There’s still a possibility Gov. Mark Gordon could veto some or all of House Bill 293, which paves the way for the University of Wyoming to construct more than $300 million of new dorms.
HB 293 was not included on the list of bills Gordon is scheduled to sign this Friday. Instead, it’s included on a list of bills Gordon will “announce his decision” on that day.
Rachel Girt, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told the Laramie Boomerang that means Gordon won’t sign the bill as is.
Instead, he has three options: He can veto the bill in its entirety, he can veto portions of the bill, or he can let the bill become law without his signature.
That last option is typically used in Wyoming by governors who want to express concerns about a bill, but don’t want to prevent the bill from becoming law.
Under the Wyoming Constitution, Gordon also has line-item veto power over all bills that provide appropriations — not just the annual budget bills.
“The governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items or part or parts of any bill making appropriations of money or property embracing distinct items,” the Constitution states.
In 1998, the Wyoming Constitution determined that language means the governor can line-item veto any portion such a bill, not just the portions making appropriations.
“I can’t tell you want the decision is going to be,” Girt said of Friday’s announcement.
On the final night of this year’s legislative session, the dorms bill was nearly killed in the Senate after some heavy-hitting legislators expressed opposition to a last-minute deal the included $34 million for UW to defease some of its current bond debt.
After a joint conference committee came to that compromise, no senators who sit on the Joint Appropriations Committee voted for the deal.
While the deal passed 16-12, Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, said the $34 million loan ran counter to “the conservative principles of this body” and Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said the deal set a “real dangerous precedent.”
“When we go home, how are we going to explain to our constituents that we’re going to allow $34 million of defeasance for one particular spot in our state?” Bebout said. “If you say ’yes’ one time, how to do say ‘no’ to other people.”
When Gordon made line-item vetoes to the supplemental budget bill, he said he also favors a “traditional approach” in the Legislature’s funding methods.