State Supreme Court rules governor overstepped his authority in vetoing 2019 transportation provisions.

The state Supreme Court today ruled against the Inslee administration on case challenging his vetoes of provisions in 2019 transportation legislation. The Seattle Times reports,

Gov. Jay Inslee exceeded his constitutional authority when he vetoed lines inside a 2019 transportation bill, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled.

The decision announced Wednesday by the court could have implications for a similar veto made this spring by the governor.

In May, Inslee signed into law legislation implementing clean-fuels standards but vetoed a part requiring a new statewide transportation-funding package for the climate legislation to come into effect.

Wednesday’s ruling stretches back to 2019, when the governor signed a new, two-year statewide transportation budget — and vetoed lines inside sections of that legislation.

The state constitution limits a governor’s veto powers to complete bills, sections of bills or appropriation items — also known as spending — inside those bills.

We similarly noted that the ruling on the 2019 issues may offer a preview of what to expect with respect to the more recent vetoes.

In the Herald of Everett, Jerry Cornfield writes,

The 7-2 ruling is a win for the Legislature, which sued the governor, asserting Inslee crossed a constitutional line separating his power to veto from its power to legislate when he deleted from the spending plan a sentence regarding grants for transit services.

And the court’s decision affirms a Thurston County judge’s ruling last year that invalidated the vetoes, concluding those actions exceeded the veto powers accorded Inslee as the state’s chief executive.

Jason Mercier with Washington Policy Center links to the court decision and writes

Today’s State Supreme Court ruling should help prod lawmakers to file another lawsuit against the Governor for his unconstitutional vetoes this year in the “Grand Bargain” bills tying the LCFS and Cap and Trade bills to a future transportation package.

It should.


But it’s not clear that it will. The Seattle Times reports,

In a statement Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said he was “certainly pleased” with the court order.

“Checks and balances are essential to a healthy democracy and today’s ruling helps further define the governor’s constitutional limits,” Billig said in prepared remarks.

“As previously stated, we plan to move forward with litigation over the governor’s veto actions earlier this year on legislation to implement clean-fuels standards,” he said. “We are still working to finalize the timing of our court filing.”