons usually had support from
several of the 14 GOP members, there was only one unanimous
override vote and one with 40 votes to override. There were six
close override votes, including four with the minimum 28 votes -
the number of Assembly Democrats.

Damore said the vote counts indicate "the deck was stacked a
little against him in the Assembly with so many Democrats. But the
Senate was his chance to have influence, and they turned their back
on him."

"I've never seen anybody do this," Damore said. "This is a
guy with alleged legislative experience. It's about dealing in
compromises - and to sit there and say 'just take it or leave it'
doesn't quite get there."

From Gibbons' perspective, Damore said the vetoes may show
"he's a man of principle and conviction and that he's not going to
give in to mob mentality. But most people would say he missed a
total opportunity to shape any legislation."

Besides the veto of the domestic partners measure, Gibbons also
rejected the lawmakers' $6.8 billion state budget for the next two
fiscal years and their $781 million tax package.

Other vetoed bills included one aimed at blocking unwarranted
use of high-priced consultants by state agencies; another to
require Las Vegas to spend millions of dollars in redevelopment
funds to reopen F Street; one to ensure rights for school employees
when meeting with administrators on disciplinary matters; and
another creating an apprentice hunter program and a "Dream Tags"
program for big-game hunters. All were overridden.

The previous record for most vetoes in a session was 33, set by
then-Gov. H.G. Blasdel in a session that began shortly after Nevada
became a state in 1864, according to Legislative Counsel Bureau
records. Blasdel was overridden 10 times, a record only now
surpassed by Gibbons.

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