Let me preface this by saying that I’m not operating off of anything anyone familiar with the governor’s position has told me. In fact, it’s been pretty silent from my friends and sources who are “in the know” on this sort of issue. I’m not pretending to have the scoop here. This is pure speculation on my part.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that Governor Jack Dalrymple is going to veto the anti-abortion bills approved by the legislature last week.
Here’s my reasoning:
First, I don’t think Dalrymple likes the legislation. I think he is very much a believer in the idea of federal supremacy, and thinks the state has no business challenging something like the “right” to an abortion created by the courts.
Second, I think Dalrymple is very worried about the laws being referred on the ballot. I know that’s a big worry of the Dalrymple administration when it comes to the oil tax reforms still working their way through the legislature. Democrats are already vowing to put those on the ballot should they pass, and I think Dalrymple is worried about the abortion bills ending up there as well.
Third, and most tellingly, Dalrymple hasn’t already signed the bills. Remember last session when the legislature passed a bill to protecting the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname? Dalrymple signed that controversial bill just hours after it passed in the legislature.
Now, the governor’s people would probably argue that the legislature hasn’t sent over the bills yet for signature. That’s true, but I think that’s probably at the request of the governor. The governor has a time limit to decide whether to sign a bill or veto it after the legislature sends it over, but the legislature has no time limit when it comes to ending passed bills to the governor for signature.
If the governor wanted the bills on his desk, he could have them.
That Dalrymple is being so deliberate in requesting the bills from the legislature, that he hasn’t yet announced his intention with regard to these bills, doesn’t speak well for the likelihood of their passage. I think Dalrymple wants to veto them, and is right now doing the political calculus to decide how to go about doing that while causing the least amount of political harm to himself.
After all, if Dalrymple vetoes these bills, rank-and-file conservatives are going to be faced with the reality that the chief executive of the state not only isn’t very fiscally conservative but isn’t all that socially conservative either.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope the governor proves me wrong. But I think I’m right.