(CN) – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter didn’t veto a gambling repeal bill in time and as a result it automatically became law, the state’s high court ruled.
The Coeur D’Alene Tribe petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus compelling Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to certify SB 1011 as law. The bill would repeal a state law allowing betting on “historical” horse races, according to the ruling.
The Idaho Senate and House of Representatives passed the bill March 30 and it was given to the governor that afternoon. He had five days to veto it, per the state constitution.
The legislature adjourned for the Easter weekend on Thursday, April 2, and Otter returned the bill with a veto message Monday, April 6, when the state senate reconvened, according to court records.
Denney filed a letter saying the governor did not return the bill by the April 4 deadline. Regardless, the senate president called a vote to override the veto. Less than two-thirds of the senate voted to override and the veto was sustained, meaning the bill would not became law.
The Coeur D’Alene Tribe asked Denney to certify SB 1011 as law because Otter did not veto it within five days. Denney refused, claiming he lacked that authority.
The Idaho Supreme Court granted the tribe’s petition Thursday, ruling that the bill became law when the veto deadline passed.
“Here, the uncontroverted facts in the senate journal indicate that the governor did not return S.B. 1011 until Monday, April 6, 2015. Therefore, S.B. 1011 automatically became law with no further action required by the governor,” Justice Roger Burdick wrote for the court. “There is nothing in the constitution granting the governor, the senate, or any other official the power to disregard the untimely return of S.B. 1011 or to change the fact that S.B. 1011 became law.”
The state’s high court cited senate journal letters supporting its conclusion.
“Despite the governor’s veto message bearing the date of April 3, there is nothing in the senate journal to indicate that the vetoed bill was physically returned to the office of the senate on or before the April 4 deadline,” the 32-page ruling states. “In fact, two of the letters specifically state that S.B. 1011 was returned to the president pro tempore’s office at 8:52 a.m. on Monday, April 6, 2015.”
Burdick also ruled that Denney had an obligation to certify the bill as law.
“There is nothing discretionary about the secretary of state’s role in the matter: once the deadline has passed for the governor’s return of a veto, the secretary of state has a non-discretionary duty to certify the bill as law,” the judge wrote, citing state law.
The Idaho Supreme Court granted the Coeur D’Alene Tribe attorney fees and costs because Denney acted “without a reasonable basis” in defending his position to not certify the bill, the ruling states.
SB 1011 repeals Idaho Code 54-2512A, which allowed betting on machines for replayed horse races.
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