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The Veto Process and Powers of the Governor

Once a bill has passed both the House and the Senate in identical form, it's ready to be sent to the governor for consideration. The governor has several options when considering a bill. The governor can:

  • sign the bill and it will become law;
  • veto the bill;
  • line-item veto individual items within an appropriations bill;
  • do nothing, which at the end of the biennium results in a pocket veto.

The timing of these actions is as important as the actions themselves.

If a bill is passed by the Legislature and presented to the governor before the final three days of the session, the bill will become law unless the governor vetoes it by returning it to the Legislature within three days. The governor normally signs the bills and files them with the Secretary of State, but his signature is not required.

A bill passed during the last three days of session in an odd-numbered year (the first year of the biennium) must be signed or vetoed by the governor within three days of presentment to the governor. If the governor fails to return the bill to the house of origin in an odd-numbered year within three days of presentment, the bill becomes law.

When a bill is passed during the last three days of session in an even-numbered year (the second year of the biennium) the governor has a longer time to act on it. He/she must sign and deposit it with the secretary of state within 14 days of 'sine die' adjournment or the bill will not become law. Inaction by the governor results in a "pocket veto," and the governor is not required to provide a reason for the veto.

Only on appropriations bills can the governor exercise the line-item veto authority. This option allows the governor to eliminate the appropriation items to which he/she objects. As with all vetoes, the governor must include a statement listing the reasons for the veto with the returned bill. Here, too, the timetable is either 14 days after 'sine die' adjournment for bills passed during the final three days of the session, or within three days after the governor receives the bill at any other time.

A two-thirds vote of the members in each house is needed to override a veto. But because only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature, anything vetoed after the Legislature adjourns is history—at least until next year.

The governor's veto authority is outlined in the Minnesota Constitution (Article IV, Section 23).

Information compiled by the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Office.

See also: Veto Power of the Governor of Minnesota, a 1995 treatise by Peter Wattson from the Minnesota Senate Counsel and Research office and Veto Procedures and History of the Item Veto in Minnesota, which are both written by Joel Michael from the Minnesota House Research Department.