COEUR d'ALENE - The Coeur d'Alene Tribe called on Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denney on Thursday to certify a bill into law banning historic horse racing machines.
Senate Bill 1011 passed both houses of the Legislature and was transmitted to Gov. Butch Otter on March 31. The governor then had five days to either sign the bill, veto the bill or let it become law without his signature.
Gov. Otter decided to veto the bill on March 30 at 4:54 p.m., which meant the governor had until April 4 at 4:54 p.m. to act on the bill and return it to the Senate.
Otter didn't return the bill to the Senate until April 6, but said he vetoed the bill on April 3, and communicated that to the Senate Pro Tem because the Legislature had adjourned on April 2 for Easter weekend.
The Tribe contends the bill became law because it wasn't physically transmitted to the Senate in the five-day period.
"The Idaho Constitution is very straightforward when it comes to the veto process and the record is quite clear," said Bill Roden. "Secretary Denney must follow the controlling Idaho statutes and affirm that (SB) 1011 became law on April 4, 2015."
Denney's office did not return phone calls on Thursday afternoon.
If the bill does become law, it would outlaw all historic horse racing machines on July 1.
The Tribe has consulted with David Adler, a constitutional law scholar, who said the governor did not meet the five-day deadline as required by the constitution and state law.
"Gov. Otter did not meet the requirements imposed by Idaho law for vetoing SB 1011. He missed the legal deadline for returning the bill accompanied by a veto message. Various methods for delivering the veto were available to him, but he did not avail himself of those opportunities, which is why Senate Pro Tempore Brent Hill, Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett and the Secretary of Senate's Office, among others, declared that there had been no veto of SB 1011," Adler said.
Coeur d'Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan said the matter isn't complicated.
"The governor had five days to veto the bill and instead, he took seven so (SB)1011 is the law of the land. The law doesn't give Secretary Denney a choice in the matter," Allan said. "It is not a matter of personal discretion. As a constitutional officer of the State of Idaho, it's his official duty to follow Idaho law and certify (SB)1011."