PA-BGT: Relief on the Way, or More Charades?

pa-state-capitol-b175d9a07740ecf3As PA State House Republicans trickle back into Harrisburg from their home districts, they will be wondering what will happen Tuesday.

GOP House members are planning to override Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of House Bill 1192 – line by line – though there is some question over the constitutionality of it all.

“When we return to session on Tuesday, our current plan is to begin on specific line items in House Bill 1192 which were at or near the same amount as originally proposed by the governor,” House Majority Leader Dave Reed said, calling it the “quickest and most efficient way” to get funding to schools and state agencies. “These agreed-to funds can flow to the appropriate service providers while negotiations continue on the rest of the budget.”

According to some constitutional law experts – and Democrats – the GOP will be violating Article IV, Section 15 of the PA Constitution, which deals with vetoes and partial vetoes by the chief executive.

“If [the governor] vetoes line by line, you could override line by line. But if he vetoes it as a whole, you have to override it as a whole,” Duquesne University School of Law professor Bruce Ledewitz told Chris Comisac of Capitolwire.

House GOP Spokesman Stephen Miskin disagreed.

“We have plenary authority in the area of overrides,” he told PoliticsPA. “Meaning we have authority as a body to do anything that isn’t specifically excluded by the Constitution, federal or state. There is no such ban.”

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody didn’t hold back when he sized up the GOP’s latest attempts to make a breakthrough on the budget, which expired June 30.

“Wasting more time with another round of unconstitutional stunts on the floor of the House, and trying to pick winners and losers, is not going to make human service providers and their vulnerable clients whole,” Dermody said, before urging for an “honest budget that restores the devastating cuts Republicans made in the past and provides predictable and sustainable funding to meet Pennsylvania’s critical needs.”

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