Washington Gov. Jay Inslee uses a red pen to veto sections of the state capital budget on May 21, 2019 at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee uses a red pen to veto sections of the state capital budget on May 21, 2019 at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Inslee, lawmakers set for another court battle on veto powers

In a new suit, the Legislature contends two of the governor’s vetoes were unconstitutional.

OLYMPIA — State lawmakers are suing Gov. Jay Inslee, again.

The Legislature filed a lawsuit Monday alleging the three-term Democratic governor exceeded his authority when he vetoed language in a bill creating a clean fuel standard that tied the start of enforcement with the passage of a transportation funding package.

Lawmakers’ seven-page filing in Thurston County Superior Court also contends Inslee crossed the same constitutional line in May when he removed single sentences in the new state transportation budget dealing with grants to transit service agencies.

When Inslee vetoed those same lines in the last spending plan, passed in 2019, lawmakers sued. In November, the state Supreme Court sided with the Legislature and invalidated those vetoes.

“Today’s court action is not about a policy decision, but about affirming the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government,” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins,D-Tacoma, said in a statement.

She said “there is no question” that House Democrats agree with Inslee on the urgent need for the clean fuel standard to combat climate change.

“We must act, but within the confines of the Constitution and state law,” she said. “Our commitment to saving the planet for future generations must not waiver, nor should our oaths of office.”

Inslee has 20 days to respond to the allegations.

Tara Lee, communications director for Inslee, expressed disappointment with the new suit.

“We remain confident that the governor acted within his legal authority with these vetoes,” she said in an email. “To be clear, current action on climate change is moving forward as a result of the governor’s actions. If he had not acted, the Legislature would be delaying crucial actions on climate.”

In Washington, governors can veto entire bills. They also can cross out entire sections of legislation. But a series of Supreme Court rulings make clear the state’s chief executive cannot veto less than an entire section.

In this case, lawmakers argue the governor vetoed less-than-full sections of two bills passed by the Legislature in April and signed by Inslee on May 17.

The first, House Bill 1091, established a new program to curb greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. Inslee deleted two paragraphs intended to synchronize compliance with the fuel standard with approval of a funding package. To date, there’s been no action on such a package.

This linkage was critical to securing support from enough moderate Senate Democrats to pass the bill. Inslee objected to the language.

“This type of legislative drafting demonstrates manipulation and is a palpable attempt at dissimulation,” Inslee said in his veto message in April. “I applaud the extraordinary efforts of the Legislature in moving this policy forward, but we cannot delay its implementation until some unknown time in the future — the crisis is now, and we must act now.”

The second piece of legislation is the two-year transportation budget. As he did in 2019, Inslee cut the line, which concerned eligibility factors used in the issuing of grants to transit agencies. The line appeared in multiple sections. He argued the language effectively amended existing law.

Lawmakers countered in their 2019 suit that if the governor wanted those lines out, he needed to remove the entire provision in which the disputed lines appear. Their position won out in front of the state Supreme Court last month.

“I expect the Supreme Court will strike down the vetoes we are challenging today, just as it did recently with our previous challenge to the governor’s partial vetoes,” Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, said in a statement.

“This is not a partisan effort to undermine the governor’s authority,” he continued. “This is a bicameral, bipartisan effort to preserve the Legislature’s lawmaking power. “

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.