SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert vetoed three bills passed by the Utah State Legislature this year. He also allowed three more to go into law without his signature.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the governor said he felt good about the overall legislative session.
“We’ve had good policy, good legislation that’s passed,” he said.
Gov. Herbert said 486 bills were passed by the Utah State Legislature. Of that, only 459 required him to take action. Three got his veto:
- HB 102, Area Assessment Amendments, would have harmed projects in eastern Utah, Gov. Herbert claimed;
- SB 257 dealt with parental complaints over school curriculum;
- HB 414 gave the legislature broader subpoena power in investigations.
HB 414 came out of the House investigation into the scandal surrounding former Utah Attorney General John Swallow. Lawmakers complained they had been stymied by disappearing documents and data and the bill gave them greater subpoena power. On Wednesday, Gov. Herbert said he believed it went too far — intruding on civil rights.
“It’s one thing to fix a technical problem in a bill,” the governor said. “It’s another thing to pass a bill that will absolutely violate people’s civil rights, and that’s the big concern for me.”
HB 414’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, insisted that “due process is still provided for.” He told FOX 13 News that he would bring the bill back, possibly next year.
“I think it’s still needed, we need to find a way to have people respond in a timely manner to a legally issued subpoena,” Dunnigan said.
Education groups like the PTA and the Utah State School Board opposed SB 257, which would have had a parent committee review complaints about curriculum. Gov. Herbert said he believed it should be handled on a more local level, where curriculum is decided.
“I felt like those complaints should, in fact, be allowed to happen, but they should go to the local school boards which creates the curriculum and purchases the textbooks. It ought not be at a state level,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday, the Utah PTA agreed.
“Curriculum is implemented at the local level and therefore best addressed there,” said Utah PTA President-Elect Dawn Davies. “We hope this will open the conversation to acknowledge the process that Schools, Districts and Charters have in place for parents to address their concerns about curriculum.”
Gov. Herbert did make a line-item veto in the state budget for a duplicate line. He also allowed three bills to pass into law without his signature based on assurances he said he was given that modifications will be made.
The governor expressed concern that the Utah State Legislature rushed through many bills without adequate public input — bills he signed, anyway.
“I am concerned that we are doing a little bit too much,” he said. “The last day of the session they passed 157 bills.