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5/2/2017 Sen. Sheehan introduces constitutional amendment calling for a line item veto
STATE HOUSE —Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) has introduced a constitutional amendment that, if approved, would give the governor a budgetary line item veto — the ability to sign spending bills into law while scratching out specific appropriations deemed exorbitant or unnecessary.

“The legislative branch in Rhode Island has historically had a disproportionate amount of power in relation to the executive and judicial branches of our government,” said Senator Sheehan.  “Providing the governor with a line item veto will help level the playing field by reducing the power of the legislature versus the governor. With a better process in place, we can improve legislative outcomes.”

The resolution (2017-S 0382) would put a question on the ballot asking voters to approve the amendment on Election Day in 2018.

It would change Article IX, Section 14 of the Rhode Island Constitution by adding, “The governor may disapprove or reduce any item or items in any bill appropriating money. So much of such bill as the governor approves shall upon the governor's signing the same become law. As to each item disapproved or reduced, the governor shall transmit to the house in which the bill originated the reason for such disapproval or reduction, and the procedure shall then be the same as in the case of a bill disapproved as a whole.”

Every state constitution empowers the governor to veto an entire bill passed by the legislature. Many constitutions now expand the executive's veto powers by also authorizing methods of veto that permit particular portions of a bill — particularly in state budgets — to be rejected or changed. Only six states, Rhode Island included, do not have a line item veto of any sort.

The resolution, which is cosponsored by Senators Marc A. Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) and Frank S. Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston), is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, May 3.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903