Walz keeps veto power tucked away in first year

With House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and several pre-school students standing by, Gov. Tim Walz signs the E-12 education bill. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Something was absent from this year’s meeting of the Minnesota Legislature: Vetoes.

The first year of Gov. Tim Walz’s term was veto-free. That’s the first time since 1978 that has occurred.

“I think that’s a good thing,” Walz said in a recent interview of his reluctance to strike down bills.

Walz allowed every bill sent his way to become law, signing the final batch of budget bills late last week without any line-item vetoes.

Walz, a DFLer and former congressman, was actively involved in negotiating the final compromise — from the big picture to the finer points of legislation.

One explanation for the lack of vetoes is that DFLers control at least one chamber of the Legislature, making it less likely the governor of that party gets sent objectionable bills.

That’s not always the case, however. Prior DFL Gov. Mark Dayton struck down five bills when his party had total control of state government.

Dayton issued 108 vetoes of full bills or budget line items during his eight years in office. That was fewer than the 296 by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the 207 strikes by Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura and the 371 objections registered by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson over his eight years.

The last veto-free session was presided over by DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich. He went two years without a veto at a time when his party had commanding majorities in both legislative chambers.

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