|Governor Mike Pence|
Granted Indiana's gubernatorial veto is among he weakest in the country. It can be overridden by a simple majority in both houses - which it takes to pass the bill in the first place. Thus if a majority of legislators want to pass a bill, an Indiana Governor cannot stop it. Nonetheless, most vetoes are upheld and at the very least, vetoes can play an important role in defining who the Governor is and what he stands for. In that respect, the Indiana General Assembly is teeing up a number of issues for possible gubernatorial vetoes. Let's look at several of them.
Senate Bill 621: This bill removes power and oversight authority from the Indianapolis City-County Council in favor of strengthening the power of the Indianapolis Mayor. Although it is a bill despised by Democrats, ironically long-term it is a bill that inflicts the most damage on Marion County Republicans. There is little chance Republicans will continue to hold onto the Indianapolis Mayor's office considering the declining Republican baseline vote in Marion County, which in the last election was 38%. Thus the only power Republicans will have to wield is by having a sizable minority presence on the City-County Council, the very body that is stripped of power under this proposal. Governor Pence has nothing to lose and a lot to gain by vetoing the bill.
IMS Bill: Tax revenue once flowing to the general fund will now be "captured" to assist the track with improvements. Anyway you slice it, this is a taxpayer-backed subsidy for Hulman-George family, the private owner of the track. Yesterday, the Capital Improvement Board announced it is simply giving Jim Irsay $2 million for adding suites to Lucas Oil Stadium. Voters are outraged by these corporate welfare giveaways yet politicians haven't paid heed. Being against corporate welfare is good politics and a win-win for the Governor
Horse Racing Subsidy: The horse racing industry receives $57 million from the state's coffers ever year. Reportedly the current version of a bill making its way through the legislature would reduce that by $10 million, giving it instead to the auto racing industry, but make the $47 million for the horse racing industry permanent. The Governor might alienate a few special interests, but he can score a lot of points by telling these industries they have to survive on their own.
The "Ag-Gag" Bill: The bill targets whistleblowers who in the past have documented abuses on factory farms and in industrial operations. It would basically criminalize the gathering of such information and turning over that information to journalists and other non-law enforcement officials. There is an exception when the person believes the information details criminal activity and it is turned over to law enforcement officials within 48 hours. The bill seems blatantly unconstitutional, but it also appears to be bad policy. The State of Indiana should not be targeting whistleblowers who document wrongdoing. The State should be targeting the wrongdoing. Governor Pence, who has some background in journalism and has been a supporter of open, transparent government, should consider vetoing the bill if it passes.
That is only a partial list of bills the Governor could veto and, in the process, define himself for Indiana voters.