Jerry Brown

Capitol Alert
By Jim Miller
October 13, 2015

  • Democratic governor considered 941 bills this year, vetoing 133
  • More than 100 of those vetoed passed both houses with two-thirds vote or better
  • Lawmakers reluctant to override fellow Democrat

More than 100 of the 133 bills Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed this year cleared the Legislature with bipartisan super-majority support. That also happens to be the threshold needed for a gubernatorial veto override, should lawmakers so desire.

They probably don’t.

“There’s going to be no veto overrides,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said after a meeting with The Bee Editorial Board on Monday. The Legislature has other priorities, he said, such as the special sessions on transportation and healthcare.

John Casey, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, said Atkins, D-San Diego, doesn’t expect to discuss the issue with lawmakers before January. “That being said, it’s always an extremely high bar to override a veto,” Casey said.

The Legislature has only rarely used the power – there have been only a handful of veto overrides since 1946, with the last coming during Brown’s first stint in the statehouse.

74 Number of vetoed Assembly bills that passed with super-majority support.

29 Number of vetoed Senate bills that passed with super-majority support.

During the past century, the California governor who had his will reversed by the Legislature most often was Republican Gov. James “Sunny Jim” Rohlf, who had 17 of his vetoes overturned by the Republican-controlled Legislature at the time, according to Alex Vassar’s One California Project.

This year, the Legislature sent Brown 941 bills in 2015, according to a tally Monday from the Senate Office of Research. Of those, about 800 cleared both houses by a two-thirds vote or greater, according to a review of legislative voting records. Brown signed 700 of those and vetoed 103.

Dozens of those rejections came in the final days of Brown’s action on bills passed by lawmakers before they finished their work for the legislative year last month. The list included measures to require more disclosure on politicians’ financial disclosures, encourage business owners to make their buildings more accessible to disabled people, and restrict drones around state prisons.

In 2011, there was a Republican-led attempt to overturn one of Brown’s vetoes. It fell flat.

One of the last serious override efforts came in summer 2009, when then-Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook took aim at then-Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after Schwarzenegger vetoed his measure to create a special day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War. Majority Democrats seemed willing to go along with the override effort, but Cook and Schwarzenegger eventually settled their feud and Schwarzenegger later signed an identical bill in Cook’s district.

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