SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed two proposals that would have grown lawmakers' powers, his office said Tuesday.
One of the measures approved by the Utah Legislature but rejected by the Republican governor would have required Utah's attorney general to give legal opinions to legislators. The bill passed after lawmakers sparred with Herbert last year over how to conduct the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican U.S. senator who resigned last June.
Legislators and Herbert fought over a legal opinion on the special election that legislative leaders sought from Attorney General Sean Reyes, who refused to hand the opinion over citing the governor as his client.
Herbert in a letter to House and Senate leaders said Utah's constitution directs the attorney general to advise the executive branch. He noted the Legislature has its own law office of roughly two dozen attorneys who prepare legal opinions.
A second bill rejected by Herbert would have set aside $700,000 a year for lawyers to represent legislators when they feel compelled to go to court. Lawmakers have said their own lawyers were better equipped to defend a law if the state were sued.
Herbert sees it differently. He said in an second letter to legislative leaders that it is "inherently and exclusively" the executive branch's job to enforce and defend laws. Allowing the Legislature to wade into lawsuits, he said, would unnecessarily complicate cases and muddy the separation of powers.2 comments on this story
Over opposition from Utah's major TV stations, Herbert approved a measure restricting the use of noncompete contracts in Utah's broadcast media. However, the governor said he will veto any further, similar legislation, calling such efforts "unnecessary."
In Utah, noncompete contracts prevent employees from going to work for a competitor for a year. The new law blocks broadcasters from using them for employees who make less than $47,500 a year, among other restrictions.
The governor also chose to allow a bill cutting required wait period for divorces in Utah to become law without his signature. The measure shrinks the wait time from 90 days to 30 days.