The News Editorial: Why not sign the bill?
March 31, 2022
So the new state legislative map with 62 House districts and 31 Senate districts is now law, becoming law, without Governor Mark Gordon’s signature.
I know you are thinking did I not just talk about redistricting last week. You are right but with Gordon not signing the legislation last week my first thought, of course, was why? The governor himself and local legislator Mike Greear helped me understand why not signing this piece of legislation was perhaps the only course of action for Gordon
Gordon is not the first governor to allow legislation to become law without a signature, in fact this is not the first time he has done this. He also will not be the last governor to do this.
I had the opportunity to speak with the governor about the bill on Saturday when he was in Worland for the Welcome Home Veterans Day celebration. He said he did not feel he could veto the legislation as that put the state in a quandary without a new map, something that is required by the constitution. Would there be time to find a new solution before filing period begins in May? More than likely no. Plus it would require a special session, more expense to the state.
While he, like many of us, was not exactly thrilled with the completed work he was stuck in the middle – sign legislation that is not perfect or veto it and throw a curveball into the upcoming elections.
The governor, in a letter to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and legislative leaders, said, “Redistricting is an inherently legislative process and, therefore, I must assume this final product represents the ‘best effort’ of this Legislature. Thus, for this reason, as well as a desire to see our elections have their best chance to proceed in an orderly and proper way, I am allowing HEA 62 to become law without my signature.”
I also asked retiring legislator Rep. Mike Greear his thoughts on the governor not signing the bill. His reply helped me understand more than anything why a governor might allow a bill to become law without a signature.
He said, “If I were Governor, I would have done the same thing – let the Legislature own the process and the product.”
He also said that it did not surprise me that he did not sign it. “Likewise, I assumed he would not veto it. Redistricting is a constitutional mandate to the Legislature and thus a legislative obligation. There were several things not to like about the result, as it was a compromise of many different views from across the state.”
So not signing the House Enrolled Act 62 did not mean the governor was fence-sitting, but rather he was holding the Legislature accountable.
It reminds me when one of the Worland superintendent candidates said sometimes you have to be the boss and sometimes you have to let someone else be the boss. This is one of those times.
Now we will see if there may be any legal challenges, or will the residents agree with the governor that this was the Legislature’s “best effort.”