Lawmakers May Have to Test the Issue if No Agreement can be Reached with Governor

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

If lawmakers can’t come to an agreement with the Governor, former Attorney General John Havelock says they may have to push through to test the issue. Havelock was attorney general from 1970 to 1973 under Governor Bill Egan.  He’s now in private practice and teaches public policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Havelock says it’s not predictable what the state supreme court might do regarding the idea of the constitutionality of bundling legislation to protect it from a gubernatorial veto.

Havelock says if the Governor receives the legislation with the projects bundled, he should disregard the contingency language and choose vetoes based on his opinion of what the constitution allows.

Havelock says the legislature then must decide if the vetoes are serious enough that they should work to override them or possibly seek legal clarity and sue.

Alaska’s constitution is unusual in the amount of power given to the Governor. Not only can he veto line by line but he can reduce the amount of money allocated to a project. Havelock says it’s very uncommon and there was fear that it would wreck havoc on the legislature’s appropriation power by allowing the governor to pick and choose.

Havelock says if the matter was pursued in court, the issue is important enough that he feels it would be fast tracked and would not be tied up for years.

Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage: Governor Sean Parnell speaks to reporters in August 2010.

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