For once, Speaker Steven Haugaard and I agree: Governor Kristi Noem’s “style-and-form” veto of her own pheasant habitat bill was no style-and-form veto.
Fortunately, I don’t have to take Haugaard’s word for it; he says the Legislative Research Council agrees that the Governor and the Legislature messed up on Senate Bill 176:
“The attorneys serving the Legislature in the Legislative Research Council uniformly advised that the problem with SB176 was not ‘style and form’.” Haugaard said.
“That was also the opinion of other attorneys. There was a substantive change needed to accomplish the goal of the original SB176 and the LRC staff prepared corrective legislation to do that. However, we also know that whatever the Legislature passes is ‘the law’ until an appellate Judge tells us that it’s not constitutional,” he continued [Bob Mercer, “House Speaker Explains Hours-Long Wait for Vote That Changed South Dakota Habitat Legislation,” KELO-TV, 2019.04.01].
Senator Lee Schoenbeck, alas, does not quite support our position:
“When we got the style and form, I researched the appropriation limits of this constitutional tool and used some of the knowledge I had from dealing with it in the past. I sent an email out to a large number of senators that reflected my conclusions,” Schoenbeck said.
He said the governor’s recommendation didn’t include an emergency clause that would have caused the law to take effect immediately and he wouldn’t have supported.
“Every style and form veto makes changes in a bill. It’s the Legislature’s duty to watch and conclude what they are, or are not, correcting an error in the form of the bill,” Schoenbeck said.
He continued, “The style and form veto is most commonly used to correct minor glitches in language, but there’s no requirement that limits it that. The Legislature has the responsibility to see that it isn’t misused. In my judgment, this was an appropriate — but probably tests the limits — use of a style and form veto” [Mercer, 2019.04.01].
Tests the limits—maybe Speaker Haugaard will help us test those limits for real and bring the matter to the attention of that appellate judge he mentioned!