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Lawmakers set April 19 deadline to call override session on gun veto

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 7:04 p.m. MDT

Gov. Gary Herbert speaks to the media about his decision to veto House Bill 76 which would give Utahns the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit on Friday, March 22, 2013.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Legislative leaders set an April 19 deadline for lawmakers to decide whether they want to try to override Gov. Gary Herbert's veto of the controversial "constitutional carry" gun bill.

But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said Wednesday there may no longer be enough support in the Senate to meet the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.

HB76, which would allow weapons to be concealed without the permit now required, passed both the House and the Senate with so-called "veto-proof" majorities. That support, however, appears to have softened.

"There's the potential that three-plus people in the Senate may not vote to override, even though they voted for the bill," Niederhauser said, "which would mean we wouldn't have an override session."

Herbert said he vetoed the bill because of concerns raised by law enforcement. The bill would allow gun owners to conceal their weapons without passing the background checks or taking the class necessary to obtain a permit.

The governor was urged to veto the bill by Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank and other community leaders, including the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

The Senate sponsor of HB76, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, has acknowledged that some lawmakers who backed the bill in the 2013 Legislature were reluctant to publicly oppose gun legislation.

Now, Christensen has said, "they'd just as soon not vote on it again."

Niederhauser declined to name the votes that he believes have changed on HB76.

"We won't know for sure until we get their statements," the Senate president said. "When push comes to shove, they may vote for an override session. I don't think there's a lot of people excited about coming back for a special session, though."

Niederhauser and House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, have both said they will not call an override session unless at least two-thirds of the House and the Senate say in the poll they want the chance to vote on the veto.

Both the House and the Senate are polling lawmakers by email about the override session, which by law would have to start by May 13, the Monday before the next legislative interim meetings are scheduled.

Although there was some discussion about only tabulating the results rather than each lawmaker's vote, both the House and the Senate will keep track of each response so the bill's sponsor, Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, can see who supported the override.

"The sponsor has a right to get a list of yeses or nos. You can't do that with an anonymous poll," Niederhauser said. "Everybody is just going to have to have the courage to vote what they believe."

E-mail: lisa@deseretnews.com

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