SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed all of the remaining bills awaiting his action from the 2013 Legislature on Wednesday, dimming the likelihood that lawmakers will decide to override his veto of a controversial gun bill.
Legislative leaders are expected to poll both House and Senate members to determine if enough of them are willing to vote to override the governor's veto of HB76, which allowed weapons to be carried concealed without a permit.
An override session won't be called without the two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate required to reverse the governor's decision. The deadline for a veto override session to start isn't until May 13.
"We probably won't even start polling until next week or later because of staff being gone," Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said. "Obviously with one bill, it makes it less likely than otherwise to have a session."
Niederhauser had said support was softening for an override of the gun bill even before the governor's Wednesday deadline for action on bills. Now, without other vetoes to consider, it appears there may be even less support.
The bill passed with slightly more than a two-thirds majority, but the Senate sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, has said some lawmakers were reluctant to publicly oppose gun legislation and would prefer to avoid an override vote.
The governor said he vetoed the bill after hearing from law enforcement officials it would inhibit their ability to protect the public. He had urged lawmakers to avoid any changes to the state's gun laws.
Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank was among those opposed to the bill, along with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and others.
Herbert said he was "a little jaundiced-eyed" about the reason behind the bill, to avoid situations where Utahns legally openly carrying weapons without a permit could run into trouble for donning a jacket.
Opponents of HB76 said it would allow weapons to be concealed without the class and background check required to obtain a concealed weapons permit. However, the weapons would have to be unloaded, which means not having a round in the chamber.
The governor recently raised concerns about the mechanics of a school performance grading bill, SB271, but signed it into law Wednesday. Niederhauser, who met with the governor to urge him not to veto the bill, was pleased.
The Senate leader said the State Office of Education will now go ahead and grade school performance over the coming weeks to determine if changes are needed. Niederhauser said those could be handled in a special session if needed.2 comments on this story
Niederhauser said he and House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, are expected to meet next week to determine the details of the override poll.
Herbert, who signed more than 50 bills Wednesday, said in a statement that he was "very pleased with the results of this legislative session. I commend the Legislature for their diligence throughout the session to pass good policy generally. The people of Utah have been well served."