June 19, 2007

Frankenstein at the Frankenstein veto hearings.



Photo by Joseph W. Jackson III, from the Wisconsin State Journal, which reports:
In the last state budget, Gov. Jim Doyle lined out all but a few dozen unrelated words from among more than 750 words of text. The new sentence he created -- signed instantly into law -- allowed him to increase a state aid program by hundreds of millions of dollars more than the Legislature approved.

That's just one example of how this ridiculous power has allowed governors past and present to undermine the role of legislators to legislate.
We'll see if the legislature can get it together to ban this monstrosity.

16 comments:

Revenant said...

The best way to handle a line item veto, in my opinion, would be to require the legislative branch to re-approve (on a straight up-or-down vote) the modified bill as a final step before it enters the law. That would probably require constitutional amendments at the state or federal level, though.

Mike said...

When I first became aware of this, years ago, I found it funny. I no longer do.

MadisonMan said...

In principle, it's a great idea. In practice a disaster. It's too bad they'll do away with it completely, rather than just changing it so the Frankensteinish parts are impossible.

I wonder how many months overdue the budget passage will be this biennium?

Jeff said...

So it's okay for judges to legislate, but not executives?

Superdad said...

Our state supreme court has in a number of opinions broadened the veto power to the point where it is now ridiculous. So the Court legislated and the result was that the governor can legislate too! Heck why even bother with the assembly and senate.

BAM said...

Wisconsin might want to look at Illinois' amendatory veto, which requires legislative assent in the changes made by the governor. If the legislature doesn't assent to the changes, then the bill returns to the legislature as if vetoed in full.

Ann Althouse said...

Revenant: It's not a line-item veto. It's a Frankenstein veto. He doesn't have to cross out whole lines, just words.

Mike said...

I'd be happy if the governor's veto power was limited to quanta no smaller than a sentence. That would probably be sufficient.

Der Hahn said...

A line item veto based on structural components (sentences, paragraphs, sections) is liable to be gamed in reverse by the legislature writing the bill such that a line item veto would be impossible or impractical.

Requiring legislative assent, with defeat being the same as a full veto, seems the best way to go.

Mike said...

der hahn said: "A line item veto based on structural components (sentences, paragraphs, sections) is liable to be gamed in reverse by the legislature writing the bill such that a line item veto would be impossible or impractical."

I don't see how. You just cross out as much as you need to. But then, I'm not very imaginative.

Steven said...

How often do we really need new laws? In a system with English common law, how much legislating really needs to be done, and how much is just margin-tinkering that causes more headaches than substantive good?

So why not have the state Legislature spend all its time passing bills that, in their entirety, are short, single-sentence appropriations, in their construction effectively immune to rewriting by the Wisconsin-style veto? What's really lost?

And if the legislators decide to try to be more ambitious, let it get thrown in their faces by the governor constructing a Frankenstein bill. After all, if it happens enough times, the legislature might finally get the message and stop amending the state code or writing package budget bills.

Jim Hu said...

Looks to me like character-level veto for the numbers:

See this pdf

I hadn't realized that this practice was old news in Wisconsin. I'm appalled.

Methadras said...

I didn't even know Wisconsin had allowed veto power like the "Frankenstein Veto" power. What a fitting name for a horrible way to legislate and administer. Hasn't the SCOTUS ruled against line item or selective veto power within legislation?

Ann Althouse said...

The Supreme Court has ruled on a federal line item veto on the ground that it violates clauses of the U.S. Constitution about the legislative process but that has nothing to do with Wisconsin. We have our own (crazy) constitution. It needs to be amended.

Steven said...

Oooh. I like VetoMatic.

hdhouse said...

Thank the Lord Wisconsin hasn't instituted signing statements.