Gov. Inslee vetoes bill limiting airborne drones, restores funding for disaster relief and life sciences research in final bill actions

April 8, 2014

Just prior to the April 5th deadline for the governor to act on bills passed by the legislature in 2014, Governor Inslee vetoed HB 2789, which would have placed limits on the use of drones for law enforcement purposes, and HB 1260, which would have cut the number of public works projects subject to prevailing wage regulations in half. 

In vetoing the drone-limiting bill, he cited concerns about conflicting provisions on public disclosure and the definition of public information.  He announced creation of a task force to study surveillance technology. In the meantime, he said he would impose a moratorium on purchasing unmanned aircraft for state agencies and asked local law enforcement agencies to do the same.

With respect to cutting the number of public works projects subject to costly prevailing wage requirements by fifty percent, he said that number was too aggressive and indicated that he would introduce legislation next year for a twenty-five percent reduction in the number of such projects. 

The governor also vetoed a number of provisions in the 2014 Supplemental Operating Budget (SB 6002), including a $1.5 million reduction in the State Disaster Response Account, and the transfer of $20 million from the Tobacco Settlement Account and the Life Sciences Discovery Fund Authority (LSDFA) to the Education Legacy Account.

In his message to the legislature regarding the budget vetoes, the governor said that earlier this year it appeared that, based on a projected excess funds balance, the Disaster Response Account would not need the funds that were cut. However, he is restoring these funds, because the tragic mudslide in Oso last month will greatly strain the state’s disaster response resources.

The governor said that returning the funding from the Education Legacy account to the LSDFA will allow for the issuance of more than $15 million of new grants in the 2013-15 biennium on top of the nearly $92 million in grants already made. It will also continue support for the Global Health Technologies and Products program and cover necessary administrative costs.

In all, Governor Inslee acted on 229 bills for the 2014 legislative session, vetoing parts of 13 bills and vetoing four bills entirely.

The legislature could override the vetoes with a two-thirds majority in each house if it were still in session, or in a special session before the new legislature convenes in January 2015. According to the Secretary of State’s office, the legislature has never used its constitutional power to call itself into special session for this or any other purpose, and presumably the governor would not call a special session to facilitate override votes of his own vetoes.