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June 23, 2018

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Sandoval’s 2017 veto count second-highest in Nevada history

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Scott Sonner / AP

Gov. Brian Sandoval talks to reporters before signing a series of budget bills while flanked by legislative leaders Monday, June 5, 2017, in Carson City. From left, Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas; Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas; and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed 41 bills this year, a number topped only by the 48 issued by Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2009.

Amid the vetoes and a Democratic majority in both houses of the Legislature, the Republican Sandoval has also signed more than 600 measures into law.

Sandoval and Majority Leader Sen. Aaron D. Ford, D-Las Vegas, agree that there will be disagreements when branches of government controlled by different parties consider new policies.

“I’m dealing with Democratic majorities, and some of their priorities aren’t the same as mine,” Sandoval said last week. “That’s part of the process. This is the separation of powers.”

Sandoval was governor during two of the five sessions with the most vetoes, state data going back to 1899 shows. This year’s vetoes need to be put into perspective, Sandoval said. His office noted that the 608 bills he signed are the most he’s ever approved from a single session.

Sandoval issued 28 vetoes in 2011, 17 in 2013 and seven in 2015, when Republicans controlled the Legislature.

“Even with Republican majorities, there were some bills that I didn’t agree with,” Sandoval said. “I think that speaks to the fact that I try to keep the best interests of the people of Nevada in mind when I sign those bills.”

Among the Democrat-backed bills signed by the governor are a ban on conversion therapy for minors and a requirement for diaper-changing tables that are accessible to both men and women in new public buildings.

His vetoes included Assembly Bill 272, allowing the creation of voting centers where any registered voter could cast a ballot on election day, regardless of where they live. Sandoval said in his veto message that the current system works and he’s heard no “compelling” reasons for reform.

Also vetoed was Senate Bill 196 on paid sick leave, with Sandoval citing potential negative impacts to businesses.

“Bills like minimum wage, paid sick leave, making it easier to vote ― some of those policies were those that we knew were more of a challenge for the governor,” Ford said last week. “We’re disappointed that he didn’t see what we saw, which is that the vast majority of citizens in this state wanted all of those things to happen.”

Two pieces of minimum wage-raising legislation passed along party lines this session. Senate Bill 106 sought increases through Nevada’s labor commission but was vetoed by the governor. Senate Joint Resolution 6 would have enacted the change through a voter-approved constitutional amendment. Lawmakers need to vote again in 2019 to decide whether it goes to a ballot.

In vetoing the minimum wage bill, Sandoval said it’s important to note that passing the resolution again would give voters the ability to decide whether raising the minimum wage is appropriate.

Sandoval said SB106 has been opposed by small-business representatives who warned the bill would mean fewer jobs and higher costs for consumers. He said Americans for Prosperity, a right-leaning advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, and other stakeholders expressed opposition.

“SB106, although commendable in its attempt to extend higher wages for Nevada workers, would place a significant burden on the state's small-business employers at a time when they are emerging from a downturn that cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and closed the doors of businesses across the State,” Sandoval wrote in his veto letter.

Sandoval is in his last term as governor, with an election for his successor next year. Ford said conversations with voters over the next year and a half will help explain why policies such as a higher minimum wage were not signed into law.

“The governor’s Republican, the Legislature’s Democratic,” Ford said. “We never expected the governor to sign every bill we sent him because sometimes our opinions and philosophies disagree, and they manifest themselves by vetoes. But we’re very pleased that he signed the overwhelming majority of the bills we’ve passed.”

Most vetoes in Nevada history

48, JIm Gibbons (R), 2009

41, Brian Sandoval (R), 2017

30, Tasker Oddie (R), 1911

29, Richard Kirman (D), 1937

28, Sandoval (R), 2011

23, Kirman (D) ,1935

Source: Data from a July 2015 report compiled by the Research Library Legislative Counsel Bureau

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