It’s a power play the Legislature hasn’t invoked in years: lawmakers are making noises about overriding one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s vetoes for the first time in Brown’s current tenure.
While California law allows legislators to nix gubernatorial vetoes with a two-thirds vote, they haven’t deployed the tactic to challenge Brown, a Democrat, since he took office in 2011. In fact, the Legislature hasn’t successfully overcome one since 1979. But legislators declined on Friday to erase a number of vetoes from the record, leaving open the possibility of overriding them.
Last year, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, sought to broaden which conflicts of interest lawmakers would need to disclose. His Assembly colleagues agreed with the concept, passing Assembly Bill 10 by votes of 79-0 and 80-0. Brown did not, arguing the legislation “adds yet more complexity existing to reporting requirements without commensurate benefit.”
Since then, Gatto said, multiple colleagues have approached him about pushing back on what he considers “a morally clear bill.”
“It’s too early to tell,” Gatto said, but “a large number of (lawmakers) have come to me and mentioned how much they like AB 10 and thought it was an important bill.”
“When there is a disagreement on policy,” he added, “this is one of the routes that’s available before the Legislature.”
Leaving the vetoes available could end up being a mere procedural move. The Legislature kept also open vetoes of three bills by Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who said it was simply an effort to “keep those (vetoes) alive so we could continue to talk about them.”
“There’s been no discussion of attempting a veto override,” he said.
It would be difficult to secure a two-thirds vote on a vetoed bill by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, that sought to cut down on resolving labor disputes via arbitration. A priority for labor and a top target for business groups, AB 465 passed the Assembly with 46 votes – well short of the 54 needed for two-thirds – before Brown dismissed it.
“We feel the issue is significant enough” to leave a veto override option open, Hernández said. “I’m always in conversation with colleagues about it.”