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Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1973 No. 68 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton

When a single bill is returned with more than one section or item vetoes, the legislature is constitutionally empowered to reconsider each veto separately.
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                                                                   June 22, 1973
Honorable Walt O. Knowles, Chairman
House Judiciary Committee
House of Representatives
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 68
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on the following question with respect to the authority of the legislature to override a gubernatorial veto:
            "When a single bill is returned with more than one section or item vetoes, is the legislature constitutionally empowered to reconsider each veto separately?"
            We answer this question in the affirmative.
            Your question relates to Article III, § 12 of the Washington Constitution which reads, in material part, as follows:
            "Every act which shall have passed the legislature shall be, before it becomes a law, presented to the governor.  If he approves, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, which house shall enter the objections at large upon the journal and proceed to reconsider.  If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the members present shall agree to pass the bill it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of the members present, it shall become a law; . . .  If any bill presented to the governor contain  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] several sections or items, he may object to one or more sections or items while approving other portions of the bill.  In such case he shall append to the bill, at the time of signing it, a statement of the section, or sections; item or items to which he objects and the reasons therefor, and the section or sections, item or items so objected to, shall not take effect unless passed over the governor's objection, as hereinbefore provided."  (Emphasis supplied.)
            We base our affirmative answer to your question on that portion of the final sentence of this constitutional provision which we have underscored.  The obvious inference to be drawn from this language is that any section or item which has been vetoed by the governor shall take effect if that section or item is later ". . . passed over the governor's objection . . ." by the same vote as is required for the legislature to override a gubernatorial veto of an entire bill under this section of the Constitution.  Accord, Carter v. Rathburn, 85 Okla. 251, 209 Pac. 944 (1922), involving a similar provision of the Oklahoma Constitution.
            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours
Attorney General
Deputy Attorney General